Cyprus cycling routes: best routes for villa holidaymakers

If you’re wanting an active getaway complete with sun, sea and stunning sights, then you can’t go wrong with Cyprus. Alongside this Mediterranean gem’s vast beaches and cultural spots, it has an array of cycle routes that make Cyprus cycling holidays perfect for both adventure seekers and riders content to trundle along at their own pace.

To really make the most of your Cyprus cycling holiday, consider staying in a holiday rental. This’ll give you the option to prepare food in advance before heading out on a big ride, and at the end of a long day’s cycling it’s always nice to put your feet up by a heated pool

The island’s compact size means it’s not hard to get from one side to the other. Explore Cyprus’ shore-spanning allures and check out some of these routes…

Through Athalassa National Forest Park

You’ll find this verdant park to the south of the island’s capital, Nicosia, or Lefkosia as it’s also known. A 10-mile cycle route runs through the park, suitable for most abilities, making it popular amongst locals and tourists seeking a bit of fresh air and exercise. Make a delicious picnic from your holiday rental, then stop by the park’s lake and dig into it once you’ve worked up an appetite.

Along Pedieos river

Southeast of Nicosia lies the suburb of Lakatamia. Saddle up, then cycle for five miles along the banks of the Pedieos river, starting in Lakatamia and finishing at the Presidential Palace on the outskirts of the capital. This is an easy, smooth and scenic route that’s perfect for young families looking to discover Cyprus. It takes a little short of two hours to get here from Paphos and Coral Bay, making this a perfect daytrip for anyone staying on the west of the island.

Beside the Limassol coastline

After tranquil sea views? Then try out this cycle route near the city of Limassol. Start at the old port and follow the coast towards the ancient city of Amathus, which is now an archaeological site. The route is paved, making it smooth and suitable for road bikes as well as hybrid and off-road models. Near to the site at Amathus, you’ll find a eucalyptus grove and beach area ideal for a picnic.

From Larnaka to Meneou

Step up your endurance game and cycle from Larnaka to Meneou. This enjoyable 11-mile cycle route starts at Larnaka’s main beach, running south past the city’s castle and popular Mackenzie beach, before joining the airport road and heading to the historic Hala Sultan Tekke mosque. From here the route continues round the airport to Meneou village.

From Paphos to Troodos

Endurance cyclists might be after something which’ll really get the gears working. This route from Paphos to the small town of Troodos is aimed at proficient riders, and is wholly rewarding if you’re up to the challenge. From Paphos Castle, head southeast along the coast until you reach the village of Mandria. Once you’re there, take the old Lemesos-Paphos road towards the Diarizos Valley. Continue southeast, past Psilo Dendro and towards Troodos.

Check out Villa Plus properties on the island and set the wheels of your cycling getaway rolling…

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Best Mediterranean places to visit for cycling holidays

There’s something idyllic about cycling along a clifftop track while the sea gently crashes beneath you. Apart from that and the whizz of your hubs, the world seems mysteriously quiet. It’s moments like this that make cycling holidays in the Mediterranean region so appealing.

Between Spain’s Costa del Sol and Cyprus’ eastern shores you’ll find some of the best Mediterranean places to visit for cycling holidays. Here are a few that any cyclist should tick off.

Spain – Costa del Sol

Like the name suggests, Spain’s Sun Coast largely makes for brightly-lit rides which, depending on when you visit, can get a little hot, so bring a hydration pack! One such Costa del Sol cycle starts from the small hillside town of Mijas.

Study a few maps then make for La Cala Golf Course, a popular spot for golfers that’s south of Mijas. The route entails a mixture of arid single-track and two-lane roads, suited to either hybrid bikes or cross-country models. Like all great bike rides, it’s a mixture of ups, for a challenge, and downs, which leave you with a little more time to enjoy the stunning Andalusian views. Once you get to the river near the golf course, stop for a picnic, made up from the kitchen of your self-catering holiday rental, then prepare to do it all again on your way back to Mijas.


Image by Antonio, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Spain – Costa Blanca

Many professional cycling teams use the Costa Blanca as a training hub in the winter. The smooth surfaces here appeal to road cyclists who thrive on gradual climbs, speedy descents and flat stretches.

One of the most renowned climbs in the region is known as the Coll de Rates. You can easily access it from nearby towns, like Javea and Calpe. From Coll de Rates, make your way to the village of Parcent, where the route starts off with a light incline until you reach the summit. Soak up the verdant views of the surrounding region then replenish with a refreshing drink and get ready for a leisurely cruise back down.


