CYPRUS: HIDDEN GEMS AND LOCAL HANGOUTS
TOP 25 BOHO PLACES FOR EXPATS AND TOURISTS TO KNOW
We lived in Cyprus for several years and have driven around the whole island and then some. Many have fought over Cyprus and as A result of its turbulent past it has an impressive range of cultural treasures. The divide of the island into two parts Cyprus (Greek) and Occupied Cyprus (Turkish) make this island diverse and interesting. The island has dramatic coastline with a plethora of beaches and a green mountainous centre which even has snow during the winter months. As the old saying goes about Cyprus, you can snowboard or ski in the morning and in the same day go surfing on the sea.
This is our top 25 places we love in Cyprus. We know our friends from Cyprus will want to change what we’ve written or re-work it but we’re happy with our list. When we research Cyprus top lists it’s never a mix, it either is beaches or heritage sites. We think it’s best to see a bit of everything so you can experience the many facets that it can offer. We honestly wouldn’t say it is strictly a beach destination as there’s a lot more to it and besides it’s so hot to spend a day in the dry hot summer sun fully exposed. Rent a car and explore! Our favourite time of year is April – May when after winter it is greener on the island. It is the perfect time to do walks and you don’t have to be constantly finding bits of shade to duck under. It’s also just getting warm to swim. Alternatively, November is nice for a warm sea to swim in and waking up with the crisp feel in the air but still with very warm days and little rain. The list we’ve created is so personal and hopefully takes you off the beaten track. Also, if you’re an expat moving here, this list is going to be so helpful to get you finding your vibes!
25. Paphos, while it has a nice old town it’s kind of dead in a way that feels not happening. If you’re passing through do stop in to have a wander. We prefer the upper bit and there’s some nice cafes to stop at to take in the views. There are plenty of noteworthy archaeological sites to visit such as the Tombs of the Kings, Acropolis and Odeon, and Paphos mosaics. Nearby, Coral Bay is worth noting for having this California coast type look.
24. Athalassa Park. We visited Athalassa frequently as the giant Eucaplyptus trees smelled amazing and sheltered us from the heat. There is a walk you can do around the pond and there are some birds to see. It is a place we like to build forest shelters and find a bit of greenery without having to go up into the mountains.
23. Organic Farm Limassol (Just off Lisimahou Street, Ayia Fyla, Limassol) visit on Saturday mornings and collect the most delicious and fresh produce, as well as preserved olives, jams, honey, eggs and fresh baked bread. Come early as this place gets busy. I must admit, I really miss this spot. The children can also visit the chickens and goats and see the produce being dug up in front of their own eyes.
22. Terra Oliva – Organic Olive Farm. Sweeping landscapes and ancient olive trees. Stock up on Olive Oil and visit nearby Leftkara village. Run by a quirkly lady who loves to see children enjoy her olive oil.
21. Meneou Beach is one of our personal favourite beaches on the island. Quiet, with no hotels or restaurants. It is where a lot of people have beautiful homes and a few locals walk the beach in the morning. Check out Meneou Beach bar for the only place to quench your thirst nearby.
20. To Patrikon (translates as my family’s house) This is the best restaurant on the whole island. The food is a creative expression of the traditional made for modern taste buds. It is a completely family run business and the atmosphere feels like you’re dining amongst friends and family. We can’t rave about this place enough. They even suited so many of our dietary requests which was outstanding. We loved seeing how they used some local wildly foraged ingredients and added them as part of the meals. It also doesn’t break the bank for a mezze when you compare the ingredients and care used to make the dishes compared to normal mezze elsewhere.
19. Cyherbia is an organic herb garden which produces tinctures and teas for all the organic shops on the island. If you’re into organic products, this is a place to come and top up on all your teas, salves and tinctures. We like walking the grounds and doing the maze. They often do sweet events for children such as fairy days and Christmas adventures.
18. You won’t find this on any blog I’ve seen, we love Agios Theodoros village and the nearby beaches. The village itself is lived in and has a little park for kids in the town centre. The drive from the main highway through the village towards the beach goes through deliciously scented orange groves. There is a soft stone beach that you can’t really see but is below the drop off and you won’t see anyone here. We like collecting driftwood and special rocks along this little gem.
17. The white rocks of Governor’s Beach. This is a exceptional place on the island, your kids will like climbing up these smooth chalky out crops.
