Is your precious annual holiday the chance to lose yourself in a good book?
If so, we have a small library with a selection of reading material to suit a variety of tastes including autobiographies, thrillers, detective novels, chick lit, light reads, local travel guides, and comedy books.
So whether you prefer to read lying down on one of our comfy loungers or stretched out in the villa hammock; or alternatively sitting up keeping an eye on proceedings from a balcony seat, or chilling half-in and half-out of the pool at the Roman steps; you should be able to find a comfortable spot to relax and immerse yourself in the book of your choice.
The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop
As usual with Victoria, this is a meticulously researched novel woven around the human side of the tragic events of 1974. Set in Famagusta and Varosha which were favourite celebrity hangouts in their heyday (much like the South of France today). In those heady times the popular beach resort was regularly visited by all the glitterati of the time, including film stars such as Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
Beginning prior to the invasion, when Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots lived happily side-by-side in mixed communities, despite some political tensions, it shows how dramatically lives were changed by the Turkish invasion of the island.
Guests will find hardback and paperback copies of Victoria’s excellent book in the villa library.
Crossing the Green Line
Even today Cyprus remains a divided island, with a ‘buffer zone’ patrolled by the United Nations and the world’s only remaining divided city: Nicosia.
You can visit Northern Cyprus via the crossing point in the capital’s Ledra Street. Take passports and be careful not to take photographs near the border. We do not advise driving over as your rental insurance will not be valid.
Another option is to take an organised tour, such as The Original Red Bus Tour from the eastern resorts which offers a full day guided tour to the Venetian walled city of Famagusta and the ghost resort of Varosha. It’s shocking to stand on the beautiful beach and see the dilapidation of the once thriving high-rise hotels behind the barbed wire. If you’re happy to make an early start, you can drive to Protaras and pick up the bus there.
The Edge of Heaven by Gordon Honeycombe
The well-known former ITN newscaster was a regular Pissouri visitor in the 1970s, choosing the area as the location for his fifth novel.
Those who remember him from his serious news days, may be surprised to find that parts of the novel are rather racy!
With the warmest climate of all the Mediterranean EU countries, Cyprus is an attractive year-round destination offering something different throughout the seasons. The best Cyprus season? That really depends what you look for in your perfect holiday… Whether your passion is experiencing natural beauty, exploring culture and history, lazy relaxation at the beach, action-packed days filled with sporting activities; or a combination of all of the above, we aim to help you decide the perfect time for your visit.
Winter (November – February)
Yes – you can snow ski in Cyprus! With an elevation of 1952 metres, head for Mount Olympus in the Troodos Mountains where there’s a choice of four ski slopes: Aphrodite: 150 m (nursery) | Hera: 350 m (nursery) | Hermes: 150 m (intermediate) | Zeus: 500 m (advanced)
But what everyone wants in a winter break is some sun… At lower levels, pick a sheltered spot on a typical sunny winter’s day, and you’ll find it warm enough to top up your tan.
For water-based activities remember to pack your wet suit. At all times of the year you can find wind-surfing, kite-surfing and paddle-boarding in the coastal resorts.
Planning your excursions to avoid rain showers, this is a good time of year for winter nature walks and scenic drives, particularly along the coast and around the salt lakes. It’s also the season to spot the Greater Flamingo at Akrotiri, Larnaca and Oroklini lakes. Look out for a black one among the pink… it is believed to be a mutation and may be a unique specimen in the wild.
On showery days, why not head for one of the island’s indoor museums? Or explore Nicosia – the world’s only remaining divided capital – centring your exploration around Ledra Street where there is a crossing point to Northern Cyprus. The backstreets of Limassol, Paphos and Larnaca old towns are also worth a wander – with their historic architecture, traditional shops and café culture.
[We do not do winter lets, but you should be able to get a good off-season hotel deal.]
Spring (March – May)
This is arguably the most colourful Cyprus season… lush green fields, carpets of flowers including the most delicate of wild and rare orchids, along with an abundance of yellow mimosa. It’s also capers picking season… (Did you know they are flower buds?) On hillside terraces and valley floors you can watch the vibrant lime-coloured growth emerging from the woody grape vines, just as there’s pastel blossom on the many fruit and nut trees. Spring is the ideal time for countryside nature walks and driving tours.
