Table of Contents
- Winter In Cyprus: What It’s Like
- 1. Warm and Mild Weather
- 2. Hotels and Restaurants Stay Open
- 3. Less Tourist Crowds
- 4. Many Things to Do in Cyprus During Winter
- Best Things to Do During Winter in Cyprus:
- Explore its capital city, Nicosia
- Retrace history at the Kourion Archaeological Site
- Go hiking in the Troödos Mountains
- Wander through the cute rural villages
- Take a Road Trip around Cyprus
Winter In Cyprus: What It’s Like
When planning our recent trip to Cyprus, we were a bit hesitant about traveling in winter. We knew winter in Cyprus would be warmer than elsewhere in Europe, but we weren’t quite sure if it would be the best time to visit. Would it be cold and gloomy? Or would restaurants and hotels be closed for the season?
As it turned out, we didn’t have anything to worry about. The weather was marvelous – it was always sunny and we even had t-shirt weather one day. It didn’t feel like low season anywhere since locals were still out and about, living life as normal. In fact, I loved the absence of the summer crowd and holidaymakers. Here’s why we think winter may just be the best time to visit Cyprus!
1. Warm and Mild Weather
Cyprus actually has the warmest winters in the Mediterranean part of the European Union, with average temperatures of 22–23 °C during the day and 12–14 °C at night. The temperature in the open sea hovers around 16° or 17° C in winter, which is really not too bad in comparison to elsewhere in Europe. During our trip, we even saw people swimming in the sea!
Even in winter, you’ll sure to get some sun as Cyprus receives more than 340 days of sunshine a year. Days are short though, with an average of 6-8 hours of sunlight per day from December to February.
2. Hotels and Restaurants Stay Open
Some hotels and restaurants do close in winter as there are not enough tourists around to stay open profitably. But there are enough places open everywhere in Cyprus for you to have a good time.
In cities like Nicosia and Larnaca, you’ll find locals all out and about even in the midst of winter. The popular tourist towns like Limassol and Paphos still have a great atmosphere and definitely feel less touristy than usual. It’s even warm enough to eat al fresco, under the sun.
We stayed at several different hotels in Cyprus and most had moderate occupancy at the time of our visit in December:
- Alexander the Great Beach Hotel — This hotel in Paphos stays open all year round and has an excellent location right on the beach. It’s also within walking distance from restaurants, supermarkets and shops. You can easily explore Paphos City from here and it’s definitely a family-friendly hotel.
- Sentido Cypria Bay — We stayed here on our last night and really liked the hotel’s stylish interior and kids club. It’s really affordable as well and the location in the city made it convenient to explore on foot.
- Elias Beach Hotel — This luxury hotel in Limassol is also fantastic and has a great sea view. Perfect for families who are looking for kids-friendly amenities and proximity to the town and nearby restaurants. It stays open in December but closes from the beginning of January to end of February each winter.
- Ambelikos Traditional Agrohotel — If you’re heading to Troodos Mountains like we did, I highly recommend staying at this rustic yet comfortable stone-walled guesthouse. It’s historical and full of character, surrounded by vineyards and grapevines.
3. Less Tourist Crowds
This is one of the main reasons why we love winter in Cyprus. From December to February, you won’t find the usual tourist crowds as you would in summer. According to the Cyprus tourism market report, the number of tourist arrivals in Cyprus drop from around 350,000 in summer to 50,000 per month in winter.
Every June to August, certain beach towns like Limassol can get packed with rowdy and boozy holidaymakers who are just out to party. In winter, you won’t find such tourists around and instead you’ll find more travelers who are keen on getting active or exploring the cultural and historical aspects of the country.
4. Many Things to Do in Cyprus During Winter
That’s the thing: Cyprus is so much more than just a beach destination. It is multilayered, not only in its history, but also its rich traditions, cuisine and landscape that few other countries can rival.
Regardless of the time of the year, you’ll find plenty to things to see and experience beyond the beaches: from exploring impressive archaeological ruins to hiking its hundreds of trails and wandering through its mountain villages and feasting on some of the best cuisines in the world.
Best Things to Do During Winter in Cyprus:
Of all the experiences we had, here are some of our favorite things to do in winter on Cyprus:
Explore its capital city, Nicosia
Nicosia (Lefkosia) is known as the last divided capital city of the world as its southern half belongs to the Republic of Cyprus (with an internationally acknowledged government) and the other half is still occupied by the Turkish army today.
The Green Line divides these two halves but you can cross from one side to the other easily via the Ledra Street pedestrianized crossing (remember to bring your passport!) The southern half is such an intriguing city with a mishmash of Greek orthodox churches and Muslim mosques, taverns and tea houses, markets and baths.
Retrace history at the Kourion Archaeological Site
Digging into the island’s past is one of the most interesting things to do in Cyprus. There are plenty of archaeological sites on Cyprus, but the most spectacular one (in my opinion) is the Kourion Archaeological Site. Originally built in the 2nd century B.C., it’s been immaculately preserved.
Famed for its magnificent amphitheatre, Kourion is also home to beautiful mosaic tiles, colonnades and baths. We found it comparable to the magnificent ancient sites in Greece and Turkey, and highly recommend a visit for any history buff.
Go hiking in the Troödos Mountains
Away from the touristically developed beach towns, Cyprus brims with empty hiking trails and challenging biking paths further inland. The Troödos Mountains are one of the best regions to pull your hiking boots on. We chose to hike the Kaledonia Nature Trail, an easy 3-km gradual uphill hike through pine forests, running streams and ending at the Kaledonia waterfalls.
There are many other hiking trails to choose from in this area, with many recommending the Asinou–Agios Theodoros trail. It begins at the Byzantine-frescoed Panagia Forviotissa church.
Wander through the cute rural villages
One of the best ways to get to a feel for rural Cyprus is to spend time in one of the island’s snoozy villages. They seem to exist in a cobblestoned time-warp where life slows down to snail’s pace. Our favorite has to be Omodos, a village steeped in tradition and the traditional bread rings, arkatena.
We recommend visiting the famous George’s Bakery to try some of the freshest arkatena along with homemade zivania liquor. Then having an authentic Cypriot lunch at the popular Katoi Restaurant (our favorite restaurant on this trip!).
Take a Road Trip around Cyprus
By far the best thing to do during winter in Cyprus is to rent a car and drive all around the island. We really enjoyed many of the scenic drives on the island, especially the route between Limassol and Troodos. It twists, dips and climbs through up to the Troodos Mountains and you’re guaranteed some spectacular landscapes. Another impressive scenic drive is from Paphos to Petra tou Romiou – also known as Aphrodite’s Rock.
The road and beach can get busy in peak season but it’s perfect in winter. You can easily rent a car for less than 50 euros a day. It’s relatively easy to drive there with English road signs, smooth roads and an efficient road network. Note that traffic in Cyprus is left-hand traffic, but it is usually easy to get used to once you are in traffic.
Disclosure: Part of this trip was organized by Visit Cyprus. As always, all opinions expressed are our own.