A few reasons to visit Cyprus in winter

Not just warm: 10 reasons to go to Cyprus in winter

You have to see the best of Cyprus in winter. Without the hordes of tourists and scorched earth. In the off-season, it’s a lush green, fragrant, relaxed and carefree island. Moving in January from the mid-European slush to a pleasant 20+ is not a good reason to travel. But there are a dozen more reasons to go to Cyprus in winter.

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Oleg Dorozhovets

1. Relax for Half the Price

This year Cyprus is more accessible than ever. You can fly from Kiev, from where Ryanair offers a flight to Paphos for €15-25 one way, and Wizz Air and SkyUp for €30-40 to Larnaca. In summer these prices will not be. In addition, Wizz Air also has direct flights from Lviv, and SkyUp from Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhya.

So we settled in Larnaca. Of all seaside cities it is the most alive all year round. Plus we were seduced by the local curiosities and light prices for accommodation. If partying Ayia Napa and Protaras die out for winter, and most hotels close for repair and renovation, then in Larnaca they continue to work, but the prices for rooms cut by third, and even by half.

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For example, our Lordos Beach Hotel gave a double with a sea view for about €70. This is a solid “four stars” with pools, simulators and breakfasts to the slaughter. At the same time the guests get another plus in the form of the Free Winter Experiences program. That is, you get a free excursion around the city and surrounding area every day. The option is useful because it’s not convenient to get to all the points on your own.

If you want something more budget-friendly, look for an apartment near McKenzie Beach (near the airport). It’s realistic to stay under €100 for an extended weekend of 3 nights. Hostels, by the way, are very few. The most adequate in the context of price-location-conditions – 101-Guesthouse.

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And another 5 cents about the weather. Winter Cyprus is air temperature in the daytime is a little above 20 º C, and water – a little below. Swimming is not very comfortable, but sunbathing is fine. The rain is unlikely: according to statistics, Cyprus has 330 days of sunshine a year.

2. Count the flamingos

To the main seasonal attraction in Larnaca you fly up in an airplane. Immediately near the airport is Aliki, the Great Salt Lake, which impressed even UNESCO. If through a field and a hole in the fence – there is literally a 15-minute walk. In the summer on the place of the lake dried up salt marsh, which also looks futuristic, in winter – a normal body of water, but with a pink shade of water. Maybe that’s why since the end of November pink flamingos flock here for the winter. There can be hundreds or thousands of them, the record is 22 thousand birds. The birds graze gracefully in shallow water, but do not let them get too close. Therefore, binoculars and a powerful zoom lens will not be superfluous. The flamingo-viewing period lasts till March.

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At the same time on the lake you can see the mosque Hala Sultan Teke, hidden in a tiny oasis, and the old Roman aqueduct Kamares. Both points are extremely photogenic. But also distant from each other. On the long arc, the hiking trail is about 8 km. The short one is half that, but off-road. If it rained the day before, that’s where you’ll get bogged down. By the way, on the opposite side of Larnaca there is another bird paradise – Lake Oroklini. Flamingos do not live there, but the birdwatching is excellent. Especially (again) in winter, when the birds flock from all over Europe.

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3. Dive to Zenobia.

In summer 1980 the Swedish ferry Zenobia sank unexpectedly in Larnaca. It was its maiden voyage, for which the hapless ship was nicknamed the “Titanic” of the Mediterranean. There were 108 trucks on board the ferry. Nowadays the ferry boat and the cargo are picturesquely scattered at the bottom of the sea, about 1.5 km from the central Larnaca quay. Because of this divers from all over the world come here like flies to a Snickers bar.

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The shallow depth of diving – from 18 to 42 meters, surrealistic collages of sunken equipment, hairy seaweed and peacefully floating fish look fascinating and creepy. There are about a dozen dive clubs in town ready to teach, equip and escort you to Zenobia. Prices start at €70. Peak season, however, ends in October. But in winter there is no line of divers. And if the sea is calm, you can swim near the “Zenobia” and in December and February – the rack is always there. Here are links to a couple of local dive clubs:

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Alternatively, walk to the underwater wonder in a boat with a clear bottom. Look for it near the city marina in the morning. The cost of the pleasure is €12.

