It’s not easy for holidaymakers to prise themselves away from the warm beaches of Cyprus. Along the north but especially in the south of the island there are vast stretches of beautiful sand and plush resorts that give you that holiday feeling of being as far away from real life as one can get. But those who explore more of the country will find their efforts rewarded.
In recent years, the government have invested heavily in restoring old, sparsely-populated villages into thriving centres of artisanal industry. Family businesses – from halloumi–making to wine production – have been revived, cute cottage houses returned to their former glory and longstanding Cypriot traditions have been honoured by a new generation.
It means that the country is chocked full of charm that you just won’t see on a beach. So if you fancy exploring the rustic island of Cyprus, here are the Flexicover team’s must-see destinations when village-hopping.
Navigate narrow streets in Arsos
When it comes to the restoration of cute Cypriot houses, Arsos village is a shining example. Found on the slopes of Laona mountain, those hiring a car will need to sharpen their spatial skills; the narrow streets and sharp bends weren’t made for 4x4s. But it means that the area offers a surprise around every corner, whether that’s a peaceful town square with a couple of well-priced taverns, or artisan shops selling traditional food like grape syrup sweets and jams. Be warned that it’s now becoming popular as a coach stop-off, so make sure to visit it before the secret is fully out.
Enjoy the silence at Lofou
A cute, sleepy village if ever there was, Lofou is small, having just a handful of all-year residents; most are summer stayers only. Come when they’re away, and it holds a secret charm. The narrow, inclining streets of apartments and houses lead to one bar, one restaurant, a charming school (confusingly named ‘The Old School’) and a playground. And not much else. The main hotel in town is hidden but still only a two-minute walk away; it’s Hotel Apokryfo and it’s a wee gem of a find: it’s upmarket but keeps with Lofou’s rustic stone feel. All in all, Lofou offers a slice of authentic Cyprus.
See historical delights in Omodos
When it comes to uncovering traditional parts of Cyprus, there’s no beating Omodos village. It’s first and foremost a popular shopping and social area for locals as well as tourists, thanks to its many amenities and island-famous shops (try George’s bakery for some delicious breads and pastries). But take one of the many narrow alleyways that emanate from its central square to discover much more. You might stumble across The Monastery of the Holy Cross, established in the third century. Or perhaps the medieval Linos wine press, made for the community to share. You can go wine tasting, or if that’s not your thing, there are many nearby restaurants to enjoy a first-class Cypriot mezze platter.
Bike or hike in Platres
Thanks to it’s cool, sunny climate in the hotter summer months, Platres is known as a place where locals go on staycation to escape the heat. That means weekends are much busier than weekdays, but all the time you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. High up in the foresty part of Trodos mountain, it’s a feast for nature-lovers, with hiking trails, cycling routes and plenty of gushing waterfalls to provide a beautiful backdrop for pictures. The Forest Park Hotel is famous for inventing the Brandy Sour cocktail – ubiquitous across Cyprus – which provides a great excuse to try the famous aperitif here.
Soak in the surrounds of Kakopetria
One of the more northerly villages, Kakopetria is a good village stop-off for those visiting the capital of Nicosia, only an hour’s drive away. Because of its location, cool and dry climate and genteel surrounds, it gained popularity as a place for second homes for Cyprus’s great and good. You’ll notice rows of grand houses, each with their own sloped roofs and wooden balconies, as you walk around its steep roads. Its clientele means there are some nice amenities in the village, from the delicious dining at Tziellari, to The Mill Hotel and Spa, offering a rustic retreat and spectacular views over the Solea Valley.
Wherever you’re planning to head to this year it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.