16. A bundle of villages we like all in a near enough area. Kalavasos, check out the hotel The Library, we like coming here for some board games and books and beverages (The food isn’t noteworthy though). Also, worth visiting is Choirokoitia while there is a UNESCO world heritage site and you could stop in there; I also like the village which is just further up the hill. It has this charming little park which consists of an old slide and swing but the views and the feeling here are special. Visit nearby Tochni which is the first village we lived in and has lovely original stone architecture which we’re fond of.
15. Kakopetria village has narrow streets and feels especially nice around Christmas time when you can sit next to a fire and warm up.
14. Nicosia old town. Join the locals drinking their Cyprus coffees in a busy café on an evening once it’s cooled down a little. Ledra Street is where the militarised border is, and you can cross over to the occupied side.
13. Leftkara village. We love walking around this traditional village with all the pretty houses and yayas (Greek for grandmothers) sitting outside watching the passers-by. They have a sweet little park here which is pleasant as it isn’t as hot in Lefkara. Weave and wander though there, and in the summer months it is more happening here. The locals are happy to share their local craftmanship and traditional treats. We debated living here so many times, it just needs more boho families to revive it. There's also a great restaurant in the center called Tasties, although their opening times are eratic.
12. Kyrenia (Grine). It has a beautiful waterfront, and we did enjoy coming to such a different feeling place from the rest of Cyprus.
11. Limmasol. Our favourite thing we did in Limassol was rent bikes and do the whole amazing waterfront by bike stopping off at any beaches we liked. It's also a good place for some shopping and there are a number of great food joints and cafes. Check out our upcoming blog on the best food and drink joints in Cyprus.
10. Protaras and the little walk you can do alongside the hills here is spectacular in spring. Just go to the beach and you’ll see a trail that hugs the hillside.
9. Riverland Bio Farm, your kids will love this experience. There are goats to feed, rabbits to stroke, horses and cows to visit. This is a family place that is kept natural and boho. They serve all local and organic products. They treat their animals with care and the place is owned by an awesome family, you can speak to them on site about anything you want to know. It is off the beaten track, but you could easily fill a morning and then some. They also have an organic restaurant and you can pick up a bottle of their organic got kefir, which our kids loved.
8. Church of Agios Lazarus, Larnaca. We like this square; it has that kind of European Square feel. We like to have our breakfast at Bakery Lazarus as our friend, Kyriakos (We love you), is the baker there making tasty sourdough and a Cyprus favourite Koulori! On the weekends we liked to walk to Lazarus whereby we’d start in Makenzie then work your way to Lazarus square. Makenzie is a great place with shallow waters for your small children to play.
7. Kourion is an enjoyable archaeological site with amazing views of the sea below.
6. Cape Greko is a striking national park. Go in spring, especially March when all the wildflowers are abundant along the walks.
5. Troodos, specifically we like Calendonia waterfalls. It is a nice walk for kids, and we love dipping in the cool clear water.
4. Sirena Bay, Paralimni, this beach bar just makes us happy. It has that boho Greek feel.
3. Pomos area – especially when you get to Koulla’s sandwich look out, the whole stretch is quiet and feels trapped in time, it’s more untouched here and we felt relaxed and away from it all. Check out Val’s kitchen for a truly boho experience.
2. St Hilarion Castle (Occupied side) is a beautiful castle ruin. It is a steep climb but well worth it when you get to the top.
1. Avakas Gorge created from limestone which has been carved out over thousands of years from the river that flows there. A unique spot in nature on the island.
Other places that are noteworthy, but I didn’t include are Akamas peninsula and Aphrodite’s bath. It’s just so busy which for us takes away from it all. The Lara bay for spotting nesting turtles is nice, but you need a very good vehicle to get there. The Avakas Gorge is part of this area and in our opinion the best part of the Akamas. Bloggers will also emphasize Aphrodite Beach which gets hammered with bus loads of tourists. We went one morning in January and had it all to ourselves. Then, it is a lovely spot. Ayia Napa beach has great powdery sand and turquoise waters but the area is a tourist trap. If you’re into camping, we love Polis camping because you’re camping directly next to the beach and you’re protected by big trees to keep you cool. The only problem with Polis is there are no rules instilled to insist on turning off loud blaring music, therefore you might be up all night with the bass booming. I suggest camping during a weekday and bringing ear plugs, it’s such a shame because it really is a beautiful spot. Liopetri is worth a quick mention on your way to Proteras as it’s got these picture-perfect fishing boats and seafood eateries hugging the shoreline. Our last favourite not mentioned spot is Agios Thekla as you can swim to an island from the beach. I would have put this in the top 10 as we think it’s such a nice place, however, it is got this horrible condominium/hotel being built there which will devastate this special spot.