Think Cyprus and you’ll most probably dream up images of endless sandy beaches, cocktails at sunset, raucous parties and package holidays. While much of this is true, it somewhat saddens me that this is all my home country is known for because as a local I know that there’s so much more to this pretty island than sun, sea and sex.
While the island’s glorious weather and scenic beauty are undoubtedly what made it popular with tourists, particularly those who are seeking to escape the atrocious weather of northern Europe, there is so much more to enjoy here. This is why we love Cyprus in the winter – the colder weather means that the beaches are a no-go, forcing visitors and locals alike to explore and enjoy a lesser known side to the country.
Here are some of the reasons why we love Cyprus in the winter:
It’s so much more laid back
As someone who’s over the “let’s get trashed” stage in my life, I couldn’t care less about where the party is at or what a city’s clubbing scene is like. Therefore visiting Cyprus in winter is perfect for me as the vibe is so much more chilled out than in the summer when all the bars are pumping terrible dance music from every street corner and foreigners are getting drunk on cheap, watery cocktails.
In the winter you’ll find little more than people hanging out in coffee shops huddled over a hot cup of java and enjoying the chilly weather (yes, we look forward to colder weather in Cyprus – not the other way round!). There are also fewer tourists meaning you can enjoy the ‘real’ Cyprus. Locals are even more welcoming than usual, as the pace of life is slower, meaning that there’s more time for human connection and hospitality.
The weather is glorious
It’s taken me to get to my 30s to appreciate the weather in Cyprus during winter, but it really is perfect. In the coastal towns it reaches around 18º during the day, the sky is usually the bluest you’ll ever see it, and the chill in the air is beautifully refreshing.
Maybe living in Dubai for seven years is what has made me love winters more than ever, but I really do love being here during the colder months.
You can go skiing
Skiing is probably not something that you associate Cyprus with, but believe it or not during the winter the Troodos mountains are a popular destination for those looking for some fun on the pistes. There’s usually enough snowfall from late December to March, and even if you’re not into winter sports, it’s worth spending time in the mountains to enjoy the beautiful landscapes. The whole place turns into a winter wonderland, and what’s more fun than hot chocolates, roasted chestnuts and snowball fights?
You can enjoy a more cultural experience
With sunbathing and partying off limits, you’re forced to enjoy a side to Cyprus that most people don’t see. During the winter, you can explore the island’s many cultural offerings, from the painted churches of the Troodos mountains, which have attained UNESCO World Heritage status, to the incredibly well-preserved mosaics in Paphos. Yes, you can see these at any time of year, but the comfortable weather makes it a far more enjoyable experience.
One of the things I’ve been meaning to do and that we’re hoping we’ll get round to during this trip is to check into this hotel in the Troodos mountains and spend two to three days there exploring the aforementioned churches. Certainly not the typical Cyprus holiday experience!
Winter comfort food
There are certain Cypriot foods that taste even better during the winter. Avgolemoni (egg and lemon soup), trachana (goats milk soup), keftethes (meatballs) and makaronia tou fournou (oven baked macaroni) are just a few of my favourite dishes that are oh so much better when it’s cold outside.
The landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful
During the summer most of Cyprus takes on a yellow hue; the scorching sun kills anything green, meaning that our mountains all look rather wilted and sad. In the winter, however, grass starts to grow out of the rocks, wild flowers bloom in the unlikeliest of places, and the whole place looks marvellously green and fresh.
If you’re lucky enough to visit in the run up to Christmas, you will get to experience festive fun the Cypriot way! While the main religious festival in the country is Easter, over the last decade or so Christmas has also become a big deal. In Nicosia, ‘Christmas Avenue’ runs from the beginning of December until the 2nd of January, which is the Cypriot version of a Christmas market. Wrap up warm, buy some mulled wine and spend the day looking around the different stalls.