Last Updated on 28/02/2021
It’s tough to think of anywhere more perfect than an island escape in the Mediterranean and Cyprus offers just that. Beaches galore, mountains, history and warm weather until mid-November make this Middle Eastern island a top getaway destination whether you’re an art lover, hiker or just need some seaside fun.
This little island has an abundance of things to do so when you’re planning your Cyprus itinerary it can be tricky to know where to start. I spent three full days in Cyprus and although my time was short I managed to cover quite a bit of ground and quickly came to love the island, its people and their legendary hospitality.
This itinerary focuses on showing you the country’s hidden gems. It takes you off the beaten track to reveal a true and authentic Cyprus away from the busy tourist towns and beaches. Most of the activities on the itinerary are part of the island’s agritourism project which works to support local artisan businesses and responsible tourism in rural Cyprus. So, let’s start planning your perfect Cyprus itinerary:
Quick facts about Cyprus
The Beautiful Aphrodite’s Rock
- Cyprus is officially called the Republic of Cyprus and its capital is Nicosia.
- Cyprus is the third largest and third most populated island in the Mediterranean.
- The country is divided into two parts: the North and the South. The northern part of Cyprus is called the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” and the south is the “Independent Republic of Cyprus”.
- The island gained independence from the British on 16th August 1960 but they celebrate Independence Day on 1st October every year.
- Legend has it that the Greek goddess Aphrodite was born on the island.
- The world’s oldest named wine, Commandaria comes from Cyprus. It’s known as the ‘King of Wines’ and dates back 5,000 years.
- The entire town of Paphos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The country is home to Europe’s most southerly ski lift.
Language and currency
Church of Archangelos Michael in Pedoulas Village
Cypriots speak Greek and Turkish is spoken in the north. They’re also exceptionally good at English so you should have no problems getting around. It’s still a good idea to take a guidebook or download a language app when you go. As a traveller, making the effort to speak a few words to someone in their own language can go such a long way.
The currency is the euro which is easy enough. You can get away with only using your card in most places but I recommend that you have a bit of cash on you as some of the smaller attractions might not have a card machine.
Best time to visit
The romantic village of Tochni
The best time to visit Cyprus really depends on what type of holiday you’re looking for. Between May and June temperatures in Cyprus are in their high twenties. It’s usually the driest time of the year and you get up to thirteen hours of sunshine during the day. You could argue that it’s the optimal time to visit but the warm temperatures last right up until mid-November so it makes for an excellent autumn excursion too.
If you enjoy winter sports then you can even get involved in the island’s ski season in the Troodos Mountains between January and March.
Where to stay in Cyprus
The beautiful Cyprus Villages in Tochni
Here are a few accommodation options for your trip, starting from up in the mountains and heading down towards sea level:
Aristotelio Boutique Hotel, Pedoulas Village
Aristotelio Hotel is a cosy boutique hotel in Pedoulas Village, nestled high in the Troodos Mountains. The building looks similar to an alpine lodge with its stone exterior and dark shutters. A wooden terrace runs the length of it and you can step out and admire the breathtaking views of the surrounding pine forest.
The hotel has eight rooms in total, each with antique furnishings and modern ensuite bathrooms. Complete with an on-site bar and restaurant, this hotel provides guests with a relaxing mountain retreat.
Arsorama Village Homes, Arsos Village
Arsorama is a family-owned villa complex with four fully-equipped independent villas that each can accommodate up to four people. Located in Arsos, it has its own private courtyard where you can relax in the shade of picturesque cascading vines. Guests can cook their own food or upgrade their booking to include authentic home-cooked Cypriot meals during their stay.
Cyprus Villages, Tochni Village
Cyprus Villages is a beautiful collection of holiday apartments spread out through Tochni Village. Each apartment is spacious and fully-equipped, including a kitchen and dining area. Cyprus Villages is perfectly located away from the busy tourist hotspots along the coast yet it still has an abundance of activities to get involved with, including yoga, cycling, beach-hopping, halloumi making workshops, hiking and exploring Neolithic sites.
Read More: 10 of the Best Ecolodges in the World
Should you hire a car?
