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Domestic Tourism in Cyprus
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Domestic Tourism in Cyprus
CyprusForTravellers Pick of Top 10 Activities
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Dmitry Gridin
Author: Dmitry Gridin
Translation: Inna Guseva
17.03.2021

“Domestic tourism” is an expression that usually has nothing to do with Cyprus because it’s 200 km to the west and 200 km to the east so much for the domestic tourism on the island. However new times imply new interests. During the Covid-19 pandemic the entry to the main part of countries of the world for Cyprus citizens is completely prohibited and to the rest — partly hindered. Nevertheless last summer the majority of the citizens preferred to not go anywhere too far and organized domestic vacations on the island instead. Today we will tell you how to amuse yourself while staying on the island even when you are quite limited in options.

At the beginning of pandemic it seemed to be the summer in Cyprus would look depressing deserted and lonely without crowds of foreign tourists. But it turned out to be exactly the opposite. Now wherever you go, especially to some usually peaceful remote places, you will definitely discover hoards of people there. Locals, who were not very interested in these places before, are grouping there like bees to honey.

I have travelled the length and breadth of Cyprus in my time, when as they say it was not a mainstream yet and now I would like to offer you my list of top 10 trips and destinations on the island. Each of them based on my personal experience.

1

Chasing the Cold!

Domestic tourism in Cyprus, Troodos mountains

Where are locals eagerly looking during the summer? At the beach? No way. Everyone dreams about getting some chill. And in the end of the summer there are only two places where you can find it: in Troodos and under the air conditioner at home. The pickings are slim.

Every week beginning with the Saturday morning you can see a caravan of cars heading to the Olympus Mountain. Sometimes it could be that the oncoming traffic doesn’t end or pause for around 15 minutes while you are driving down the mountains. Mountains are full of noisy Cypriots like a summer forest of cicadas. Once super popular places (like Psilo Dendro Restaurant, a path to the waterfall close to it or Troodos village) turned into mega super popular. And unpopular places became super popular accordingly. However despite an excess of people there are still few nooks untouched.

If you want to stay in Troodos overnight, you will have two options at your choice: in a hotel or in a tent. First one is quite expensive (around 150 Euros for a night) and not really romantic to my opinion. You can spend around 100 Euros to buy a tent, an air mattress, a pump, a sleeping bag, few folding chairs, a torch…okay, long story short you can get everything you need for this amount of money. And this “starter pack” will be enough to reach some level of comfort and coziness especially if you plan to stay only for one night. They have a lot of places for your tent there but when it comes to me I usually choose one of these two: on top of Olympus Mountain and in the Troodos village. One of the biggest advantages of the mountaintop is that you can experience very low night temperatures there (it could be only 11 C sometimes!). And Troodos is also cool because you can be surrounded by both nature and civilization at the same time. So you arrive in Troodos in the evening and look for a place for your tent. I usually put my tent around 20 meters away from houses, in a clearing between slopes. It’s a beautiful view there and despite crowds of tourists — very empty.

Cypriots are not inclined at stealing at all. Old-timers tell stories that before Cyprus joined EU it was so save on the island that people left keys inside car’s locks while going somewhere — who knows, maybe someone want to move your car a little bit if it closes the way to them. Unfortunately nowadays thefts became customary but it’s the tendency that mainly the immigrants advance. But there are no immigrants in the mountains. The point is it’s not a dumb idea to place a tent and go sightseeing.

Alright, we camped and went to the village, good that it takes only 3 minutes. So we took a seat in one of the few restaurants: we have nice chat, enjoy the coolness, adore unique view of the mountains and drink something tasty, coffee or something even stronger. But God forbid you guys to order food there. When it comes to meals all Troodos restaurants are equally awful and what is more — expensive. Don’t let the tourists constantly eating something around you deceive you. More likely they eat here first and last time in their life.

Despite the terrible food the interiors of local cafes are a delight. A little bit ridiculous but very cute parody of Austria or Germany.

Another option: buy some beer and snacks and sit on a bench in a park. The views here are so incredibly beautiful so it’s a perfect place for leisurely chatting over a bottle of foamy beer.
By the way, talking about beer and snacks (especially nuts). There is one store in Troodos but the variety of beer ends with 1-2 brands at restaurant prices. Take bottles with you on a trip is not a great idea — the beer will get warm and tasteless. Freezer bag could save the day but it’s additional weight and extra expenses. Everything is kind of uncertain with snacks too. They sell nuts at the market stalls nearby. Nuts there are yummy and warm, however the price will be 5 times higher than at a market.

So let me share a life hack with you. Here, 13 km away from Troodos, is a good supermarket (despite its unpretentious appearance) with a wide variety of cheap but good quality snacks. Beer they sell there is also quite good. Prices are at their minimum.

Well, we spent some time at the nice place, let’s go back to our camp: observe the sunset and make an evening picnic. But I would strongly advice you against making a bonfire — otherwise your trip could continue against your will with a jail as a final destination. They have a lot of police in Troodos despite the tiny size of the village.

It’s pleasant and safe to sleep close to the village. You can be sure that no drunk people or bush-privacy lovers will disturb you during your sleep. There are also no dangerous animals. And chill smelling of pine trees air guarantees you nice and deep sleep. Mosquitos are also very rare here. The only thing that might bother you a little bit is — flies. There are tons of them and they usually become active at the sunset. But when sun is down flies go to sleep. If you go back to your tent from the village during night you might notice that every step on the grass you take is accompanied by angry buzzing. It’s troubled flies scolding you.

