If you haven’t got the euros to splash on a high class getaway in Verbier this skiing season, there’s no need to give up hope that your winter dreams of powder and pistes have come to a sorry end. Hunting down cheaper options is easy, especially if you know where the other budget tourists aren’t going.
Cyprus isn’t famed as a skiing hotspot, and definitely doesn’t feature on any top ten list of skiing locations in Europe. But rather than being a negative, it’s lack of popularity with the masses means loads of deserted slopes, untouched snow and no dodging in and out of schools of teeny schoolchildren, all acting as bowling balls as you zip down the mountain. It also means prices are much more competitive than the big resorts, whilst retaining all the atmosphere and elegance of the Swiss Alps; they’ve still got cosy cafes whipping up hot chocolates and refined skiers in salopettes gracing the slopes in style.
Whether you board or ski, you’ll be fine either way here, as there aren’t too many flat sections that will force you to hop across the snow as you attempt to make it towards the next drop.
There are a good range of slopes, especially for those looking to progress! The different runs are all named after Greek gods which makes the experience more fun – telling people you’ve tamed Zeus (the big one) for example, will be sure to impress back at home. Breakdown of the slopes:
- 1 black
- 1 red
- 3 blue
- 1 green
- Max Vertical: 80m
- Longest piste: 900 m
You can rent from the Cyprus Ski Club – they have a mixed range of equipment from the latest models to the ancient and creaking variety with cobwebs inside the boots. Snowboards are a little harder to get hold of than skis, so if this is the main reason you’re travelling to Cyprus then it’s better to bring your own gear (especially if you’re a snowboarder or skier who likes to look good on the slopes).
Larnaca airport is the closest to Mt Olympus and its slopes. Just to give you an idea of how long it takes to get there, flights from London are around 4 hours 40 minutes. Cyprus Airways fly into Larnaca, or Easyjet will speed you over to Paphos. In order to get up to the mountain, a 4×4 with snow chains would be the recommended option (although a lot of people try and forego the chains, which are a bit of a hassle to put on). As the mountain is 2000km above sea level it’s not a drive for the feint hearted and I’d at least suggest renting a car with decent snow tyres that haven’t been worn down.
- Ski Lift Pass: Afternoon 12,00 euros , Full day 20,00 euros
- Ski Equipment Rental: Adults Daily 12,00 euros, afternoon 9,00 euros
- Cross Country Skis – Boots: Daily 8,00
- Snowboards – Boots: Daily 18,00
There are three main schools offering lessons: Cyprus Ski School, Olympus Ski School and Troodos Ski School.
Best time to go
January is the month when you’re mostly likely to find good snow that doesn’t melt after a few days’ sunshine, but the season goes on until March. If you keep an eye on the webcam, which is focused on the mountain, you can guarantee you won’t be disappointed by muddy footpaths instead of smooth, snowy slopes when you head up there!
There aren’t any trains in Cyprus, but you can take buses all over the island and taxis aren’t too expensive (relative to the rest of Europe). But be warned – there are no buses on Sundays!
For the injured skier or friends and family you’ve dragged along who have no interest in the snow, the island is a great winter sun location, so you can see the sights year round. At a balmy 20 degrees in mid winter on the coast, you can even spend days tanning on the beach.
The Paphos Archaeological Site is easy to get lost in for a day and has lots of ancient relics, mosaics and monuments dating back from prehistoric, Roman and medieval times. It’s just 4.5 euros to get in, and the mosaics in particular have been receiving rave reviews from tourists since the area became listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Where to stay
There’s no need to stay at resorts close to the ski slopes, which might be expensive come the weekend when locals are heading up. The island is very small, so you can easily travel between hotels in other areas of the island.
If you want a really get-away-from-it-all break and are enticed by the idea of a people-free holiday, then go to the teeny village of Agros (which only has four hotels!) and is famous for its rose festival and sweets cured in syrup. There are some great nature trails around that area through the mountains.
If you’d rather go further into civilization, then Paphos is the best place in terms of things to do. Bars, restaurants and cafes there cater to a year-round tourist influx so you won’t be left cold and hungry, even if you’re heading out in the midst of winter.
Got any questions or been skiing in Cyprus? Let us know!