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Cyprus for all Seasons

One of the benefits of being a Mediterranean island is plentiful sunshine throughout the year, and Cyprus is no exception. In fact, Cyprus epitomizes the ideal weather of the region with sunny days and fine temperatures almost every day. Extremes of temperatures are rare, meaning Cyprus has something to offer every month of the year, whether it's swimming (as late as November) or enjoying cultural sites and festivals (all year long). While seasonal fluctuations are not drastic, however, they are different. Here's what to expect:


Summer: When It Sizzles


For just about Summer stretches from mid-May to mid-October and means high temperatures, cloudless skies and cooling breezes from the sea. It's the ideal season for swimming, sunbathing and a whole range of watersports from sailing to scuba diving. At this time of year, explore the archaeological sites early in the morning or in late afternoon, avoiding the hottest part of the day. It's always a good idea to bring along sun protection, such as sunscreen and a broad-brimmed hat. Even in the height of summer when it's 32C(90F) degrees at the beach (and warmer inland), temperatures are refreshingly cooler in the Troodos, making the mountains ideal for hiking or simply relaxing.


The days of September and October are still sunny and the water warm enough for comfortable swimming. Basically, it's still summer. In Lemesos, the first ten days of September bring the annual Wine Festival, a buoyant period not to be missed.

 

Fall Forecast: Warm and Sunny


Toward the end of October evenings do tend to get cooler, however. In October and through November the leaves change color in the Troodos and vineyards take on gold and crimson hues against a backdrop of crystal clear sunlight. In Cyprus even mid-November can feel like summer, but by month's end medium-weight apparel for the late afternoons and evenings will enhance the traveller's experience. It is still possible to enjoy swimming, while inland excursions to villages and vineyards for wine tastings can be very enjoyable. Fall also brings with it the annual Kypria festival, with prestigious local and international musical and dramatic performances at venues throughout Cyprus.

 

Winter: An Active Season


December and January are the months of Mediterranean winter, bringing the possibility of rain, but still an average of six hours of bright sunshine a day. This is the time of year when smaller Mediterranean destinations shut down for the season, but not so Cyprus. The island is a major business centre and has many important heritage sites and museums, all at their least crowded in winter. The cultural calendar is also alive and well throughout the winter, with new events coming all the time. The summer resort of Agia Napa, for example, offers a "Cultural Winter" with classical music concerts and modern and folkloric dance performances. Into early February there is occasional rain, and often snow in the Troodos - ideal for skiing!

Spring Delights


The first orchids bloom in January in Cyprus, and by mid-February the countryside is already alive with fresh green meadows and almond trees in bloom. March days can still be cool (daytime temperatures around 19C or 65F, 9C or 40F at night) but steadily moderate. Early spring is a wonderful time to visit to Cyprus, with pleasant daytime temperatures and many of the ancient ruins framed by a carpet of red anemones and other wildflowers.


In April and into the middle of May spring is in full force. This is an ideal time for nature hikes and off-road adventures in the pristine Akamas Peninsula. Cyprus has 1,950 species of flowering plants, 140 of which grow nowhere else but on the island, and in the Akamas alone, there are 700 plant species, of which 40 are endemic. From February to April, pink cyclamen sprouts up from rocky foothills and thickets and forms a riveting adornment to the Baths of Aphrodite. From March to April, the pink wavy-leaved monkey orchid (Orchis italica) grows in dense patches around Pafos. If in summer Cyprus is the place to bask in the sun, then spring is the time to savor the natural beauty of the island in bloom.


Winter Wonders    

A sure sign of approaching winter in Cyprus is when the snowbirds arrive - literally. Greater flamingos, traditionally numbering around 10,000, stop to feed in the salt lakes at Akrotiri and by Larnaka Airport every year, usually in December after the first rains. Herons, egrets and glossy ibis also overwinter in Cyprus. But birds are not the only ones attracted by Cyprus’s mild winter weather.

This season is a great time for seniors (and anyone else fed up with the cold) from northern climes to come for long stays at a time when island life is decidedly low-key. Winter is brief, generally extending from mid-December to early February.

Cyprus’s varied geography means that you can forget about winter in January if you want to, or truly savor the spirit of the season. While daytime temperatures are suitable for strolling in shorts near the coast, they are deliciously cooler in the Troodos, the mountain range at the center of the island. This means you can soak up the sun after breakfast and spend the afternoon skiing or snowboarding, or taking a brisk hike. Days may be shorter but they are still quite sunny, and daytime temperatures are still mild enough to accommodate most outdoor activities. Museums and ancient sites and are at their least crowded during these months, making it easier to linger longer and take in important details you might otherwise miss. Many hotels discount their rates substantially in the winter, and airfares to Cyprus are almost always lower right after the holidays.


Sun and Sea Tourism
 

The promise of uninterrupted Mediterranean sunshine is, of course, a large part of what makes Cyprus such an irresistible lure for travellers from around the world.

Even if you’re not out to get a tan, the sun makes virtually everything more enjoyable on the island: from swimming to sailing, hiking the hills to surveying ancient ruins, it’s all cast in a golden glow on average 300-plus days per year, almost all one needs for instant relaxation. Whether you’re planning a honeymoon or an overdue family escape, Cyprus’s sunkissed 840-kilometer shoreline has the stress-free answers. 