Of course this type of weekend vacations could not be compared with a trip to Switzerland but allows you to “reboot” the picture you see every day for a while. When it comes to me I usually go to the mountains and stay overnight at least several times a month just to clear my head.

2

Barbeque in a Picnic Area

Domestic tourism in Cyprus, kebabs and barbecues in the picnic area

One of Cyprus features we can and should be proud of — is the way the picnic areas are organized. There are plenty of them, all perfectly equipped (some of them even too excessively), completely free and as a rule are located in the wild nature.

I will not talk about picnic zones down the mountains in this review because it’stoo muggy there during summer and offer you three of my favourite picnic areas high in the mountains instead.

1. Trooditissa

This picnic area is located close to the self-titled monastery.

Advantages:

  • It’s one of very few picnic zones with a river you can swim in. The part of the river on the territory of the picnic area is quite shallow but if you go up several dozens meters you will find few natural pools, where, with due ingenuity, you can soak in to your head.
  • The nature around is amazing. The area is oriented so that it offers you views all the way to Limassol from its front edge.
  • Few meters away from tables and grills located a bunjy jumping station (jumping off a cliff with a rope). If desired you can not only eat some tasty grilled meat but also hit a nerve. However it’s better to do it before barbeque and not after it.

Flaws:

  • This place is mega popular among Cypriots. Shouting, noise and music echoes in the forest hundred meters away. And you can be stuck in a traffic jam right before the entrance to the territory.
  • Also the picnic area is not high enough in the mountains. Around 1300 meters above the sea level. According to my experience the desired coolness begins at the heights of 1500 meters.

2. Prodromos

Advantages:

  • The place is freaking beautiful.
  • Also the picnic area is one of the most equipped. By the way they also have quite big playground here.
  • There is a dam just few meters away. And plenty of fish in it. Someone prefers go fishing there but I like to feed fishes with the rest of our picnic bread. It’s lovely and calming.
  • Height of 1500 meters is not the best option but thanks to the land relief (north slopes of Troodos) it’s almost always chilling here.
  • Several kilometers away from the picnic zone you will find a grocery store in Prodromos village. It’s convenient if you realize that you forgot something to take with you on a trip.
  • This is one of the very few places on the island with a patch of plain forest landscape. Perfect place for walking. Even with a baby in a stroller if you wish.
  • In autumn is great to come here for rose hip and wild apricots. In summer — you will find plenty of cherry trees all around the area.

Flaws:

  • Another quite popular place among the citizens.Especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. Around 60% of people making barbeque here are Russians. The rest 40% — Cypriots. Hustle and bustle are ruling this place.

3. Kambos tou Livadiou

Picnic area is situated few kilometers from Troodos village.

Advantages:

  • The most high-altitude picnic area. So the temperatures here are the lowest comparing to other two.
  • Beautiful green meadows nearby.
  • As a rule it has the smallest number of people. It’s very often the case when you came here during the weekend and won’t see a soul.
  • The area is really big.

Flaws:

  • No natural water reservoir nearby.

 

Several important notes in the end:

1. All the picnic areas equipped with special zones for making food over an open fire. How they look like? It’s a long concrete blocks around one meter above the ground on top of which you can place your grill. Usually on one end of the block there is a big hole where you put used charcoal — they cook whole animals there afterwards.

These kind of concrete “tables” have sun-protection hoods. That means you choose a table with benches, go to the grill zone, make barbeques and come back to your table with the ready dish. It is allowed to make bonfires in barbeque zones.

2. Considering grills. In Cyprus they sell grills for souvlaki (Cyprus kebab). Almost all the grills you will find in stores equipped with a special device so at the time you rotate one skewer it rotates the rest of them as well. Also a grill has a place for a tiny motor (there are two types of them: mains-and battery-operated). So you put souvla on the skewers, turn on the motor and wait. Perfect. But if you come from Eastern Europe or any country of Caucasus and Near East, this device will only annoy and disturb you. Because the process of making a kebab is very different from that one I described above. Greek souvla is small while pieces of West-European and Near-Eastern kebab are woman’s fist big (and the meat is always marinated before the cooking to make sure it will be well-done). That’s why the type of skewers is also different — they are wide and flat to prevent meat from rotating. Cypriot skewers are designed to match with that rotating device, so they are thin and have square cross-section. Small souvla is not falling from them through its size and weight. Bigger pieces of meat usually rotate on the Cypriot skewers. That’s why some pieces are turning round and some stay faced the same side to the fire while you rotate all the skewers together.

An alternative to skewers could be grill and barbeque grates. You can use it also for making stakes or grilled vegetables. The assortment in Cyprus is quite wide, so you can buy good quality devices at affordable prices. I would advice you to go to Leroy Merlin in Nicosia for them.

Also you can find ready-to-use disposable grills in every big (and small) supermarket. The package consists of thin aluminum container (similar to backing ones), coal, lighter fluid and small grate. Well, this kit is too small and inconvenient for making a kebab but if your goal is to grill some sausages or burger patties — it’s quite the thing. The average price for the kit is around 5 Euros.

3. Usually the locals prefer to go to picnic areas in the morning for some unknown reason. And it’s empty and silent during afternoon. Well I think that it’s better to come here before the sunset. The landscape is more beautiful; it’s a perfect time to drink some beer (drink it in the middle of the day is kind of tawdry) and what is the most important — it’s much colder in the evening. And no people around of course.

I would say that making barbeque — is one of the most important traditions of domestic tourism in Cyprus that is timeless. Because this isn’t just about having some food. It’s about the process: it’s nice to make meals outside in nature while drinking fresh cool beer and chatting with your friends and family!

