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A trip to Cyprus promises to be gastronomic experience, whether indulging in the island’s rich and colourful cuisine or its local vintages. With numerous villages across the island, there are many routes to try the local wine varieties and to explore the rural life of the island. Here’s our pick of the best.
This small village in the Limassol district is known for its wines, particularly as it houses an ecological winery (Gaia Οιnotechniki) that creates high quality produce. The characteristic stone wall houses of Ayios Amvrosios on the hilly area offer a charming view of the vineyards that surround the region.
One of the most popular villages of Cyprus is Omodos, due to its high production of traditional products such as zivania (an alcoholic drink) and soutzouko (a sweet made from grape must). Cobbled streets make up the centre of the village, with lines of traditional shops and restaurants leading up to the Monastery of the Holy Cross; one of the oldest monasteries of Cyprus. As a popular agro-tourism destination, Omodos is well-kept and has a point of interest for all visitors be it wineries, museums or Cypriot lace.
A village that literally identifies with wine is Inia, as its name originally derives from the Ancient Greek word for wine; inos. Nuzzled between vineyards, Inia is a grape-growing village of the Paphos district. Known for its traditional basket weaving, there’s more to this village than just wine tasting. Its mountainous location looks out to the evergreen Akamas Peninsula, perfect for nature walks, photography, and peace of mind.
Another wine village in Paphos is Kathikas, tucked away, calm and picturesque. Its stone wall architecture and picturesque streets retain a traditional charm which is further enriched by the kind locals that still reside there. Rich in mouthwatering tavern dishes and local wine, Kathikas will enchant any traveller. Head to the family-owned Vasilikon winery that’s considered one of the first establishments of its kind in Cyprus.
Highly popular among travellers and tourists alike, Kato Platres separates Upper (pano) Platres and Lower (kato) Platres. Its cool temperature is ideal for growing and cultivating grapevines. Doubling in size over the summer season thanks to visitors, this spot offers plenty to see and do. The most exciting activities are the Kaledonia Falls nature trail and the Millomeri Falls nature trail, so be sure to pack some walking shoes too.
Along the Troodos mountain range and some 35km (22 miles) from Limassol is another picturesque village dotted with traditional houses that have flat or tiled roofs. Within the limestone walls of these houses sit colourful gardens – look out for the earthenware jars that hide in them! As one of the island’s main grape cultivators, Koilani is known for its wine which you can try at local taverns. Look closely enough and you might be able to spot old equipment used for the production of wine or the distilling of the strong spirit Zivania, dispersed in the gardens. For a more engaging experience, visit over October-November during the annual grape festival and try various traditional grape delicacies and wines.
To taste Cyprus’s famous dessert wine, Commandaria, head to Lofou, situated between Paphos and Limassol. Built on circular hill patterns (thereby acquiring its name, which translates as ‘hill’), the village is surrounded by mountains and two main rivers that feed its vineyards. For spectacular countryside views, go to the school yard and then dine at one of the taverns that serve traditional Cypriot dishes. On the way to the olive mill and the Folk Art Museum, see if you can find the street art that decorates Lofou’s stone walkways.
If visiting during the summer heatwave, venture up to Pachna for a fresher climate and a chance to experience the grape festival during the month of August. As a neighbour of Ayios Amvrosios, it is considered one of the largest winegrowing villages yet is also famous for its dairy products, grapes and taverns. Visit Yiaskouris Winery, home to 10 hectares of grapevines!
Sitting some 1,092 metres (3,583 feet) above sea level, Arsos is built on a steep hill and offers magnificent countryside views. Explore the narrow alleys alongside its traditional buildings, and discover its mineral water springs and the olive press. The village’s wine has a reputation of being of the best production in Cyprus, perhaps due to the fact that wine making is still the villagers’ main profession.