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With everything from pristine beaches to secluded mountain landscapes, Cyprus is a popular destination for travellers looking to unwind. Aside from popular beaches and tourist hotspots, the island is also home to a series of must-visit gems, perfect for switching off entirely. Here’s our pick of the best.
With over 200 bird species crossing the island as they migrate seasonally to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, Cyprus has one of the major bird migration routes in the Mediterranean. Of the hundreds of birds that pass through, including pink flamingos, two are unique to the island: the Cyprus wheatear and the Cyprus warbler, which only breed here. Grab your binoculars and head to Asprokremnos Dam, Pissouri and Dhiarizos Valley, all in the Paphos district to catch a glimpse. Alternatively go to Troodos, Larnaca Salt Lake or Lady’s Mile in Limassol.
Head towards the mountains for some fresh air and walk along Millomeri nature trail in Platres. The trail is only 1.5km (0.93 miles) and cuts through a river with a charming bridge deep in the forest, while the second half spreads along the hillside. There’s definitely a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, as the trail leads to a beautiful waterfall with a small pond of some of the island’s freshest waters. Indulge in the calming sound of the waterfall and cool off with splashes of water.
Looking for a full-body relaxing experience? Escape to Aelia Wellness Retreat, for massages, aromatherapies, delicious food and serene scenery. Surrounded by greenery and amid a calming atmosphere, you won’t believe this cocoon-shaped wellness haven is located just on the suburbs of the busy capital. Book into a room for an overnight stay to completely let go, and indulge in the harmonious services of the eco-resort. Their philosophy is to offer a space to step back from the hectic daily routine and rejuvenate, while some of their unique activities include horse riding and music gigs.
An even more secluded place to stay and unwind is at the Yurts in Cyprus – there’s no other place quite like it. Located in Paphos, the yurts are built in a valley and are ideal for those wanting a different resting place with stunning sunset views. Built on solar off-grid power and permaculture, the yurts are an excellent, eco-sustainable base for nature activities, be it sightseeing, photography, hiking or wine tasting. Grab your favourite book, bring your partner or visit solo, and leave tech troubles behind as you integrate in the tent-like rooms. At night enjoy the incredible opportunity to stargaze under the clear skies of Paphos.
Still within the Paphos district, the Akamas region is paradise for nature lovers, as the whole of the west coast is home to nature trails, unspoiled beaches and gorges. Many locals consider it to be one of the most beautiful parts of the island, with environmental and activist groups fighting to maintain its natural setting. Get your walking shoes on and go on a hike to explore the local wildlife, or wash away your worries in Akama’s crystal clear waters.
Many find a calming effect in the waves of the ocean – scuba diving, besides being a sport, can be an equally tranquil activity. If this agrees with you, then a paying a visit to Zenobia shipwreck is a must. The ship was a Swedish ferry fully loaded with 104 trailers and trucks when it sank off Larnaka’s fishing harbour in 1980. Today, it ranks as one of the top ten wreck dives in the world. It lies on a flat bed of sand and rocks, 1.5km (0.93 miles) from the shore, and has been nicknamed the ‘Titanic of the Mediterranean’. Now home to many species of fish, it has become a protected artificial reef, making it an opportunity to witness sea life.
Pro tip: This spot is only suitable for experienced divers – alternatively take a glass bottom boat tour to see the shipwreck.
Cyprus offers many camping sites for those who want to feel closer to nature. Most camping spots are equipped with picnic areas and bathrooms, and some may even have a cafeteria. Set up a tent under the trees and completely switch off as you travel back to a nomadic way of living. Whether you camp in the refreshing mountain slopes or by the sea, you are sure to free your mind from troubles. Of the best-known camp sites is Polis Chrysochous, which is tucked among eucalyptus trees and views of natural beaches. Keep in mind that during the months of August and September large crowds gather at the campsite, so for a more peaceful stay go over quieter months.
Similarly, it will be difficult to enjoy the sandy beaches with myriad tourists and locals alike visiting over the summer. The island’s calm, blue waters are among the main reasons that people visit, and few ocean corners remain undiscovered. If you’re after quality time with the ocean at your feet, visit Cyprus in off-peak season and enjoy the coast all to yourself – well almost. The busy months cover all the way from May until the end of August, so a more quiet period for tranquil travellers would be over Easter or after mid-September.
The ultimate mind, body and spirit experience has to be at the Olive Tree Sanctuary, a newly-opened resort in the sleepy village of Nikokleia, Paphos that creates a safe space to revitalise and focus within. Housed at the Vasilias Nikoklis Inn, the resort’s beautiful green grounds offer yoga, reiki, massages and even counselling, among other therapies. With the aim of forgetting daily pressures and nourishing body and spirit, delicious dishes are provided and vegan meals are offered. Dip in the pool or mediate in the garden, and at night doze off in the stone-built accommodation. Certainly the place to go off the grid and fully de-stress.
Pro tip: Retreats run a couple of times a year, so check the website for bookings.