If you’re trying to adjust to the September routine, we’re here to remind you that one of the absolute joys of living in Cyprus is being able to escape the weekly grind while heading out of town come weekend. Read on as My Cyprus Insider gives you the lowdown on some great spots to simply get away from it all (and perhaps, pretend even for one day, that you’re on holiday again!).
1. An undisputed hot spot: Kalopanayiotis, Marathassa Valley, Troodos
These days, Kalopanayiotis is regarded a must-visit rural paradise. And it has risen to fame for good reason! Not only have much of the area’s buildings been wonderfully restored and preserved, but it seems to be rather blessed when it comes to the natural world which so gloriously cocoon the pretty spot
From healing waters that gurgle through the village with its natural sulphur springs nestled amidst breath-taking greenery, to age-old buildings and UNESCO sites that beckon curious visitors, and watermills exude a fairy-tale charm, few communities evoke the traditional character of Cyprus so wonderfully as this little village, sitting proud on the northern slopes of the Troodos mountains.
Be sure to visit the medieval Lampadistis Monastery (on the UNESCO World Heritage List) and pop into the adjacent Byzantine museum. Then head on to take some great snaps by the 16th century Venetian Bridge under the shade of leafy trees, while the nearby Kykkos Watermill stands as a great example of pre-industrial period architecture and is well worth a quick looksee.
Handy hint: Put your feet up for the night at one of the crown jewels of the area: Casale Panayiotis. You can expect luxury accommodation in a complex that consists of houses and apartments where tradition and modernity sit side by side in perfect unison. The treatments at the hotel spa will leave you feeling like you’re walking on air, while the hotel restaurant will tantalise your taste buds with local dishes and fresh ingredients.
2. The underrated one: Kato Drys, Larnaca district
Not quite as popular as the highly frequented Lefkara, the neighbouring Kato Drys should by no means be left out of the equation. Quaint and quintessentially Cypriot, the area makes for a lovely day out as old stone mansions befriend welcoming chapels and churches, while a maze of cobbled streets give you the chance to put your best foot forward as you ogle at the vibrant doorways and magnificently intricate balconies that characterise some of the houses.
Many people flock to the area to catch a glimpse of one of the most famous monasteries in Cyprus, that of Saint Minas, located just a stone’s throw from the centre of the village. And if you’re in the mood for something a little quirky, then step inside The Bee and Embroidery Museum and enjoy a trip down memory lane within a centuries-old stone house that has been converted into a quirky little place that brings a taste of village culture to life.
Fancy some great breakfast? Head straight to JAR Preserves where Elli will greet you with some of the most delicious homemade jams imaginable. Made with a huge amount of love and care from local fruits, there’s much to delight in, be it sweet apricot, tangy mandarin or bitter lemon flavour. If you want to enjoy a full on breakfast, Elli puts on a great spread, with delights to tuck into including scones, bread made with local cheese and plenty of other surprises. Do be sure to book in advance, and take note that breakfast is served for a minimum of six people.
3. A Wine Lovers Delight: Omodos, Limassol district
Feel like a bit of an adventure as you wind your way up towards the Troodos peaks? How about exploring a blissfully bucolic wine growing village flanked by greenery and rambling vines? Then take some time to enjoy a little respite in Omodos, nestled on the southern foothills of the mountain range, at the very epicentre of the island’s wine-growing district.
Built around the rather majestic Monastery of the Holy Cross, the building stands as the true pride and joy of Omodos and one of the oldest and most historic monasteries on the island. Tradition has it that it was erected before St Helen’s arrival in Cyprus in 327 AD, but the exact date, remains unknown. The monastic building houses three museums, whether you want to look at Byzantine Icons, Folk Art or, even, the National Liberation Uprising Museum (E.O.K.A 1955-59).
The large square is dotted with cafes, restaurants and shops selling a whole manner of traditional goods. But it’s when you meander through the narrow streets that the real charm of the place springs to life, with traditional houses characterised by sturdy wooden balconies packed with flower pots attracting the gaze of visitors all year round as elderly women busy themselves with intricate lacework. Be sure to also pay the Linos wine press a visit; dating back to medieval times it’s famous as one of the oldest on the island. And do sample some local wine as you say cheers to tradition in all its deliciousness.
Feeling peckish? Then don’t hurry home! The village boasts some great restaurants, including Katoi which is housed in one of the oldest buildings in the area, dishing up food with a slightly gourmet twist on tradition, and then there’s the rather infamous Stou Kir Yianni with traditional meze at its best.