Our beach hotels among the best - and best-equipped - in the world, with oversized swimming pools, tennis courts, health clubs, spas and top restaurants. Most of the hotels have a range of facilities for children, from beach clubs and special kids-only swimming pools to full-fledged day-care centers. And parents can rest easy knowing that Cyprus, with one of the highest standards of living in Europe, is a safe place where crime is virtually nonexistent. Spring and fall are when couples and independent travelers have the run of the island and its many beaches.

Water lovers can take comfort in the fact that the beaches of Cyprus are among the cleanest you’ll find anywhere. Cyprus participates in the European Blue Flag Campaign, a program which promotes clean beaches and environmentally-sound management of coastal areas throughout Europe. In 2006, 49 Blue Flags were awarded to beaches in Cyprus. These are mainly beaches that are actively managed, being part of or near major resort areas. Other coastal areas, from the waters off Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Rock) to isolated Lara Beach on the Akamas Peninsula, are easily accessible. In eastern Cyprus, the beautiful beaches of Nissi Bay in Agia Napa and Fig Tree Bay in Protaras gradually give way to Cape Greco, indented with sea caves and rocky coves embracing crystal blue waters.


Sports Tourism

A combination of ideal weather and terrain makes Cyprus a great place for diverse athletics activities all year round. At the seashore there is swimming, sailing, parasailing, body surfing and scuba diving. Swimming is particularly comfortable from May to November. The CTO manages many public beaches, equipped with changing cabins, chairs and lifeguards.

Fishing is another popular activity. For salt-water fishing, no license is required. Inland, thirteen reservoirs are stocked with trout, perch, bream, catfish and other fresh-water fish; those over 12 must apply for a license at the District Fishing Department.

Cyprus boasts more than 200 kilometers of nature trails. With their golden oak, plane and pine tree-covered peaks crisscrossed by well-marked paths, hiking in the Troodos Mountains is a popular leisure activity. There are two posted nature trails in the Akamas Peninsula, the Aphrodite Trail and Adonis Trail, one Forestry Department trail in Cape Greco and two marked trails in Pafos Forest. Organized hikes are routinely organized by local tour operators.

Horseback riding is possible year-round at the Lapatsa Sporting Center southwest of Nicosia and the Elias Beach Hotel and Country Club, near Limassol.

From January to March there is skiing on Mount Olympus. The Cyprus Ski Club operates four runs and offers equipment and toboggan rentals as well as ski instruction.

Golfers can tee up at one of three challenging 18-hole golf courses. There are tennis clubs throughout Cyprus. In addition, bicycles can be rented in many resort areas and towns.

 

Special Interest

 

A vacation in Cyprus is richly rewarding for those passionate about Mediterranean cuisine, history and archaeology. Here are some other wonderful things to discover:

Nature: More than seventeen percent of Cyprus is classified as woodland. All told there are 1,750 species of flowering plants in Cyprus, 127 of which grow nowhere else but on the island. Much of the forested area is in the foothills and peaks of the Troodos Mountains. Here, only about an hour away from the coast, it is possible to find yourself enshrouded in perfect, restorative silence. To explore the Troodos and Akamas Peninsula up close, you can hike or take organized 4x4 jeep excursions.

Wine Country Tours: In addition to being home to the world’s oldest continuously produced wine, sweet Commandaria, Cyprus boasts the highest production rate of grapes in the world in proportion to its size and population. Most Cyprus vineyards are small and grow indigenous varieties of grapes for wine. Donkeys and oxen are still used to plough some of them. Cultivated vineyards cover a large percentage of the country’s hilly and mountainous land, from sea level up to 1,500 metres, predominantly on the southern slopes of the Troodos in the Lemesos district and the southwestern in the Pafos district. There are four distinct wine tours that centre on these areas, which could range from a half-day to a week long or longer. Wine tastings figure prominently on all of these.

The first tour is in Lemesos (Limassol) itself, where the four biggest wine companies in Cyprus have tasting rooms and shops. The Lemesos District East tour begins with a drive up the Troodos road (B8) from Lemesos to the Kourris Valley. There are wineries in the villages of Pytsilia, Mandria and Koilani, to name just a few. Vouni is home to some of Cyprus’s best vineyards for red grapes. The Lemesos District West tour takes in several boutique wineries as well as the whitewashed village of Omodos, where there are three additional wineries. Just off the attractive central square, you can have an up-close look at a traditional wine press. The fourth wine tour explores mainly the highlands north of Pafos.

Agrotourism: Travel inland almost anywhere in Cyprus and you will come across ancient stone villages and hill towns that have changed little over the centuries. There is no better way to slip into the rhythm of tradition than by staying in the heart of a Cypriot village - the aim of the agrotourism program. A comfortable room in a refurnished traditional house in the high season is reasonably priced. Many villages with agrotourism houses are near vineyards.

 

Base of Discovery: At the crossroads of the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus can also be a great component of your Middle East odyssey that combines a visit to the island with Israel, Egypt, Lebanon or nearby Greek islands such as Rhodes. You can reach these destinations by air - most are an hour or less away by plane - or cruise. Several cruise companies offer short but comprehensive itineraries to the most famous Middle East destinations, making Cyprus an ideal launchpad for discovery of the region at large.

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