This is a long ride, with some serious elevation gain of around 2,420m on the way out to Mount Olympus. The salt stains on the Stolen Goat jersey in the banner photo above should give a good indication of the task that awaits you!
The good news is the gradients are very gradual and generally not particularly technical in nature, with the longest climb being a stunning 58.6 km at an average gradient of 3.2% The other piece of good news is that most villages have public free “potable water” fountains and cafes are very willing to fill water bottles.
The route follows the Dhiarizos river up into the Troodos mountains on much of the same outward bound route used for the second day as the 2019 Cyprus Gran Fondo, then circles round to Mount Olympus in the Troodos mountains before descending down the other side of the Dhiarizos valley.
All metrics in this article are approximate.
The highlights of this ride are the views, the stunning sweeping roads through the forests, the small hill villages that have been lost in time, the Byzantine churches and the wineries that are mainly growing the local red Mavro grape variety.
It is hard to describe how quiet (except wonderful birdsong) and peaceful these roads are.
1. Paphos to Agios Nikolaos: 0-44 km
This section has around 750m of climbing over 44 km, with the average gradient on the climbs being in the vicinity of only 1.7%: so easy to start with.
The route leaves Paphos in a south westerly direction, heading past the airport before turning left up the same road used into the Cyprus Gran Fondo just after the bridge over the Kseros river. We found all roads in Cyprus to be very well signposted, so (hopefully!) you shouldn’t miss the turning!
This beautiful quiet road takes you up to the plateau above the coast following the Diarizos valley. After 31 km, on the right hand side is The Extreme View Café, but, if you really needed to stop this early on in the ride, we would rather recommend the Oasis café at the 34 km mark / village of Kidasi (as it felt more authentic).
Keep an eye out for pomegranate, lemon and orange trees along the road, as well as the vineyards and the stunning views of the Troodos mountains in the distance. It is worth stopping for a few minutes at Agios Nikolaos at 44 km into the ride as the village sits on top of a knoll and affords good photographs down to the coast. There is also a winery just before the village of Agios Nikolaos, where we were kindly offered water. We did not participate in the free wine tasting with the other tourists who had stopped in a guided 4×4!
2. Troodos mountains and Mount Olympus: 44-96 km
From Agios Nikolaos down to the famous Tzelefos bridge, you descend six kilometres and some 300m, entering into the cedar and pine forests of the Troodos mountains.
From Tzelefos bridge, unfortunately the hard work starts. There are very few respites from climbing (there is one after about 10 km), as the road magically climbs through the forest for the next 30 km with a total height gain of circa 1,450m: that’s an average of 4.8% with some of the sections as steep as 13%.
At 72km into the ride (nearly half way) is the delightful village of Prodromos, were you could stop for fuel and water as there are a few restaurants /cafés here. However you should be aware that Prodromos is also home to the ruin of the Berengaria Hotel (look up to the hill). This hotel used to be very famous in the 1930s to 1980s but is now (apparently) haunted after being abandoned in 1984. Probably best to keep going until the peak of Mount Olympus!
Note that in Prodromos there is an extremely steep 50 metre section of concrete road with grippy groves across the road: pick your lowest gear.
At the 78 km mark you pass the Cyprus ski club on the lefthand side, with the ski slopes up on the right hand side. At the 79km mark you take a right turn on an out and back dead-end to Mount Olympus itself. The good news is now that you are at Mount Olympus, it is now downhill all the way home to Paphos.
Mount Olympus is an active army base and there are signs asking you not to take photos so please be careful with the camera as the SAS train here.
Head back down the road and turn right again towards the village of Troodos. This is a steady and fun 5% descent. It is here at the 84.5 km mark you could stop and have some refreshments – for example at the Ben Nevis bar in Troodos Square. There are also some public toilets next to the roundabout if you are not intending to stop, or planning to stop further down in Pano Platres.
From Troodos you then follow the B8, descending at around 5-10 % towards the village of Pano (meaning “upper”) Platres. At the 92km mark remember to turn right into the village of Pano Platres at the blue sign that says Platres 2 km and follow the F825 (left and steeply downhill) into the village.
Pano Platres itself, is the main hill resort in the Troodos mountains and the population of 300 can swell to several thousands in the tourist season as a cooler alternative to the coast in summer. For this reason it has a plethora of bars and hotels. We would recommend Orosimo Café on the right hand side in the middle of Pano Platres.
From Pano Platres then follow the F825 down towards Kato (meaning “lower”) Platres, which has a supermarket and a rather lovely chocolate shop as well as a few cafés.
3. Kato Platres back to Paphos: 96-152 km
From Kato Platres descend another 1-2 km and make sure to turn right to Mandria and Omodos. The road between Mandria and Omodos has now become much flatter and is actually slightly uphill at one point.
Omodos itself, at 102km into the ride, is famous for its wine production. It has a cobbled square, old stone houses and a monastery to Timios Stravros. It also has a wine festival in August and a religious festival in September. Having said all that, the road we are on – the E601 skirts around the outside of the village, but it is a nice place to stop if you have time; we did and hopefully the photo below will give you a good idea of what it is like.
At around the 106 km mark the route turns right again towards Malia and Dora on the F614. At 124 km into the route there is a very small climb of around 1 km into the Oreites Forest before resuming the descent. The forest itself lasts for 8 km and once you exit the forest it is a simple matter of descending to the main road B6 and following the route back North West into Paphos with the last 16 km being totally flat and fast.
There are numerous roadside cafés, as well as cafés in the multiple hill villages on this route. Most of the cafés we stopped at were frequented by some very weathered looking Cypriots, chain smoking and universally incredibly friendly. The cafés were also very good value for money.
For tips on drinking coffee in Cyprus, check out our Cyprus cycling tips article!
We chose the Aliathon Hotel in Paphos as it was good value for money, close to bike shops and close to the airport and coast.
There are full details of this and other accommodation options in our ultimate guide to cycling Cyprus.
Read our Tips for cycling in Cyprus before you set out.
More specifically for this ride:
L’Étape Cyprus also climbs Mount Olympus. Read all about the event in this article.
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