Words: Yours truly • Photos: David • Location: Paphos Archaeological Park
Earlier this month, we took a nearly-five-hour flight all the way to Cyprus (because there are few things we wouldn’t do to chase a bit of winter sun), and despite December being the off season, it was an excitingly eye-opening trip!
Prior to booking this trip in April, I honestly had very little knowledge about Cyprus apart from that absolute banger of a Eurovision entry in 2018 #justiceforfuegostill but throughout our four-night visit, I picked up a few tips that I think everyone should know if they ever find themself on this beautifully rustic Mediterranean island.
one Keep an eye on the weather forecast
The winter weather in Cyprus can be rather hit-and-miss. Ok, compared to the rest of Europe, winters in Cyprus are still relatively warm, with average temperatures ranging between 22 and 23°C during the day, and 12 and 14°C at night – but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any surprises!
Our trip started off with blue sky and sunshine, but it gradually descended into torrential downpour, and it can rain for days on end in Cyprus during winter so it’s important to keep up with the weather forecast. It may not be 100% accurate but it will give a good indicator of what to expect. This will also help you avoid situations where you arrive in the country with a suitcase-ful of t-shirts and shorts only to find that it’s blowing a gale out there… so make sure you pack according to what the weatherman tells you!
two Plan your visit
… and I mean you plan it, all of it!
I know you should probably research all your trips to a certain degree anyway, but it’s especially important that you do so if you’re planning on visiting Cyprus during winter (from December to February) because this is the off season when many attractions and restaurants are closed or have shorter opening hours. That’s why you need to shortlist all the places you want to go and things you want to do, and Google their winter operating hours to avoid disappointments.
Pro tip: If an attraction or restaurant’s winter hours aren’t listed on their Google Business page or website, locate their Facebook page and reach out to them directly. Alternatively, you can monitor their activity on socials closer to the time of your visit as they may announce their off-season hours… or they may just stop posting altogether, which should tell you that they ain’t gon’ be there when you are.
three Always negotiate prices
Again, because it’s the quiet season, many accommodation/activity providers, shops, vendors, etc. are particularly keen to close deals with visitors, so this is the perfect time to really hone your haggling skills and bag the best bargains!
I’m not saying you should take the piss, but every bit of saving does count! We managed to get buy-one-get-one-half-price tickets on a glass-bottom boat cruise in Paphos because it was the last trip of the season so they just wanted bums on seats… and we happened to luck out!
Not only that, we also requested discounts from our Airbnb hosts in Paphos and Nicosia, both of whom very kindly agreed to a minimal price reduction… It’s like they all say, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Also, I say ‘minimal’, the money we saved from both Airbnbs was probably enough to pay for one of our meals so it’s worth sending that one short message before making the reservation.
Before wrapping my last blog post of 2019, I just want to talk a little about why you might want to visit Cyprus (or anywhere, really) in the off season.
As soon as I booked the trip and shared the news, I had a few people telling me that I had chosen the ‘wrong’ time to go to Cyprus… First of all, thanks, downers. Secondly, how do you define a ‘right’ time? No, really – sure, visiting Cyprus during winter definitely has its disadvantages (like shorter days and earlier closing hours, and so on…) but it definitely comes with some perks as well.
In our experience, we found that we got into places quicker because we didn’t have to queue behind the usual tourist crowds as you would in summer… In fact, in some cases we even felt as though we had the whole attraction to ourselves, like Paphos Archaeological Park where these photos were taken. Not to mention the little bit of money that we saved in the end!
What I’m trying to say is I don’t think there’s ever a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ time to go somewhere you want to go (obviously we’re talking places that are safe to visit), it all depends on what kind of experience you’re after. Ultimately, whether it rains or shines, it all adds to the travel stories so don’t hold out for that perfect timing… It may never come! If you have the opportunity to go somewhere, just seize it, pack up, and go!
Have you ever been to Cyprus? What do you think about my take on travelling off-peak – Do you agree, disagree, or are you indifferent? Let me know in the comments below!