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Avoiding the tourist trap in Cyprus

When we went to Cyprus last October, one of the things that struck us was the number of tavernas that were so heavily geared towards the mass market. It was a shame, really, but souvlaki and chips was often about the closest you could get to Cypriot cuisine in anywhere that was at all touristy. The commonly perceived wisdom in these scenarios is to eat only where you see locals dining, but even that proved difficult in many instances. Souvlaki Finding an authentic taverna is a struggle for first time visitors because often you will need to head out to quieter villages up in the mountains to find what you are looking for. There you will discover how Cypriots truly relax and enjoy their food, taking time over their meals and sampling lots of different dishes. You probably won’t be given an extensive choice and there will be no frills, but the food off the beaten track will be so much better and the experience so much more enjoyable. Here are three suggestions for your next visit to Cyprus: Voreas Tavern, Oroklini (near Larnaca) Voreas has become quite a favourite with locals and those in the know. The food is excellent, particularly the meze (a selection of different dishes), and the house wine pretty good, too. Expect a great atmosphere, possibly with a local playing the guitar in the corner. Book ahead in season to be sure of getting a table – it’s become that popular. Kouppas Stone Tavern, Neo Chorio (Akamas peninsula) Watch the world go by at this authentic taverna located just opposite the Co-op in Neo Chorio. Specialities include classic Cypriot dishes such as afelia, beef stifado and sheftalia.  Alternatively, just order to the meze and you’ll not be disappointed. Araouzos Taverna, Kathikas (near Paphos) This traditional taverna just a short drive from Paphos does a fantastic stifado (casserole) with wild boar and other game, and suckling pig with Cypriot potatoes on Fridays and Saturdays. Recommended by TimeOut amongst others so possibly worth booking in season. Of course, you’ll need to hire a car to get to these places off the beaten track, and hopefully this might also give you the opportunity to discover some of your own gems. Hiring a car for your stay on the island will also offer up other opportunities in so far as where to stay is concerned. You won’t be tied to the main tourist centres such as Paphos, Limassol, Larnaca and Agia Napa. Instead, you’ll actually be able to stay in more authentic Cypriot communities as well. Look up James Villas who have beautiful properties in relatively quiet, traditional villages such as Argaka, Latchi, Pissouri Bay and Pomos where you can experience a more ‘real’ Cyprus. Villa in Argaka They’re also currently including car hire and travel insurance with their 2014 bookings so there will be no excuse to not get out and discover some authentic tavernas for yourself. If you come across any that you’d recommend, please add them to the comments that follow this article so that we can all benefit!

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. I have been to Cyprus eight times and I definitely agree with you that one way of enjoying the island is to go to the villages. There you will find the hospitality of the real Cypriots.

    It is really nice to read some of your suggestions of Tavernas. I will be glad if you can also write about Nicosia next time.

    More power to you.

  2. Also agree that the way to see ‘real’ Cyprus is to head out of the towns. Often family owned and run tavernas have mum cooking the type of food that her mum cooked, with dad looking after front of house. Where we are in Vavla there are a couple of tavernas we, as well as the visitors that stay with us, keep coming back to … in Skarinou try the Olive Cafe. Great value for money and often you will get extra bits and bobs that never appear on the bill. In Kato Drys Platanos is a big open air taverna that gets packed on a Sunday with families eating out together.

  3. Sorry but cannot entirely agree.We have been going to Cyprus for 10 years. We have no trouble finding “local” cuisine in Paphos, Agia Napa,Protaras or Larnaca. Sorry but just stay away from the “touristy” areas,just head one street inland & you’ll always find authentic Cypriot food. You do not have to travel miles — just stay away from McD & Kf…sites & you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

  4. Mike, I think you have hit the nail on the head when you say that after coming to Cyprus for 10 years you have managed to find authentic Cypriot food in the towns. It is there to be discovered, but as the article said, for first time visitors it is more of a struggle. This, I think, is due to not having the experience of Cyprus that you, for example, have gained over time.

  5. I was lucky to get invited to the tavern in Oroklini during my last visit in Cyprus and I just have to say the food was really amazing! You have to try their meze :)

  6. If you are opting for the meze option you do need to pace yourself… the food keeps coming! The other night we went to the Bridge House Tavern in Kalavassos – another traditional eatery. They serve the best moussaka I have tasted in Cyprus ever.

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