When people hear ‘Famagusta Region’, it is Agia Napa and Protaras that come straight to mind as these are the area’s most popular tourist resorts, and the ones that have seen the most development, the largest rise in popularity, and even the most notoriety! Best known for the gorgeous beaches of white, sugary sands and crystal waters, visitors flock from all over the world to cram onto the coasts and into the clubs!
But the region is much bigger… and other villages have their own charms and unique experiences to offer so today I will take you on a virtual road trip through Frenaros, Sotira, Deryneia, Avgorou and Liopetri!
When I think of Frenaros I think of watermelons! That is because the best ones grow in the mineral rich, distinctive red soil here. I have yet to visit the Frenaros Watermelon Festival, but it is one that I have on my list as friends have told me that the watermelon sorbet offered to visitors is fantastic (and of course, I want to buy my favourite watermelon rind candied preserve)! Frenaros also has its own Halloumi cheese that has a signature taste. In terms of sights, there are plenty of churches to visit, but if that is not your thing then I would recommend driving through mainly for the countryside and stopping at one of the village cafes for a break!
Sotira is starting to merge quite seamlessly with Agia Napa and becoming an extension of the resort and its attractions. In particular, it is popular for weddings on the picture-perfect Agia Thekla beach which bridges the two; as does the Agia Thekla chapel (there is debate about which municipality the chapel belongs to but religiously it belongs to Sotira). Even the new Agia Napa Marina can be considered to overlap the two. As such, I consider Sotira to be the more elegant vicinity of Agia Napa!
Deryneia (not to be confused with Turkish-occupied Kyrenia) is a thriving community with a variety of things to see and do. I particularly like the Saturday Farmer’s Market (next to the stadium) as the ‘red soil’ villages produce the best crops, and in particular, the village is famous for being the island’s main strawberry grower. There is a lovely Folklore Museum (showcasing traditional pastimes), and the Open-Air Folk Art Museum of Traditional Crafts located opposite; also popular for events, including weddings.
Avgorou for me is synonymous with Cyherbia Botanical Park, which is home to the island’s only hedge maze (labyrinth) – which I have got lost in more than once or twice! I would recommend visiting during the cooler hours and there is a wonderful shop and cafe selling herbal products where I sit to enjoy a herbal tea (whatever they are serving on the day) and snacks. The stone farmhouse Avgorou – Pierides Foundation Folk Art Museum is an interesting visit too.
Liopetri is the best of all worlds – its coastline is as beautiful as those of the popular resorts of the region, but it is so much quieter and calmer, with hilly views. Liopetri River is equally as idyllic and the fishing shelter there is busy with local fishermen bringing in the catch of the day to the surrounding restaurants (a ‘must’ for lunch!). The area is home to a Venetian Watch Tower and Liopetri is also one of the few places on the island where traditional basketry is still practised, but only a very small number of women still practise the craft so the baskets are quite coveted.