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Holiday Tips When Traveling to Cyprus

Cyprus - Kakopetria

Cyprus Holiday

Posted originally by Cleo on Mar 6, 2013 Summer is coming and most of you are thinking where to spend your vacation. If you decide to choose Cyprus as a destination you should keep in mind these simple tips.
Popular holiday spot in Kato Paphos
First of all the choice of the hotel in Cyprus is important. Double check hotel reviews as you don’t want to completley trust a description on an agent’s website. Some sites are not updated regularly or they may even receive a kick back! So, always check other travelers experience in particular hotels which you are thinking to choose and the photos taken by the traveler’s in that hotel. If reviews are at least 70% positive you can choose the hotel and photos will show the real situation of the accommodation. Be aware that there are no cheap AND good hotels in Cyprus. If the price is very low comparing to the same category hotels you should become suspicious as it said you always get that for what you paid so if you pay 10 euro per night in summer for hotel don’t expect something good.

Secondly if you can arrange your transfer before you come to Cyprus do it and I will tell you why. If you come night time or on public holidays or not in high season it will be very difficult to find public transfer. As in the most countries the taxi drivers will try to charge as much as they can so you might end up paying triple price for the same transfer which you could book from before. Other option is to rent a car which is highly recommended in Cyprus as distance between attractions could be high or not reachable by public transport or walking.

When you arrive at the hotel and got accommodated go around and explore the neighborhood. Make your list before what you would like to see so you will be able to plan for time. A good thing is to ask locals what they recommend to see which is not in your list then you can discover real pearls of architecture or nature.

I would recommend having few meals outside even if you are planning to book an all inclusive or full board basis in a hotel as that’s how you will be able to feel the taste of the real life of Cyprus. You can also check the restaurants on the internet or the best option is to ask the staff of the hotel or locals what they can advise as a best restaurant for local food. The best restaurants among locals are not always included in tourist guides or in excursions provided by agent.

Regarding tips you should leave starting from 1.00 euro and up to much as you feel someone deserves. If you want to leave below 1 Euro, it is better not leave anything as waiter will be offended. Service employees are generally paid poorly so they do rely on tips however, not all deserve great tips but some go out of their way to provide a good experience and they should be compensated in my opinion.

Last, but not least is the souvenirs. It’s good to check prices in a few souvenirs’ shops before you make your decision to buy something as prices and quality may vary. If there are several souvenir shops in the area there are more chances to find a better price for the item you want in one of them. Do not try to negotiate the price unless you are buying a large amount of souvenirs as the owner of the shop will feel insulted and this is the least thing you want to do.



The first picture is  just past the Paphos Water Park and out into the countryside by the Yeroskipou coastal area.  In my opinion, when and if they resolve the Cyprus problem between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot’s, this area will be one of the areas that will be immediately filled out with big projects. It’s close proximity to Paphos town and the airport as well as the abundance of untouched land next to the sea. Much of the land is owned by Turkish Cypriots and farmed by Greek Cypriot refugee’s.

Yeroskipou countryside

Yeroskipou countryside

The second photo is inside the church in Yeroskipou at Easter time.  Nice one of the cross which everyone follows through the streets on the Friday night.

Easter cross

Easter cross

Easter in Cyprus

The carnivals are over and Lent is underway – a 40 day fasting period of no meat, poultry or dairy products. The bakeries accommodate those who fast by adding dairy-free, egg-free and meat-free pastries and cookies to their already vast array of goodies. Generally, fasting is followed more strictly in the villages of Cyprus than in the towns, but most restaurants and takeaways also add fasting dishes to their menus during this period.

As Easter draws near, an air of festivity envelops the towns and villages.  During Holy Week (the week preceding Easter Sunday) there is a flurry of church-going, shopping for new clothes and baking. The smell of the traditional Cypriot flaounes cooking, combined with the heady scent of orange blossoms in the air and the sound of singing which emanates from the churches, creates an atmosphere of expectation – a feeling that something good is just around the corner.

