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Whether you’re coming to the end of a hectic work week or simply want to get away from the capital for a couple of days, these are the best weekend getaways, all just a short drive from Nicosia.
Traditional stone houses built on mountain slopes decorate this village of the Nicosia district. Many of them have been restored, maintaining their old character, and turned into rentals for those wanting to stay in Kalopanayiotis. And who wouldn’t when there are historical sites and healing waters to explore? With a weekend away here you can visit the Saint John Lampadistis Monastery, listed as UNESCO World Heritage, walk on the 16th century Venetian bridge above Setrachos River where the mythical sulphur springs flow and check out the abandonned Kykkos Watermill. Rent a refurbished house and stay in true local fashion whilst supporting the island’s agro-tourism scene.
Want to try the renowned healing waters of Kalopanayiotis? Then visit the village’s most famous project, a resort offering luxury accommodation in an elegant traditional style, Casale Panayiotis. Wanting to preserve the village’s culture and life while recognising the ancient focus of land cultivation, Casale Panayiotis has built a spa continuing the legacy of the region’s sulphur springs. Unwind at their Myrianthousa Spa with saunas, hydrotherapy pools, jacuzzis with the village’s healing waters and body treatments that use the area’s botanical gems.
Love wine and exploring the countryside? Why not combine both by visiting some wineries at numerous vine-growing villages in the Limassol district? Limassol’s region is a delicious hub of wine-making villages that host local wineries. Spend your weekend tasting all the different kinds of grape varieties while experiencing the rural life of the island. Two villages not to miss are Omodos and Ayios Amvrosios, both known for their wine production. In Omodos, after walking down the main street in the centre filled with taverns and shops selling traditional products, head to one of the wineries. Ask to try zivania, a popular alcoholic drink made in Omodos. In Ayios Amvrosios, visit the family-owned Zambartas Winery that has three hectares of vineyards. Their wine is one of the locals’ favourite and you can taste it on one of their tours.
Nicosians are known for favouring Protaras’s sandy shores over the rest of the coast and who can blame them when the Famagusta district is home to crystal blue waters and long stretches of white sand? Only an hour away from the capital, these are the closest beaches with beautiful clear waters to Nicosia, with the next beach heaven being close to two hours away in Paphos. Protaras has everything needed as it’s a prime holiday destination with rows of bars, taverns and restaurants, souvenir shops and old historical churches. Book a hotel, a rental house, an Airbnb, a villa or whatever floats your boat as Protaras has big variety of accommodation options for all budgets.
Pro tip: August is the busiest month, so book your weekend away in advance.
Lefkara, a charming small village with pebbly alleys of colourful plants, is just under 35 minutes from Nicosia. What’s special about this Cypriot village is that it is home to the island’s famous lace ‘lefkaritika’ embroidery, so-called after the village’s name. This old craft includes detailed needlework and intricate design passed down generations that has been listed as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. With a mere stroll down Lefkara you’ll spot the few women left that carry this proud Cypriot tradition, sitting on the street, embroidering. Stay at one of the old houses and interact with the villagers, detach from Nicosia’s hustle and bustle and don’t forget to try a dish called ttavas, which is considered to originate from Lefkara.
An hour away from Nicosia is Limassol, home to a buzzing seaside scene and a lot of new urban developments that bring vibrancy to the area. A weekend away in the wine capital of Cyprus is an easy answer to your getaway craving with lots of corners to explore, from the medieval castle to quirky bars and gin gardens. Reaching the town is easy via the straightforward highway and if you’re not driving, there are plenty of buses that head there daily. Welcoming hundreds of guests, Limassol has dozens of accommodation options from luxurious hotels to Airbnbs in the old neighbourhood that can be your home for a couple of days. A must-visit spot is the town’s newest addition; the Limassol Marina. This is an impressive waterfront development that definitely takes the status of the town a notch up with numerous luxurious yachts parked there, 15 restaurants, 29 shops and a spa and fitness club. Head there for a stroll, a dining experience or for some evening cocktails. And for those who can afford it, upscale villas and apartments are available for rent.
If you’re not in a rush to reach Limassol, make a road trip out of it by stopping at some villages along the way that will feed both your history thirst and your camera. About 48 km (30 miles) from Nicosia is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the archaeological site of Choirokoitia; a well-kept settlement from the Neolithic Age. Explore the remains and the circular huts that form part of one of the most significant prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. The area’s excavation findings gave a great insight into the region’s evolution of human society, making it a prime spot for history and archaeology lovers. A ten-minute drive from Choirokoitia are the villages of Psematismenos and Tochni, both equally as picturesque and charming. Walk down the picturesque streets, notice the old architecture of the houses and of the church in the town centre. Tochni is considered to be one of the oldest villages in Cyprus and the houses are all built from stone of the village. Psematismenos is a fishing village with many fish taverns, so you could make this your lunch break as you head to Limassol.
Within the Troodos mountain range, which covers a large forest area of Cyprus, are Platres and Kakopetria, two villages nestled amongst tall pine trees, fresh river water and a cool climate. Their refreshing temperatures and simple, authentic style make them a popular spot for weekend escapes. Dozens of mountain houses are available for rent for those wishing to spend time in fresh mountain air, or who want to hike or relax with a book under the trees. These houses are worth visiting all year round, and when the weather is warmer you can set up a tent at the Prodromos camp site. For a more dynamic time while in Platres, go wild at Sparti Adventure Rope Park with a dozen zip lines, wooden bridges and jump lines to entertain kids and adults. This can make a fun family day out as there are appropriate rope lines for children. Companies or friends can also enjoy themselves at Sparti Park with some team-building time.