It is not generally known that you can now enjoy the best of both the north and south of Aphrodite’s beautiful island in one holiday. It may still be divided politically but now it’s easy to travel to both although when you’re in the south, you may be encouraged to believe it’s difficult to cross the ‘green line’. It’s true that you cannot take a hire car from the north to the south but you can in fact take a car from the south to the north but you will need to obtain separate insurance at the border. An easing of hostilities between the two halves of the country means it is now possible to enjoy a two-centre holiday in a way that would have been difficult a few years ago, and despite the island’s small size, the two countries do feel quite different. While both halves of the island are distinctive with their own character, both can offer you charm, beaches, mountains and history.
Where to Walk:
Both halves of the island offer excellent walking opportunities providing you choose your routes with care. In the North there is a wonderful ridge running from east to west across the Kyrenia Mountain range. A great network of walking trails can be enjoyed from this ridge, from easy strolls to demanding hikes. There are some wonderful castles to incorporate into your walks such as Kanatara castle; from here you can, on a clear day, see as far as Turkey and Syria to the north and the Troodos Mountains in the south. In fact whatever walks you choose, you will be rewarded with far-reaching views, hidden monasteries and, in the spring, a huge variety of wild flowers.
In the South, we recommend the Troodos Mountains and the Akamas Peninsular, the only unspoilt areas which, thankfully, remain protected from development. In the Akamas, nature trails such as The Aphrodite and Adonis trails are hard to beat and you will find enough attractive walks to keep you occupied for several days. Combine a boat trip from Laatchi Harbour with a walk back along the length of the peninsular for a perfect day out. There are several trails in the Troodos, notably the Artemis and Atlante Trails which provide some scenic walking around Mount Olympus.
When to Go:
The best months of the year if you love wild flower are late February to April when a huge variety of wild flowers can be found in both the north and south of the island. There are many varieties of orchids in the earlier part of the season and a walk with local experts will enhance your enjoyment. We recommend Tony Hutchinson’s Orchid Walks in the North and in the South, Dr. Georgiades, the owner of the Natura Beach Hotel, is a well-known authority on orchids and he also accompanies groups and offers evening lectures. The spring is also the best time for walking when sunshine and blue skies can almost be guaranteed without it being too hot. We have also walked in the autumn but although the weather is balmy and the sea warm, the landscape is too parched for our liking; we like to see green rather than brown hills and meadows.
Where to Stay:
A good base for walking in the North is Kyrenia where, with a car, you can access the majority of walks. Kyrenia harbour, complete with fishing boats, is lovely and from one of its harbour cafes you can enjoy views to the coast in one direction, the mountains in the other. Our favourite option is to stay in Bellapais, perched up above Kyrenia and the wonderful Bellapais Gardens Hotel will please the most discerning with its bungalows in a lovely garden setting and excellent cuisine. In the South, we have found the best place to stay is the Natura Beach Hotel at Polis, wonderfully located next to an unspoilt turtle beach. The hotel is surrounded by lawns, orchards, flower and vegetable gardens and your breakfast marmalade is made with oranges from the orchard, cheese from the hotel’s goat herd. There are several good restaurants for evening dining, including Archontarikis in Polis and, in nearby Laatchi, Y&P’s fish restaurant.
Finding Your Way:
There are several walking guides to both the North and South of the Island, including the well-known Sunflower Books and local Tourist Offices should be able to provide you with some fairly basic maps. It is not possible to obtain anything like our Ordnance Survey Maps unfortunately and route finding is therefore not always easy. From time to time we offer guided walking holidays combining the north and south of the island.
Check out our website at https://www.country-walks.com for walking holidays in Cyprus.