3

Latchi +

Domestic tourism in Cyprus, Latchi village

What is Latchi village and what for you can go there — the answer to this question main part of you knows that already. But if you are one of those, who doesn't, I’ll tell you that first of all the village is far away from almost every city in Cyprus (some sort of road trip for half a day or even for a whole one), second, it’s the place with the best fish taverns on the island and third — the sea in Latchi is a little bit warmer than anywhere else. And last but not least — small boats and yachts go from Latchi fishing port to the amazingly beautiful Blue Lagoon. The boats arrive close to the bay and their passengers get a chance to take a swim in the sea right from aboard. Also Latchi village has a tiny touristic street. Long story short, you can find with what to amuse yourself for the whole day.

However I named this touristic route as Latchi+. Let’s talk more detailed about that plus sign.

The road to Latchi from Pafos (and the possibility you will drive through Pafos and not through the north coast is 99%) is quite interesting itself (though it may not seem so at the first glance) and there are several places located close to it, which are a must to visit.

1. Kritou Tera waterfall. It’s situated a little far from the main route connecting Pafos and Polis but this detour is quick and it won’t take a lot of time to get there and return back.

This waterfall is the most beautiful and the most unpopular on the island at the same time. The reason is simple: the majority of Cyprus waterfalls are in Troodos Mountains. And Troodos in turn is relatively close to every city in Cyprus (because its location right in the middle of the island) and has plenty of other attractive for tourists places in addition to waterfalls. That’s why everyone knows about Troodos waterfalls. Kritou Tera on the opposite is located in between farming areas, far away from other touristic objects and paths. It’s hard to believe that you will find something interesting here even when you are already close to it. There is nothing but boring fields bleached by the sun and proverbial carob trees. The boondocks in one word. But the appearance is deceiving in this case. Right between the fields there is a rift with a river flowing down in it. The rift is quite picturesque itself and the waterfall you will remember for the rest of your life.

In reality there are two waterfalls there. One — closer and not that fancy (however it has a big bath); to get to the second one you have to go all that way following a narrow path. Second waterfall is a complex of small natural caves and steep slopes covered with green moss. The water comes from above right on the moss. Cute river crabs are running here and there in small natural pools. If you want to see really cool waterfall, it’s a must to go here.

 

 

2. Restaurants. There are several very interesting authentic Cyprus restaurants not far from the road to Latchi.

Pagkratiuos Tavern is a restaurant that has a history of a century. Everything here is made according to traditional Cyprus style. You can try such exotic dishes as snails and even doves here. You’ll agree that’s an interesting place.

Farmyard restaurant. Another authentic place specialized on Cyprus cuisine following old recipes. They say you can get the best traditional Trachanas soup in the country there.
If you add all these places to your route, you will get amazing and eventful trip. As good as to go to Croatia.

4

Shopping in Nicosia and a Little Romance for Dessert

Domestic tourism in Cyprus, shopping in Nicosia

What a tourism without shopping, huh? To my opinion shopping in Cyprus is better to perform in the capital of the country.

Here are few main shopping centres in Nicosia:

1. Old town (Ledra — the main street of it and the nearby surroundings) with tons of Chinese stuff and souvenirs for the tourists.

2. Several streets near Ledra (mostly boutiques and clothes stores).

3. A cluster of chain stores in Strovolos. Here are side-by-sideIkea, Leroy Merlin, Super Home Centre and Mall of Cyprus. The last one is tiny and meaningless as I see it. It makes sense to go to this part for various household shopping instead of clothing.

4. Nicosia Mall. It’s a new freshly opened and the most trendy and biggest shopping mall in Cyprus. And that’s what I would recommend for relaxing and comfortable shopping.

Here you can find almost everything ordinary shopping malls around the world have: cool big supermarket, dozens of stores (by the way some of them you can visit only in this city in Cyprus), spacious food court (including cafes for healthy food devotees), cinema, modern area with arcades, hardware stores and plenty of free parking lots. The shopping mall is located literally in a field. Due to that you can enjoy amazing view of Kyrinea Mountains from the food court terrace. It’s kind of easy to spend from few hours up to the half of a day in the mall.

Well, enough about shopping, let’s talk about the promised romance.

The route E903 leads from Nicosia and goes close to the shopping mall. This is one of the most beautiful mountain roads in Cyprus to my mind. In Nicosia neighbourhood it winds along picturesque fields first but quite fast dives into the mountains. Rivers, gorges, cliffs as well as several cozy taverns are at your service. Dozens of places where you can drink yummy Cyprus coffee while sitting in shade close to the road are spread all over the route. Some of them will treat you with panorama views for tens of kilometers around. And plus, the road goes through the main transit point of all the tourists of Troodos — Agros village. This is one of the biggest and most wealthy villages on the island.

Where to head after Agros — the choice is up to you. If you live in Pafos, you can take beautiful roads leading to another touristic village — Omodos; if you are a citizen of Limassol, the road to the left will lead you home very quickly; and if your home is in Larnaka or Nicosia, you can turn right and return to the zero point.

Well, you will see nothing super extra wow on E903 route. It’s just a lovely road perfect for road trips. I think that spend first half of the day shopping in the mall and another half — on a beautiful forest road tasting good Cyprus coffee — is a nice activity for a weekend.

5

Hiking “Venetian Bridges” Trail

Domestic Tourism in Cyprus

There were times when Venetians were strolling along the streets of Cyprus and camel caravans loaded with copper went through Troodos Mountains. Actually even the Latin word “cuprum” that means copper comes from the name of the island — Cyprus.