Different regions have local specialities… Cyprus tulips are grown around the village of Polemi near Paphos, and roses around Agros for making into rose water. Polemi Tulip Festival takes place in March, and Agros Rose Festival at the eastern Troodos village in May.
It’s also the season when nearly 400 species of migrating birds arrive en route from over-wintering in Africa to their breeding grounds in Europe.
And with warmer temperatures, longer days, and less rain than in winter, thoughts naturally turn to outdoor activities. These range from ancient World Heritage historical sites with Greco-Roman remains such as Kourion amphitheatre and Paphos archaeological site to family-friendly attractions such as Paphos Zoo and Sparti Rope Park in Platres forest.
For an adrenaline fix you could learn a new sport on during your Cyprus holiday… maybe try out paragliding with a tandem flight, and if you’re bitten by the bug, progress to elementary and club pilot courses with Cyprus Fly Adventures.
Cultural events for Cypriots focus around Orthodox Easter. In the supermarkets and bakeries you will see special traditional Easter treats for sale, often with tasting samples to try. You can even buy ready-dyed red eggs for the Easter egg-cracking game (which is played like conkers on Orthodox Easter Sunday). And visitors are welcome to visit the local churches to see the flower decorations. In towns and villages around the island Cypriots get together for a pre-Lent picnic, an Easter communal meal and family events. For Pissouri residents this includes games, competitions, music and dancing in Pissouri Square, plus the annual married vs singles football match. If you get the chance, we recommend heading to Paphos harbour for the Kataklysmos celebrations (Festival of the Flood/Pentecost) where the water-based family fun includes our favourite – the greasy pole challenge – the aim being to run along the pole and grab the flag at the end.
While children happily venture into pools and sea in April, adults usually prefer the swimming temperature from May. Days are sunny and comfortably warm, and on hotter days you’ll welcome a cooling breeze. Remember to bring a few warmer clothes for after sunset.
Summer (June – August)
At the height of summer, it’s hot hot hot! Take a few tips from the Cypriots – rise early, enjoy a long siesta in the hottest part of the day, find shade where you can, wear a hat, drink plenty of water, and do everything at a slower pace. In the local vernacular: “Siga, siga!” (“Slowly, slowly!”)
Active holidaymakers can enjoy refreshing water-based activities – either in a pool or at the seaside – paddling, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, diving, surfing, water-skiing, kite-surfing, not forgetting the family favourite – visits to water parks. When you’re ready for a break from the beach, you can escape the heat by heading inland to the cool of the Troodos Mountain pine forest where there are walking trails alongside babbling trout streams, icy pools and cool waterfalls, plus Sparti Rope Park for forest-based family zip-wire fun.
A favourite peak season adventure for beginners is to sample a PADI discover scuba diving taster. Qualified divers can progress through more advanced courses, with wreck dives and night dives available. Other ideas for an active holiday include trying out kite surfing, wind surfing, stand up paddle boarding or jet propelled flyboarding.
But if your holiday preference is to switch off and just chill out, you can relax either poolside or at one of the many Blue Flag beaches.
Hot summer evenings outdoors are one of the delights of this time of year… whether you’re having a barbecue in the garden, dining at your favourite restaurant, having a sunset drink with friends, star-gazing, or going out to an open-air show. Catering for a range of tastes, you can visit Kourion ancient odeon for a Shakespeare Festival in June, or a Greek Drama Festival in July. And at amphitheatres around south-west Cyprus, including Pissouri, there is a popular summer programme of live musical performances, mostly by ‘tribute acts’ from the UK.
July and August are also the peak months for turtle nest hatchings, with the eastern end of Pissouri beach hosting returning females. Normally taking place overnight, maybe once a season a lucky few get to witness a host of tiny baby turtles on their precarious journey from land to sea.
If you have a turtle enthusiast in the family, do consider taking a turtle cruise on board Atlantis from Paphos. George is brilliant at finding turtles, knowledgeable and interesting. His 2-hour sunset cruise is a worthwhile and memorable holiday experience.
Autumn (September – October)
Those who can holiday whenever they like may regard this as the perfect Cyprus season… The temperature is climbing down from the summer highs, with such a gradual cooling of the sea that swimming remains comfortable into November. The full programme of events and activities continues, beaches and restaurants buzz, it’s reliably hot and sunny, with the added bonus of lower humidity than the peak months.