Image by Phillip Capper, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Greek islands – Crete

If you’re ever struggling to tackle a Greek hill, promise yourself a big platter of mezes when you finish your ride to spur you on. Other than the end-of-ride meal, however, Greek island cycling makes for unbeatable holiday memories on routes you’ll always remember, many of which are found on Crete. A lot of Cretan roads are large and quiet, too, resulting in a wholly tranquil experience when you’re speeding across the island.

While it’s perfectly easy to trundle along these roads at your own pace, a real test of endurance is to brave the near-90km journey from Chania through the inland hills to the stunning village of Kallikratis. From here you’ll be able to see much of the island’s enticing coastline. Make sure you bring a camera, then capture the moment with a panoramic shot which’ll always remind you of your Crete cycling holiday. If you don’t fancy doing it over again, though, get a holiday companion to drive over and take you back to your villa rental.


Image by Andy Montgomery, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Cyprus – Paphos

Cyprus serves cyclists a selection of island routes for many different preferences. The city of Paphos and the surrounding resorts of Coral Bay are home to road and off-road paths suited to everyone from the everyday commuter to the endurance junkie who craves another fix of kilometre-rich coastal roads.

For a real challenge, cycle into the Troodos mountain range from Paphos. The journey itself is roughly 65 kilometres and is mostly downhill, making for a highly enjoyable and breezy trip. It’s suited to both road and off-road cyclists – just make sure your trusty steed is fitted with a good set of brakes for when you need to stop!

Take the time to soak up gorgeous Cypriot views, like that of the Diarizos river, which you’ll encounter along the way. It’s the fourth largest river on the island, although every twist and turn makes for a serene spot for a sandwich and a bottle of water. Failing that, you can always dip your feet in the river to help cool off before hitting the road again!


Image by Tomasz Huczek, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Mediterranean destinations have all the right ingredients for a cycling holiday – sun, scenery and a fair whack of sandy strips where you can put your feet up after a long day of pedalling!

Thinking about bringing your beloved bicycle on your next getaway? Here’s how to go about taking it onto an aeroplane.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Culture in Cyprus and how to bring it home to your villa

As the third largest island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is poised with plenty of idyllic sunspots and a rich and insightful past. Scenery and history aside, you’ll quickly find that Cypriots embody a vibrant culture which you’ll never forget.

Culture in Cyprus is often based around strong family values and a mixture of regional traditions. Live like a local and immerse yourself in the customs of the Cypriots, that way you can bring a few home on your return.

Whether at the dinner table or on a makeshift dancefloor, here’s how you can enjoy Cyprus’ culture from your holiday rental’s living room.

Adopt Cypriot values

In Cyprus, social structures centre on the direct and extended family. Grandparents and grandchildren develop strong bonds and spend a lot of time together – usually at mealtimes or weekends.

For the ultimate getaway, bring your extended family with you on your villa holiday and share a larger property together. That way you can spend some real quality time with each other, sharing the secrets of this magical island with your loved ones.

Elders are treated with a great deal of respect in Cyprus and the oldest person in a group is usually served first at a meal. Honour this custom to make parents and grandparents feel extra special and add a real loving touch to dinner times.

Enjoy local delicacies

Heavily influenced by Greek, Turkish and recipes from the Middle East, Cyprus is famed for its succulent cuisine. Households can be found sitting under the burning Mediterranean sun enjoying platters of mezes and sharing a few cold drinks. Trying local food is one of the best ways to experience any culture, but to develop a true understanding, have a shot at cooking dishes yourself.

To bring Cypriot culture to your villa, whip up a variety of meze platters. Similar to tapas, meze is a popular aspect of Cypriot and Greek culture, with groups of locals tending to order a large collection of small, meze plates to share.

Prepare a simple green salad with some plain yogurt on the side, make your own hummus, grill a tasty fish and some halloumi to nibble on the side. Go meatier and serve up homemade kebabs or pork ball keftedes. For a sure-fire addition to the table that everyone will love, buy a loaf of bread and dip slices into olive oil.

…then have a good song and dance!

Thanks to the country’s flourishing arts scene, enjoying traditional Cypriot music and dance is an easy and enjoyable way to bring the country’s culture back to your villa. There’s a huge amount of talented Cypriot musicians – why not buy a compilation album and give it a spin one evening when you’re there?

Better yet, get everybody up and dancing. Learn some new moves to accompany Cypriot dances like the syrtos, ballos and tatsia, or gather everyone in a circle and do your own rendition of the sousta dance.

Ready to embark on your own Cypriot adventure? Have a look at some of the Villa Plus properties in the country.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Hidden gems: most beautiful parts of Cyprus for a self-catering holiday

Cyprus is a trove of hidden gems. Beyond the private pools of the luxury villas, sits a quaint collection of historic, unsung towns and villages. When it comes to holidaying here, you’re simply spoilt for choice for things to do and places to visit. On your next trip to the Mediterranean island, why not explore the vast wealth of culture and scenery unique to the area of Paphos and beyond?