The period of Venetian rule on the island was short — a little bit less than one hundred years at the turn of XV-XVI centuries. Well, according to the locals’ point of view, there were not the best days because Venetians professed a colonial type of regime. What means they denude the island of its resources giving nothing in exchange.Almost nothing to be more precise. One can definitely break a leg in Troodos region. Even now. And it was even less “maintained” back then. So, to make the transportation of “nation’s heritage” more comfortable, Venetians built plenty of their amazing bridges all over Cyprus. Nowadays these bridges are the only heritage of their rule. Of course not all of them because the main part of the bridges didn’t survive to this day. But some of them still remain. There is even a 17 km long touristic trail, which includes three Venetian bridges: Kelefos, Elia and Rudia. The trail created by Department of Forests of Cyprus and replicate the Kamilostrata path (ancient Venetian camel route).

17 km — is a quite solid distance. If you are an amateur and think your average speed is around 5km/h what means you will be able to reach the final point in 3 hours, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Because of the road humps and height differences your speed will be around 3 km/h in the best-case scenario. So you’d better to plan 6 hours route minimum. And don’t forget you need to go back. Plus you will have a snack, take some rest and spend some time observing bridges — so it’s already 15 hours. It’s kind of difficult to hike such a long distance in one day, that’s why I’m ready to offer you some alternative options:

  1. You can take a bike with you. You will definitely have time for everything in this case.
  2. Or ask someone to drive and pick you up at the final point of the route so you haven’t go back.
  3. Third option is to take a shortcut and visit two bridges instead of three. Elia and Kelefos are not far from each other (3,5 km). But Rudia is further.
  4. So you can go to Elia first and then to Kelefos by car and walk the distance to Rudia Bridge by foot.
  5. However the route itself starts not by the bridge but by the village Kaminaria. It’s around 5 km from it to the first object — Elia Bridge. You can skip this part of the trail too if you want.

Let’s talk about the trail more detailed. It consists of four sections:

1 Section: Kaminaria village — Elia Bridge. The path will offer you great panoramic views.

2 Section: Elia Bridge — Kelefos Bridge — Pera Vasa village. It goes through beautiful pine grove. There is a picnic area near Pera Vasa village.

3 Section: Pera Vasa village — Rudia Bridge. The path will show you amazing views of Arminou dam and water reservoir.

4 Section: Rudia Bridge — Vretsia village. The total length of this part is 3 km. The path will lead you to the abandoned Vretsia village. There are quite a lot of such villages in this region — Turkish-Cypriots left them during the tragic events of 1974.

Brief information about the bridges

The most famous and popular Kelefos bridge is on Rudia river. Touristic agencies regularly drive tourists here and the bridge is included in many excursion programs of Troodos. Good modern highway will lead you to the bridge (however if you choose jeep safari tour, they will drive on a terrible parallel road. It’s you who decided for Jeep and safari, so — enjoy!). I’ve been there many times and the place havenever been empty. People are circling in groups and newlyweds going there to make a photo session.

Kelefos is the longest among the bridges. It’s length is 30 m, height — 6 m and width — 3,2 m.

Elia is 5,5 m high, 15,5 m long and 2,4 m wide. This bridge is the smallest one, located on Foiniriver.

Rudia is 2,8 m wide with 10 m high arch and 28 m length. It’s built over Xerosriver to the west from Pera Vasa village. The bridge is both the biggest and the most difficult to access because there are no good roads leading to it and the area itself is also quite much a wilderness. I’m pretty sure not many our readers were there.

These Venetian bridges are not the only ones in Cyprus. However if you google for “Venetian bridges Cyprus” most likely you won’t find any information about the others. But they exist. For instance, beautiful big Venetian bridge Akapnou could be found here, in a very different part of the island. It’s not a trendy place because it’s located in the middle of nowhere and it’s not in a good state either. And there are several more. I will not describe each of them in details because the main topic is “domestic tourism” and not “Venetian bridges”. The main three bridges are the most interesting by themselves and quite convenient as a part of a common trail. I’ll think about writing an extra article about the bridges later.

Whole day hiking activity (by the way nothing stopping you from hiking this trail several days sleeping in a tent at night) that includes forests and various ancient sights is another great plan for a weekend to my opinion. Especially if you are a fan of active leisure.

6

Romantic Date on the Mountain Top

Domestic Tourism in Cyprus

There is one freaking awesome place in Cyprus, perhaps one of the most beautiful on the island. Madari Mountain top (situated here). Based on my visual analysis you can see 30% of the whole territory of Cyprus at once in the good weather. Among things that are visible from the top are: beaches of the north coast, Larnaka, Nicosia and Olympus Mountain. There is a fire-prevention station on Madari top. Observers do their duty everyday checking if there are any fires around. As a rule these people are quite friendly and let tourists climb up to the station’s veranda, so they can admire panoramic views. It’s cool standing there at the station but not very romantic. We will search for romantic in the opposite from the station direction while going on tiny path to the mountain range. In 10 minutes you will discover a bench on the mountain top. Usually there is no one there and the atmosphere is peaceful, majestic and romantic.

When you sit down on the bench your legs will be very close to the edge. It’s just half a step away.

It’s great here always, rain or shine. When the sky is clear — you are able to see villages and towns far away down the mountain. When the weather is cloudy — it’s often the case that clouds fly down the top creating an illusion you are sitting in heaven.

But it’s not enough just sit and stare I think. It would be also nice to drink something and have a snack. For those purpose I usually go to Sigma bakery (located here) in advance to buy coffee and warm croissants with chocolate. And bring them up to the Madari top. I’ve already checked — during warm weather (and cool too) both coffee and croissants keep warm all the way from Sigma bakery to the romantic bench on the mountain top.

