We grabbed our backpacks and our camera; we wore warm and comfy clothes and we were finally up to visit the Marathasa valley, home to several picturesque villages which are slowly being discovered by more discerning visitors. Kalopanayiotis and Pedoulas are the best examples of how rural tourism can transform a previously little-known mountain village.
by Pantelis Panayiotou
Even if I do not usually follow trends, I have to admit that I was convinced by friends to visit Kalopanayiotis, since rural tourism has started to spread progressively into more and more areas of the island. So, without thinking twice, I grabbed my camera, and accompanied by two good friends and my playful Jack Russell dogs, I was ready to take the plunge and make my very first excursion to the charming villages of Kalopanayiotis and Pedoulas, located on the slopes of the mountains. The weather was on our side, taking advantage of the warm, sunny Alkyonides Days. As for the trip? A driving-pleasure landscape, only 40 minutes away from Nicosia (Kalopanayiotis is 70 km away from Nicosia and Limassol).
Reasons to visit Kalopanayiotis
Best described as an idyllic place, Kalopanayiotis is nestled in the heart of the Marathassa Valley. But the great thing about this village is that it offers a taste of rural life with a cool, contemporary twist. There, you will find thermal springs, traditional houses and of course, you can have a unique, panoramic view of the valley. At the weekends, the village is usually full of tourists.
When in Kalopanayiotis, you can rejuvenate your mind and body by stepping into the Myrianthousa spa, at Casale Panayiotis boutique hotel, having one of their dreamy treatments, all using Greek natural cosmetics. Visitors also have the opportunity to taste nice food, good quality of local wine, lemonade with rose petals or traditional coffee. Furthermore, enjoy UNESCO heritage at the medieval Lampadistis Monastery and visit the Byzantine Museum.
Leaving the monastery, do not forget to go down the mountain river Setrahos, in order to discover the hidden Byzantine stone bridge!
What is more, last October the first Pancyprian honey and beekeeping Festival was held in Kalopanayiotis, while the famous film “Boy on the Bridge” was shot in the village!
Where to stay
One of the most famous resorts in Marathasa Valley is Casale Panayiotis (22952444), which, according to the BBC, gave life to the little, almost forgotten village.
On the other hand, Vassiliki’s house (To Palataki tis Vassilikis- 22491365) offers a thoroughly enjoyable and comfortable stay at its cosy rooms with a breath-taking view.
However, there are many other options, such as Castalia Hotel (22952455), Archontiko I Misirlou (70009131), ATRATSA Mountain Apartments – Suites (99 464664), Polyxeni’s House (22497509, 99790723), Anastous’ House (99823009), Hani Chrysomilou (99530540), Agios Andronikos (99646151), Agios Kyriakos (99819242), Maison Elena (99447871), or To Kastri (99582802).
Where to eat
In Kalopanayiotis you will find amazing traditional food. ‘Old Cinema’ (Palio Cinema) is a tavern that dishes up simple local fare, (99130275, 99191026), while at Tsimpimatouthkia(22952444) you can find some of more traditional products like Cypriot sausage, anari or honeycomb.
Byzantino and Loutraki restaurants at Casale Panayiotis serve mouth-watering traditional Cypriot and international cuisine.
Another pearl of the Troodos range is the village of Pedoulas, the loftiest village of the Marathasa valley, only ten minutes away from Kalopanayiotis. Pedoulas is the ideal place leading to calmness and exceptional climate. There, you can enjoy sweet and bright berries, especially if you go to the village in early July. However, in Pedoulas stands out the warm hospitality of the locals.
What to see
The Church of the Archangel Michael is the main attraction of the village. It was built in 1474 and is now in the list of world cultural heritage of UNESCO. Then, you can walk quite a bit and visit the museum, which contains various artefacts from the Byzantine period.
Where to stay
In Pedoulas you will find a plethora of hotels.
Aristotelio Boutique Hotel (22 953334) is a small and remarkably elegant hotel, ready to offer a warm hospitality. The community is surrounded by pine forests and the views from the rooms are stunning. The whole decoration is a wonderful mix of antique and modern elegance.
Other hotel options are, among others, Elyssia Hotel (22953737), Two Flowers Hotel (22 952372), Mountain Rose Hotel (22 952727), Platanos Hotel Apartments (22952518), Christy’s Palace Hotel (99 635584) and Health Habitat Hotel (22952283).