With the rugged Troodos mountains now blanketed in brilliant white, there’s no better time to escape city life and head up to the highest island peaks to take in real mountain splendour. And with the village of Platres a mere 5 kilometres from Troodos Square, it’s the perfect spot to spend a day or night in the place famed for first creating the island’s well known brandy sour cocktail, made for King Farouk in the late 1930s! From morning to night, My Cyprus Insider guides you to some lovely spots in the area!
Rise and shine at the New Helvetia Hotel
Don’t go to this place expecting five star luxury or services, but if you’re looking for a cosy stay in a rather quirky historic building, then the New Helvetia is for you! Set in a blissfully peaceful location surrounded by pine trees, the owners of this establishment will be happy to give the lowdown of the areas’ highlights, while the whole place oozes a very warm and friendly family feel. Do keep in mind that the rooms are extremely basic, so if you do want something slightly more special, opt for the Maisonette Suite!
Where? 6 Helvetica Street, Platres. Tel: (+357) 25-421348
Revive your senses with a morning walk up to Caledonia or Millomeri Falls
With two gorgeous waterfalls to head to in the area, take your pick between Caledonia, Millomeri, or both! With Caledonia being the most famous of the two, it claims a proud spot, at an altitude of 1330m north of Pano Platres village, with the water falling from a height of 13 metres. Luring thousands of visitors year in and year out, prepare for a walk like no other as the gushing sound of water through dense forest vegetation leads you towards the waterfall. You can get to the falls through the Caledonia nature trail which has two starting points. One of them begins at the point on the ‘Kryos Potamos’ River near the Troodos Presidential Residence, and the other, from the ‘Psilon Dentron’ point near the village of Platres. The choice is yours: the former is two kilometres long while the latter is one kilometre.
While Caledonia Falls may be the most famous on the island, the Myllomeri Falls proudly wear the gold crown as the highest in the country, with the water falling from a height of 20 metres. Situated in the Kryos Potamos river bed southeast of the Pano Platres at an altitude of 980 metres – near Panayia Phaneromeni Church – you can reach the fall via a couple of routes, from either Pera Pedi Village (4,2 km distance) or from Pano Platres towards Moniatis (at a distance of 3,8 km). But if per chance you are keen to get those legs working, and want a wee bit of a journey to get there, do not be disheartened! Head to Phaneromeni Church in Pano Platres, and you’ll be at the start of a one kilometre long nature trail leading to the falls.
Get better acquainted with the island’s religious heritage at Trooditissa Monastery and Church
Commanding great views out to the Troodos mountains, this 13th century monastery is surrounded by gorgeous pine trees. Situated outside the village hub, between Platres and Prodromos, the church here contains a priceless silver leaf covered icon of the Virgin Mary brought from Asia Minor. And it is believed that it helps childless couples when praying to her.
While it is not known exactly when the monastery was first built, it is believed to have been established by a hermit immediately after the iconoclastic era (8th -9th century A.D), but the current building dates back to 1731. The main church and the other surrounding buildings were built in the 18th-20th centuries. While the monastery is closed to visitors, the church is open to all those who wish to visit.
Where? Between the villages of Platres and Prodromos. Open 9am-12 noon and 2pm- 6pm.
Tuck into simple traditional fare at Mimi’s Restaurant
Ask most locals (and visitors for that matter) where the best place is to eat in Platres, and they are most likely going to shout out: “Mimis!” Offering good Cypriot grub at very decent prices, you can expect traditional food and some nice veggie options in the mix. Don’t expect anything spectacular – and it’s certainly not fancy – but do expect fresh home cooking, friendly service and nice warm atmosphere. Whether you fancy a kebab, pork chop, koupepia (stuffed vine leaves) or moussaka, there’s bound to be something to tantalise you. Situated in the heart of the village, it’s the perfect place to grab a seat and watch everyone go by, boosting your energy levels before putting your best foot forward to explore the area further.
Where? 15 Olympiou St, Platres. Tel: (+357) 25-421449
Indulge your sweet tooth at Platres Chocolate Workshop
Head to the Platres Chocolate Workshop for a dose of indulgence. A well-known little spot established by Praxi and John Adams, the couple realised – upon moving to Cyprus – that much of the uniquely Cypriot Mountain produce in Platres provided exciting and original fillings. Fuelled by a passion for all things chocolatey, the Platres Chocolate Workshop was set up, with sweet treats made by hand, adorning the shop day in and day out.
Just think of chocolates filled with the likes of Commandaria cream (made using Cyprus’ famous sweet wine), Zivania Cream, Kitromilo (bitter orange) and many other varieties of ‘spoon sweets’. Then there’s Aphrodite Cream, (a chocolate designed for lovers as it contains honey, Royal Jelly and cream), Walnut Palouze (a smooth, aromatic dessert sweet made from concentrated grape juice), Cyprus Coffee cream and many others. There’s even tahini chocolate in the mix!
Rather uniquely Cypriot, the chocolate is pure and dark, made with just a little sugar, natural vanilla and then enhanced with Cyprus Royal Jelly to make it a smoother, richer, healthier chocolate. Do keep in mind that some of the ingredients used are seasonal, and so, the variety on offer is subject to change.
Where? Olympiou Street 1, Pano Platres.
Enjoy a nightcap at the Olympus Bar of the Forest Park Hotel
Why the Olympus Bar at the Forest Park Hotel you may wondering? With the hotel an iconic mainstay on the Cyprus hotel scene built back in the mid-1930s, this is the place where the legendary Brandy Sour was first created, with the first glass of the cocktail prepared for the King Farouk of Egypt in the early 1940s.
Head here for a journey back in time, and take in the retro surroundings of what was once considered one of the most luxurious hotels on the island. Surrounded by glorious pine trees and boasting a quintessential Cypriot charm, you may just be tempted to stay the night!
Where? Pano Platres, Troodos district. Tel: (+357) 25-421751
Cover photo credit: New Helvetia Hotel