It’s also still warm enough after sunset to enjoy al-fresco evening activities such as open-air concerts at the amphitheatres, scanning the sky for constellations and shooting stars, and outdoor dining in restaurants and tavernas.
In the rural villages you can join in with traditional festivals of thanksgiving for the harvest. Pissouri, surrounded by vineyards, celebrates a seasonal Grapes Festival where tables are set up in the village square for a huge community dinner. The nearby village of Anogyra, specialising in a jelly-like sweet made from carobs, holds a Pastelli Festival. Although traditionally for local inhabitants, visitors are welcome. There may also be stalls selling locally produced specialities, with the opportunity to try before you buy – always a good notion!
In the larger towns there are autumn festivals too… Along the Molos seafront there’s a week-long Limassol Wine Festival with food and wine tasting, music, dancing, games and entertainments. Alternatively there’s the September Paphos Aphrodite Opera Festival, in front of the castle at the harbour.
Birdwatchers can again enjoy spotting opportunities, with a seasonal influx of many species returning to over-winter in Africa and The Middle East.
It’s also the ideal time to get out and about on foot, before late-season rains begin to make some walks muddy and difficult – a good example being a trek along the Akamas Gorge with its spectacular and scary balancing rock.
You will find plenty of souvenirs offering a taste of Cyprus, whether it’s a treat for yourself, or a gift for someone at home. If you have a sweet tooth, or a penchant for an alcoholic tipple, here are our top tips about what to pack for the homeward journey…
For Brandy Sour: Cyprus Brandy and Lemon Cordial
Produced by double-distilling the local Xynisteri white wine in oak barrels, Cypriot brandy is the alcoholic element of the traditional Cyprus cocktail known as Brandy Sour. For an authentic recipe, you also need to take home local lemon cordial as it’s just not the same made with other brands.
Devised in the 1930s heyday of the Forest Park Hotel in Platres, Troodos, this tall golden cocktail allowed the Muslim King of Egypt to indulge in a tipple whilst entertaining local dignitaries. By creating a drink resembling iced tea, Stelios, head barman, enabled King Farouk to enjoy his reception without anyone uncovering his secret!
As time passed, the recipe spread to drinking establishments and restaurants throughout the island, becoming a firm favourite with both locals and visitors. Today it is regarded as THE Cyprus cocktail.
Filfar | Orange Liquer
The recipe for Filfar was developed by Takis Philippou as he worked for the British Army in Famagusta during the 1940s. His cookhouse role involved preserving local fruit in jams and marmalades. Having seen his grandmother make an orange liqueur using an ancient recipe from the monks at Kantara, he started experimenting with quantities and ingredients, using his army friends as tasters. Demand quickly grew, and before long he was making the drink commercially.
After losing everything in the Turkish invasion in 1974, Takis gave up his business. Fortunately Filfar production was revived in 1991 when Demos Aristidou, another Cypriot drinks maker, persuaded an Takis to sell his precious recipe. Still a closely guarded secret, up to 20 oranges of two varieties and three different herbs are used to make each bottle. Production is seasonal – beginning in early December with the orange harvest in Fasouri near Limassol – and continuing for four months – with much of the process still completed by hand.
Count yourself an honoured guest if a hospitable taverna owner serves a freebie at the end of dinner.
This 45% proof firewater is also produced from Xynisteri dry white wine. The high alcohol content, and ready availability has led to a variety of medicinal uses, including treating wounds, massage, a cold and toothache remedy, or as a winter warmer.
Dating back to Venetian rule of the 14th century, this fiery concoction is still made in the traditional way. Grape pomace (remains such as pulp, peel, stalks and seeds) is mixed with high-quality dry wines, which are then distilled and matured. Usually drunk as an aperitif, Zivania is best served ice-cold straight from the freezer.
για μας ! | gia mas ! | cheers !
Glyka | Spoon Sweets
Fruit such as apricots, oranges, lemons and cherries, but also vegetables or nuts in syrup traditionally served on a spoon at the end of a typical Cypriot blow-out meal. Perfect for when you haven’t got room for a full dessert, but you just fancy a little sweet with your post-dinner drink. Our fav is walnuts which are picked green and soft and preserved whole.