4. Break into Britain.

Cyprus is divided into two parts – Greek and Turkish. But in addition, several chunks of land on the island are still subordinate to Britain. One of them, the special zone of Dekelia begins just behind the last eastern beach of Larnaca, KTO Beach. Sort of like Gibraltar. Only getting there is much freer. There is a city bus #425 that goes to Dekelia. And from our hotel to the conditional boundary of the zone in general was 10 minutes on foot. There are no checkpoints, no one asks for a passport, but you can only move along the highway and the coastal strip. Everything on the other side of the road is fenced with wires or barriers. From time to time there are billboards with A4 sheets of paper with schedules of firing.

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Decelia is home to a British military base with a garrison, airport, firing ranges and red phone booths. They say there is a whole graveyard of shot tanks behind the nearby hills. Just like the Kursk Bulge in Cyprus. But there are three good reasons why it is better not to go there. First, the British military police. Second, stray dogs. Thirdly, a stray bullet during another training exercise.

5. To honor Lazarus

The name Larnaca comes from the Greek “larnax” – tomb or sarcophagus. Already in the early Middle Ages a sarcophagus with the laconic epitaph “Friend of Christ” was found here. In the twentieth century it was discovered again. A simple analysis determined that the biblical Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead, might have been buried in it. He still lived about 30 years after that, most of which he served as bishop in Cyprus. The relics discovered in the sarcophagus were taken by the Crusaders to Europe, where they disappeared.

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But the people of Larnaca hoarded some of them. Today, they are kept in the church of St. Lazarus. It was originally built in the Greek style, but the Venetians, who conquered Cyprus, decided to erect a Renaissance column above it. It turned out to be an interesting mix that deservedly became the main architectural ornament of the city. Inside the temple seems even more ancient than from the outside. The subtle iconostasis is incredibly cool. But in the dungeons you’ll see something at the intersection of Christianity and voodoo. Wax men or body parts – arms, legs, heads – are laid out on stone ledges. This is how some believers thank St. Lazarus for healing. In Western Europe, too, a similar tradition is sometimes found. But the organs are made of silver-gold and given to the temple. And the wax reeks slightly of horror in this claustrophobic crypt. By the way, there is also a wax workshop next to the church, where they can quickly and inexpensively sculpt any custom organ.

6. Go up to Lefkara

There are a lot of nice villages around Larnaca. One of them – Lefkara – constantly tops the list of the most beautiful villages in Europe. Basically, there is a reason for that. Lefkara, divided into two parts – Kato (lower) and Pano (upper) – with swallows’ nests clings to the mountain slope. It is also famous for its handicrafts. Local women for centuries weave lace and men filigree from silver. Will readily lead into their workshop and pose for a photo. You don’t even have to buy anything.

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Lefkara is the most elegant in late January and February, when almond trees blossom on these stones. But in summer, the village is crowded. Just below, in the village of Kato Drys, two Artisan wineries, Ktima Christoudia and Ktima Dafermou, compete. Winter is a quiet time for the winemakers: the crops are harvested, the barrels are full. And they have fun doing tastings for tourists.

7. Shaking donkeys.

One of the largest donkey farms in Europe – Golden Donkeys Farm – is located in Cyprus, in the village of Skarinou. There are about 200 females, a dozen breeding donkeys and young donkeys living here at one time. To squeeze and stroke the little donkey – charming anti-stress, it is softer than any soft toy. In addition, you can try donkey milk liquor a la Baileys, chocolates made of donkey milk, Cleopatra’s mask and all kinds of cosmetics. There is a good buffet restaurant on the farm. For 8 euros per person you get access to unlimited food. Entrance to the farm is included in this price. The menu includes 5-6 Greek dishes, as many salads, and olive bread.

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Both Lefkara and Skarinou are located near the same highway – E105. However, you will not get here directly from Larnaca by public transport. First you have to get from the central bus station in Kofinou. There are a lot of flights (once in half an hour, sometimes more often), and there you can catch a local village bus. Or a taxi.

8. Go for a walk on E4.

The longest European walking trail – E4 highway – ends (or, conversely, begins) in Larnaca. In all, it stretches in a giant continental arc for 12,000 kilometers – from Gibraltar to Cyprus. The Cypriot section is not a straight line, but a slicing of trails. By the way, no worse than the famous Lycian Trail. The kind man John P compiled the best description of the Cypriot hiking trails on the internet. You can find it on this site. One of the most interesting sites on the trail is the Stavrovouni Monastery on the Mount of the Cross. This dark peak is visible from any open point in the region. But to get there is quite a pain in the ass. The place is deaf. And women, by the way, are not allowed inside.