The terrace in Casale Panayiotis
If you’re only planning to stay in one place then you don’t necessarily need to hire a car as there are taxis and public transport available. For the purposes of this Cyprus itinerary, I would because it gives you the independence to explore at your own pace without having to worry about bus timetables and fares.
You can hire a car from Paphos Airport. Check out this comparison site to find out which car rental company is the best one for you.
How to spend 3 days in Cyprus
An example of some of the beautiful architecture in Cyprus
This itinerary is all about exploring the undiscovered parts of Cyprus which is why I suggest you start up in the mountains and go from there.
I also don’t believe in having a rigorously set itinerary with places you need to be by a certain time. It’s a holiday after all. So instead I’ve included a list of suggestions each day and hey if you just want a beach day then go for it. These activities focus on getting off the beaten track so you can discover some of the top hidden gems in Cyprus.
Day 1: A surprising alpine experience
View of Agios Ioannis Lombadistis
Cyprus is a popular beach holiday destination but it’s actually so much more. The island may well be located in the Middle East, but high up in the Troodos Mountains it could pass as Central Europe. Here, pine trees carpet the rocky landscape and temperatures remain cool, offering respite in the height of summer and a surprising ski season in the winter.
Hire a bike, Troodos Mountains
If you’re up in the Troodos Mountains, the adventurous among you can start the day with a mountain biking excursion. Cyprus has an abundance of cycling trails that range from easy to challenging. It’s a fun and active way to explore some of the island’s villages and beauty spots (here are some of my favourite villages in Cyprus).
You can hire mountain bikes in Troodos Square and have your own adventure or you can book a tour. Bike hire costs about 30 euros although you can get cheaper rates if you keep it for a few days.
Rest at Casale Panayiotis, Kalopanayiotis Village
After a busy morning, cool off at Casale Panayiotis in Kalopanayiotis village. This picturesque resort and spa is part of an agritourism project that works to revive some of the more neglected villages in Cyprus. The resort blends seamlessly with the surrounding village and looks down onto the stunning valley below.
You can enjoy a refreshment or bite on its terrace, stay in one of its many villas or make use of the spa facilities. It boasts an indoor and outdoor pool, treatment rooms, a private steam room and a snow room.
Reaching the resort is a little tricky. The best way to get there is to leave your car in the central car park in the village and take a ride down on the short cable car that costs a euro each way.
Admire Agios Ioannis Lambadistis, Kalopanayiotis Village
After some well-earned relaxation, take a 5-minute stroll over the bridge towards Agios Ioannis Lambadistis, a complex of three Byzantine churches under one roof. Cyprus has an abundance of churches on the island with some listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their outstanding contribution to art, history and culture.
Lambadistis is no exception and here you can find a saint’s tomb, beautiful frescoes dating back to the 13th and 16th centuries and the most complete series of Italo-Byzantine paintings in Cyprus.
Karseras Winery, Doros Village
Commandaria wine is a proud part of Cyprus’ heritage and where better to taste it than in the foothills where it originated? Karseras Winery is a small family-run winery dedicated to the production of Commandaria. You can stop for a wine-tasting, learn about its fascinating history and even buy a few bottles to take home with you.
Interested in learning more about agritourism projects? Read this post about ecotourism.
Day 2: The beauty of the foothills
Gorgeous view from Oenou Yi Winery
After a busy first day, you can afford to spend a leisurely morning relaxing and soaking up the island’s beauty.
Visit Tsolakis Rosewater Factory, Agros Village
When you’re ready to see some sights, head over to Tsolakis Rosewater Factory in Agros Village. During the months of April and May, the foothills of Cyprus are dyed pink with thousands of blooming roses, known officially as the Rose of Damascus.
During this time, Agros hosts its annual Rose Festival which centres around the rose flower harvest. If your trip doesn’t coincide with this time of year then Tsolakis Rosewater Factory is the perfect place to learn about this celebration and find out exactly what happens to the flowers after the harvest. You can also pick up some delicious-smelling luxury rose products here, from hand cream to spirits and even wine.
