Travel Guide: Cyprus
Posted on 27 August 2018
Alasia Lifestyle designer, Anastasia Gerali shares her guide to Cyprus
Take it as a local's guide to seeing Cyprus, which has a lot more to offer than just beach hotels. Cyprus has 64 Blue Flag beaches for you to choose from all around the island, so take your pick. My tip is to always ask a local where to try local delicacies, ask them where THEY would go, otherwise they will suggest popular tourist spots which you want to avoid. Have fun, take sunblock and rent a car!
Cyprus in the summer is hot, very hot. So you always need to be prepared for the heat.
My summer essentials in my Jet Set Tote are:
- Sunblock, always!! Don't bother with makeup in the heat because you'll have to reapply sunblock a few times a day.
- Sunglasses are a must in Cyprus if you don't want to be permanently squinting against the sun.
- Face water in a spray to keep your skin hydrated and cool as well as the all essential fan.
A stroll along Ledra Street will give you a good idea of what life used to be like inside the old walls of Nicosia. Here you will find an array of high street stores as well as independent coffee shops and chic bars.
Baths of Aphrodite
An easy hike to where the goddess took her baths. Myth has it anyone who washes their face with the water here will become beautiful. I would visit it every year with my grandfather and would religiously wash my face, hands and feet in the stream.
Wine Tasting in the Paphos or Liassol Wine Valley
Cyprus has the oldest discovered wine remnants found, tracing back 6000 years! We also have many award-winning wines, my personal favourite is a modern take on the traditional commandaria wine, a sweet dessert wine called Anama Concept. The couple behind the wine, Lefteris is an oenologist and Kristina, his wife is a jewellery designer and art director of the brand. It's no wonder the bottles and packaging are as beautiful as the taste is gorgeous. If you visit the Cyprus Wine Museum in Erimi you will see all the labels which I designed for their own-range back when I was a graphic designer. Everything from their wine collection, to the spirits.
Akamas Peninsula Wildlife Forest
Drive to Lara beach to see where the Caretta turtle lays her eggs and then make your way to the most beautiful scenic Blue Lagoon, which you can only get to by boat or 4x4/quad bike. Here you can go hiking to the Avakas Gorge, where views are breathtaking and deep inside the gorge you will encounter rare plants and flowers, reptiles, immense cliffs and even wild mountain goats. Finish up your hike with a few drinks at The Last Castle (an amazing restaurant within Akamas) and enjoy the breathtaking views of the peninsula.
Cyprus offers many music festivals in summer, they are a great place to meet locals and enjoy some international world music. They also tend to be located in interesting places, either a mountain village or in the forest, so it becomes a glamping experience. Some of the biggest ones are Afro Banana Republic, Paradise Jazz Festival, Fengaros, Loud Music Festival, Xarkis. Lick R&B Parties are also always a glittery night out with champagne showers.
Here is where the Goddess of love and beauty was born according to mythology. Not ideal for a swim as the water is quite rough, but you simply must visit this historic site when you are on the island.
Located in a beautiful building in Lefkara village with yummy homemade comfort food. Visit the nearby scenic village where traditional Lefkaritika lace is made and filigree silversmiths still make the intricate jewellery.
A culinary experience by the super talented Chef Roddy.
Karas Village Tavern
The best seafood tavern in Paralimni. Let the waiter handle your order and accept whatever he suggests.
Although there are many great spots in the Protaras/Ayia Napa area, as an alternative Kalamies in Pernera is very scenic overlooking the sea.
Located in Nicosia, this place is cheap serving delicious meaty dishes. Try the mixed platters for sharing to get a taste of everything.
Specialities to try in Cyprus
Ask a local where you can find these, as they are not usually available in tourist areas:
- Loukoumades (sweet fried honey balls)
- Halloumi (yes, the one and only, Cyprus's traditional goat's cheese)
- Sieftalies (only for hardcore meat lovers)
- Koupepia (stuffed vine leaves)
Kourion Archaeological Site
See the Ancient Kourion in Limassol, which is an ancient city archaeological site. In the summer, there will also be subtitled Greek theatres at the outdoor amphitheatre, which is a fantastic experience if you like a good Greek tragedy (tip: take a pillow to sit on). You will need to book in advance as tickets sell out very fast.
Art in Nicosia
The CVAR and Leventis Museum in the old town and Leventis Art Gallery always have beautiful exhibitions on if you are the type to get lost in museums and galleries. I always prefer to take a guided tour or audio guide as it's the best way to learn more about what you are looking at and learn some historical facts.
Shopping in Cyprus is quite commercial. You can find some very chic boutiques selling international designers if you are after a luxury shopping experience. To find local designers is a bit more of a treasure hunt. Independent designers will most likely have their own boutiques or have a few local stockists, but these won't be easy to find.
Some of the local designers I really admire are Joanna Louca, Daniella Georgiou, Grecian Chic, Julia Asterou and Nikos Ioannou Jewelry. Retrovi is also an innovative brand which marries traditional crafts with fashion.
My advice is to visit Lefkara village if you want to meet the women who still make the beautiful traditional laces, which are the last generation (all retirement age) making the traditional 'Lefkaritiko' lace. Besides being in a scenic village, you can also find traditional filigree silver jewellery here that is only made in this village. Ask about the different designs as each one has a story.
Weaving & Folklore Museum
Fiti village also has a unique textile tradition, where women weave on a large loom, traditional folk patterns in vibrant colours. You can visit the Weaving and Folklore museum and also wander into a weaving workshop where you can see how the weave is made and also pick up one of the many products for your home.
If you are in Nicosia, the best shop to visit for artistic pieces made by local craftsmen is the Cyprus Handicraft Center. Here you will find traditional-inspired ceramics, textiles, embroidery and mosaics made by newly trained craftsmen. This is where anyone who is interested in learning a traditional craft can apply for training, and experimentation is encouraged, so some artists go on to create evolved traditional crafts with a modern take.