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The best time to go hiking in E4 is spring. But winter is also better than summer. In the mountains, sometimes you can even find snow, and in the coastal areas – to safely spend the night in a tent. And by the way, in Cyprus is well developed agro-tourism. So in almost any village you can find a good shelter. Even without Booking.

9. Eat a lot of meze.

In summer in Cyprus you want to drink, and in winter – to eat. Eating well is about meze. Meze is not a dish, but a culinary series. The tradition has come to Cyprus from Syria or Lebanon and has caught on beautifully. The set of appetizers has no clear regulation, but, as a rule, includes more than 10 different items – from salads and sauces to meat or fish dishes. Each tavern has its own bottle. And practically no two are the same. Adequate cost is in the range of €15-20 per set. But two hungry tourists one meze will feed. Sometimes, however, restaurants are not falling for this trick, and require a minimum of two mezes. But in winter it is the client who dictates the terms of the market. Pretend to leave, and the garson will change his mind.

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Here are a couple of good spots for you:

    – near the Church of Lazarus, simple and delicious; – in the same neighborhood, local musicians often perform in the evenings, not folk, more like indie; – near Kastela Beach, it’s a distance from downtown, but the fish meze is one of the best in town and cheaper than the main promenade.

If you’re in the mood to party or knock back a few drinks afterwards, head to the Laiki Geitonia neighborhood. It’s a nice wasteland by day and a dozen good bars are up and running by night, all concentrated in one area.

10. Have a coffee at Piyale Pasha.

This is the place we chose to say goodbye to Larnaca. The old Ottoman quarter begins just behind the local fort. Inside it remains confused and slightly abandoned, but from the sea side, the showcase street Piyale Pasha runs through. With white houses, blue shutters and colorful bougainvillea. Almost every doorway has a coffee shop where they make strong Cypriot coffee (aka Turkish in Turkey, Greek in Greece, Arabic in the Emirates). Our number one coffee shop is Alasia Café. Sitting under the glorious sun, the waves are licking the pier, planes are boarding and you do not want to go anywhere. Sadness and bliss.

Cyprus in winter: no, we are not crazy!

An unusual idea for a winter trip is to go to Cyprus. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, you will need it.

What’s the weather like?

Definitely warmer than in Russia. All winter months in Cyprus during the daytime temperature ranges from +15 to +20C. Sometimes the wind blows, sometimes it rains, but in general the weather is very comfortable. And the sea never becomes icy – in December and February is usually about 18C. So with the sun you can take a dip.

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“In the winter in Cyprus, it is very easy to distinguish between tourists and locals. Visitors walk around in shorts and T-shirts during the day, someone even manages to sunbathe and swim. The locals wear down jackets and hats. For them even +15C is a real cold. But for the evenings be sure to bring warm jackets. And the hotels are always cool.

Aphrodite's Stone, Paphos

The Stone of Aphrodite, Paphos

What awaits you in Cyprus in winter?

1) A very beautiful sea. In Cyprus, it is extraordinary, can be blue, blue, dark blue, gray, green.

2) Free beds. On many beaches, they leave, but they do not take money for them: too few tourists to bother with them.

3) A lot of sunshine, even in winter. Especially true for residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg, which periodically forget what it is at all.

4) Quiet, calm and complete relaxation. There are very few tourists in the winter months, mostly retired people and mothers with children. This is an ideal place to think about life, reboot and rest your soul.

What you definitely shouldn’t expect is partying, partying, drinking till morning. If you imagine Cyprus like that, then you have to go to the island only in summer at the height of tourist season.

5) Early sunsets. Around 4:30 pm. After that it gets cooler and not at all crowded. And after 22:00 the streets and restaurants are completely empty. Therefore it is better to think out your evening rest in advance: you can drink wine on the beach, snuggled up warm, read a book in the hotel lobby, watch a movie in the room.

6) Ideal conditions for trekking. In the Troodos and Kirinia mountains there are routes for both beginners and experienced hikers.

7) Russian is everywhere. Even in winter, less touristy time in Cyprus, you can easily talk in Russian in cafes and stores.

