Usually synonymous with summer holidays, Cyprus is known for its beaches, epic archaeological sites and culinary delights. Well, what if we told you that you can still experience all that and more during winter! Cool, huh?
Here are a few ideas to get you started...
Hitting the slopes might not be top of your to do list when you think of a holiday in Cyprus, but hey, there’s a first time for everything! The Troodos Mountains are home to the only ski resort on the island. Located at the summit of Mount Olympus, this penny-saving ski centre is a favourite for skiers and winter sports enthusiasts alike. It’s only an hour’s drive from both Nicosia and Limassol – where else could you go skiing and sink your toes into the sand all on the same day?!
Explore the natural wonders
See more of the flora and fauna of the island on one of the numerous nature trails. The Artemis trail is a good choice if you want to soak up all that Mother Nature has to offer. There’s an abundance of viewpoints along the way, where you can snap plenty of Insta-worthy pictures. As always with the great outdoors, conditions can change, especially in winter so make sure to plan ahead!
Get in the festive spirit
If you’re holidaying with the kids, it’ll be smiles all round at Christmas Fairyland in Nicosia. Best visited in the evening, there’s a brightly lit Ferris wheel, fairground rides and plenty of games to keep the little ‘uns busy. Plus, the whole town is decorated in its Christmas finery!
See the seasonal treasures
Larnaca Salt Lake is an unmissable spot, just near the airport. Normally barren in summer, in winter it’s a thriving body of water and every year it welcomes back feathered friends from far and wide. You can catch this sensational spectacle between the months of November and March, as a sea of pink flamingos, and other migrating birds, return to Larnaca and scatter across the canvas of the lake.
Uncork the secrets to the island’s wine
Many Cypriot wineries are open all year round for some top-notch tipple tasting. Over the years they’ve more than perfected their craft, so they’re no stranger to good wine. Head to the hills where you can take a tour, try the produce and even have lunch.
What’s on in Cyprus in winter?
There are plenty of events happening over the colder season. We’ve picked out a few so that you don’t have to...
This local Limassol festival celebrates Zivinia, the traditional ‘spirit of Cyprus’. It’s mighty strong stuff but is a must-try if you’re going to attend the festival. The locals are proud as punch and they’ll be keen to offer up free tasting of their tipple, as well as other Cypriot delicacies. You can also catch a glimpse of how it’s made, along with music and plenty of dancing.
Pithari Festival in Koilani
The opening of the Pithari, AKA an old-fashioned wine jar, is a long-held tradition in the tiny village of Koilani. Before stainless steel wine vats, the residents of Koilani would keep their grape juices in these jars to allow them to ferment. When November came around, friends and family would be invited round to celebrate, and of course, taste the wine! It’s a small affair, but expect traditional clothing, a good deal of dancing and a great deal of wine.
Christmas Eve - 24 December
If there’s one thing you can be sure of when visiting Cyprus during the festive season, it’s that there will be a wealth of seasonal dishes for you to try. Food is a big deal here, especially at Christmas time. On Christmas Eve, families in Cyprus traditionally make genopitta, it’s a sweet yeast bread, often decorated with the symbol of the cross on and eaten on Christmas Day.
New Year's Eve – 31 December
Bring the new year in with a bang at Kyrenia harbour firework show. Families and friends come together every year to watch the spectacular display, with Kyrenia Castle as the backdrop. If you get down early, having dinner in one of the harbourside restaurants provides the perfect setting.
Fun fact: Although this is not as upheld in today’s day and age, traditionally children opened gifts on New Year's Day instead of Christmas Day. This was to honour St Vasilis, the Greek saint associated with Santa Claus.
Epiphany – 6 January
This is an important day in Cyprus and plenty of events take place across the country to commemorate it. To honour Jesus’ baptism, you might see people braving the cold waters and diving into the sea in order to receive a crucifix cast in by the local priest. According to Greek tradition, the person who swims the fastest and retrieves it will have the blessing of good luck for the rest of the year!
Valentine’s Day – 14 February
What could be more romantic than taking a dip in the waters where the Goddess of Love herself was allegedly born? If you head down to the shore of Petra tou Romiou AKA Aphrodite’s rock on the 14th of February, you’re sure to find at least one set of plucky lovers taking the plunge into these famous waters. If you don’t fancy braving the Mediterranean Sea in February in the name of love, there are plenty of boutique hotels and restaurants on the island to wine and dine in honour of the day instead.
In the days running up to Lent, Limassol hosts a colourful ten-day carnival event. Everybody gets in on the act and it takes over the town! Residents and tourists alike dress up in colourful costumes to take part in a host of events including plenty of eating, drinking, satire, singing and dancing. The carnival is a time when everyone can really self-indulge before the fasting for lent begins. It’s accessible, friendly and open to anyone. Grab your best costume, because anything goes!
Posted: 31st Aug 2022. Updated: 25th Oct 2023.