I admit I took several girls on a date to Madari top (I mean, not all together. One at a time.During my single days). And afterwards each of them said that it has been the most romantic date in their lives. So if you already bored of visiting Limassol Marina restaurants alternating them with walks on the beach, a trip to Madari will be cool, unique and extraordinary alternative to please your beloved.

7

Abandoned Cyprus

Domestic Tourism in Cyprus

If you arrive to Cyprus as a tourist the chances to see something abandoned here are quite low. The country shows only its “fancy” sides to the tourists. Maximum you can get — a walk through pseudo-abandoned Fikardou village or a short trip to “sinister” Berengaria hotel. But it’s very unlikely that all these places will give you an authentic feeling of abandonment and true stalkers have nothing to do there.

Secret lost world of Cyprus is hiding from tourist’s cameras behind the trees, hills and mountains. For instance, many people go to Troodos to take a walk and don’t even know there is a whole desolated parallel world in the dense pine groves just few meters away from well-trodden paths. You have to live here for a while to see the other Cyprus. Only then it will slowly open its creaking secret doors to you.

Getting into the abandoned houses is of course a specific type of tourism not all would like. You should be a little bit interested in the history, and a little bit of introvert and adventurer at the same time. If you are one of those, the island definitely has something to show you on the weekend:

1. Abandoned villages

There are surprisingly many of them. The most part of these villages became deserted after military activities on the territory of Cyprus in 70es. But some got abandoned because of other reasons: earthquakes, economical factors etc.

The level of damage is also different. Some settlements remind destroyed to the ground Afghanistan villages, in others you can find by some miracle not broken utensils. There are even several villages that stayed desolated for years but now people started to live there again. In other words there’s plenty to choose from.

If you look for colouring and entourage, I recommend you to visit Souskiou village (it’s here). Very few houses left there, so it’s mostly ruins but very atmospheric looking ruins — a great place for a photoshoot a la “Afghanistan”. Even the landscape to match — everything is yellow bleached with the mountains on the background.

If you want to look at old British manors, you can go to Pano Amiantos (here). The lower village is old Cypriot houses (built in Troodos style) and the upper part is purely British. Almost all the Cypriot houses are abandoned however you can still meet few people there (mostly in the lowest part). Some stuff is still could be found inside the deserted houses. British houses are in worse state but some authenticity is still remaining.

By the way this place could also be destination of your choice if you are looking for some creepy stuff. When you go from Limassol to Troodos this village will be to the right and to the left is a large abandoned hospital building. Looks magnificent and sinister. Especially in the evenings in winter.

But if you would like to take a look at how people used to live back in times, the best option for you will be Vretsia village. I’ve already mentioned it while we were talking about Venetian bridges. Here is its location.

Despite that a popular touristic path goes through the village, the houses here are in the best condition comparing to other deserted settlements. Kitchenware, furniture, clothing, toys — everything is just laying on their places untouched for decades. From time to time you can meet police patrols and patrols of some other services I didn’t recognize. One day my wife and I were sitting in the yard of one of the abandoned houses and having short picnic (brought some cheese and meat with us and ate it in the fresh air) while several patrol cars passed by. So they have seen us but weren’t really interested.

Another village that remained in a quite good condition is Trozena (could be found here). But I would highly advise you against going into the empty houses there. They are in a critical condition so the roof easily could fall on your head or you on the opposite could fall down through the floor.

However it’s quite nice to walk its streets. Before the village was completely abandoned but recently a family bought a house there. They are friendly people and gladly go out to chat with those, who came there for an “excursion”.

The villages I named above are the most interesting. The rest are in much worse condition for the most part.

By the way, many of these villages still have gardens where grow and get ripe fruits that already no one needs.

In conclusion I want to remind you about Platres. Well, this beautiful mountain village that was the main touristic base of colonial authorities in Troodos is not abandoned. But it’s old and full of secrets and mysteries. You can find a lot of old manors people left many years ago while walking partly hidden paths and climbing old fences. A very atmospheric place.

2. Abandoned objects

Cyprus has something exciting for stalkers and hobos.

In Limassol for instance there is a huge abandoned winery in the very heart of the city, where, if you wish, you can find wine in bottles, packaging of all sorts as well as furniture and other office supplies. The location of the winery is here. Probably it’s one of the most interesting and huge abandoned objects on the island. However, if you want to take a look, you’d better not draw this out into a lifetime special because they began to demolish it part by part.

Domestic Tourism in Cyprus

Another interesting but dangerous place is an old airport building in Nicosia. Located here. Once popular but deserted after the war place. On the landing strip there are several aircrafts left, attacked and that’s why unable to fly any more. The building of the airport is also remained.

But as I said there are few nuances here. The territory of the airport is a part of UN buffer zone now, what means you can get in serious trouble until arresting if you get caught by a patrol. But there are plenty of videos on Internet witnessing that some daredevils managed to sneak inside and back.

Also somewhere in Troodos mountains there is a many kilometers long large tunnel with maze-like passages and deep wells. And as a rule, legends tell stories about gold hidden in its subsoil. Why gold? Because it led to the shafts where different metals were mined back then. Including gold. Here is the geolocation of this place. It’s an old abandoned miners camp. The entrances look quite creepy.

Another object that could be worth your attention is a junkyard of old buses and trucks. It’s situated here. A great place for a post-apocalyptic photoshoot. But there is also an important aspect — this place is close to the British military camp and could be reached only if you drive from the north. And even then it won’t be very close — around 500 m away from a gate. The junkyard itself is behind the gate surrounded with a fence. You can crawl inside through a hole in it. People who were there say that they met a British patrol. However patrols are quite indifferent to the “stalkers”.

