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Make the most of your summer in Cyprus by avoiding the tourist hotspots.
The summer season in Cyprus is the most vibrant time of year, with seemingly endless festivals and concerts. The island welcomes hundreds of visitors every summer, while Cypriot university students and those working abroad return home for their summer break. It might seem difficult to escape the crowds when there are thousands of people taking over the beaches and popular holiday spots, but fear not – there are plenty of off-the-beaten-track spots where you can spend your summer holidays almost away from the masses.
Escaping to remote villages is one of the best ways to leave the crowds behind while discovering more of Cyprus’ rural life. Most of these locations are known for their traditional Cypriot lifestyle and have a cool atmosphere in the evenings, which is certainly welcome after the unbearable heat of the day.
Not all villages will provide that isolated feel, and it’s best to avoid Troodos, Platres and Kakopetria as they are popular destinations for locals. Instead, head to quiet Pelendri, which has only a very few residents left. The village is tiny in size, but there’s lots to explore. Stay in agrotourism houses renovated in traditional stone, walk the nature trails, visit Tsiakkas winery to taste their wines and zivania and eat divine Cypriot meze at Symposio Tavern, where all the vegetables are grown by them and the meat is organic.
Depending on the type of holiday you prefer, there are numerous traditional villages dotted around the island that will suit your needs, such as Ayios Mamas in Limassol and Akourdelia in Paphos.
The coastline of Protaras, Ayia Napa, Larnaca, Limassol and Paphos town may be busy over the summer, and especially in August, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find quiet beaches around the island. Avdimou village, halfway between Limassol and Paphos, offers blue waters and natural beaches with big rocks and cliffs as a background, as well as the serene life that Cypriot villages are renowned for. Avdimou beach is a less well known summer spot that stretches over a kilometre (around half a mile) of shore. The coastline is also dotted with a few restaurants and taverns where you can try the local produce, and there are vineyards all around the village.
Close by Avdimou is the beautiful coastal Pissouri, which is busy over the summer without being overbearing. There are azure waters, water sports, charming chapels and nudist beaches. Slightly more developed than other villages of the area, Pissouri has a blend of accommodation options so everyone can find a fit; luxurious hotel resorts, villa rentals and apartments are a few possibilities that are available. And you certainly won’t go hungry here, as dozens of traditional taverns fill the bay and the village centre. Try the grapes, the halloumi and the figs, all products of the area.
A scenic place in the Paphos region is the secluded Pomos, home to untouched landscapes and unspoilt beaches. To reach it, drive north from Polis Chrysochou along the coast. The half hour journey offers striking views of the sea, and if you get peckish on your drive, stop for a toasted sandwich at Koulla’s caravan, which also has a view of the coast. Koulla’s snacks are renowned here and a typical order is a halloumi, lountza, cucumber and tomato sandwich or the fully loaded ‘mix’, which also includes sausage, roast beef and bacon.
Many locals choose Pomos for their holidays, yet the beaches tend to be fairly empty, so you can enjoy them; choose between Tpoulorotsos beach, Paradise beach or Kanalli beach. Paradise beach has a quirky beach bar nearby called Paradise Place, which organises a reggae and a jazz festival every August. Other points of interest include the harbour, dotted with fresh fish taverns, and the the museum of Natural History, so there will be plenty to fill your time in Pomos without bumping into too many people.
One of the most remote places you can venture to in Cyprus is the pebbly coast of Kato Pyrgos. Although it forms part of the Nicosia District, this coastline is only accessible via Pomos, Paphos, as a result of the division of the island. The winding road from Pomos and the distance from the main towns put off some of the crowds, but make this an ideal spot for those seeking some time away from the tourist spots. Rent a house or stay at a hotel and enjoy some of the music nights that happen over the summer in the village square. While you’re there, be sure to visit the 110-year-old oak tree which is the pride and joy of Kato Pyrgos.
While many abandon the capital for a weekend getaway to the beach or the mountains, why not choose to stay in the city? In the second week of August, the city is nearly empty and most businesses and restaurants are shut for the holidays. However, since a few people have caught on to the trick of staying inland, a few taverns and shops remain open, so you’ll find things to do in Nicosia. Just be sure to double check the opening hours, as they do usually change for the summer.