So, here it is, my first blog post! My Year 5 Primary School teacher used to call me ‘Little Miss Write-A-Lot’, so I hope I don’t go on for too long…
As some of you may know, there was a chance that I was going to move to Cyprus for a couple of years. Long story short it didn’t happen, but I still managed to thoroughly explore first! 7 days were just enough for a whistle-stop tour of the entire island to give us a true flavour of Cyprus; and it didn’t disappoint!
We are not really ‘resort’ people. Although we do love a day (or ten) sunbathing and relaxing, we like to space them out amongst exploring and activities, so our itineraries always aim to be the best of both worlds. Here is how we spent our week…
Flying into Larnaca on Saturday evening, we organised a hire car (I can’t remember the exact cost but it was very reasonable for a week), and spent the first night with friends living in Cyprus before starting exploring on Sunday morning.
Our first stop was breakfast in Limassol, an hour’s drive West from Larnaca along the coast. The roads in Cyprus are really good for the most part, and so quiet! We had breakfast at Remezzo Caferesto and wandered around the marina before continuing onto Ancient Kourion, 20 minutes further along the coast. The views speak for themselves! It was a great start to our trip and the place was empty (an Instagrammer’s DREAM). It really was like stepping back in time and we loved exploring the ruins.
On Sunday and Monday night we treated ourselves to a stay at The Elysium Hotel, one of the most beautiful and stylish hotels we have ever stayed in. They were even shooting a fashion campaign in the reception area when we arrived (way to make us feel ridiculously underdressed and sweaty haha!) We did mean to go into central Paphos and visit the Tombs of the Kings but to be honest we just stayed in the hotel the whole time as it was so amazing, and had one of those sunbathing days I was talking about! On our first night we ate at the hotel and on the second we went to Duomo Ristorante Italiano. Check out the hotel…
The real exploring started on Tuesday. We set off early towards the Troodos Mountains. About 30 minutes into our journey we stopped at Aphrodite’s Beach, allegedly the birthplace of the Greek Goddess of Love. There was plenty of parking and we stopped to take some snaps and buy some drinks before continuing up into the mountains.
Another 50 minutes’ drive took us to the start of the Milomeris Waterfall Trail. Who doesn’t love a waterfall?! The route was about 2km through lovely woodlands and took us about 40 minutes, including photo stops of course! The route was hilly in places and there were a fair few steps but the average-to-fit person could complete it without any trouble. I think you can also drive pretty close to the waterfall rather than doing the walking trail if you prefer.
After a quick dip in the waterfall (it was super cold!), we continued up into the heart of Troodos, right next to Mount Olympus, the highest peak in Greece. We welcomed the cooler weather with open arms after a couple of days roasting in the sun! It dropped from about 32 degrees to more like 22, and we sat on the terrace of Hotel Troodos with a drink to relax before driving to Nicosia, the capital.
We stayed in The Classic Hotel – it was in a perfect location to explore Nicosia and opposite a huge (and cheap) car park which was handy. They treated us to an upgrade and the room was beautiful. That evening we ate at Piatsa Gourounaki, (quite rightly ranked as number 1 in Nicosia on TripAdvisor!)
For those of you who don’t know, Cyprus is actually split into two. The South of the island is Greek and the North is Turkish, and there is a border crossing between the two. Nicosia is a unique city of two halves; you have to take your passport to cross from one side to the other!
The difference between the North and South of Nicosia is huge. It was a cool experience to do an on-foot border crossing where walking 20 paces felt like you had entered another country! In the Turkish side we visited Buyuk Han and got lost in the markets. There is still so much evidence of war, you can even see bullet holes in buildings which makes the North-South conflict feel very real.
If you want to take a hired car into the North you have to purchase separate insurance, so we arranged this before crossing the border through the UN buffer zone.
The insurance vendor suggested that we stop by Saint Heralion Castle before reaching our hotel in Kyrenia. It ended up being a real highlight of our trip – I love how meeting people on our travels often results in finding amazing places that we were not expecting to see! Apparently the castle was a basis of Walt Disney’s inspiration for the Magic Kingdom, and if that isn’t enough to make you want to visit I don’t know what is!!
For our night in Kyrenia we stayed at The Olive Tree Hotel but decided to venture out for dinner based upon a recommendation that we must eat at the Bellapais Gardens Restaurant by somebody I sat next to on the plane! We hadn’t booked and we were very lucky to get a table. This is still one of our most memorable meals out together to date (and we eat out A LOT). Everything about it was perfect; the setting, the food and the service! There was even an opera performance in the Monastery which we could hear during the meal. We wandered through the grounds after dinner and watched some of the performance through the window and it was amazing!
Before heading South to Protaras, we visited the lovely Kyrenia Harbour on Thursday morning. We wandered the cute little streets and sipped smoothies by the water. There is a castle in Kyrenia but we didn’t visit as we didn’t think it would rival St Hilarion!
In Protaras we stayed at the beautiful Grecian Park Hotel. We spent the majority of our final two days relaxing but explored Konnos Bay (crowded), beautiful Cape Greco and the ‘Love Arch Bridge’.
For dinner we ate at the Lemongrass Pan Asian Restaurant in central Protaras (we LOVE Asian cuisine) and at Ravioli’s Italian, owned by the hotel and situated just across the road.
To us Cyprus was a hidden gem and exceeded our expectations. It didn’t end up being our home but we will be back one day for sure!
Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments!
Our week in summary:
Arrive PM, stay in Larnaca.
Larnaca – Limassol – Ancient Kourion – Paphos
Paphos – Aphrodite’s Beach – Milomeris Waterfalls – Troodos – Nicosia
Nicosia – Saint Heralion castle – Kyrenia
Kyrenia harbor – Protaras
Konnos Bay – Cape Greco
Love Arch Bridge – fly home