While the Mediterranean island of Cyprus is best known for its beautiful beaches and magnificent monasteries, the interior of the island calls out to hikers. Rocky tracks climb to mountain villages, forest trails lead to hidden waterfalls and rugged nature trails wind along wonderful stretches of coastline.
Cyprus is divided into two enclaves – one Greek Cypriot, and one Turkish – but both sides of the island have castle-crowned mountains and substantial areas of wilderness. Here are some of the best hikes on the island.
Aphrodite and Adonis Loop Trail
Great for history buffs
7.5km (4.7 miles) round-trip, 3–4 hours, moderate
If you want something moderately challenging with bonus history appeal, the Aphrodite and Adonis Loop Trail is will keep you hiking for a rewarding half day. The trial starts at Loutra tis Afroditis (Baths of Aphrodite), a tiny grotto east of Poli Crysochous where – according to legend – the goddess Aphrodite used to secretly bathe.
Other points of interest include the ruins of an old medieval monastery, dubbed Pyrgos tis Rigainas (Queen's Tower), close to where the Aphrodite trail connects with the Adonis Trail, named for Aphrodite's mortal lover, who has his own sacred pool in the hills above Pafos. En route, you'll pass stunning coastal scenery.
Great for birdwatching
7km (4.3 miles) round-trip, 2.5–3 hours, easy
This 7km trail is among the most popular in Cyprus, and it gives visitors a good introduction to some of the flora and fauna that characterize the dry forests crowning the Troödos massif in the island’s interior. It forms a loop around the top of 1,952m (6,404ft) Mount Olympus (aka Chionistra), the highest point on the island, passing through black pine forest and skirting ancient rock formations.
Starting and ending on the hillside above Troödos village, the trail is also popular with birdwatchers – keep your eye out for jays, Bonelli's eagle, Scops owls and endemic species such as the Cyprus warbler and the Cyprus wheatear. The trail also passes by the Teishia tis Palaias Choras, a ruined fortification dating back to the 16th-century Venetian occupation of the island.
You can get information for this and other hikes in the Troödos National Forest Park at the visitor center just west of the main square in Troödos village.
Kalidonia Waterfalls Trail
Great for chasing waterfalls
1.9 miles (3km) round-trip, 1.5 hours, moderate
If you're looking for a short hike with a great reward along the way, consider hiking the trail up to the Kaledonia waterfall in Troödos National Forest Park. This appealing walk starts in thick woodland, weaving up to the Krios Potamos (Cold River) and following it along to the namesake waterfalls.
Once you reach the falls, you can either return the way you came or continue onwards to the Psilo Dendro trailhead above the village of Platres, where the 8km Pouziaris Loop commences, winding through more mountain scenery.
Kampos tou Livadiou
Great for good views in a hurry
1.9 miles (3km) round-trip, 1.5 hours, easy
If you want great views but are short on time, this trail through Troödos National Forest Park is an excellent, easy option that weaves through black pines and juniper trees, offering great views out over the Solea Valley and Mount Olympus. The trail starts north of Troödos village, just off the B9 towards Kakopetria.
On clear days, you can also see all the way out to Morphou Bay, curving in front of the little-visited town of Güzelyurt (formerly Morphou) on the Turkish side of the island. There are plenty of spots to stop along the way to take in the views or just bask in the sunshine.
Avakas (Avgas) Gorge Trail
Great for rocky exploration
0.75 miles (1.2km) round-trip, 45 minutes, challenging
If you like sculpted rock formations, a hike through the Avakas (Avgas) Gorge near Pafos is sure to please. This trail passes through the gorge of the same name, which cuts through Pegeia State Forest. While you can walk quite a way into this water-carved gully, the main part of the trail is under a mile long.
There's usually water in the gorge throughout the year, so it's wise to wear water-resistant shoes with a good amount of grip. Along with interestingly eroded rocks, expect to see ferns, juniper trees, frogs, and perhaps the odd hare or hedgehog. There have also been plenty of sightings of wild mountain goats in the area.
Konnoi–Agioi Anargyroi Nature Trail
Great for epic ocean views
3 miles (4.8km) round-trip, 2 hours, easy
If you want to explore both the craggy coastal headlands and the weathered interior of Cape Greco National Park, the Konnoi–Agioi Anargyroi Nature Trail is a great option. Skirting the coast south of Protaras, the trail passes by the iconic Kamara tou Koraka, an oft-photographed natural bridge rock formation that juts out over the sea.
Other highlights along the trail include the ruins of an ancient Aphrodite Temple and viewpoints with fantastic coastal views. Keep your eyes out for birds – more than 100 different species have been recorded in the area. Note that there are three possible starting points for this trail: Konnos Beach at its northernmost tip, the Agioi Anargyroi Church right on the sea, or the Cape Greco Visitor Centre.
Great for easy forest walking
1.9 miles (3km) round-trip, 1.5 hours, easy
Another conveniently short trail in Troödos National Forest Park, the out-and-back Persephone Trail is ideal for hikers of all levels who just want to get out into the forest without putting a lot of strain on their calves and hamstrings.
The trail starts just southeast of the square in Troödos village and continues up to the ridge at Makria Kontarka, where you'll be greeted by fantastic views out over the surrounding valleys and ridges.
Smigies Nature Trail
Great for panoramic photos
1.5 miles to 3.7 miles (2.5km to 6km) round-trip, 1–2 hours, moderate
If you're into landscape photography, Smigies Nature Trail is a great place to get gorgeous shots of Cyprus's ochre-hued hills and the contrasting blue waters of the Mediterranean. The trail winds through the hills above Androlikou, south of the relaxed coastal town of Poli Crysochous.
Starting from the Smigies Picnic Ground, hikers can opt to walk the entire trail, which passes by old magnesium mines and kilns, or take a shorter loop, following a shortcut trail that cuts across the bottom half of the larger circuit to cut the whole experience in half.