Five excellent trips for March
Spring is fast approaching and March has some bank holidays, which are a great time to head out and explore the island’s villages.
We suggest visiting the following five villages: Lefkara, Farmakas, Omodos, Agros, and Askas.
Farmakas – Nicosia district
Arriving there after a journey of about 40 kilometres from Nicosia, you will be faced with a huge parking lot and next to it is the village church, the community council and the two Farmakas cafes.
Visit the main church of the village dedicated to Ayia Eirini. It is located in the centre of the village next to the café. It is built of stone and in the shape of a three-aisled basilica with a dome, being one of the few buildings of its kind in Cyprus.
Taste the town’s juicy tomatoes and fruits. After all, don’t forget that the village is famous for its fruit and more for its tomatoes (for which it even hosts festivals every October). But it is renowned for its excellent water quality as well as for the wine it makes.
Visit the new Santa Irene Winery, a modern winery that has all modern winemaking and bottling equipment. The aim of the winery from the beginning was to promote the wine-making tradition of the area of Farmakas in particular.
Head to Ierambelos restaurant, which is co-located with the winery and where dishes are created that perfectly accompany the wines. Every Sunday there is a lunch buffet with a variety of delicacies for everyone! Reservations 22 515515.
But you have more options in Farmakas for eating. You can relax at the Farmakas café (99 403069), letting the kids play casually in the beautiful playground, whilst enjoying the fragrant coffees, fresh snacks as well as a fine selection of foods such as stew, soufflé and, foreign cuisines. But you also have the option to stay.
Also in Farmakas is Eleni’s Homemade Desserts. Eleni Antoniou Vassiliou on October 21, 2009, was awarded by the President of the Republic of Cyprus with the first prize in a nationwide competition held during the Agricultural Fair. Mrs Eleni makes our famous spoon sweets such as walnut, cherry, watermelon, citrus, pear, bergamot and orange and more special flavours such as kolokassi, onion, garlic and mushroom.
You can stay overnight at the village guesthouse FARMAKAS LIVING. Some houses have been renovated in the village and converted into luxury suites for rent, where breakfast is also available. Located in the centre of the village, the apartments are traditionally decorated with a modern touch.
Omodos – Limassol district
At the centre of the village stands the Monastery of the Holy Cross, one of the oldest and most historic monasteries on the island. According to tradition, when Saint Helen visited the island, she left in the monastery pieces of the cross of Christ.
Also worth visiting are the museums that are housed in the monastery, such as the Agonos Museum, the Museum of Byzantine Icons, the Icon Museum, the Folklore Museum, the Lace Rescue Centre and more.
Walking through the cobbled streets of the square and the surrounding streets you will discover small shops with various souvenirs, traditional folk art products, as well as premium quality handmade jewellery, embroidery, and lace. You will also find workshops that make glass creations and Byzantine icons. Also, buy herbs and spices from the John’s Herbal Shop and other local delicacies, such as soutzouko.
With a tradition in wine production, Omodos has excellent wineries to visit for wine tours and tastings. Some of them are Zen Winery (99 492979), Olympus Winery (25 573391), Linos Winery (25 422700), Marion Winery (99 556630), Gerolemos Estate (25 422122) and Brand New Ktima Vasiliades (25 446000). And when you get hungry, choose among the traditional taverns of the village.
In the square you will enjoy your souvlaki at Kamara (99 772371) and Themelio (99 459306). Going through the picturesque streets of the village you will find the famous tavern Kyr Yiannis (70 000100), with imaginative dishes, Katoi (25 423033), Themistocles tavern (25 422649), Makrinari (25 422151) and Mavres Chines (99 342826) where you can enjoy your meal with live music. Just outside the village you will find the restaurant Ampelothea (25 421366) with authentic Cypriot and international cuisine.
For your overnight stay, there are many restored, traditional accommodations, offering you a unique experience in the village. Among them are Stou Kir Yianni Guest Houses (70 000100), Omodos Katoi Holiday Homes (99 385319) and Omodos Village Houses (99 749065).
Lefkara – Larnaca
The most visited town on one-day excursions, has it all: beautiful hiking trails for the more active of us, and historical treasures, and shopping!
