Finding the inner Cyprus

Cyprus has had a somewhat troubled recent past as this Mediterranean island is populated by people of both Greek and Turkish origin, two communities which harbour a great deal of animosity towards each other.

Putting the island’s domestic troubles aside, Cyprus is beginning to become a popular destination for tourists.

Traditionally, tourists have rarely ventured from the coast, but that is changing as more adventurous types are discovering that the Cyprus hinterland has much to offer too, particularly because it is an area of great beauty.

Village life on the slopes of the Troodos Mountains is receiving a boost from visitors who like to enjoy a place the slow way. Cyprus’ pine covered national park includes 97 marked walking trails (covering 861 km) through forests and waterfalls via an organised visitor centre in Platres.

Visitor levels to the interior have surged recently as travellers are, lured away from the coast by traditional guesthouses and small hotels.

Mountain villages like Tochni are gateways for outdoor fun like bike riding, horse riding and walking escapes, while cookery courses and food foraging are easily bookable to indulge in seasonal Cypriot food.

Meanwhile, Laneia village has set a new pace with its charming cultural trail as a progressive mayor works closely with local artists and galleries to showcase its home grown talent, as well as the lively expat scene it attracts. The town has been beautified. Village lanes and squares have been beautifully restored with intricate stonework, while ancient olive mills have been rescued from decay. Most impressive is a large-scale outdoor photographic exhibit with material dating back 100 years, which gives a heartwarming glimpse of a close knit rural community.

Bibliophiles are making a beeline for the town of Kalavassos which is just 10km from Lemesos. The attraction here is the Library Wellness Resort and Spa, which is a former merchant’s house on the village churchyard. With six suites named after famous poets and authors, it makes a wonderful year round base for eating your way around marvellous local tavernas in Lofou and Omodos and sampling organic wines on the numerous wine trails.

During your visit you can purchase bottles of Cyprus’ delicious Commandaria sweet wine direct from Tsiakkas Winery in Pelentri village, a wine that is grown on Kostas’ high altitude vineyards.  Or, for those wanting something a little heavier, try the robust red produced from Cypriot Vamvakada grapes. These trips are best accomplished by hiring a car and taking in the timeless scenery of the Troodos mountains while absorbing a seamless supply of hospitality.

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