Beautiful Cypriot Villas

Towns near Paphos

Just a short drive from Coral Bay, the village of Tala offers visitors an exclusive insight into traditional Cypriot culture. Don’t fancy cooking up a storm from the comfort of your villa? Why not sample some delicious local cuisine from one of its many welcoming taverns? Here you’ll taste Greek dishes like kleftiko and beef stifado, or you might even be fortunate enough to sample some flavoursome rabbit. Best served under gleaming Mediterranean architecture, this leaves visitors with an unrivalled taste of Tala.

Stunning Cyprus
Image by somiz, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Views of the Mediterranean

Eight kilometres north of Coral Bay, you’ll find the charming village of Kissonerga. It’s home to an elegant selection of coastal restaurants – so now you know where to eat before your stroll along the Cypriot cliff lines. Thirsty? Enjoy a well earned drink from any of the town’s sophisticated bars. From here, visitors are rewarded with a dramatic view of the area from more than a hundred metres above sea level – the ultimate way to unwind.

Inland beauty spots

Venturing further inland, the scenery continues to mesmerise. The town of Armou boasts panoramic views over Paphos, stretching far across the white buildings and beaches which make the region so special. For the golfer in you, it’s just a short jaunt to the stunning Minthis Hills Golf Club. Over 500 metres high, the course boasts refreshing breezes ensuring you’re kept cool even in the searing heat of the summer months.

Family friendly towns

For a succinct blend of Greek, European, and Middle Eastern culture, visit the coastal village of Chloraka. Just south of Coral Bay and St Georges, it combines traditional Cypriot buildings with modern architecture, bars, and elegant restaurants. Cool off in the clear blue waters, or relax in the excellent facilities aimed at the 3 f’s of your holiday – fun, food, and family. The town is also home to Akritas Chlorakas, a second division Cypriot football team. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area during match season, why not cheer them on at their next game?

Experience historic cultures

For a real history lesson, venture north to Lempa. The village boasts a remarkably long history dating all the way back to 2500 BC! Mediterranean in every sense of the word, Lempa accommodates citrus, olive and tomato farming. It is also a rare European location as it can grow bananas, what’s not to love?

Self-catering holidays give you a freedom unlike any other holiday – use it to explore these enriching towns and Cypriot hidden gems!

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By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Best drinks for your self-catering holiday to Cyprus

Staying in a Cypriot villa with a private pool while sipping a cocktail is a dream come true, and one which you can realise by choosing a self-catering holiday. Choosing to rent a villa in Cyprus means that you can enjoy Cyprus’ best drinks the way the Cypriots do – from the comfort of a warm, sunny terrace. Prepare for your holiday indulgence with our list of Cyprus’ best alcoholic drinks.

Cypriot Beer
Image by George M. Groutas, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Brandy sour

Cyprus is most famous for its brandy sour, said to have been created in the 1930s as a secretive way for King Farouk of Egypt to enjoy an alcoholic drink without drawing attention. The drink was disguised as iced tea and the recipe quickly spread from the Troodos mountains to coastal resorts in Paphos and beyond.

To make a traditional Cypriot brandy sour, mix together locally distilled brandy, fresh lemons (or lemon squash) and a few drops of Angostura bitters to taste. Add ice to a highball glass and pour the brandy mixture over the top before topping up with soda water or lemonade if you prefer a sweeter drink. Test out your cocktail skills during your self-catering Cyprus holiday and you’ll soon perfect your very own version of a Cypriot brandy sour. Return home with the ideal gift for your friends – a bottle of Cypriot brandy followed by a cocktail masterclass taught by yours truly.

Cypriot Commandaria
Image by Greencolander, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Zivania

Your first taste of the island’s lovingly nicknamed ‘firewater’ isn’t easily forgotten! Zivania is a strong local spirit which is made by distilling the grape skin and pulp that’s left over from making white and red wine. The spirit is best served as a chilled shot before a meal, so treat yourself to a shot at your rented villa before leaving for an evening of meze dishes.

Commandaria

Fans of sweet wine will love Cyprus’ commandaria. This dessert wine is made from local red and white grapes which are picked late in the harvest cycle and left to dry in the sun to enhance their sweetness. The wine is thought to have been produced since 800 BC, so it’s certainly stood the test of time. Indulge in a late-night glass of lightly chilled commandaria accompanied by a platter of cheese and fresh fruit for the ultimate taste of Cyprus.

