When I travel, I usually like to do it “off the beaten path”. Away from the flocks of tourists and beyond the attractions that travel agencies and online guides advertise. Even in Cyprus, that tiny Mediterranean island.
I love the freedom of spontaneous plans and the thrill of taking unknown roads. I love the mountains too, which I felt intrigued to explore in a country where only the seascape is known.
Landing in Larnaca, I rent a car and head to the Troodos Mountains. The largest mountain range in the center of Cyprus, Troodos makes a lovely roadtrip in Mediterranean nature.
Where I stayed and what I visited:
This town was our first stop. It was honestly a random choice but we did not regret waking up here (although the drive was a total adventure in the dark!). Located at 1,200m, the view was gorgeous from Themis House, the guesthouse we chose for the night. The room was clean and had a cottage feel, exactly what we wanted to experience in the mountains. Lemithou was quiet and peaceful, and also a great central location for the rest of our roadtrip.
Pedoulas is a nice village you will drive past on your way to Kalopanayiotis. It’s more “touristic” than Lemithou, in the sense where you will find more hotels and restaurants. One particular view will make you pull over at the side of the street. This one.
We mainly headed north of Lemithou to reach here, the village of Kalopanayiotis. The historic importance and special cachet of the place are sensed straight away.
-Located by the Setrachos river famous for its sulphur springs, the village is known as the Spa town of Cyprus. The water has been used for its healing properties since antiquity, and kings used this area as a health resort.
-The Venetian bridge cannot be missed. Made of traditional stones, it dates back to the Venetian times and used to be the only access between the village and the monastery.
-The monastery of Saint John Lampadistis, listed as UNESCO world heritage in 1985, makes Kalopanayiotis, along with the 6 other chapels in the village, the Byzantine destination of Cyprus.
-Watermills, bridges, and cobbled streets.
-Last by not least, the Casale Panayiotis Traditional Village Hotel & Spa, the renovated old houses turned into a complex of luxurious rooms and spa project inspired by the traditional architecture of the village and its healing thermal baths. A must-visit, even for a cup of tea on their terrace!
It’s the highest peak of the Troodos mountain range (1,952m above sea level); you might as well touch base while you’re there. What’s great about this peak is that you can reach it by car if you’re too lazy to hike one of the trails around it. We personally regret not having planned a hike in this beautiful area as it’s totally worth it!
Driving down from Mount Olympus, our next destination was Platres, known for its waterfalls. We stayed in the Forest Park Hotel and we loved it! Spacious rooms in the middle of the forest with beautiful green views. Our highlight was a half-day exploring the Millomeris Waterfall. The walk by the river and to the waterfall was pure meditation, one I would highly recommend!
If you’re staying the night and would like to dine somewhere, try Mimis restaurant! (The trout was fresh and delicious, straight from the trout farm of the village.)
We couldn’t leave Cyprus without trying some wines. Omodos is known to be the wine producing area of Cyprus. We relied on our guts and a little bit of research before deciding to go for the Ktima Gerolemo and Antoniades Winery. The first was a little bit touristic and crowded for our taste. We preferred the intimate feel of the Antoniades winery and the natural approach and wines of Mario, the winemaker himself. Overall and from what I tasted, I would say I still prefer Lebanese wines over Cypriot ones.
Our last stop in the mountains was the village of Anogyra. A sign reading “Carob museum” changed our itinerary and led us there. We absolutely did not regret the extra 20 minute-drive. Anogyra turned out to be the last manufacturing village of carob in Cyprus. The country is so rich in carob trees that we were not too surprised, and definitely excited, to find out about the museum. The Carob tree is native to the eastern Mediterranean and is known to be the “black gold” of Cyprus for being a great source of revenue to the country.
When to go:
We went during the month of October, and the weather couldn’t be more perfect! Ideal for all kinds of outdoor activities, from beach to mountains.
Visa requirements for Lebanese:
For Lebanese passport holders, a Cypriot or Schengen visa is required to enter Cyprus.
Have you ever visited the countryside of Cyprus? If not, are you tempted now?