What resort to choose and what to see there?

The main thing is not to go to Ayia Napa. If in the summer it is one of the most lively and youthful resorts, in winter it’s a dead village. It is better to choose a bigger city – Paphos, Larnaca or Limassol.

Paphos

The city with a beautiful promenade along the sea. It is possible to walk for several kilometers. On the route you will meet elite hotels, expensive restaurants and small cozy cafes, a castle and an archaeological park.

Daria, who has been to Paphos twice, both times in winter, has made a to do list for one day:

  • Start your morning at Cafe Nero (Poseidonos, 6). Climb to the third floor and take seats on the edge, from there you have a beautiful view of the sea.
  • Then devote yourself to endless walks along the promenade. When you get tired, have a cocktail at the Almyra’s outdoor café (12 Poseidonos Ave). Almost any drink costs 7 euros: the view, service, and comfort level are top-notch.
  • Dig a little deeper into the city. Paphos is not limited to the seafront. There are plenty of stores and pretty streets waiting for you.
  • It is better to meet the sunset by the sea. An ideal place is the beach of Faros . While viewing the Paphos lighthouse, you can walk past (or visit) the archaeological park.
  • Finally, it’s time for dinner. If you want a very dense meal, grab a fish or meat meze. I recommend it at Mother’s Restaurant (Avenue Apostolou Pavlou Basilica Center). From there you will not leave for a long time.
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Also the stone of Aphrodite (Petra tou Romaiou) is a must visit, which is located 9 km from Paphos. According to the legend, it is there where Aphrodite emerged from the sea. Nowadays the tourists are told that it is necessary to swim around the rock 3 times counter-clockwise, and then you’ll find eternal youth and beauty.

Larnaca

Larnaca is in no way inferior to Paphos in terms of hiking. There is also an excellent promenade-alley of many palm trees, which ends with a huge port with boats and yachts.

By the way, only in winter you can also walk around the lake near the airport. In the summer in dry weather, it dries up almost completely. But in the winter months, even flamingos arrive there.

Flamingo on a salt lake, Larnaca

Flamingos on the salt lake, Larnaca

“Larnaca has a fairly modest sightseeing program, but the promenade along the sea and the old neighborhood with the Church of St. Lazarus and cozy streets are more comfortable without the stifling heat of summer. In contrast to the smaller resorts, Larnaca in winter life does not stop. Winter Cyprus suits fans of relaxing and measured rest with beautiful scenery, ancient monasteries at a comfortable temperature, “- said Tatiana, who was in Cyprus in December.

She advises not to miss in Larnaca:

  • Salt Lake , where you’ll see flamingos only in winter;
  • Funicudes and Mackenzie beaches;
  • St. Lazar’s Church and the city center in general;
  • Shopping centers with good sales;
  • Meze and other joys of Cypriot cuisine – always and in any weather.

Larnaca is very compact, so it’s easy to explore in a couple of days and then go on to explore Cyprus further.

Limassol

Compared to other cities of Cyprus Limassol can be called a megalopolis – with business centers, huge avenues and skyscrapers. But there is also a long, well-appointed promenade, a port and a castle – it seems to be a traditional set for Cyprus.

Limassol Cyprus

Limassol Waterfront

If you have time to drive around the area, be sure to visit:

  • White Stones Grotto (located next to Alamanou Beach ) – an insanely beautiful shore with white stones. People often come here for wedding photo session, but in general the place is not very popular yet.
  • Archaeological Park “Kurion” is for fans of history, excavations and various antiquities.
What to try in Cyprus?

Regardless of the time of year or resort, there are three things you must try in Cyprus, these are:

1) Komandaria wine, the most famous local wine and very common among tourists. A bottle costs from 10 euros in supermarkets. The wines are good, but in fact and those that cost 3 euros are not any worse.

2) Haloumi cheese is another trademark of Cyprus. It is made from a mixture of goat, sheep and cow’s milk. It is similar to tofu cheese in taste and composition, and it can also be fried.

3) Meze fish and meat are a huge assortment of about 10 dishes that are served to you one by one (this is a drawback because you can not take pictures of everything you have eaten). The fish meze will have shrimp, mussels, crabmeat, and various fishy things. The meat meze will have all kinds of meats and a million different sauces. There will be side dishes, greens, vegetables and fresh bread to go with it all.

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