In this village you can enjoy walks in the narrow streets with traditional houses and admire the rich white linen embroidery and the small silver masterpieces. Visit the Local Ethnological Museum of Traditional Embroidery and Silversmithing. There are 19th and early 20th century urban furniture, traditional costumes, silver pieces and an interesting collection of Lefkaritika embroideries, for which the village was renowned worldwide. Also, check out the Lefkara Crafts Centre created to maintain, develop and continue the village’s tradition in embroidery and silversmithing.
Visit the church of the Holy Cross with the great silver cross which, according to tradition, carries a piece of the wood from Christ’s cross. Pass by the small craft making “The Beautiful Lefkara” (24 342525, 99 644989), which has been operating for one and a half centuries. For accommodation, check out Kozakos Luxury Houses (www.kozakosluxuryhouses.com / 99 676704), Red Blue Door (www.redbluedoor.com / 22 446552, 99 420984), Iosiphis’s Stone Built House Ltd (www.iosiphishouse.com / 24 664677, 99 790780).
For food and more, you will go to Tasties, a coffeehouse. It is an impressive 1850 mansion, restored in 1927, and in recent years has received some additional decorative intervention by its new owners. In this stylishly decorated café-restaurant, you can choose to sit either inside, beside the books or next to the imposing piano, or in the nice courtyard with clock and cuckoo, while enjoying dishes from the Mediterranean-style menu (24 343411, 99 828303). Alternatively, you can visit the Lefkara Coffee Yard Bar-Restaurant in Pano Lefkara. The shop serves coffees and various drinks daily from early in the morning while lunches and evenings serve Cypriot and international cuisine
Agros – Limassol district
Agros has many things to offer. Natural beauty, hotels, inns, restaurants, and it is well-known for its traditional products, including cured meats, spoon sweets, and all the products made from Damascus roses. If you choose to stay in Agros, make sure to reserve in advance and the renovated Rodon hotel (+357 25 521201, from €65/night). The village is also home to Agrospito (+357 99 470622, €55/night). There is also the Spiti tou Pramateuti (+357 99 102642). There are also a number of restaurants in the village, where you can enjoy traditional cuisine including Sto Linari (+357 25 522215), To Pezema (+357 99 551381), Pantheon (+357 25 521889), and Koilada (+357 25 521303).
According to legend, the monks from the Agros monastery in the ancient town of Cyzicus in Asia Minor fled during the iconoclasm and brought the icon of the Virgin Mary with them to Cyprus. On the island, they settled in the area that is now Agros. In 1692 there was a plague that his the island and killed thousands, leading people to settle near the monastery for protection. Slowly, they area became populated that the village was constructed. The monastery was destroyed in 1894, but the village remained.
For those of you interested in wandering the narrow streets of villages and exploring religious sites, a stroll through the town should be a top priority as well as a visit to the town’s to churches, the one dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which houses an icon from 1856 and the other is the Church of Saint Prodromos.
If you are looking to immerse yourself in nature, Agros has three nature trails that lead from the village, where you can wander among trails alive with the scent of sage, lavender, and pine. The first trail starts in the village and goes to the village of Lagoudera, while the second takes you to Madari and the third to Kato Mylos.
The town also has two old water fountains that were used to supply water to the villagers in years gone by. The one is in the centre of the town and is called Kaoura, while the other Anastasia is located at the southern edge of the town.
Askas – Nicosia district
This is a quaint village with cobblestone streets and beautiful architecture that blends into the natural landscape of the mountain.
Before reaching the village, head to the small fountain located near the river. Once in Askas, you can park your car at the town’s main parking area, and begin exploring on foot. A short distance from the parking area, you will find the village’s main square, which has a traditional café, a fountain, and an information board with all the sites around the town.
You will want to take your time and walk through the winding streets of the village, visit one of the island’s oldest police stations, and the church of Timios Stavros, which has stood in the town since the 1300s. There is also an old olive press in the town, where oil was made.
After strolling around, you will want to stop and rest in the square built by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation. It is a relaxing green space located among hazelnut and walnut trees.
Reserve a table at Lychnos (22 642642) for creative dishes, for meze head to Pernia restaurant (99 414016), and for traditional Cypriot dishes try the village tavern Steki tis Paradosis (97 616786).
Evgenia’s House (99 642393) operates all year round. In the town’s centre you can stay at Lychnos (22 642642), which offers rooms for board as well as being a restaurant.