Although the beach resorts along the southeast coast of Cyprus may attract the scorched shoulders and Zivania brigade there’s plenty more of the island to go round with the Turkish north creating more epic adventures and wilder experiences than hedonistic hordes could ever hope to imagine.

Northern Cyprus

Walking in Cyprus is one such activity that the north of the island does very well with gritty, dusty tracks leading through vast swathes of sea broom and yellow flowering gorse before revealing gorgeous golden sand beaches without a soul, or parasol, in sight. The northeast Karpasia Peninsula sings to those seeking sand and solitude. Follow the north coast spine of the Kyrenia Mountains westwards and you’ll find the crusader castles of Kantara, Buffavento and St Hillarion as well as the village of Bellapais where sanctuary
can be sought amongst the
shaded gardens
of 13th century
abbey ruins.

Western Cyprus

Anyone walking in Cyprus can also expect to be accompanied by the spirits and legends of the past with Aphrodite, Adonis and Artemis, goddess of forests and mountains, all swirling around archaeological ruins and hidden grottoes, adding to the ambience of the magical Mediterranean . The west coast, especially, is awash with the sandal prints of Aphrodite and Adonis with the Akamas Peninsula providing safe haven for walkers wishing to seek out fabled fountains and baths by following rugged trails over densely wooded headland decorated in cyclamen and scuttling lizards.

Mountain trails

Further inland, equidistant from Polis in the west and the culture-laden capital, Nicosia, the Troodos Mountains rise out of forests of pine, cedar and golden oak to offer walkers a choice of mountain and forested trails, with views from Mt Olympus only matched by the 3km trail to the Caledonia Falls. This is where walking in Cyprus really comes into its own with the 7km circular Artemis trail around Mount Olympus or moufflon and vulture spotting in Xeros Potamos Valley, just a couple of the area’s short walk options to be completed over the course of a morning or afternoon.
A little further from Mt Olympus, but still within the Troodos range, the 13km Madari Trail offers a slightly more taxing alternative with visits to the frescoes in the 12th century Panagia tou Araka church an ideal chance for a break along a trail flanked by wild roses, strawberries and sage.
To the west of the Troodos you’ll find rural villages like Trachypedoula, lasa, Panayia and Droushia, providing start points for several trails, including the 13km Oak Road, as well as overnight accommodation en-route to the 13km Akamas Panorama Trail and the Baths of Aphrodite.

Other accommodation that’s recommended for getting the most out of walking in Cyprus include an award-winning boutique hotel in Bellapais and a converted stone-built property in the village of Vouni, handily situated upon the foothills of the Troodos within the southwestern wine region.

Types of walking vacation in Cyprus

Self-guided walking vacations in Cyprus enable travelers to choose between point-to-point walking from one village or town to the next, or staying in one place and making the most of self-catering or B&B accommodation within easy access of trailheads which can be combined to create longer distances.
If you’re walking in Cyprus as part of a small group, advantages include a knowledgeable local guide with chances to visit the historic towns of Kyrenia, Famagusta and Nicosia, always providing a much deeper experience when accompanied by someone who knows what they’re looking at and where to search for a few hidden treats.

When to walk in Cyprus

No matter which type of walking tour or accommodation you favour, arguably the best time to trek here is in the spring. Warm weather can often arrive as early as February with wild flowers, including rare orchids, adorning the Akamas headland and the slopes of the Kyrenia Mountains to present walkers with a flourish of colour before the summer heat kicks in. Autumn is also considered a great time to go walking in Cyprus, especially within the deciduous forests around the Troodos range, it can be a case of blink and you’ll miss it with the rains of winter turning seemingly innocent forest paths into dangerous slippery slopes – ankles beware.
Finally, it’s really great to see that the island is starting to put sustainability and responsible travel over towering resorts and the allure of package tourism. Walking in Cyprus and staying in agrotourism properties and/or rural inland villages is one way that you can do your bit towards a sustainable Cyprus where traditional communities benefit just as greatly as those closer to the coast.
Photo credits: [Top box: NH53] [Northern Cyprus : Dickelbers ] [Western Cyprus: China Crisis ] [Helpdesk: Ronald Saunders] [Mountain trails - Troodos range: Graptaloyia ] [Types - Famagusta: Sev Ali] [When: senza senso]
Written by Chris Owen
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