The Cypriots have a tradition: to move to the mountains in the Christmas holidays. Rent a cozy house in the village, spend 3-7 days there with their family or friends, among the snowdrifts and traditional winter activities. This is a great type of vacation, and it is also quite cheap.
Tourists can stay on the island and taste a double pleasure: to visit the snow-capped mountains and sunbathe by the sea. The main thing is to start planning your vacation in advance and have time to find a good place.
1. How they celebrate Christmas and New Year in Cyprus
Traditionally, it is customary for Cypriots to celebrate Christmas. Less attention is paid to the New Year as it is mainly a holiday for children. Many adults go to work on January 1, so the New Year's gatherings are postponed to the evening. Nevertheless some festivities take place in Cyprus on the night of December 31 to January 1.
1.1. Christmas traditions in Cyprus
As a rule, the holidays for children and adults start 2-3 days before Christmas Eve. But the first preparations begin must earlier. The locals start decorating houses and streets since December 1, or even earlier.
Christmas markets are held in villages and towns. The Christmas trees in the cities squares are also set up at the beginning of December, and from that moment on, interesting events take place here. There are also small themed amusement parks for children.
It is customary to celebrate Christmas either at home with family and friends, or in a club / restaurant with a festive program. At the same time, the menu is distinguished by a great variety: these are meat and fish dishes, salads, sweet pastries (especially melomakarons cookies).
In Cyprus, it is customary to drink local wine, not champagne. Stronger drinks are not in use on the island but tourists are mostly interested in them. This does not mean that the guest doesn't find a drink to their liking.
Families and colleagues spend time together on the days between December 25 and January 1: they participate in Christmas events, visit, go to the countryside. Tourists do the same, as, fortunately, there are a lot of interesting places to visit in Cyprus!
1.2. New Year traditions in Cyprus
The first of January is a holiday that is called the day of Agios Vasilis (Saint Basil) on the island. This is the local Santa Claus, although there is also Santa in Cypriot culture.
Agios Vasilis is a good saint who puts gifts for children under the Christmas tree on New Year's Eve. And the children, in turn, cut off a piece of sweet vasilopita pie (baked by their mother in advance) and leave it to Vasilis. The rest of the pie is eaten at family dinner the next day.
About dinner: it is less plentiful and more relaxed than the Christmas dinner. Ethnic Cypriots and local foreigners (like the British) are not enthusiastic about the beginning of the calendar year.
And since there are many immigrants from the ex-Soviet countries (where the New Year is the most important public holiday) in Cyprus, there are some events. Mayors read speeches in cities' squares decorated with Christmas trees, and people walk along the streets, have fun, and launch fireworks.
After January 1st in Cyprus, everyone returns to their usual rhythm of life. Therefore, this day is considered the last day of the holidays week.
2. Rental housing by the sea in Cyprus
Tourists prefer to spend New Year's holidays closer to the sea. Yes, when the houses are cold and there is snow, you want to be closer to the warmth and forget for a while that the world has winters.
2.1. House or apartment
As a rule, an apartment is rented by those who want to live closer to the sea. It is at the same time closer to the city center, so all facilities and events are within walking distance.
The house (villa or townhouse) is more popular with privacy lovers. You can rent a good villa for 4 to 10 people in the suburbs of Limassol, Paphos or Larnaca. It costs from €1,500 for 5 days: the price depends on the area and the house. Advantages of the house: own territory (often with a swimming pool), so the neighbors do not bother.
2.2. Which area to choose
Undoubtedly the liveliest and most welcoming city on the New Year Eve is Limassol.
In Paphos, they mostly celebrate Christmas, and it is calm on New Year's. This is not a plus or a minus - just a feature that needs to be considered.
Larnaca is a quiet and peaceful area. It is the cheapest place to rent a property, but there are not many attractions nearby. Larnaca region is ideal for those who want to escape from the hustle and bustle and do not want to have party holidays, but spend their time on walks.
2.3. What can you do
So, you are relaxing by the sea, within the city or near the city. Where to go and what to do?
- visit the Christmas markets
- visit the main square and participate in public events
- shop in the mall, after the holidays there are big sales
- go to the suburbs (to the forest or to the dam), admire the nature
- visit the beach, if you don't sunbathe, then just bask in the sun
- swim in the sea, if the water temperature + 17-18 degrees does not scare you
- spend an evening in a bar or restaurant, watching the New Year's show
- go on a sightseeing tour
- walk along the main street of the city (or along the embankment if it's not the same)
- go ice skating (there are ice skating rinks in large shopping centers)
- taste traditional Cypriot New Year sweets.