Soft, jelly-like sweets made with sugar, cornstarch and flavouring, plus sometimes nuts, finished with a dusting of icing sugar. The main traditional flavours are rose, lemon, mastic and bergamot, with chocolate as a more modern addition.
The island’s main factory is Aphrodite Delights at Geroskipou in Paphos where visitors can taste samples before buying, and watch the production process. For more information, check out these Trip Advisor reviews.
Soutzoukos | Grape Roll
A chewy sweet made from boiled grape juice in the wine villages of Troodos and Paphos. Almonds are threaded onto long strings, dipped into the hot juice and flour paste mixture, then hung to dry. The dipping process is repeated several times until the desired thickness is reached, then the soutzouko is dried over the period of a week and stored. Cut into slices, it is a treat served at traditional festivals and celebrations such as Christmas and New Year.
Pastelaki | Nut Brittle
Making use of locally grown nuts such as almonds and peanuts, along with a topping of sesame seeds, this is an early Cypriot version of a cereal bar. The traditional recipe uses another native ingredient – carob honey – to bind the nuts together.
Each year Cyprus Open Studios gets bigger and better… Artists, sculptors, potters, painters, glass workers and jewellers dotted around the island open up their studios on selected October weekends. This gives visitors the perfect opportunity to combine exploring the area with meeting the artists, viewing demonstrations, buying ready-made pieces, or commissioning bespoke artwork. At some locations you can even get in touch with your artistic side by taking part in creative workshops.
Below we have selected a sample of artists working in a variety of media. To see the full range, check out the map in combination with the catalogue.
Follow Wine Route 3 through beautiful vineyard-clad hillsides and traditional friendly Cypriot villages. The route passes two small traditional wineries: Lagria and Nelion.
Visit the studio of Yorgos Papadopoulos, a glass artist in Kedares producing works ranging from large sculptural pieces to silver and glass pendant jewellery.
Open 7/8 October and 21/22 October.
While visiting this north-west corner of the island, you could also visit the Baths of Aphrodite, where the goddess reputedly met with her lover, Adonis.
In Polis you will find:
Trisha Payne enjoys painting landscapes, seascapes and villages in oils on canvases – large and miniature. She also paints designs roof tiles and makes and paints her own clay plaques.
Linda Gardener makes mosaics from glass, stones, ceramic and found objects. She is inspired by the animals and nature of Cyprus. She paints and draws and uses mosaic-making as an extension of this. She will demonstrate different methods of making mosaics using a variety of materials.
Both open every weekend in October.
In and Around Paphos
There’s plenty to see and do around this main town, particularly this year as the town has the honour of being named European Capital of Culture, celebrated as ‘Pafos2017’.
We recommend heading for the harbour as a first port of call, and maybe a visit to the adjacent World Heritage Archaeological Site with fantastic well-preserved Greco Roman antiquities.
The Paphos district has a variety of artists, including:
Karen Betts who sculpts in limestone and also cement/fibreglass/resin mixes, often studies of the female form. She also paints in an abstract style using fusions of water- and oil-based materials.
Julie Hart has been a figurative/portrait painter in oils for a number of years, and since moving to Cyprus in 2014, has developed an interest in Greek Mythology which she uses as inspiration for her oil and beeswax paintings, as well as her ceramic sculptures.
Both open 7/8 October, 21/22 October and 28/29 October.
Near Pissouri, this interesting village was once a main carob-grower and is famous for ‘Pastelli’, a traditional sweet made from carob syrup. The village is also home to Oleastro, a museum dedicated to explaining the production of Olive Oil.
Gabi Boehm is a textile artist specialising in felting and dyeing. She prefers to work with natural fibres and dyes and loves creating interesting surfaces and textures.
This large rock marks the birthplace of the Greek goddess Aphrodite – who, legend has it – emerged from the foamy sea here. Aphrodite means ‘risen from the foam’ in Ancient Greek. The goddess, sitting on a shell, was then carried ashore by the gentle breezes of the Zephyrs.
Take your pick of the local myths that say swimming round the rock three times leads to either the blessing of eternal beauty, or meeting your true love.
Also known as ‘Petra Tou Romiou’ (the stone of the Roman), this iconic landmark is a 10-minute scenic coastal drive from the villa.