Drink at Oenou Yi Winery, Omodos Village
If you’re a wine connoisseur, then spending a lazy afternoon at the contemporary Oenou Yi Winery in Omodos should be right up your street. This gorgeous amphitheatrical estate is surrounded by vineyards and looks out onto Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Cyprus.
The winery is a beautiful building with polished floors, a terrace and surprisingly, a jacuzzi. You can enjoy lunch there or do a wine-tasting featuring a delicious collection of wines across Greece.
Day 3: Mythology and heritage
Remains of the beautiful mosaic at Kourion
You can’t visit Cyprus without acknowledging the island’s rich heritage that spans 10,000 years, making it one of the oldest civilizations in the Mediterranean.
Explore Kourion Archaeological Site, Episkopi
One way to catch a glimpse of the island’s ancient past is to visit Kourion Archaeological Site, the remains of what was once its most important city-kingdoms.
You can explore the spectacular remains of a Greco-Roman amphitheatre built in 2nd century BC that still hosts cultural events today. Other parts of the site include the ‘House of Eustolios’ with the remains of ancient baths dating back to the 5th century BC. You can still see beautifully preserved mosaics here as well as in the ‘House of Achilles’ and the ‘House of the Gladiator’.
Read More: How to Visit Greece on a Budget
See Aphrodite’s Rock
Head down towards Paphos and stop for a moment at Petra tou Romiou, otherwise known as Aphrodite’s Rock. Legend has it that this spot was the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. The story goes that she rose from the water in 12,00 BC and chose to start her worldly life on the rock.
You can relax on the pebble beach and enjoy the views or get there for a romantic sunset. One thing to be aware of is that the water is quite rough so be careful if you go for a swim.
Enjoy the wonders of Paphos
At the end of your last day, spend some time enjoying the wonders of Paphos. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been inhabited since the Neolithic times. There is an abundance of fascinating sites to explore, including tombs of ancient kings, Paphos Castle, fortresses, villas and theatres.
Paphos is also on a stunning part of the coastline and one of the best beaches in Cyprus is Coral Bay which is known for its soft white sand and beautiful clear waters.
The best places to eat and drink in Cyprus
This was just the first course at To Katoi Tavern
Food is a huge part of Cypriot culture and the island has a wealth of tavernas and eateries serving a divine collection of mezzes and platters. Wherever you go, you certainly won’t go hungry. Below are a few of my favourite places to eat in Cyprus:
To Katoi Tavern, Omodos Village
To Katoi is a wonderful little taverna in Omodos village. The eatery has a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and Time Out Eating Award under its belt and let me tell you, they’re well deserved. For a true Cypriot feast, order the mezze and you’ll get plates of sausages, fresh halloumi, melt-in-the-mouth moussaka, flatbread with hummus and tahini and delicious potatoes. Prepare to be well and truly stuffed!
Symposio Tavern, Pelendri Village
Symposio Tavern in Pelendri Village serves diners quality organic food made from ingredients sourced from their own garden.Once again, mezze is on the menu and you can expect a whole train of platters coming your way. If meat isn’t your thing then this little taverna does a delicious selection of vegetarian alternatives too.
Tochni Tavern, Tochni Village
Tochni Tavern serves, quite possibly, the best halloumi in Cyprus – and I don’t say this lightly. The cheese is absolutely delicious; perfectly light and creamy with a salty tang. The taverna is actually part of Cyprus Villages so you can wander over from your villa to its beautiful terrace and admire the view down towards the village while tucking into hearty breakfasts buffets, mezzes and snacks.
Chilling outside my home for the night – Aristotelio Hotel
This Cyprus itinerary is for a 3-day holiday but if you happen to be staying longer, then you can spread out the activities and do them at a more leisurely pace. Alternatively, you can swap in some extra time at the beach or explore more of the villages (there are hundreds!).
As you can see, there is so much to do and see in Cyprus and I hope this itinerary inspires you to explore some of its many sights and hidden gems.
Interested in reading about Cyprus in literature? Bitter Lemons of Cyprus is an autobiographical book by Lawrence Durrell which recounts his three years spent on the island in the 1950s.
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