A vacation in Cyprus is rewarding for those passionate about Mediterranean cuisine, history and archaeology
More than 17 per cen of Cyprus is classified as woodland. All told there are 1,750 species of flowering plants in Cyprus, 127 of which grow nowhere else but on the island. Much of the forested area is in the foothills and peaks of the Troodos Mountains. Here, only about an hour away from the coast, it is possible to find yourself enshrouded in perfect, restorative silence. Visitors can explore the Troodos and Akamas Peninsula up close either on a hike or by way of organized 4x4 jeep excursions.
In addition to being home to the world’s oldest continuously produced wine, sweet Commandaria, Cyprus boasts the highest production rate of grapes in the world in proportion to its size and population. Most Cyprus vineyards are small and grow indigenous varieties of grapes for wine. Donkeys and oxen are still used to plough some of them. Cultivated vineyards cover a large percentage of the country’s hilly and mountainous land, from sea level up to 1,500 metres, predominantly on the southern slopes of the Troodos in the Lemesos district and the southwestern in the Pafos district. There are four distinct wine tours that centre on these areas, which could range from a half-day to a week long or longer. Wine tastings figure prominently on all of these.
These include Lemesos (Limassol) itself, where the four biggest wine companies in Cyprus have tasting rooms and shops; wineries in the villages of Pytsilia, Mandria and Koilani; and tours into the highlands north of Pafos.
Travel inland almost anywhere in Cyprus and you will come across ancient stone villages and hill towns that have changed little over the centuries. There is no better way to slip into the rhythm of tradition than by staying in the heart of a Cypriot village – the aim of the agrotourism programme. A comfortable room in a refurnished traditional house in the high season is reasonably priced. Many villages with agrotourism houses are near vineyards.
Base of Discovery
At the crossroads of the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus can also be a great component of your Middle East odyssey that combines a visit to the island with Egypt, Lebanon or nearby Greek islands such as Rhodes. Guests can reach these destinations by air – most are an hour or less away by plane – or cruise. Several cruise companies offer short but comprehensive itineraries to the most famous Middle East destinations, making Cyprus an ideal launch pad for discovery of the region at large.