On the pre-Christmas days, the streets of the cities of Cyprus are lively. Despite the absence of snow and an abundance of evergreens, tourists are infected with holidays' positive mood.
3. Rent house in mountains Cyprus
We have already mentioned the fact that the locals love to move there for winter holidays. Snowy winters in Cyprus are not rare in the mountains of Troodos. There is a really amazing atmosphere. Tourists, even if they come to the island to warm up, are recommended to visit the mountains for at least a couple of days as they get impressions that can last for their lifetime!
3.1. What to choose: a house or a hotel?
The house is usually rented by large families or crowded companies. They have two big advantages: the traditional Cypriot style and the fireplace. The latter is a real artefact, as you cannot find good heating systems in the cities. But the fireplace... it is luxury, it is exotic, it is the old atmosphere.
The hotel is a great option for those who want to receive the full range of services, such as SPA and similar treatments. Visiting the mountains of Cyprus is an excellent idea, after which people feel reborn. Therefore, the choice of house / hotel is not as easy as it seems.
3.2. Ski resort at Mt. Olympus (Olymbos)
Mount Olympus is located near the villages of Troodos, Prodromos and Platres. Its height is 1951 meters above sea level, which means that it is full of snow from December to March.
There is a large ski resort, where there are runs of different difficulty levels, including a run for children. There is also equipment rental and a good restaurant. You can move to one of the villages nearby: go skiing, snowboarding or sledging during the day, and visit taverns in the evening, taste local cuisine and wine, chat with new friends, and participate in village events.
A ski-pass costs €15 for a full weekday, € 25 for a full weekend. For children or for the second half of the day, sinking is cheaper.
Renting skis costs €15, sledges are for €10, snowboards - €25. It is better to come early in the morning to borrow new and good equipment.
3.3. Other winter activities in the mountains
Troodos is an amazing place in Cyprus. There is ideal nature and the cleanest air here. If you are a lover of forests and mountains, there are excellent walking paths along which you can go around the whole area. You will pass through viewing platforms, picnic areas and even deep waterfalls.
Children do not get bored here either: they can play snowballs, make snowmen and participate in holidays activities with other children. As kids play outside for hours, they will have a great dinner and fall asleep quickly.
The whole family can go to the village Christmas market: they are no worse, but even much better than the city ones. Try local jams and pastries as they are really amazing! Be sure to take a walk through the village where you stayed: here is the real Cyprus, where thousand-year-old traditions are still alive.
4. Where to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Cyprus?
As mentioned above, there are usually two options: at home or outside.
A home celebration requires preparation, but if you do it, it will go exactly the way you want it.
Food should be purchased in advance. Visit the stores from 10am to 3pm, so you don't need to sand in line. Buy fruits and vegetables at the local markets, then they are certainly local and ripe. It is best in Cyprus to buy oranges and tangerines in winters, as well as other citruses, pomegranates, persimmons, apples and pears.
At midnight, you can go to the main square, where there is a Christmas tree: there everyone congratulates each other, burns Bengal lights, have fun and play. But remember - the fun in Cyprus does not last so long, at 1 am everyone leaves to celebrate at home.
Another option is to book a table at a restaurant for Christmas or New Year's Eve. This must be done in advance. Young people are interested in spending Christmas or New Year's Eve in the club: these facilities come to life and throw great parties as well as they do in the summer season.
Many locals do this: they go to a restaurant on December 22 or 23, watch TV, eat and drink with friends or colleagues. Then, on the night of December 24-25, they arrange a large family feast.
5. A little more about the rental rules
If you decide to stay in a house in the snowy mountains, make your reservation in advance. Demand for such places in December is very high, thus every next day there are fewer and fewer options.
When renting a home, pay attention to the following:
- heating: the house must have a fireplace, boiler or a good split system
- close distance to restaurants, playgrounds, shops, bus stops
- there should be no mold, as it indicates that there is dampness
- the rental agreement must be drawn up without fail, even if you move in for 3-4 days
- check if the rent includes bills for light and heating as you will spend a lot of both
- you must be provided with additional services in a residential complex: parking, gym, spa, pool, etc.
- kitchen: if you want to cook, look for the option with a stove and refrigerator.
- Products in Cyprus (link)
- Driving in Cyprus (link)
- Languages of Cyprus (link)
- Festivals in Cyprus (link)
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