Many people assume that, because Cyprus has such hot summers, it will be pleasantly warm even during the winter. Flights from the UK and other destinations are usually inexpensive after the New Year. So it may be tempting to take a break in the hope of some winter sun, sand and sea. However, Cyprus in January is not necessarily a pleasant experience.
It’s possible that you may get good weather. Sometimes January has sunny days in Cyprus, with pleasant temperatures. It can be as warm as 20 degrees Celcius in the daytime; but it is sometimes less than 10 degrees. The sea is likely to be chilly, although some hardy folk swim all year round. Visitors often splash around in the shallows. Some might lie out on the beach during the middle part of the day, if it’s sunny. Those of us who live here have become somewhat acclimatised and tend to go around in warm clothing. But many tourists to Cyprus in January are comfortable, during the daytime, in tee-shirt and shorts.
However, there is no guarantee of sunshine. The page about Cyprus weather in the winter gives fuller details. The nights may be cold, the days chilly and wet. Moreover, you will find that the beach is mostly abandoned. There are no sun-beds for hire during the low season, and the selection of tourist shops may be reduced. You may well get a good deal on a hotel room or holiday apartment. But this might be at the expense of noisy renovations going on, in preparation for the Summer.
Still, you should find that there are plenty of restaurants open in the larger towns. Nicosia, Larnaka, Limassol and Paphos are fairly busy, even if resorts such as Agia Napa are mostly closed down. If your holiday preference is to visit historic sites, January is a good month to do so. They are unlikely to be crowded, and you will not be at much risk for sunstroke. It’s a good idea to be armed with sunglasses, a sun-hat, and perhaps some medium factor suncream But you should also probably carry a light rain-coat, an umbrella, and an extra layer of warm clothing.
Ski-ing in Cyprus in January
There is no guarantee of snow, even in the mountains, so Cyprus is not widely known as a ski resort. Nevertheless, most years there are at least a few days when it’s possible to ski in the Troodos mountains during the winter months. You may need a car equipped with snow-tyres to get there, and the facilities are fairly basic. But those who have experienced Cyprus ski-ing have usually enjoyed it.
Festivals in Cyprus in January
New Year’s Day (January 1st) is a public holiday in Cyprus, as it is in much of the western world. A New Year’s Eve party the night before usually features a St Basil’s Day cake (Vasilopitta). This contains a coin, supposed to convey good luck to whoever finds it. People usually consume a fair amount of alcohol at this parties. Then there are a few fireworks at midnight in central locations, although not usually very long or spectacular.
On New Year’s Day itself, after sleeping in, people tend to get in touch with relatives. They behave in ways which they hope they will follow during the rest of the year. Then family members sometimes give gifts to children.
Epiphany (January 6th) marks the end of the Christmas season. It is another public holiday, sometimes with parades or picnics (weather permitting). In Larnaka, young men dive for an elaborate cross which a priest throws into the water. In a strange mixture of religion and superstition, the person who retrieves it successfully is supposed to be blessed for the entire year. All those who partiipate must be quite hardy to swim in January temperatures.
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