Halloumi. That’s the first word that popped into my mind when I thought of Cyprus. The second word was ‘beach’. Halloumi and beaches are after all, two of my favourite things so I was bound to love Cyprus the moment I stepped foot on the island for a Cyprus holiday.
Cyprus is about a 4-hour plane ride from London – far enough away to feel like you really went somewhere different but close enough to where you could make a trip to Cyprus into a long weekend (4 days). We flew into Pafos and were greeted by brilliant sunshine and dry heat around 30 degrees Celsius. That brilliant sunshine is a huge draw for British tourists, as you can imagine. The heat is not a humid heat in September, but a nice dry heat – the kind of heat that sinks into your bones and feels good on the skin.
Upon arrival into Pafos we headed straight to the Leptos Coral Beach Hotel which is a 5-star resort located on the edge of the Akamas peninsula and sits on a natural beach. It’s pretty close to the airport so it means that you don’t have to travel too far to a nice hotel once you arrive into Pafos. The hotel is perfect if you are wanting to relax at the beach, swim and/or take part in other outdoor activities such as horse riding, which leads me onto our next destination.
Not long after checking in we headed to George’s Ranch which is a great place to visit for if you are both a beginner at horse riding or an advanced rider. I love horses and my horse, Princess, was so well behaved on our ride. Horses have an amazing ability to mirror the emotions of their human rider so it’s important to remain calm and cool-headed when riding a horse. And, it’s such a treat to be able to ride a horse – living in London sometimes these things just aren’t possible.
If you are looking for a boujee place to eat and drink then I would HIGHLY recommend Cap St. George. The restaurant overlooks the beach and tables sit poolside. The food is absolutely divine and to be honest if you are a foodie then Cyprus should definitely be on your hit list because the food is incredible. We had fresh mussels, fish, halloumi (better in Cyprus!) and salads to die for. Pair that with the local wine and you have a meal made in heaven. If you are feeling flashy you can also rent one of the INSANE villas at Cap St. George.
On Friday morning we had an early breakfast at Leptos Coral Beach Hotel and then headed by car to Simou Village to the Yurts in Simou, an eco-friendly B&B. If you are looking for a digital detox this is the place to go. You can stay in one of several comfortable yurts (think of this like glamping in Cyprus) and then veg out to your heart’s content in the hills. The Yurts in Simou are located just outside of Simou village in Pafos. If you are strung-out, stressed and overwhelmed getting some peace and serenity here wouldn’t be a bad idea. We were luckily able to do a yoga session and clear our minds a bit before the busy day ahead. The Yurts in Simou are also dog-friendly, worth bearing in mind if you have a pooch that you are travelling with.
From the Yurts in Simou we headed to Lysos to Paradisos Hills, a charming boutique hotel settled on the edge of the Paphos forest, with a bird’s eye view of the mountain valleys below. This would probably be my little dream escape – sitting by the pool and up high, breathing in the fresh mountain air. We were there to have a cooking lesson with Niki (who kindly sent us away with all of her recipes) and learn how to make moussaka, homemade halloumi-stuffed bread, Cypriot salad and Kleftiko. And I’m telling you waiting for that halloumi-stuffed bread was torture but heavenly later when it came out of the oven, hot and fresh.
Kleftiko is an interesting dish and one I hadn’t heard of. The name means ‘stolen meat’ because people used to steal goats, slaughter them and then cook the meat underground so that the smoke wouldn’t give away the thieves. It’s comprised of slow cooked potatoes, lamb and flavoured with a number of different spices as well as red wine. It’s one of those dishes that is really comforting that you would expect to have on a Sunday and cooked by your mother.
After a delicious lunch we left Paradisos Hills for the Troodos Mountains. One thing I didn’t realise about Cyprus was that the island has so many mountains, tall ones at that! There is even a mountain you can actually ski on in the right conditions and time of year. Imagine skiing and then heading to the beach on the same day! We climbed up and up into the mountains and around steep, curvy bends until we reached Pedoulas where we checked into the Aristotelio Boutique Hotel.
