Not everyone likes popular tourist destinations or enjoys playing the “find an empty seat in a cafe on the weekend” kind of game. Some people need a vacation from people, not just their job. If you are one of those people, then this is a list for you. We have put together five great places to go to if you want to enjoy solitude in Cyprus.
At some point last spring a friend came to visit me from Russia. The first thing I did was take him to what I thought were the most interesting places in Cyprus. On the third day of driving around he stopped and said: “Hey Dmitry, these are all really beautiful places. But I wonder: where are all the people?”
His question made me realize something I never noticed before: there were almost no people everywhere we went. If you come to Cyprus in the winter or early spring — the island will resemble a paradise for a sociophobe. Summertime or fall are completely different, however, with millions of tourists flooding in and taking over what used to be the island’s serene nature. But not entirely. These are the places you can count on if you want to be alone even during the peak season.
You will enjoy this if you like hiking
Getting there: you should exit the highway when you are approximately halfway between the Troodos and the abandoned Pano Amandos village. If you are coming from the Troodos, the exit will be on your right hand side. You should see a picnic area right next to the highway. If you head further into the mountains (local dirt roads can be hard to drive on depending on the season and your car’s ground clearance) and keep driving for about 10-15 minutes, you should eventually reach the final picnic area. I‘ve never seen a living soul there. This picnic area is located at the heart of the valley.
Why come here: I’ve never been to Alaska, but I’ve seen it on television. When I came to this spot, I had a very strong feeling that this is exactly what Alaska looks like. The only thing missing was probably a bear somewhere in the distance.
This small corner of Cyprus stands out against the general backdrop of the island.
Its most distinctive feature is the big (by local standards) river, thanks to which the valley is covered in tall green grass. The pine trees, the mountains and the crystal clear air make this place a real gem. And if you like mushroom picking, then you’ll love this place even more.
There is a narrow pathway running along the river and the mountain slope, which is known for falling rocks. So if you plan to head down that way and want to feel safe, better make sure you are fit and come without children.
It will take you at least two hours to finish the walk. It’s pretty exhausting, but totally worth it, because you will get a surprise, or two even, at the end of the path. The first one is the lake with turquoise colored water. If you walk around it and keep going, you will encounter the other surprise — the Martian landscapes. The place used to be home to a quarry, which shut down fifty years ago. Today it provides for a completely unique landscape featuring a grey, barren plateau surrounded by unusually shaped mountains.
The time that I first found this place was when I decided to take a walk from one of the Troodos villages and explore the nearby mountains. I intentionally ignored the popular trails and routes, hoping to find something new. After that time I studied the map and took the path along the river to get there.
If you want to reach what I call the Martian landscapes, then I suggest you set aside at least half of your day for the experience. This is if you plan to make it there fast and come back. But if you like to take your time and walk around, taking photographs, then it’s best to make it a day trip.
The small chapel in the Troodos
You will enjoy this if you like meditation, nature landscapes or if you are religious and would like to have an intimate spiritual experience.
Getting there: the chapel itself is located next to two popular tourist destinations: Trooditissa Monastery and the nearby picnic area. But don’t worry about any unwanted neighbours: the chapel is located in a spot, where no tourist ever goes.
Approximately halfway between the monastery and the picnic area there is an inconspicuous staircase running high up into the mountains. The only problem is that there is no shoulder on the road to leave your car. But I came here on a motorbike, so I managed to park nonetheless.
So if you take this staircase and head upwards, you will finally get to the chapel.
Why come here: the chapel is pretty unusual on its own. It is not built of stone, but instead carved out of a cave. It looks beautiful. The door is always open. There is very little space inside. In front of the entrance there is a small terrace with one of the best views of the mountains that you will find in Cyprus. The place is very quiet, spiritual and beautiful.
How much time you plan to spend here depends on how much you like being alone in nature. Getting to the chapel from the monastery’s parking lot or from the picnic area will take about half an hour.
A bench in the clouds
You will enjoy this if you want to pretend like you are the world creator, if you like beautiful landscapes, hiking, romantic hiding spots and picnics.
Getting there: there are two ways to get here. If you enjoy slow-paced walks in the mountains, then you can start at the Adventure Mountain Park near Kiperunda village. If you walk a bit further up the road that runs from the park, you should notice a trail called Madari Circular Trail — it runs perpendicular to the road you will be on. You can go either right or left from there. If you take a left, the trip will take a whole day. If you take a right, it will take just a few hours.