Beer in Cyprus

KEO beer is described as “the taste of Cyprus”, and as the most popular Cypriot beer on the island it’s an essential stop on any tour of the island’s best alcoholic drinks. The beer is golden in colour and is the only beer brewed in Cyprus that’s bottled unpasteurised. This means that KEO can protect the naturally wonderful taste and aroma of their distinct beer.

Save your wallet from the high prices of hotel bars by taking a self-catering holiday and picking up some local beers from the supermarket to enjoy in your villa. Plus, if you leave some bottles to chill in the fridge of your holiday rental then you’ll have an ice cold lager to return to after a day of island exploration.

By Shaun Fraser, a former drinks rep, who now focuses on writing about his favourite tipples from Europe and beyond. He credits his good nose to a previous life as a sommelier.

Paphos, Cyprus – the 2017 European Capital of Culture

At Villa Plus villa we make sure that you love it more, with dedicated in-resort staff, hand-picked villa locations, private pools and more extras than anyone else!  But this year, your holiday could be an even greater experience if you choose Cyprus. 2017 is the year that Paphos is crowned the European Capital of Culture with plenty of extra events to keep you entertained during your visit.

There is a wide range of activties on offer from cinema, to art, from literature to gastronomy!  There really is something for everyone.  The organisers have even put an app together to help you get the most out of this unique programme of events.

To find out more visit the official website here

Taste of Cyprus: Recipe for Pork Souvla

Just because you’ve opted for a self-catering holiday doesn’t mean you have to forgo the best cuisine from your destination. To make sure you experience the real taste of Cyprus while in your holiday rental, we’ve put together a simple recipe for you to try in your villa’s kitchen…

Tasty Cypriot Cuisine

Taking the best parts of Greek food – with a little extra Middle-Eastern spice sprinkled in – Cypriot cuisine is well known for the quality of its ingredients and the variety of the meze (literally ‘mixture’). Like tapas, the meze refers to a platter of small plates with a flavoursome range of different foods. Typical meze plates include things like tahini, taramasalata or hummus.

Delicious pork souvla
Image by George M. Groutas, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Cypriot Pork Souvlaki

Take advantage of your time on the island and savour the flavours of Cyprus from your self-catering villa by cooking a local favourite. Pork souvlaki is a staple food across the island and is as delicious as it is easy to whip up. Similar to Greek Souvlaki, but with larger pieces of meat cooked over a longer period, souvla is most commonly made with pork, or chicken. The dish works well with lamb, too.

Most villages have souvla shops to try, but what better way to enjoy it than by trying to barbecue it yourself on your villa terrace? And when you’ve done it once, you can do it back home! Since this is a straightforward barbecue recipe, cooking is a social process as well. So enjoy a chilled glass of Cypriot wine and chat away to your guests or family while you tend to the meat and the delicious aromas drift through the air. As long as you don’t forget to turn the skewers!

Juicy Cypriot cuisine
Image by George M. Groutas, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Ingredients for Pork Souvla

2 1/2 lbs of pork shoulder
1 teaspoon of Greek oregano
2 tablespoons red wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon salt

To serve

Tahini dip(optional)
1 lemon
6 pitta breads

Instructions

The first thing to do when preparing souvla is to cut the pork into cubes of roughly 2.5cm. When you’ve done this, marinade the meat by popping the pork in a bowl with the red wine, olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Greek oregano, known as rigani, is the best choice, but typical oregano works well, too. Resist the temptation to use too much olive oil. Although olive oil is a staple ingredient in this part of the world, Cypriot cooking is known for its restrained use of the ingredient. Leave the mixture for at least three to four hours, or ideally overnight.

The next step is to skewer your meat. If you’re using wooden skewers, make sure they’re soaked so that they don’t catch fire while you’re cooking. Depending on the length of the skewers, try to have around six pieces of pork on each one. Now it’s time to get cooking.

Place the skewers on a charcoal grill and start to brown them. Cypriot souvla differs from Greek souvlaki by being cooked for longer and at a longer distance from the heat, so once the meat has been browned all over, raise the skewers higher above the grill and cook them for 90 minutes to two hours, turning regularly. If you have a traditional Cypriot rotisserie, then perfect. If not, just raise the skewers from the grill using bricks or stone blocks.

How to serve

Once you’ve cooked the pork and it looks appropriately mouth-watering, it’s ready to serve. Thanks to the delicious flavours, you don’t need to add much to complement this succulent dish. Just squeeze some lemon wedges over the meat, put the pork in some pitta bread, add a little tahini and tuck in! Kalí óreksi!

By Imogen Bishop, a part time travel writer, part time restaurant critic, and full time mum. She has an affinity for Mediterranean cuisine and can usually be found in the kitchen with a bottle of olive oil in hand.