Cyprus is famous for its warm Mediterranean waters, sandy beaches, and lively nightlife. However, for those tourists not so keen on fighting other tourists to see Tombs of the Kings, a jaunt off the beaten path to a few hidden Cyprus attractions might be more up your alley.
That’s why we encourage you to shun the crowds (even if it’s just for a few days) to discover the “out of sight” side of Cyprus. It might take a little effort to get to some of these attractions, but it is well worth the experience…
1. Kykkos Monastery
Founded in 1100, Kykkos Monastery is the wealthiest monastery in Cyprus and in the entire Orthodox world. Hidden among the acorn trees that are plentiful to the area, it seems fitting that the monastery protects a priceless silver gilt icon devoted to the Virgin Mary and believed to have special powers that promote life and rainfall. Legend says, even though the monastery was burnt down several times; the icon miraculously prevailed. But if a trip to view the mythical icon isn’t enough to tempt you; the monastery’s massive ecclesiastical library or its impressive church bells might be. Or you can join pilgrims from all over the world and rent a room on site so you can attend morning mass. However, if you plan to attend, modest dress is a must—which means no bar shoulders or legs.
2. Oleastro Olive Park
Cyrpus and olive groves kind of go hand in hand. So realistically, a trip to Oleastro Olive Groves, in Anoyira, is a must. Take the day to explore this traditional Cypriot village, nestled amongst vineyards and perched high up on the coast. Get lost in the ruins and ancient monolith at the monastery of Timiou Stavrou; duck into the village museum to learn about carobs, an evergreen used to make cocoa-like powder, once the island’s largest export; wander the cobblestone streets; check out the restored houses; and sample some wine from a local winery. Just be sure to leave lots of time to explore the Oleastro Olive Park to learn how olive oil is made. The Olive Park is open daily, from 9am to 8pm.
3. Cape Grecois
A trip to the most south-easterly tip of Cyprus is well worth it for nature lovers. Here you’ll find Cape Grecois and gape awe-inspired at its stunning coastline. Covered in patches of scrubland gorse, wild juniper, and carob, you can hike the rocky arches and explore some hidden sea caves along the 365 hectares of pristine beauty. Luckily, as part of Greko National Park, you can easily navigate the tails thanks to the established route maps along the way until you reach the famous Cape Greco lighthouse, built 40 years ago to transmit signals across the Middle East.
4. Avakas Gorge, Akamas Peninsula
If trekking wild Mediterranean wilderness is your sport, the Avakas Gorge, located on Cyprus’ Akamas Peninsula will awe you with its rugged, natural wilderness and botany finds. Like a hidden world of deserted beaches, steep cliffs, citrus plantations, and opening into several spectacular gorges, of which Avakas is the most impressive at about 4.5 kilometers in circumference. You can hike Akamas Gorge most of the year, except for in winter.
5. Coastal Walk
At the other end of the island, the six kilometer coastal walk from the Baths of Aphrodite to Cap Arnaoutis is probably the most spectacular. The walk can be enjoyed at your own pace and on the whole is smooth underfoot – a good alternative is to hire a mountain bike. The path leads high above the clear blue sea and numerous tiny bays and it is fun to watch the various fishing boats go by. Don’t get excited about Fontana Amorosa – the Fountain of Love – because in reality it is just a muddy puddle. Continue the walk until it flattens out by the shore and then take the plunge and really enjoy a good swim.
6. Agros Village
Flower lovers will buckle at the knees upon whiff and sight of Argos Village during the gay months of May and early June. At this time, the mountain village is blessed by the mass blooming of thousands of deep pink Damascus roses. You’ll see the village women collecting flower heads for extraction for rose water, which is used in beauty and baking products. Early each morning, the women begin work, carefully picking thousands of the flower heads before the sun evaporates their precious essential oil. You can even visit the rose water factory to watch the manufacturing process and have your picture taken while lying in a bed of rose petals. How cool is that?
7. Pano Pyrgos
Pano Pyrgos is a tiny fishing hamlet perched on the Cyprus’ north coastline. It welcomes tourists with its lovely mix of deserted beaches and charcoal-tinged breezes due to the trees that produce it in this area. In fact, visitors can’t miss the large domed mounds of smoldering wood gently smoldering as women pack lumps of charcoal into stitched bags for selling.
8. Kato Pyrgos
The twin community to Pano Pyrgos, the fishing village of Kato Pyrgos holds much charm of its own accord. Just follow the narrow, winding road into the lively little village—with its quaint harbor, smattering of family-run hotels, secluded beaches, and delectable seafood restaurants. You might think that time has stood still in Kato Pyrgos, but that’s not a bad thing at all.