Frugal Family Winter Trip To Cyprus - The Itinerary - Part 1

If this is the first post you're seeing on the topic, I'm doing a series on our frugal winter family trip to Cyprus. In this post, I'll be sharing with you what we did in the first part of our awesome family vacation, when we were based in Paralimni, on the eastern coast of Cyprus. 

I'd made a family meeting with the children when planning the trip to see what types of activities they most wanted to do on the trip, then looked at the list I'd made of potential winter activities in Cyprus to create a potential very full itinerary of things to do, taking into account the proximity of each activity to one another and where we'd be staying. I knew there would definitely not be enough time to do everything on the list, but I included extras so we could decide as the trip went along what we'd want to do then.

We were supposed to land in Larnaca, Cyprus in the afternoon and we hoped we'd be able to see something of Cyprus on that first day. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed so we landed in Cyprus later than we originally planned. They made us check the cabin luggage, so we needed to wait at the baggage claim carousel. Then the representative from the car rental place that was supposed to meet us at the Arrivals area wasn't there right away, but eventually we found him.

By the time we were in our rental car, it was already quite late, and we had a bit of a drive ahead of us, since we were staying in Paralimni, all the way on the eastern peninsula of the island. But because of the time, I was worried that we'd only get to Paralimni after the stores closed, so we stopped at a Lidl (a relatively cheap European grocery chain) in Larnaca for the first few days' groceries before heading to Paralimni to our AirBnB. We settled in, ate supper, and tried to go to bed early so we'd have energy for the big day ahead.

Day 1

The next morning we got up bright in early and drove to Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, for our passport appointment at the American embassy. Because my ex wasn't coming along, I'd needed to get his permission for this appointment without him notarized, but because of the incompetence of the notary who didn't fill out the form properly, our trip could have ended up being very disappointing. 

We waited very bored and impatient as the staff at the embassy deliberated what they should do, and fortunately after 2.5 hours with literally nothing to do (we were only allowed to take in our paperwork and nothing else) they finally told us they'd approve it as long as I emailed them something from my ex once we left, and we also needed to go to the post office to get self addressed envelopes and bringing them back to the embassy, and finally, we'd be able to do some touring in Nicosia. (Of course, later on that day when we already were back in Paralimni and had no plans to return to Nicosia, they asked me to mail in the notarized paperwork that they'd returned to me, which necessitated another trip to the post office before we left Cyprus...) 

Since it was too late in the day to do most of the things I'd included in the itinerary, and because the thing I would have liked to do most in Nicosia, the Cyprus Museum, was closed on Monday when we were there, I decided to ask my kids what their priorities were for the day. They all wanted to cross the border and check out the Turkish occupied part of Nicosia, so they could claim they'd been to another country on our trip (especially since for my kids this was their second or third time leaving our home country ever). 

We drove to the closest border crossing and parked our car, crossing the border on foot. (Our car rental did not include insurance for North Cyprus.) We showed our passports to the security on the South Cyprus part of the border...

...Walked across the UN buffer zone, and then reached the North Cyprus border. 

The security guard asked us our plans and when we told him where we wanted to go, he told us that it wasn't walkable from where we were, and we should go back and drive to another border crossing. 

So we repeated that, walked back across the buffer zone, crossed back into South Cyprus, and drove to the Ledra street crossing at the center of the city.

Once we parked the car we walked through the market on Ledra Street, checking out the souvenir shops along the way...

...Saw the Monument of Human Rights right at the border...

...Got to the border, showed our passports, crossed the UN buffer zone, showed our passports again, and went through to North Cyprus. My son was disappointed that they didn't stamp the password there. The official said that they used to have a stamp there but don't anymore. Oh well, Ike will have to do without another stamp on his passport. 

We walked around the occupied Turkish part of Nicosia and then walked to one of the places that was on my to do list, the Buyuk Han Caravanserai, a 16th century Ottoman roadside inn where caravaners and pilgrims would be able to stay. 

It now has been turned into a charming place with a bunch of restaurants, galleries, and souvenir shops. 

By this time most of our phones were dying, or completely dead, so we were trying to avoid turning on GPS and draining our batteries faster, so instead we asked for directions to find the Kyrenia Gate, part of the city walls built in the 1500s when the Venetian empire ruled Cyprus. On the way we got lost slightly among the back alleys of the city, and we saw how poor and run down it looked compared to South Cyprus.

The reason almost all our phones had died was that we didn't realize that Cyprus used British plugs and we brought along EU plugs assuming that that is what was used there, and the Airbnb we were staying in had only placed to charge two phones and one computer and we had five phones and two computers.

Because North Cypress is a poorer place we knew we'd be able to get more for our money there so we decided to buy chargers there, as well as souvenirs which were quite cheap there as well. 

We also bought groceries which again were cheaper than South Cypress. By this time it was already getting late and our feet were tired so we walked back to the border and to the car and drove home.

I was disappointed that with all the free museums I knew about in Nicosia, we didn't get to see any of them because of the lack of time. But I will be including them in my post on free and cheap things to do in Cyprus. 

Day 2

The next day we had a late morning because we were exhausted from the day before. We drove 15 minutes away to a place called Cape Cavo Greco, and visited the nature center there, which is cute and small.

