Many of us have headed to Cyprus on a sun and sea holiday, but not many know that, if you time it right, you can ski on snow there as well as water.
The island’s impressive Troodos mountain range stretches across most of the western side of Cyprus, offering a cool sanctuary in the summer and the opportunity for sports in the winter.
At the top of the Troodos Mountains one can also find the only ski centre in the country on the slopes of Mount Olympus (1951m above sea level) where, usually from the beginning of January until the end of March, you can ski on the white snow under a beautiful Mediterranean blue sky – that has to be special.
Skiing has actually been popular in the area for at least 85 years. The first recorded ski descents were made in the early 1930s, and the first ski lift was installed more than 70 years ago in 1947.
Operated by the Cyprus Ski Club, there are four ski lifts including a 380m-long chairlift and three T-bars varying in length between 125m and 262m long. They are the most southerly lifts in Europe.
The slopes open from 9am daily (there are six including a beginners’ run, three blues, a red and a black) are named after Greek gods like Aphrodite, Zeus and Hermes. Altogether there are about 5km of runs which have 100% snowmaking coverage.
An International F.I.S. Skiing Competition is organised every year by the Cyprus Ski Federation and takes place at the Zeus Slalom Homologated Piste.
Mount Olympus is located just over 30 miles from Larnaca Airport and 2km from the Troodos Mountains resort, about an hour’s drive from the seaside town of Limassol and the capital, Nicosia.
You can surprise airport staff by arriving with your own skis or snowboard, of course, but the centre does have its own ski shop situated in the Sun Valley area. It is operated by the Cyprus Ski Club and is run by trained technicians and carries approximately 300 pairs of alpine skis and 400 pairs of ski boots, 50 snowboards with boots and 50 pairs of cross-country skis and boots. There are also several ski schools who can offer all levels of tuition.
Membership of the Cyprus Ski Federation is required in order to gain access to the lifts, but this is readily and cheaply available to foreigners.