Plenty of unoperated forgotten mines are spread all over Cyprus. There are so many of them that I think there is no point in sharing the coordinates of every single mine because it’s easy to find them on the Internet. The entrances to several of them are sealed but the rest is open for prying eyes. However this type of attraction is an acquired taste of course. I’m not a fan so I can’t share any details about inside passages and shafts.

One more place that is quite strange and specific — abandoned mines of Mitsero village (located somewhere around this place). There remained huge mechanisms and diesel-punk constructions. The object is protected by UNESCO. Close to the mines there is a “red lake”. Workers dig a quarry here, which was filled with the water from the rains. The unusual red colour of the lake comes from the high content of copper and iron in the water.

The place itself looks sinister and creepy. Well, it’s not without a reason. A Cypriot maniac was active around there dropping his victim’s bodies down the mines and into the lake.

3. Ancient objects and cities

It’s quite unusual to call ancient ruins “abandoned” but technically this is what they are. History of Cyprus is very long and you can see many different ancient architectural objects in every corner of the island. But actually the most interesting from remaining places are in Pafos.

Here are top 3 of the most interesting to my opinion:

  1. Tombs of the kings — a huge well-preserved necropolis.
  2. Neo Pafos — ruins of an ancient city in the present-day Pafos.
  3. Catacombs of Saint Solomoni. It’s a huge underground maze with a well-preserved church.

But this is far from the only amusing things you will find in Pafos. You can spend several days in this city discovering its archeological sites.

8

Religious Route

Domestic Tourism in Cyprus

Here we will continue with the format of our article by telling you both about few popular places together with a couple of not widely known ones.

Perhaps Cyprus isn’t that good for any type of tourists like it is for orthodox pilgrims. They will find everything they want and even more here. The majority of the villages have the word “Agois” or “Agia” and there are churches, chapels and monasteries wherever you go. People in Cyprus pay way more attention to religion comparing them with also orthodox Russia for example where for the majority of citizens the affiliation to this particular religious faith is nothing more than an odd tradition you should follow.

Several Apostles taught their messages in Cyprus. There are early Christian memorials on the island. So if you are religious and interesting in history you can go basically everywhere — you will definitely find something interesting. But anyway let me offer you a great trip for the whole day.

The route begins right behind your house door. In my case it’s in Limassol.

Let’s take your car keys, something to eat, some of your nearest and dearest and drive to Episkopi village. But not to that one you are thinking about right now.

There are two villages with the same name in Cyprus. When you google “Episkopi” you usually get information only about the first one. It’s situated at the seashore not far from Limassol and is quite famous. The second Episkopi village, located in mountains, only a handful of people ever know about. But looking from religious point of view the second one is much more important and interesting. The village is located far from highways and touristic routes at a height of 190 m above the sea level. Here.

What interesting could we find there? The village has the biggest monolith of the island — a giant stone touching the sky with its top. 70m high and 250 m wide. It looks quite impressive and magnificent. But that’s not our focus. This was a place Saint Hilarion lived at in IV century BC, who, according to the legends, stopped tsunamis and threw cliffs at demons. Actually, exorcism was his main occupation in Cyprus. However he has never taken any money for that and lived a quiet peaceful life. After a while, in XI century, there was a church built on the place where he used to live. Basically right under the monolith, in a small cave. Miraculously a part of that church remained to the present day. Now there are lit candles and icons hanging there, so the place is not empty.

After your visit to the holy place you can go to the small tavern near the monolith. I haven’t tried any food there but coffee is very good.

This part of the trip doesn’t take long but it’s an atmospheric and quite impressive place that could be good not as a main destination but as part of the route.
Let’s move on.

Now we will go up higher in the mountains. Next stop: Chrysorroyiatissa Monastery (located here). The monastery is open already since XII century, however the main part of the buildings is dated back to XVIII century. It is also very famous because of the miracles connected with its Panagia Chrysorroyiatissa icon.

Also the monastery has its own museum. The exhibition shows relics of the monastery collected between XII and XIX centuries. Among the most valuable are: cross pendant of XII century, ancient icon from XIV century and paten from XV century. Except that the collection includes: liturgical utensils, chandeliers made out of Murano glass, candles, manuscripts, deacon and abbot church attire, crosiers, censers, gold brocade shroud, painted ceramic Eastern eggs, belt buckles, reliquaries and other heirlooms.

There is a painting gallery on the territory of the monastery, which exhibits 55 paintings of Cypriot and foreign artists collected in 1978-2010 by Abbot Dionysius.

And in addition — they have their own winery producing very good (by most accounts, one of the best on the island) vintage wine.

Optional — make a brief pit stop in Pano Panagia village after your visit to the monastery and take a look at the birthplace of the most esteemed Cyprus leader of modern times — Archbishop Makarios. The village is small but pretty much “alive and active”. The locals are very friendly. While my wife and I were walking a beautiful narrow pedestrian cobblestone street leading to Makarios birthplace we went into a small tavern (you can’t even find it on Google maps) and ordered Cyprus coffee. The host of the tavern brought our coffee, water and a plate with cookies. And when we asked for a check he just smiled and said: “Don’t worry, everything is on the house”.

Let’s climb up higher and go through dense wild inhabitant forest (I mean people don’t live here but various animals — of course do) to the most famous Cyprus monastery — Kykkos. By the way, you will pass by the Cedar Valley — a small patch of the forest covered with these magnificent conifers. You don’t even need to drive off the road.

