Beating the crowds in Cyprus

Today’s post was written by Guy Arnold.

Surely, nothing ruins a travel-holiday experience like pushing your way through stuffy crowds in the stifling heat or budging up next to someone else on the beach. Finding the hidden secrets around a country’s landscape can be far more rewarding than being among thousands of others. So, if you plan to visit Cyprus and you want to be left to your own devices, take heed.

The Troodos Mountains

Perfect for avoiding the package holiday hustle and bustle. The Troodos Mountains offer a range of beautiful scenery from craggy, golden landscapes to rushing waterfalls and rivers. Nestled in the folds of the landscape, you’ll find plenty of small villages, (Palaichori, Kalopanayiotis, and Fioni Village, to name a few) each providing a cultural insight of their own. Most likely, you’ll come across a museum or two in pretty much any village you visit. They might even be part of a local’s house. It’s all very personal in these places and, since the crowds tend not to descend en masse, the locals are friendly and willing to show people their homes and their produce. And the beauty of doing this sort of thing is it’s absolutely free.

Taking the bus

Getting there may be the only thing you’ll have to pay for, but you’ll be spending more time than money in doing so because, despite the total lack of rail system on the island, it has a reliable and comfortable bus service. If you’re staying in the city of Limassol, there is a bus that goes from there right to the top of the Troodos Mountains. The journey takes about an hour but it leaves you with four and half hours once it reaches its last stop. On the way, it may stop at one of the wineries or a passing village, allowing you to alight and take in the scenery. Once you’re at the top, you can explore the mountains’ various walking or cycling trails with easily enough time to get back before the bus leaves you behind (which it won’t do).

Head north

You definitely won’t recognise anyone in the northern climes of the island and, an advantage that should immediately be declared is, it’s not part of the Euro zone, meaning the Turkish lira will grant you more for your money. Yes, up here you’ll be on the Turkish side of the Greek/Turkey divide and it is here where you’ll find, if you so please, some stunning castles. Proper castles, as well, not the empty excuse of a castle (which is actually a keep) that is Kolossi, down south. Grab a bag of food and head for Kantara Castle, in the Kyrenia Mountains. It’s about thirty miles from Famagusta and is the lowest (but most easily accessible) of the three Crusades castles in the area. It sits among jagged rocks on the top of a hill, rather than touching the clouds atop a mountain like the other two. After you’ve had a poke around, admired its great stony interior, head for the northeast tower; it’s where you’ll find the most spectacular views of the rolling green and white hills and mountains of Kyrenia.

Just be ready to walk…

…because to appreciate an island with, to paraphrase, such rich history, enchanting scenery and steeped in cultural establishments, there really is no other way to do so than on foot. Besides, it’s the cheapest option, together with the pocket-friendly bus service and, in doing so, you’re guaranteed to avoid those ever-dreadful crowds.

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