Cyprus, one of the best holiday destinations in Europe!
I stayed at an excellent Hotel Apartment in Pissouri, between Paphos and Limassol. It was my first time on the island. April, my wife has been keen for a long time to show me what Cyprus has to offer, as she had often visited, whilst working for Sunvil Holidays, an independent, specialist Tour Operator. Cyprus by far exceeded my expectations.
Following our 4½ hour flight from Bristol, we hired a car from Paphos Airport. Our first impressions were good. During the 20 minute drive (on the left hand side of the road), a local showed us the way to the door-step of our accommodation. The owners of the property, George and Nikos were there to greet us and happy to provide a very tasty ‘snack’ at 10pm in the restaurant which over-looked Pissouri Village and the coast beyond … the Moussaka accompanied by local wine was divine!
So, my discovery of this enchanting isle began. We covered several miles, had a variety of experiences and encountered many friendly locals. We felt Pissouri met our needs … a great location from which to explore the different regions. It offered a good selection of local tavernas, whilst not taken over by mass-market tourism.
We visited the Paphos area in the south-west of the island initially. Roman Paphos was the island’s capital and the 3rd century mosaics here are reputedly the finest in the Mediterranean. There are two towns each with its own character; Ktima on the hill-side and Kato Paphos two kilometres down below by the harbour. The former is unchanged and completely Cypriot, whilst the latter is a continually growing beach resort with a good range of hotels, local restaurants and nightlife. We visited a few of the hotels, so that I can advise clients from first-hand experience.
Fifteen minutes west we were beckoned by the small sandy coves and crystal clear sea of Naxos and Coral Bay - the best natural beaches of the area. It’s a casual, sea-side resort with sufficient local amenities within a short drive or bus trip away. There is a well-used, regular bus service, which connects Coral Bay with Ktima and the Kato Paphos hotels. Day tickets are currently EUR3.
Next we were off to the Troodos Mountains in search of a cool breeze and the pine and cedar forests … surprisingly for the end of April temperatures ranged between 22 o and a high of 30o, which is apparently unusual for the end of April and more like June weather. I am finding this more and more with European destinations of late.
This mountain area is very popular in the height of summer and during the winter months for skiing. We found it fairly quiet, which suited us. The area is ideal for walking trails, ancient churches and mountain monasteries. We experienced a diverse, often dramatic landscape with scenery, forests, colourful orange and lemon trees (the oranges are delicious!!) and an abundance of olive and almond groves.
We chose to drive on to Kakopetria. The village is built on the bank of the river, with its old giant oak trees. We loved the old part with its traditional wooden-stone houses and their balconies often with river views. The town’s name which means bad stone, according to legend is named after a large stone. The tradition of newly-weds was to climb a particular rock, and apparently the stone came down from the mountain and killed a young couple during their wedding ceremony.
During the next few days, we followed the Cyprus wine routes which guided us through local villages, taking in the small regional wineries each with their own unique setting and offering. The local wine museums and suggested locations throughout the itineraries made for exceptional days and great memories. We even found the ‘hidden’ Venetian bridges, part of the old camel trail and testimony to the Venetians rule. We were struck by the variations in the landscape: the absolute peace on the remote hillsides and in contrast the quiet valleys with the coolness from the shade of the Paphos Forest.
In a nutshell, Cyprus has impressive hotels of a high standard, local family-run establishments and for those who prefer self-catering coastal villas with pools and village houses full of character, surrounded by local village life. You can be based in one location or I can suggest fly-drive itineraries allowing you to see the island at your own pace.
Yes we will be back!!