If you live in Cyprus you probably already have been in Kykkos. But religious tourism differs from an ordinary one in the main aspect: people go to these places not to gawk at “cool monastery houses” but for a certain mind state. Holy endowed places have their own atmosphere according to the faithful. So orthodox tourist come here to touch intangible holy substances. That’s why it doesn’t matter how many times you have been at the same place, what kind of place is that — is the most important in this case. And of course such a gem of the orthodox world like Cyprus should be definitely included in your trip.

Kykkos Monastery (here is the location). It was founded in XI century. Its main relic is Kykkos icon of Mother of God, which performed many miracles. Majority of pilgrims come to Kykkos exactly to see this icon.

The museum of Kykkos Monastery is a unique repository of culture and history of Cyprus; since 1992 it’s open for tourists and pilgrims daily (from 10 to 16 from November to April and from 10 to 18 from May to October).

Museum’s exposition includes several halls exhibiting Christian artworks. The museum is located inside the monastery (together with treasury, which is an integral part of it). Its exhibits: icons, shrines, embroideries, manuscripts, woodcarving, ecclesiastic attires etc. show sincere piety and history of the monastery at the same time.

Also there is a tomb of Archbishop Makarios close to monastery that is worth to visit too. Majestic and very beautiful place.

I think you are already tired after walking the halls of Kykkos Monastery but I suggest to go to one more last place. We will drive from Kykkos through Prodromos village to Trooditissa Monastery. However in this case it’s not the monastery that is interesting there (what is more the monastery is often closed for tourists) and we are going to park not close to it but on the same named picnic area (here). And again we are not interested in barbeque and noisy children running around: so we park our car, leave picnic area and go to the right. After a while you will notice stairs up on the mountain. It’s this way. Go up the stairs until the very top (it could be quite demanding for old people) and get to a small site hidden from view. Here, carved right in the cliff, is a secret chapel with few icons and always burning candles lit by nuns of Trooditissa Monastery. The place is very calming, beautiful and lends itself to hasteless thinking about some philosophical or theosophical questions.

This is the end point of our trip. It was a day full of events and impressions. The route itself resembles a horseshoe with its shape. We started from a foothill and finish at one as well.

The next stop: home!

9

“Welcome to Alaska”

Domestic Tourism in Cyprus

I found local “Alaska” by accident. I wanted to walk around near Troodos. Google maps showed me that there is a road, which leads to the valley down the mountains. In reality I haven’t found any road there: only forest and steep crumbling slopes. But I already started my trip so it was no point to turn back. It took me quite long to go down but I found my way to an amazing place. Frankly speaking I’ve never been in Alaska but I’ve seen it on TV. And the nature I found near Troodos looks exactly the same.

One of the high-altitudeest rivers in Cyprus is flowing here. Thanks to the river and climate (it’s cool here and the sun doesn’t burn all the plants during the summer like in other parts of the island) the landscape is unique. Clear mountain river, beautiful cliffs surrounded by waist-high green grass, pines everywhere and magnificent mountains on the background. From the moment I saw all this beauty I even brought all my friends and relatives there. And everyone from them was impressed by the sight. But “Alaska’s” river landscapes are not the only thing that you can find there. And, you would be surprised, it’s not even the main attraction. If you walk along the riverbed to the end, there will be a lake with turquoise blue water (however it dries up completely from time to time) waiting for you and further — Martian landscapes. It’s a bottom of old abandoned asbestos quarry.

Whimsically shaped mountains, stony soil like in the pictures taken by mars rovers and panoramic views.

The whole route from the beginning of the river to the bottom of the quarry is not very long — only several kilometers. However, because you should walk mainly on the crumbling slopes and jump from stone to stone on the riverbed it could take some time. I would plan to spend the whole day on the “Alaska” trip. And of course don’t forget to bring some food to eat on “Mars”. This kind of domestic tourism could be compared to hiking in the forest somewhere in continental Europe.

10

Pedulas and All, All, All

Domestic tourism in Cyprus, Kalopanayiotis village

What touristic villages in Cyprus have the most visitors and are on everybody’s A-list? Lefkara, Pissouri and Kakopetria. It’s almost always noisy and crowded in these three settlements. But to my opinion the most beautiful and interesting villages is completely another trio. It’s Pedulas, Moutoullas and Kalopanayiotis. Well, I don’t mean they much better then the first three but definitely worth your attention. All three villages are neighboursso one is slowly transformed into another.

The majority of settlements in the mountains look like ghost villages. People live there but you usually meet nobody on the streets. Well, what there is to do here? The only place where you will meet someone — is a tavern obligatory for every Cyprus village, which is usually standing in the heart of the settlement. But the life is way different in Pedulas, Moutoulas and Kaloponayiotis. There are plenty places to go to eat and drink as well as several attractions — quite often local authorities together with villagers organize public events. So you will find where to go and what to see. Now let’s talk about each village in more detail.

Pedulas. The highest of all three.1100 m above the sea level. You will find it here.

It’s a cherry capital of Cyprus. It has the largest cherry gardens in the country. The village even has its own coat of arms picturing this berry. Wild cherries grow in the forests all around it.
The route that goes through the village leads to the west part of Cyprus, to Kykkos monastery, Cedar Valley, moufflon’s natural preserve etc. That’s why Pedulas is also a kind of transit base for many tourists. A lot of hostels and cafes of all types are concentrated near that road.

If you not take a turn to the village and drive 100 m more on the route, you will see a huge modern café to the left, a very unusual type for this kind of countryside landscapes. On the ground floor you can order things from a menu, the first floor is a buffet that is open only on Sundays. The buffet costs 15 Euros. The variety of dishes is not that wide (4-5 main courses including kleftiko and salads) but tasty. As a bonus you can enjoy a nice view from a veranda while sitting at one of the tables a little bit further from the entrance. Actually you will have a chance to sit at those tables only if you booked it in advance.

