The Insider Guide – Cyprus
Southern Cyprus Travel Guide by Andrew Forbes
Your reward for a winding drive through the spectacular Troödos mountains is this remarkable rural hotel. 41 quirky guest rooms have been created in 7 restored houses that climb a hillside overlooking the ancient Agios Ioannis Lampadistis Monastery. Casale Panayiotis has an excellent wellness centre too, the Myrianthousa Spa, as well as restaurants and bars – all maintaining the style, culture and charm of the village. It’s a superb base for mountain biking, hiking, and wine touring.
Striking Byzantine-inspired landmark hotel, adjacent to the Tombs of Kings, and a short walk from the harbour of Paphos. Recently completely remodelled, the Elysium is now an exceptional family resort hotel. Guest rooms all have a terrace or balcony with views of the gardens, the swimming pools and across the hotel’s small private cove to the Mediterranean.
Traditional stone-built homes in the delightful villages of Tochni and Kalavasos, restored and converted into simple holiday accommodation.
Aphrodite Hills Hotel & Residences
Aphrodite Hills takes its name from the mythical birthplace of the Greek Goddess of love and beauty. This sprawling estate includes a luxury hotel as well as residences and over-looks the impressive Petra tou Romiou rocks and bay – which are well worth a visit. It’s said if you swim around the rocks three times in the full-moon you’ll be gifted eternal youth and beauty!
The capital’s cool café for healthy meals and stylish cocktails in the centre of Nicosia. This on-trend café, bar, restaurant and gallery is full of original, creative style. The street-side terrace leads into the restaurant, with a long bar, dining tables with plenty of eclectic design. Beyond is a gallery selling works by local artists.
Limassol has probably evolved to become Cyprus’ most stylish and lively city, with a cool, regenerated, gentrified old quarter, as well as plenty of waterside restaurants and bars by the harbour. Kipriakon offers a contemporary take on classic meze, served by a young and friendly team in a relaxed, chic environment.
The village of Omodos is a popular day trip for visitors, with a charming cobbled square, wine cellars, and some excellent restaurants, including To Katoi, with its fresh, modern interpretation of a country tavern.
Wine making on Cyprus dates back millennia. Within the wine village of Omodos is a medieval wine press, a small museum where one can sample the diverse wines of the island.
The island’s largest mountain range, and home to the National Forest, this protected area is a destination for nature lovers and those looking for activity adventures. Attractions also include the highest peak, Mount Olympus; the magnificent trees of Cedar Valley; and the many Byzantine churches with exceptional frescos.
Hamams were said to be the first buildings Ottoman Turks constructed in Nicoisa. Omerye is one of these original 16th century bath houses, where you can enjoy a traditional bathing ritual and relaxing massage.
Even if you’re not an experienced rider, at George’s Ranch, Paphos, you can enjoy a gentle hack down to the coast and enjoy the sunset.
Tomb of the Kings
A little north of Paphos, close to the coast, the Tombs of Kings were created for the movers & shakers of Paphos over 2300 years ago. They look more like aristocratic villas than burial chambers.
The eastern Mediterranean has no shortage of impressive archaeological sites, and the Kurion Complex is no exception. Looking out across to Episkopi Bay from the amphitheatre of this ancient acropolis is a memorable experience.
Museums may not be at the top of everyone’s list of ‘to-do’ things on holiday, yet the modest Cyprus Museum in the capital, Nicoisa, has a remarkable collection for history buffs, including rare terracotta figures. The shop has some interesting gifts too!
Of all the stores catering to tourists, probably the most authentic are those selling local foods made on the island. Look out for ‘Glyko Melitzanaki’ (little aubergines stuffed with almonds and preserved in syrup); ‘Taktila’, (baklava cake made as fingers or as a spiral); ‘Soujoukos’, (sweets that look like a candle, made from condensed grape juice and stuffed with almonds and then sliced); and ‘Pishia’, (sweet cakes with cinnamon).
The main market, within the Ktima pedestrianised area, offers more than just fresh produce – there are stalls selling local artisan products; basket-ware, embroidery and jewellery. Just make sure you are buying products made in Cyprus.
The Cyprus Tourism Organisation maintains an up-to-date travel web site.
Easyjet operates flights to Paphos via London Gatwick and London Luton Airports.
(This guide was published in The Sur in English newspaper)