Cyprus in winter: why it’s the best time to visit!
The eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus is a popular holiday destination for European travellers. Boasting a hot, sunny climate, a long coastline and a status as EU and Eurozone member (in the south and west of the island, at least), its beaches fill during the summer months with work-weary tourists wanting nothing more than to stretch out in the sun. But what about the winter months, or even spending Christmas in Cyprus? Is worth the effort to visit Cyprus in the offseason, and what should you expect during your trip?
I often travel for New Year, taking advantage of the post-Christmas quiet time for a bit of escapism after the hustle and bustle of the festive season. I must admit that Cyprus hasn’t always been on my personal radar, as my travel preferences tend more towards adventure travel and exploring the countries I visit rather than crashing out on a beach. But when I was brainstorming suitable destinations for my New Year break, Cyprus was suggested to me and promptly took hold of my imagination. Maybe this was the big opportunity to check out a country I wouldn’t otherwise consider, at a time of year when the tourists are less interested and the temperatures cool enough to explore. So I set off to test out my theory.
Well, Cyprus in winter was a GREAT decision. Want to know why?
The biggie. Visiting Cyprus in January is all well and good, but iffy weather can put a serious dampener on your experience, right? Cyprus winter temperatures proved to be wonderful. Temperatures hovered around 18-20 Celsius (the mid-60s Fahrenheit), with blue skies and sunshine. For a North European such as myself, this was the perfect temperature. I spent most of my trip in a t-shirt, soaking up the rays without the overheating and sunburn that I usually encounter in hotter temperatures. It’s not really beach weather, but great mood-boosting and sightseeing weather? Definitely.
If you’re considering a trip with the kids, Cyprus family holidays are ideal in the winter months, when small people won’t be subject to the burning summer sun.
Full disclaimer: I did have about a day and a half of rain in my 5-day
Well, there weren’t any. Or very few, anyway. My image of Cyprus has always been one of beaches and bars crowded with drunk foreigners (a fair chunk of them British), and this was one of the main things putting me off the country as a destination. But at this time of year, all I really encountered were locals and expats who apparently lived there over the winter months. Tourists were few and far between, and, from what I could see, sober and respectful. This is the time to take a Cyprus break if you want to experience the island
Visiting Cyprus when I did, I ate almost every meal at seafront restaurants with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean. Not once did I have to queue for a table, or find myself shoehorned into the back corner with a view of the bar and the toilets. With a couple of exceptions (from what I could see, Ayia Napa was a ghost town – although I didn’t venture too far in to check – and Limassol had some restaurants closed for the season), most restaurants were still open and doing steady but minimal business. This meant that I had a full choice of places to eat, but was treated to the best seat in the house and friendly service from staff who weren’t stretched to breaking point. Definitely a bonus of travel at this time of year.
The historic sites
There are so many things to do in Cyprus in winter. The country is brimming with places to visit, most of them with a history stretching back to the Crusades, the Roman period, or even back into prehistory. All of them are open year-round, and there are significant advantages to visiting in the off-season. For one thing, the sites are not crowded. Although I was never the only visitor, there was plenty of space to spread out, enjoy the sites and get those all-important photos without a crowd of people blocking the view. The other great bonus at this time of year is the temperature; most of the sites have little or no shade, and the thought of visiting in temperatures of 50C+ is not appealing. But in wintertime, this isn’t an issue.
With its beautiful Mediterranean coastline and the gorgeous Troodos mountains at its heart, the island is an excellent place for hiking and walking. Visiting Cyprus in January means the temperatures are perfect for a bit of outdoor exertion. I enjoyed clifftop walks on the Cavo Greco (Cape Greco) peninsula, as well as inland north of Limassol, where rolling countryside is punctuated by picturesque lakes and dried up reservoirs. The Troodos mountains get snow in winter, so it’s possible to take a snowy hike or even go skiing in the morning, before heading down to the coast for a bracing dip in the sea in the afternoon. Without heat to worry about, it’s the perfect time of year to check out
If you want access to a wide range of accommodation at inexpensive prices, there are plenty of cheap hotels in Cyprus in the winter months. By travelling out of season, you have less competition for rooms, and rates are very reasonable. Some hotel services might be lacking at this time of year (hotels bars and restaurants suffer from the lack of guests), but there is so much available outside your hotel that this really isn’t an issue.
There are a multitude of apartments in Cyprus to rent for every budget. I stayed at the Apollonia Holiday Apartments in Paphos, and can highly recommend them for location, hospitality and facilities if you are staying in the west of the island and want affordable, good value accommodation for your Paphos holidays. Check out http://apolloniacy.com/ for more info (not sponsored).
If you are flexible, it’s also possible to score some great late deals to Cyprus in the winter season. Cyprus holiday resorts that open through the winter will be looking to fill rooms, so it’s always worth looking for last minute holidays to Cyprus if you’re after an urgent boost of sunshine!
If budget can be a struggle when planning your travels, check out this great post I was involved with for top tips on how to turn your travel dream into a reality!
So, should I visit Cyprus in winter?
In a word, ABSOLUTELY. If you’re looking for a beach holiday, you should probably head a little further afield at this time of year, but if you are a history and culture buff, a fan of discovering local towns and villages and hiking the cliff
Just don’t tell your friends. We don’t want the secret getting out.
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Practical details for your Cyprus winter holidays
What is the time in Cyprus?
Cyprus is in the same time zone as the rest of southeast Europe, which is UTC+2. That means if it is 12 midday in Cyprus, it is 10 am in the UK, 11 am in Italy, 5 am in New York and 2 am in Los Angeles.
What is typical Cyprus winter weather?
The average Cyprus weather sees highs of around 23C (73F) in November and around 18C (64F) from December to February. However, sunshine can make this feel much warmer. The sea temperate in Cyprus is similar, making sea bathing possible all year round, although possibly a little chilly if you’re used to the tropics.
What is the currency in Cyprus?
The Republic of Cyprus, the Greek-speaking south and west of the island, uses the Euro. Turkish North Cyprus uses Turkish lira, but many places accept Euro, especially in the capital, Nicosia. Credit cards are widely, but not universally, accepted, so carry some cash for smaller purchases. Most hotels and restaurants will accept plastic.
What side of the road do they drive on in Cyprus?
Cyprus’s strong links to the UK during the first half of the 20th century mean that the whole island drives on the left, with the steering wheel on the right of the vehicle.
What are the top Cyprus holiday destinations for the winter months?
If you crave sea views, head to the cities of Larnaca, Limassol and Paphos. Note that the tourist mecca of Ayia Napa is largely deserted at this time of year and you may struggle for options. Inland, the island’s capital Nicosia has tons going on all year round; or head to the Troodos mountains if you want to spend your Cyprus Christmas holidays in the snow!
If you enjoyed this post about Cyprus winter holidays, why not check out my post on the island’s capital?
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I’m Jill, and I’m a British blogger who has been travelling for more than 15 years, visiting nearly 70 countries on 6 continents. I love to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries I visit. And I love to share a good story or two along the way!