Are you planning a holiday in Cyprus and feel a little overwhelmed when it comes to choosing restaurants or bars to visit?
It could feel a little bit like navigating through a mine field, as tourist traps will await at every corner, which is especially true about a country like Cyprus. It’s an island that’s first and foremost a holiday destination.
When it comes to food, I personally find reading reviews online completely useless. Food is such an individual and personal concept and I certainly don’t want to take advice from someone who thinks enjoying a burger on their holiday is the highlight of the local culinary scene.
A place like Cyprus has a few extra special features that make hunting down a good restaurant or bar with nice atmosphere a bit more tricky.
As a fairly remote island, you won’t be able to enjoy certain fresh foods. They are only be available and cooked from frozen in almost all restaurants. That’s especially true about seafood (salmon, mussels, etc) – yes, I know it’s an island in the Mediterranean sea but most of the seafood is still cooked from frozen. That said, they have superb salads and fresh veggies (especially local avocado, figs and all types of fruits).
If you arrive for the first time, you should lower your expectations in terms of cool looking places scattered along the coast – Cyprus is still no Ibiza and a lot of bar and restaurant owners do not consider uncomfortable chairs or dated decor to be an issue.
If you came here looking for shortcuts and avoiding lengthy research, you came to the right place. In this post I’m listing some places that combine the two things I love the most – delicious food and amazing surroundings (sunsets qualify here too).
First, a little recap of the bar & restaurant scene offering on the island:
- Polis – fairly remote and not hugely visited city that offers some of the traditional looking restaurants and bars, nothing flashy or exotic.
- Polis to Kato Pyrgos – if you drive from Polis towards Kato Pyrgos, there are lots of scattered small beach bars and restaurant along the way. Best for those who want to avoid places full of tourists and enjoy tranquil seaside location without crowds.
- Latchi and Akamas – remote part of the island, Latchi focuses on traditional seafood tavernas.
- Paphos – Paphos town has a fair few modern restaurants to choose from and a whole ranges of bars on the ‘bar street’ but the real gems are further outside the city along the coastline. Some hotels along the coast have also wonderful restaurants with stunning sea views (like this one). For best restaurant recommendations in Paphos check this post.
- Limassol – lots of local and international restaurants with swanky night clubs, disco bars and beach bars. Few beach clubs and modern bar scene made for the younger crowd and young professionals.
- Larnaca – the whole food scene is focused around the coastline part of the town, with very little that could be called a culinary experience.
- Ayia Napa & Protaras – one of the most touristy destinations on the island filled with cheesy restaurants and over the top tavernas. Plenty of pubs, night clubs and bars and you will encounter lots of drunks young folks on the streets. Even thought I’ve spent some time around here, I do not remember any place that would come across as cool or worthy a mention, sorry!
- Nicosia – Nicosia lacks the seaside but makes up for it with abundance of restaurants and bars, especially in the old city. Hard to find something unique or not overcrowded though.
My Shortlist of Coolest Beach Bars & Restaurants in Cyprus
In no particular order, here are the best ones that are feast not just for the eyes for also for your belly. (click on the links to read earlier blog posts with more photos and detailed info)
- Sea You Beach Bar – Kissonerga, Paphos
- La Isla – Limassol
- Oniro by the Sea – Peyia, Paphos
- Viklari The Last Castle – Akamas Peninsula
- Ricco’s Beach Bar – Ricco’s Beach, Paphos
- Serena Bay Beach – Protaras
- Grape by the Sea – Kato Pyrgos
I will start with those most explored and closest to me in Paphos.
Sea You Beach Bar, Kissonerga – Paphos
This is by far one of my most visited places on the island. In my six years in Cyprus I’ve seen the evolution of the restaurant from a shabby looking bar with some DIY chairs and benches into this glorious hipster paradise that also started serving pretty awesome food.
I lived right next to Kissonerga so a trip to this place which is located just outside the village by the coast was always on the weekend program. Book your table and time your arrival just before sunset and I can guarantee you won’t see a better sunset anywhere on the island (only perhaps in Akamas just like here).
It looks a little more polished than the pictures show, and its super popular so don’t count on getting a table if you arrive close to dinner time. It usually stays open all year round, with exception of December and January. Check their Facebook page where they announce the opening date.
There is huge parking next to the place but beware as it’s close to busy road so keep an eye on your kids (and makes getting out of a parking lot a bit tricky).
There is also a small beach area next to it with sun loungers, showers, toilet and deck where they do morning yoga. For swimming, do so with caution as the area is know for RIP currents.
Also beware, as soon as the sun starts setting down, a sea of smartphones and video cameras will block your view, trying to capture the beauty of Paphos sunsets. Make sure you get a table in the corner if you’re planning to take photos yourself.
Food options include the classic simple dishes like burgers, salads, fried fish and some small nibbles. No fine dining, but tasty and good value for money.
