Christmas in Cyprus has a funny way of sneaking up on us. One minute we’re just wearing a light cardi and it feels as though it’s just the end of summer, and then, the temperature suddenly drops and all of a sudden the Xmas lights go up and we start to realise that there’s hardly any time left until the big day. My Cyprus Insider presents you with the ultimate festive bucket list!
1. Tuck into sweet melomakarona & kourabiedes
If there’s one thing that signals the start of the festive season in Cyprus, it simply has to be all the melomakarona and kourabiedes that are stacked high in all their sweet glory on the shelves of bakeries and patisseries around the island.
The ultimate naughty but nice Christmassy indulgence, nothing beats tucking into these delights with a hot cup of your favourite coffee or tea. And while there are plenty of people that still make these at home, taking a box of these Yuletide delights round to friends and family is bound to put a smile on their face. And if you’ve never tried them before, suffice to say that melomakarona are absolutely moreish moist syrupy sweet biscuits, while kourabiedes are buttery biscuits typically made with almonds and topped with plenty of icing sugar. A word of warning: both are rather addictive!
2. Head out on a day trip up to Cyprus’ highest heights for a white Christmas
Sometimes we complain that things just don’t feel Christmassy enough on the island given that the sun is still shinning and the weather is mild, but when we head out of the main towns and cities and drive up towards Troodos, the air becomes crisp and cold and suddenly, it really does feel like winter!
And who says that you can’t enjoy a white Christmas in Cyprus? Very often, we’re lucky enough to witness the Troodos peaks covered in a blanket of snow during the festive season, making the whole scene even more idyllic. If you’ve got some time on your hands, put your feet up for the night in a country hotel and you’ll be blissfully whisked away into a night of wintry splendour.
3. Grab a bag of roasted chestnuts on the roadside
An absolute festive favourite, there’s just something about the comforting scent of roasted chestnuts that’s intrinsically linked with Christmas. And once the festive season hits in Cyprus, there are people roasting chestnuts just about everywhere- down busy streets in the city centres, at mountain festivals, and everywhere in between. An instant pick me up on a cold winter evening, just ask for a bag full and prepare for the ultimate nutty indulgence.
4. Enjoy a family day out at one of the Christmas villages/fairgrounds islandwide
We may not be quite on par with winter wonderlands that pop up in big cities like London for Xmas, but there’s certainly an effort being made to introduce some festive cheer into all major towns around Cyprus of late. Whether you fancy taking all the family for a ride on the Ferris wheel in the capital’s Christmas Fairyland , or want to give them a treat in Limassol by the glistening seas, there’s plenty to put a smile on the little ones faces. For the insider lowdown of some great Christmas events to take the kids around the island click here.
5. Say cheers at a bar or pub with a roaring fireplace
As the sun goes down and the chill factor kicks in, nothing beats a festive night out by a blazing fireplace. If there’s one place that you’ve got to head to for a festive drink, it’s got to be Platos Bar and Restaurant tucked away in the historic streets of Old Nicosia. With a vast selection of beers, spirits and wine from around the world, sip on your favourite drink while ogling at the roaring fireplace in the covered outdoor area.
Speaking of all things warm and cosy while you devour your beloved tipple, the Tudor Inn Bar in Larnaca makes for another great choice for intimate winter rendezvous during the holiday season, coming to life with a whole host of live music events as the fireplace works its magic night in and night out. If, however, you’re enjoying festive activities in the buzzing Limassol seaside hub, then slurp on your favourite beer at Chesters Bar and Restaurant, with two fireplaces setting just the right atmosphere for that Christmassy night out.
6. Have a cosy night in with a bowl of piping hot trahanas or avgolemono
Fancy a lazy night in with your loved ones? Nothing beats a traditional soup to keep you warm, and there’s no better time than now to indulge in some Cypriot favourites. First up is the mighty trahanas, based on a mixture of grain and yoghurt or fermented milk. Enjoy it with chunks of halloumi in the mix and you’ll be in seventh heaven! Then there’s the dreamy avgolemono, which as the name suggests, is an egg – lemon sauce, topped with rice and chicken. So go on, get your warm PJs on and prepare a bubbling pot of soupy splendour.