5 years, 6 months ago
200km of walking trails: even if we decided not to mention the sub tropical climate, rave about the stunning coastline or the ancient history, we didn’t bother with all the birthplace of Aphrodite stuff or big up the idyllic Mediterranean location, even if we said nothing at all about the forests and mountains, the Byzantine churches and Ottoman architecture, even if the only thing we said was – 200km of walking trails, we can honestly tell you those alone would be worth a visit to Cyprus.
Farming, hunting and forestry have been the backbone of Cyprus for centuries so getting about on foot has a long pedigree and even unofficial, off-the-beaten-track routes here are eminently walkable. Most trails are well signposted and mapped and, with a few exceptions, the level of difficulty and length can be worked out before you even begin to lace your boots.
All the usual walking rules apply: water, high spf, food and low salt/sugar energy snacks, hats, walking shoes or boots, a map (take a paper one as back up because batteries can die), tell someone where you’re going and when you’re leaving and how long you’ll be and always walk to the ability of your youngest or least fit.
Cyprus is the easternmost island in the Mediterranean and its sub-tropical climate means mild weather all year round, but come summer it’s hot – not for nothing is it one of the most popular places in Europe for beach holidays. So it’s a bit of a given that walking anywhere you want to walk is probably best in spring and autumn, but you can trek Cyprus in any season if you tread carefully.
Take To The Hills
The highest mountains on Cyprus are the Troodos, rising to 2,000m above sea level. Mt. Olympus is the range’s highest peak (before you go getting all excited, our scant knowledge of geography/ancient mythology leads us to suspect that any mountain that’s kind of big and grand and lives round these parts, gets to be called Mt. Olympus – if you want you can call this particular one ‘Chionistra’, the locals do). This is the place to head if you’re hiking in summer on Cyprus.
There are four main ‘nature treks’ on the Troodos of varying length and difficulty so there’s challenge for the experienced walker or groups with same-ability members and glorified strolls if you’re just looking for a day out or you’re walking with children or in a mixed-age group.
Atalante – 10km round the base of Chionistra, moderate
This circular walk starts in the town of Troodos and takes you round the base of Chionistra. It’s not a difficult walk and there’s plenty of forest so it’s nice and shady in summer but take care in autumn and winter because they hunt on Cyprus – not for walkers we don’t think. Bit of a hunting side note here: care should be taken walking in most of Western Europe during hunting season– don’t ignore official warning signs and watch your feet in woodland and dense undergrowth, traps are legal in many places.
Artemis – 5km upper level route round Chionistra, low
Again this walk starts in Troodos and takes you higher than Atalante so it’s great for views and vantage points. It’s not a stroll, but it’s not difficult and gives you a good introduction to the Troodos range if you’re thinking about moving on to some of the more ambitious walks/hikes.
Persephone – 4km low level circular from Troodos, low
If you’re packing a picnic and walking with children this is the one for you; circular, easy going, well signposted, lots of pretty places to see and a picnic spot at the half-way mark.
Kaledonia – 3 km walk to Kaledonia Waterfall, moderate
This can be a trek but it’s worth it for the Kaledonia Waterfall at the end, the highest waterfall on Cyprus. The walk starts between Platres and Troodos and climbs up towards the waterfall through woodland, it’s not a great distance but it isn’t a pathway so be prepared.
Keep To The Coast
Cape Greco on the SE coast of Cyprus, close to Larnaca, is famous for its sea caves and there are several easy walks from between 5 and 10 km. The going is good. But build in plenty of time for exploring, swimming and sitting around enjoying the views.
The Akamas Peninsula on the NW Mediterranean coast is where you’ll find cliffs, sea stacks, lagoons and some of the island’s quieter beaches. The most popular walk is from The Baths of Aphrodite to Cape Arnaoutis. This stretches 16km there and back and covers the whole length of the peninsula: a favourite for bird watchers, botanists and wildlife enthusiasts.
Mountains, forests and coasts are the obvious walking choices. But pre-history, history, ancient myth and legend combined with breathtaking scenery mean one of the best ways to enjoy walking on Cyprus is to build your own route.
If you can’t resist temples the island has dozens; make them the key to your walking holiday and map your own route to see as many as possible. Cyprus has some of the most beautiful and beautifully preserved Byzantine Churches in Europe (10 of them are World Heritage sites). The island’s home to the elusive Mouflon Goat (yes, we too thought Mouflon was something our mum made up to get us to wear scratchy jumpers), the super-vain Hoopoe and rare Griffin Eagles. So whether you make Aphrodite and her legion of lesser legends your focus, or go for wildlife, seafood, towns or villages, Cyprus is the ideal place to pick a walking theme and own it.
And of course, if you’re self-catering and living local you’ve got an advantage straight off because no one will know how to walk Cyprus quite like a Cypriot.
Featured image by TeryKats.