It usually costs 2 euros for people over the ages of 16 and 1 Euro for children, but I decided to ask if we could get a discount because of our disability cards (even though they were from our home country) and they decided to let the 5 of us in for 3 Euros. There was a video about the area and its nature including the flora, fauna, and geology.  

There were a few exhibit rooms which included three giant fish tanks with fish found in the nearby sea, as well as fossilized skeletons of various animals such as those of the Cyrus dwarf hippo, in addition to skeletons, taxidermied animals, and more. 

It was cute but was just a short stop before we did the real thing of the day- a beautiful hike. The center had maps of the area and suggested the best options for us.

There are a few hiking trail options and we chose one that goes through the forest and to the beach along the shore because since it was already later in the day we wouldn't have time for a longer hike to see the sea caves. 

It was a beautiful walk...

...Not particularly challenging, relatively shady, and overlooking the sea most of the time. 

It was beautiful. The only problem with it was we stopped so many times to take pictures along the way that we ended up running later than I would have liked and I didn't want to stay at the beach for too long. 

We hung out at the beach for a little bit...

...And then walked back on the second half of the trail...

...Which was even closer to the water. 

Absolutely stunning!

Once we reached the end of that, instead of going straight back to the car, we took the fork that would lead us to the tip of the island where we could see an old church and had a great surprise.

We went down some stairs to get closer to the water...

And discovered that there was a sea cave right there...

Inhabited by a fluffy street cat... 

...Where we hung out for a little bit, enjoying the beauty and the sound of the surf, before heading back.

We saw the beautiful Natural Bridge of Koraka, the largest natural rock bridge in Cyprus...

...Before finally getting back to our car in the nature center parking lot.

The next day was the day my kids were most excited about -- our trip to Mt. Olympus, in the Troodos mountain range. No, this isn't the famous Mt Olympus from Greek mythology, but Cyprus's own version of it. The Troodos mountains are cold enough to get snow in the winter, and since we don't usually have snow where we live my children were looking forward to a day in the snow. The Troodos Mountains are in the center of Cyprus, not particularly close to either Paralimni or Paphos, where we'd be staying on the second leg of our trip, but it worked out best for us, timing wise, to travel there from Paralimni, instead of when we were staying in Paphos.

The drive there was long but extremely beautiful. We stopped along the way to just enjoy the greenery and romp around in the grass. It was such beautiful and warm weather that it was hard to imagine that we'd be able to see actual snow, and I was reminding my children that even if there wasn't snow, they shouldn't be disappointed and there are other beautiful sites in the Troodos Mountains. 

As we got closer we saw snow in the nearby peaks. We had planned to stop at the Troodos Geopark Visitors Center but it was closed, despite the website saying it should have been open. 

We continued on higher and saw more and more snow and debated about where to stop for the kids to play in the snow; I decided to continue on to where the one ski club in Cyprus is located, and it was a good choice. There wasn't enough snow for skiing, but there were many people on the slope sledding. Entering the area was free, but the ski lift cost money.

At first my children were exploring the snowy areas at the bottom, but it was filled with people and much of the snow was packed, so I decided to splurge on tickets to the top of the mountain where it would be quieter and hopefully would have some virgin snow for my kids to enjoy. This was literally the "most expensive" part of our trip, and well worth it. We paid 7 Euros each, other than Rose who at 10 was able to go for free, to take the ski lift up and down the mountain. 

The top also had patches without snow, since there was lots of sun up there, 

But there were also many trees and in their shade was abundant snow that my kids enjoyed for a long time, making snow angels...

...Building snowmen...

 ...And just in general having fun, until the person manning the ski lift at the top told us that we had to go down already. 

I thought that, maybe, it was because it would be getting dark soon, so we went down... but then we saw more people taking the ski lift up. I don't know what that was about.

After that, we got some hot cocoa and coffee to warm up in the only building there (I don't know if it counts as a ski lodge since there were no ski rentals there). I had brought sandwiches and they said we could eat them at their tables and use their bathrooms that we otherwise would need to pay 2 Euros each to use, as long as we got drinks, so why not?

Once we were done eating and warmed up a bit, we then looked into doing the other things I had on my list for the area, but it was too late in the day to go on the hike to the Caledonia waterfalls as I'd planned, so we started heading back towards Paralimni...

...Stopping at lookout points to take gorgeous pictures...

And then stopping at one of the little mountain towns we were passing by that I'd put on my itinerary as a potential place to go, Kakopetria.

To my pleasant surprise, while we couldn't go to the waterfall we'd intended, Kakopetria had its own little waterfall, in a small place called Elena's Park.

We walked around the center of town, taking pictures, trying to get close enough to pet the ducks that were everywhere...

...Did a little grocery shopping, meeting and befriending people...

...Until it was time to drive back.

The next day, we had a long day ahead of us- it was time to drive to our new AirBnB, in Paphos, on the other side of the island... but that's for another post.

So to recap- 1 day of exploring a city, 1 day of hiking, 1 day of snow fun. Total expenditure on activities- 28 for the ski lift, and 3 for the nature center. 31 Euros total. I'll have another post about all the expenses there, including gas, but I was loving how many low cost and free things there were to do there.

Have you ever been to Cyprus? Have you been to any of these places? Which was your favorite? If you haven't been, which of these places would most appeal to you?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Wonderful pictures. Everyone seems happy. Hope rest of vacation goes smoothly.

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