Easter is the most important religious holiday in the Greek Orthodox Church.  The date of Greek Orthodox Easter is based on a modified Julian calendar. In 2010 Greek Orthodox Easter will coincide with Easter in the Western Churches which use a different calendar, the Gregorian. The date this year is April 4th.

Thursday of Holy Week is when the wonderful aromas begin to waft out onto the streets as this is traditionally the day when housewives start preparing the flaounes (small loaves made of flour, eggs, cheese, mint and sometimes raisins). These are shaped into triangles, sprinkled with sesame seeds then baked in the oven. Tiropites (small cheese pies in puff pastry), paskies (small meat pies) and koulouria (biscuits made of milk, flour, spices and sugar) are also prepared. Eggs are hard boiled and dyed red in preparation for games on Sunday. Everywhere is a hive of activity.

On the Friday morning before Easter (Good Friday or “Great Friday” as it is called in Greek) families, carrying flowers, gather in the churches. The flowers are collected and used by young girls to decorate the Epitafios (Holy Sepulchre) during the service. The Epitafios is a four-post litter with a canopy in which the icon of Christ is placed.

Early Friday evening a solemn service is held in all churches where the decorated Epitafios is carried into the streets, for a short procession, then returned to the church for a continuation of the service.

On Easter Saturday two services are held in church – one in the early morning and another at 11 p.m.

Before the 11 p.m. service, which is called “The Ceremony of the Resurrection,” church bells peal out in the villages and towns of Cyprus calling everyone to come and celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Huge bonfires are lit in the churchyards and slowly people begin to gather there. Every person carries a large unlit lampada (candle) and there is a general feeling of excitement in the air.   

The church services start at 11 p.m. A few minutes before midnight the lights in the church are extinguished and the choir sings the story of the three women who arrived at Christ’s tomb only to find it empty. The lights are switched on again and the priest calls the congregation to “take from his candle the light which never dies.” The flame is passed from person to person until everyone is holding a lit candle. The ceremony then continues outside the church for approximately 30 minutes, after which the priest returns inside again to begin the special Sunday liturgy for another two and a half to three hours. 

At this point, a majority of the congregants leave to celebrate with family and friends by watching the firework displays which are held outside most churches, and to share a meal of the traditional Cypriot trachana (a creamy, savoury soup of wheat and yogurt) or magiritsa (a creamy, lemony soup).

The eggs which were hardboiled and dyed on Thursday are now used in a game where they are tapped against each other and whoever is left with an uncracked egg wins. The breaking of the eggs is symbolic of Christ breaking free from the tomb.

Easter Sunday is when the celebrations really begin. Feasts of ovelias (whole roast spiced lamb, cooked on an open charcoal fire) or souvla (large pieces of lamb or pork also cooked on an open charcoal fire), salads, vegetables, breads, cakes, biscuits, sweets, flaounes and wine are prepared. The smell of outdoor roasting permeates the island. Lamb is the traditional Easter meal as the early Christians adopted this symbol from the Jews who sacrificed lambs for their Passover celebrations.  

From Sunday lunchtime until Tuesday night, in village squares and churchyards, traditional food, games and live traditional Cypriot music are to be found. Everyone, Cypriot and non-Cypriot, is welcomed and usually greeted with an enthusiastic, Kopiaste! Christos Anesti! Or Chronia Polla!

Happy Easter!

Cyprus Celebrates Carnival in a Special way

Parade in Limassol, Cyprus 2009Carnival time in Cyprus is nearly here! From the 1st until the 4th of February the Town Crier will be announcing the Carnival’s arrival all around Limassol. Carnival was celebrated in ancient Greece and organized in honor of the God Dionysos. Ancient Greeks got dressed in various costumes, wore masks, played games and had feasts that lasted for days. The custom and tradition is still going strong today. Carnival in Cyprus is a two-week period of celebrations with a focus on food, festivites and games before the 50 days of fasting before Easter.  Read the rest of the article here….