But if you don’t feel like hiking in the mountains, then take an alternate route by driving there from Agros village. Keep in mind that the quality of the unpaved road leaves much to be desired. Plus, it tends to get so narrow that only one car can fit on it. So if you end up running into an oncoming car, one of you will have to back up for quite a while to let the other pass.
Stay on this road until you reach the very top where the Madari Fire Lookout Station is located. Then take a path that runs in the opposite direction of the station. It will take you no more than 10 minutes.
Why come here: the bench is located in the middle of the woods. If you sit down on it, you will be revealed astounding landscapes, which may not be a rare sight in Cyprus. But nevertheless, this place is special and my most favorite bench on the island.
It is located at the top of the mountain — approximately 1600 meters above sea level. This is why it has a panoramic view of the island. Wherever you look — the view is beautiful.
It’s a great place to have a picnic, to propose to your girlfriend, to ponder important things or to simply marvel at the surrounding beauty. It tends to get very cloudy here, and it’s a really fun experience just watching those clouds dance. You will obviously want to take many photographs here.
As I mentioned above, the duration of your trip will depend on the route you take and will range between half an hour to a whole day.
You will enjoy this if you like wild beaches and spectacular nature
Getting there: the beach is located in close proximity to Limassol near Moni village. It’s a simple and comfortable trip.
Why come here: despite the fact that millions of tourists flood Cyprus during the peak season, it is still relatively easy to find a quiet beach. Most tourists tend to settle around Ayia Napa, large cities or the touristy seaside villages. Some also like to go to popular remote places, such as the Aphrodite Beach. But they won’t go much further than that.
Most of the unpopular beaches are not very scenic either — just the sea, pebbles and unremarkable fields in the back. There is nothing for the eye to linger on. But there are exceptions and White Stones is one of them. It is probably one of the most scenic beaches in Cyprus with just a handful of tourists. This is probably due to several reasons: first, it is not close to any of the major roads; second, the nearby Limassol is full of beaches; and finally, it is not that easy to swim in it — the shore is jagged with no easy access to the sea.
Its name — White Stones — speaks for itself. The coast is almost completely made up of white stones of quirky shapes — all thanks to years of wave erosion. You can find numerous hiding places here — tiny beaches hidden from the eyes of passersby. It is a great place to come to if you like nude sunbathing.
It takes about half an hour to get here from Limassol. If you just want to explore nearby views, then set aside a couple of hours. But if you are coming to sunbathe and swim, then it could turn into a day trip.
You will enjoy this if you like long road trips along mountain roads.
Getting there: if you are coming from Limassol, Nicosia or Larnaca, it would be best to take the road passing through the Troodos towards Kykkos Monastery. If you are coming from Paphos, then drive towards Pano Panagia village.
Why come here: the Paphos forest is a pretty big location, despite the fact that this part of the island is not populated. This one time I was driving on the E740 route for an hour and didn’t run into a single car. What’s particularly remarkable is that even though the road is rarely used, it is of excellent quality.
One of the most interesting and beautiful parts of the forest is the cedar valley. Because of its remote location, the place is almost never visited by tourists. You might run into mushroom pickers here during the fall and winter — they come from nearby villages. But during other times — it’s almost impossible to run into anyone.
Cyprus cedar is native to the Troodos mountains. It is a uniquely beautiful tree that is responsible for breathtaking landscapes.
Past the cedar valley there is a pine forest that covers dozens of square kilometers of land and reaches all the way to the sea. Route E740 follows a similar path running through the forest and arriving at the sea. The only thing you’ll pass when you take this route is mountains and endless trees. The road branches off closer to the sea, with one route leading to Kato Drys and the other — to Pahimos. If you head towards the latter you will pass by an abandoned, scenic Turkish village.
One last place worth a visit in the Paphos forest is the mouflon enclosure, where you can have a look at these graceful animals in their natural habitat.
The forest is located pretty far away from any major city on the island. Plus, you will have to drive slowly on these mountain roads, so do set aside plenty of time for your trip here. We recommend making it a day trip.
We have put together a list of what we thought are the most interesting places with very few people. But the list can obviously go on and include Akamas, the deserted spot past Akrotiri village and hundreds of quiet mountain trails, abandoned villages and numerous other fantastic spots. Some of these places appear in our other articles on Cyprus. We plan to cover the other locations in some of our future pieces.
So stay tuned for updates.