I love boutique hotels and this one certainly had charm perched high up into the mountains. We had some time before dinner to have a wander around the quiet town of Pedoulas to soak in the charm of this traditional Cypriot village. This was a lovely side to see of Cyprus, up high into the mountains and spending time in a local village.
Even though we were up high in the mountains, the weather was still warm enough to wear shorts. Armed with my camera tucked away into my little Radley drawstring shoulder bag, we were off to explore Pedoulas by foot!m
Dinner was back at the Aristotelio Boutique Hotel and was delicious, with more Cypriot specialties including chicken liver, more grilled Halloumi (this time with a marmalade glaze) and Cypriot sausages. I have to say the local wine as well is delicious, so you must try it when visiting Cyprus.
The next morning we checked out and headed just a few minutes up the road from our hotel to the Byzantine church of Archangelos Michael which is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site. What a charming little church this was with beautiful paintings and images on every wall and ceiling and only space enough for about 10 people comfortably. It’s well worth a look at if visiting Pedoulas (and I hope you will)!
After seeing the Byzantine church we headed to Troodos (Platres) to go trekking along the Kaleidonia Nature Trail, another activity I would highly recommend if you are in this area and visiting Pedoulas. There is something special about just getting out into nature and getting some fresh air. The trail is in a woodland forest with bubbling streams and even a few waterfalls as well and it was good to get the heart rate up and some physical activity in after so much eating.
After stopping for frappes at Psilo Dentro in Platres we headed to Omodos Village which was one of my favourite stops on the whole trip. This is a GORGEOUS village that I would highly recommend having a wander around and stopping for lunch. We were able to try some local wines at the old wine press including the Commandaria wine which is the most famous wine from Cyprus. This is a dessert wine which is lovely to sip after dinner. Commanderia wine is made from the indigenous grape variety, Xynisteri and it is delicious – highly recommended to try it if you visit Cyprus. And if you don’t well, it’s kind of like visiting Japan without trying sake.
We had a lovely lunch at To Katoi in Omodos which again I would highly recommend for lunch. I’ve already had people asking me on my Instagram @beautyrocksblog where to go for lunch in Omodos and this is the place I’ve recommended. The food is fresh, delicious and this is also the place I had the best halloumi whilst in Cyprus. That should be reason enough to try it!
Another stopping point if you are travelling to Lemosos is the Kourion Ancient Theatre. The theatre was constructed at the end of the 2nd century BC so for history buffs out there this one is for you! The theatre also boasts stunning views of the sea below so well worth a stop to check it out.
After a busy day, we headed to our final activity, another one I would recommend if you are into water sports. We headed out on a kayak tour by sunset with the fabulous guys from Sea Kayak Cyprus. The sunset over the water was beautiful and the sea is so warm – I even saw a sea turtle while we were out!
Our last night in Cyprus we checked into the Pioneer Beach Hotel which is a lovely beachfront hotel so again if you are a sand and sun seeker, this hotel would be a great option to stay in whilst in Cyprus. One great point of the Pioneer Beach Hotel is that all the rooms have large balconies with views of the Mediterranean so you know you will get a great view no matter what. The bathrooms are also luxurious with marble detailing and large bathtubs.
We dined at the Christiana Culinarium Restaurant where we had fresh seafood including scallops, salads and desserts (and more local wine, of course). The food in Cyprus honestly is a treat and you won’t be disappointed by the culinary options available including fresh seafood, halloumi and salads.
Our last day in Cyprus we visited the Kato Pafos which is well worth a visit and is a UNESCO World Heritage site with sites and monuments from 4th century BC through to the Middle Ages. The mosaic tiles are from the Roman period and contain fascinating scenes from Greek mythology.
There is a lot to see and do in Cyprus in terms of historical sites, nature, beaches, mountains, food, outdoor activities and I feel like I got a great taste of what the country the has to offer. And seriously, for the halloumi and wine alone, it’s worth the trip. So when are you booking your Cyprus holiday?
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @beautyrocksblog where I’ve posted lots of pictures from my Cyprus holiday and travels. You can also see the videos from the trip on my Instagram bio in a highlights reel called Cyprus!
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