La Isla – Limassol
I’ve been to this place on a number of occasions and was always in awe of the gorgeous natural focused decor and spectacular seaside location. At the same time, as we were meeting friend, it never ocurred to me to bring my camera with me!
Food is super fresh and delicious, even best when you can enjoy it while savouring the fresh sea breeze and sheltered from the scorching sun.
They have lots of big tables so its a great place to meat for larger gatherings.
Oniro by the Sea, Paphos
Another one of my local gems that I spent a lot of time in. The food is superior quality compared to Sea You Bar, but the location is a little more remote. They stay open only during season, so March till October.
The seating is fairly limited so booking ahead is advised. The restaurant is located right next to the shipwreck in Peyia, offering stunning dramatic sunset views and gorgeous surroundings.
While you nibble on your salad you can hear the waves crashing against the cliffs and caves just a few meters from you and watch the sky change colors as the sun goes down. The lush trees and palm trees make this place feel like a true oasis.
Despite being very busy almost all year round, you never have to wait too long to get service or your food. Staff is super friendly and accommodating. If you arrive without booking, they are happy to serve you a drink while you wait for a table to get free (they have comfy side floor seating with sea view and a queue system in place).
Great place to also take kids as there is plenty of space to run around safely while the adults enjoy a superb meal. Parking is offered next to the restaurant and there is plenty of space.
If you’re getting married you would be happy to know that they do organize wedding receptions here now.
Grape by the Sea, Kato Pyrgos
My latest discovery and I have to say, one of the coolest places on the island.
Having run out of places to take my guests too, I thought this warranted for a proper road trip, something that is almost unheard of in my last few years on the island. It took me about 2 hours to drive here from Paphos, but it was well worth it.
The drive from Polis towards Pomos and Kato Pyrgos area is one of the prettiest I experienced on the island. Stunning sea views all along the road, with dramatic drops and picturesque stops along the way. Best savoured in good company & cold drink in hand.
The salad I ordered was hands down the best I’ve had in years and same goes for the food board. The freshest cheese, veggies & super delicious olives. All flushed down with a glass of local wine, while enjoying the view of the Turkish mountain peaks hiding behind the horizon.
If you would continue on the same road you would hit the buffer zone and a crossing point to Northern Cyprus.
Ricco’s Beach Bar, Paphos
Riccos Beach Bar is a beachside bar and cafe which I have visited a couple of times a few years back. It’s right next to a Luna Park at the edge of Paphos, with access to beautiful beach, grass-covered sunbathing area and with plenty of parking spaces.
The seaside seating area which was largely constructed from re-purposed wood, tires & other materials and looks as rustic as it gets.
They pushed back the whole old area and elevated the main cafe section which is now hosted in a brand new building. The building is super modern, in very stark contrast to the garden part featuring white painted trees and some very questionable but quirky decor.
As you sit in the garden, you don’t hear a word of English – it’s mostly older locals and families with kids.
While I haven’t tasted the food, you can get some very basics here like sandwiches and fresh coffee. Not the type of place you would go for food anyway, but it’s a great option if you’re spending time on the beach to pop there to get some freshly made food.
Viklari, The Last Castle – Akamas Peninsula
If I get email questions about restaurants, it’s usually about Viklari. The place has certainly earned its spot as one of the most popular and frequented restaurants on the west side of the island.
Located a short drive away towards Akamas Peninsula, the road uphill is best suited for quad-bikes or 4×4 but I’ve seen plenty of rented small Fiats making their way there.
The concept is pretty simple – BBQ food with no menu with gorgeous uninterrupted views. Stone tables and chairs, all covered by maturing vines growing over your head. No fuss no frill type of place that lets you savour nature and food it it’s most basic format.
They also do wedding receptions here and don’t stay open till late evenings, so it is possible to book only lunch (if they haven’t changed that since last time I visited).
Food options are chicken grill or mixed grill with potato wedges, fresh salad and bread, all very reasonably priced. They have also vegetarian option in which case you only get the salad and maybe some fried halloumi cheese.
Serena Bay Beach, Protaras
This was one of the first cool places I’ve seen on the East side of the island. Somehow remotely located beach bar with gorgeous views and a very simple concept, similar to Viklari.
Pictures below are from a morning stop in the taverna, which was at that time pretty deserted, so we enjoyed a gorgeous breakfast in peace, only accompanied by local cats.
In the evening they used to do parties in the taverna (not sure if that’s still the case) and just below your feet you will see a small stretch of private beach you’re free to enjoy.
The food was simple but fresh and tasty. Most of the restaurant is shaded by olive trees which is great news if you’re looking for lunch place in the middle of the summer.
As you noticed I left out Nicosia as it doesn’t qualify for beach bar category since it’s not on the coastline, and also Northern Cyprus. It’s a territory I explored the least (on purpose) so all of my tips focus on Cyprus recommendations.
If you visited the island and found some local gems, feel free to leave a comment below and I’m happy to include them in my list!
Until then, enjoy your holiday and I hope you will find my recommendations at least a little useful =)