The UK’s new cold-swimming craze is a lot more bearable in the winter in Cyprus. As well as swimming, January and February offers everything from golf to skiing, horse-riding to carousels and of course, that wonderful al fresco cafe culture.
A word about the weather
From one who’s spent over 20 years living in Cyprus, I can tell you that the weather is colder, but nowhere near as cold as in the UK. Average temperatures in the winter months (November- February) in the cities are about 22-23° Celsius in the day, which to be perfectly honest, is a welcome relief from the very hot temperatures we get here in the summer. The lowest temperatures are around 12-14° at night. Even though we get some rain here in the winter, sunny weather is still guaranteed for most of the time.
The other benefit of Cyprus is that the winter days aren’t as short as in the UK. For example, this weekend – the last in January – in England the sun comes up at 8am and sets at 4.30pm. In Cyprus it rises before 7am and sets after 5pm.
So if you find the winter too dismal in the UK, move to Cyprus and enjoy our warm winter pleasures!
Hotels and Restaurants
You will find that the majority of the hotels and restaurants are open during the winter months. Some close because there are not so many tourists visiting Cyprus in the winter season, and the owners take this opportunity to go back to the UK to visit their relatives or take a break from the hustle and bustle of the summer season.
You will still find many locals and tourists around the main towns, enjoying the local food and hospitality in the hotels and restaurants. A great feature about Cyprus is that you don’t have to be staying in a hotel to be able to visit a hotel for a delicious coffee, or drink in the bars. All the hotels accept non-residents on their premises.
The horse-riding stable that I visit is this one in Limassol. It’s a great place for a quiet day out. You can take beginners/intermediate riding lessons for adults and children, and there are also therapeutic horse-riding lessons for children and young people with physical and mental disabilities. This place also allows you to look after your horse and groom it, and they put on horse-riding trips and events to participate in.
They also hire out Cinderella carriages for weddings and birthday parties – a favourite with my daughter when she was young! Actually, you can also have kids’ parties on the riding ranch, or adult ones if you like.
Playing 18-hole golf
A lot of my British friends enjoy golf here in Cyprus! I would say it’s one of the most recent hobbies in Cyprus to be introduced. The quality of the green is very well maintained, despite the lengthy hot season that Cyprus has. You can learn how to play as an absolute beginner or you can just practise your strokes and have a round of golf with your friends if you just fancy a quiet day out.
The Aphrodite Hotel, Paphos, has its own golf course, but another very popular one is at Vikla Golf and Country Club set in in the scenic part of Limassol (you can pick walnuts and capers off the trees and bushes lining the road as you drive to the course). This place is so breathtaking in the winter months, and you really do get back to nature. Here you can learn to play, or play a round with your friends for a great day out. After your game of golf there is a well-stocked bar including creamy hot chocolate, coffees for you to enjoy with your friends or family.
Don’t forget that Cyprus has snow in winter in the Troodos mountains. There are all the facilities for a wonderful skiing trip, including a chair lift up the mountain slopes. If you are a dedicated skier, you can enter the international skiing competitions that are held here during the winter months.
Even if you don’t ski, nothing beats a trip to the snow here. You can take in lunch or dinner, sip a glass of village red or white wine (the wines here are very reasonably priced and have a great taste) or just enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate by a roaring fire in the mountain restaurants. I guarantee that you will never get tired of doing this!
All the fun of the fair
You will find one or two of these in each of the main towns. There are many different amusements like carousels, Waltzers etc. for children. Of, if you want some peace you can have a quiet coffee in the café there and read a book until lunchtime, when you can enjoy a wonderful Cypriot lunch! You can combine this with a pleasurable walk along the promenade along the seafront. And you can call into a bookshop on your way to buy a new book or magazines like Hello magazine, Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan etc. like you can find in the U.K.
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While away time in a cosy café
In the winter months I like to take my magazine/book and go to the Marina here in Limassol. My favourite café there is Caffè Nero! I buy my cappuccino and something sweet to eat and sit outside under the winter sun watching the sailing boats and Cypriot life. Cyprus also has Starbucks, MacDonald’s and Costa Coffee island-wide, so if you prefer their coffee you have the choice. You can do the same in the other main towns. For example, in Paphos you can sit in a harbour café with a view of the historic castle, and there is the newly built Marina in Larnaca, too.
Cinemas and theatres
If, like me, you enjoy seeing films at the cinemas, then you will find at least two cinemas in each of the main towns. The biggest cinema has five screens, and the smallest one has three. When I first came to Cyprus, there was only one cinema in Limassol – which I called “the hole in the wall”. It was literally like a tunnel, and you couldn’t see the newest films for at least two months after they were released! Now, it’s completely different. The cinemas have all the latest films, usually a week after you can find them in the U.K., and they are fully equipped.
When I first came to Cyprus, there was only one cinema in Limassol – which I called “the hole in the wall”. Now, things are very different!
They’re comfortable too, with all the latest developments like 3D viewing. There are also modern theatres, with local arts productions and performances. If you like music, modern and classical performances, the theatres are brilliant for these, with great acoustics (like the cinemas too). Plus, you can see ballet and Italian opera performances and musicals. You can find other European influences such as Italy, as an alternative to Greek music/arts, that have been encouraged in Cyprus since Paphos became the European City of Culture.
Of course, Greek singers and theatre are always around. Don’t be put off listening to modern and traditional Greek singers because you think you won’t understand it – the rhythms and sheer depth of voice obliterate that problem – great for a winter’s afternoon/evening entertainment!
Creative hobbies in Cyprus and keeping fit
There are many creative hobbies in Cyprus you can do. These are things like learning origami, flower arranging, sketching, and drawing. You can go to learn these on a regular basis. Or, if you like to keep healthy, you can go to yoga or aerobic classes per week and meet new people too. I do yoga here, and there are many different forms available to try. You can find aerobic and step classes in the gyms, as well as general workout sessions – the gyms are very well equipped with the latest fitness equipment. You can even learn new dance moves, and Zumba classes are very popular! And of course, you can also learn languages like conversational Greek!
So, as you can see, Cyprus is not just a place for the sea, hot sun, and sandy beaches. It also has some quieter pleasures too. For me, I use this time to recharge myself after the long hot, summer months (and to get rid of unwanted kilos that I’ve added from the ice creams of the summer!) Then, I feel ready and prepared for the hot and busy summer days once more with my family and friends.