If you walk through the restaurant’s terrace behind the building, you will see a modern chapel and a big cross up on the hill noticeable from a distance. This place will provide you with a lovely mountain view.

If you go in the opposite direction, you will discover conifer forests with really old trees. This forest close to Pedulas village is one of the most beautiful to my opinion.

Pedulas, like the other two villages, looks like a snake road going down the mountain. And the houses are built all around this snake. First, highest part of the snake-shaped road plays a role of old village centre for Pedulas. Here are a lot of tourists, cafes and the life is lived. The most part of the cafes can brag with amazing views from their patios.

Following tiny side paths you will find yourself in an authentic part of the village with plenty of old churches and a couple of museums: Byzantium Museum and Museum of Folklore. Churches by the way are ancient — dated back to XII, XIV and XV centuries.

Regularly there are public events taking place in Pedulas. One of the most important and biggest is annual cherry festival.

If you drive further on the snake-road you will find yourself in Moutoulas already in few turns (here is it on the map). This village is located much lower — at the height of 760 m above the sea level.

Among its sights — another church of XIII century guarded by UNESCO. Despite its tiny size, the abundance of different cafes along the road astonishes the newcomers.

And finally Kalopanayiotis village (on the map) — the last and the most peculiar of them. It’s located at the height of around 700 m above the sea level.

Even when Kalopanayiotis is a mountain village it is suitable for walks thanks to a small road going parallel to the main route. This road is quite picturesque and goes through old but “neat” village centre.

The cobblestone road will show you the view of the mountain valley.

Another notable thing about the village: it has a whole monastery in it. It’s inoperative nowadays but very colourful. It was built in XI century. By the way a Venetian bridge is located close to the monastery! Here a mighty river is flowing among the green lushes. The place is very pretty. What is more the whole village could be seen from the riverbank.

French restaurant is hiding in a small building close to the monastery and the bridge. It’s tiny indeed — has only a couple of tables. Prices are a little bit too high and interior far from a sophisticated one. On the other hand they have real French vintage wines and cook foiegras, frogs and other national delicacies. Nice blues is played in the restaurant and its hosts are very friendly.

Height difference between the monastery and the main road is significant — around 70 meters. A cable car will help you to travel such a distance with comfort. Looks really amazing, just imagine: tiny authentic village and, bang, a modern cable car all metal and glass. It is not free by the way. You have to pay 1 Euro for the chance to save your muscles from additional exercises.

What else is attractive about the village — it’s the locals. Many of them are not sitting back wandering the mountain landscapes with bored glaze but start to organize their own tiny but creative businesses.

One of the locals offers safari tours on quads. He is not speaking English and that’s why only the villagers know about these tours. But I would recommend it to everyone. First of all it’s the only safari tour in Cyprus where they will show you wild animals. Yep, other well-promoted trips have nothing to do with actual safari except of the common name. Usually safari tour Cyprus-style means that you will drive quad through some natural preserve or visit some obsolete ancient objects. But in Pedulas for instance you can observe moufflons in the wild. As a bonus in the middle of your route your guide will treat you with good Cyprus coffee and green walnuts jam as a dessert. In the final part of the trip (which is several hours long) you will be brought to a great tavern where they cook many different dishes of the traditional Cyprus cuisine. The food is delicious and they have a buffet. Maybe you know that people are often risking while buying guided tours that they will end up having lunch in some second-rate restaurants with terrible food at high prices. I would say the possibility of this scenario is usually 8 to 10. But the tavern you will visit after safari tour around Pedulas turned out to be so good that it immediately became one of my favourite places on the island.

Another local bored by doing nothing in this countryside suddenly got a thought: what if I became a king of burgers? So he started to attend courses, read special literature, learn and gather information. As a result after several years he opened his own authentic burger café right in Pedulas. Since that time there are burger festivals in the village, which often take place in evenings. Such kind of event usually gathers around 200 people. Streets are decorated with colourful lanterns and the festival itself is followed by life music performance (not some kind of amateur talent show but great contemporary bands). Prices for burgers are quite affordable. These festivals are usually very homey and merry.
Few beautiful touristic footpaths begin in the village. The nature around is nice and it’s a pure pleasure walking here.

In the end I also want to mention one of the most modern and posh hotel complexes in Troodos — Casale Panayiotis Traditional Village Hotel & Spa, which is located in Kalopanayiotis village too. The buildings of the complex perfectly match with the landscape of the settlement — they are built in traditional for these places architectural style. Looks like it’s not a super modern hotel but just well maintained village houses. However inside everything is high-class. It’s a four-star hotel and believe me, it has something to offer to you. Of course prices here are not modest accordingly. An average cost of the room is 200 Euros per night.

It is better to synchronize your trip to Marafasa valley (it’s where all three villages are located exactly) with some kind of festival or holiday. So you can get a full kit: have fun, admire the nature, try yummy food and take a look at some historical monuments.

 

Well the domestic tourism could be quite solid in Cyprus! Especially taking into account that the whole island be like “200 km in every direction”. Despite its small size the island can offer you plenty of activities to every taste, the majority of which are outdoor and promise you a lot of fun and new impressions. But of course domestic tourism could never replace travelling abroad. And actually it’s not the goal. On behalf of our editors team we wish ultimate victory in fight against coronavirus and complete restore of sea and flight traffic. But until then — parakalo!

Have a nice weekend!