Cyprus food and drink is well known across the world for being fresh and flavourful. From roast lamb and crispy squid to grilled halloumi and sweet watermelon, there’s something for everyone on this charming island. To make the most of Cyprus’s Mediterranean food and drink, heading south to the vibrant coastal city of Limassol is a must!
Cyprus Food and Drink – Must try dishes
A typical dinner in Cyprus begins with appetizers, salads and freshly baked bread, followed by a meat-based main dish, dessert and strong local coffee.
If you can’t decide where to start, meze offers the opportunity to sample some of the best food of Cyprus all at once. A large mix of small dishes, meze traditionally includes meat, grilled halloumi and dips like hummus or tahini. Forsos Tavern, found 10 minutes outside of Limassol in neighbouring village Mouttagiaka, is a popular meze choice with both locals and tourists, serving up a number of high quality dishes – including snails, if you’re brave enough.
For meat-lovers, Ofto Kleftiko is a must-try traditional food of Cyprus. It’s a mouth-watering feast of roast lamb, potatoes and herbs, where the meat is cooked until it falls off the bone. If you prefer a smokier taste, souvla is made up of barbecued chunks of lamb, pork or chicken, served with a pickled salad and drizzled with tzatziki. Souvla is a well-known dish and can be found in most restaurants, but To Souvlaki Tis Nikis is a clear favourite in Limassol for the perfect barbecue.
If the Cyprus sunshine has you craving seafood, calamari is a popular option. Full of flavour, it’s usually served either fried with a side of tzatziki or stuffed with cumin, cloves and rice and grilled. Limassol’s gorgeous sea-side location means there’s an abundance of options when it comes to seafood, and you can enjoy local catches of cuttlefish, sea bass and salt cod.
You can’t visit Cyprus without coming across feta cheese or halloumi, which you’ll find in hundreds of dishes. As well as featuring in salads and meze, halloumi is often served cold alongside freshly sliced watermelon, as a popular appetizer or dessert.
Traditional sweets and desserts
If you haven’t yet bought a plane ticket, Cyprus’s honey doughnuts will make you want to hop in a taxi to the nearest airport. Locally known as Lokmades, the deep fried doughnuts are soaked with honey and covered in crushed nuts, cinnamon or sesame seeds. Usually found in coffee shops, they’re a popular part of Cyprus’s food scene and are best eaten warm to enjoy the light and spongy texture.
Honey is also the main ingredient in melomakarona, a cookie with festive origins that’s come to be enjoyed all year round in Cyprus. Melomakarona are made with olive oil and flour, and have warming flavours of orange, cinnamon and cloves. You can try homemade style melomakarona at Limassol’s Galette Artisan Bakery, or opt for their much-lauded almond and pistachio sugar cookies (kourabiedes). It’s rumoured to be the best bakery in Cyprus, so make sure you go hungry.
If you’re looking for something refreshing to follow your mezze or barbecued souvla, fruit is frequently served as a dessert in Cyprus. A number of traditional sweets are made with figs, fleshy walnuts and pumpkins, where the fruit is soaked for up to two weeks and boiled with sugar until the right texture is obtained. You’ll also find deliciously juicy, freshly picked fruits like strawberries, tangerines, cherries and grapes, depending on the season.
Whether you’re relaxing next to your own private pool or looking to take in the country’s thriving nightlife, there’s something to suit everyone when it comes to drinks in Cyprus.
A Cyprus holiday wouldn’t be complete without first trying the country’s famous coffee. Cafes are a huge part of Cyprus food and drink culture, as they fit in perfectly with the country’s easygoing and relaxed pace of life. Locals drink coffee at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the time is used to catch up with friends.
Cyprus coffee is very strong, so it’s served with a glass of cold water. The coffee is brewed in small pots with long handles, called mbrikia, which are traditionally made of copper. It’s heated on a stove or using trays of hot sand to create a deliciously smooth flavour. Mallon Glikis is a popular cafe to drink coffee and try local sweets, and can be found minutes away from Limassol’s promenade.
If you’re looking for something stronger, the island’s winemaking tradition dates back over 4,000 years. Commandaria is an amber-coloured sweet wine and is best enjoyed after dinner with strong cheese or fresh fruit. It dates back to the 12th century, when Richard the Lionheart proclaimed it “the wine of kings and the king of wines”, making Commandaria the oldest wine still in production.
The residue of the grapes pressed in the winemaking process is used to make another of the country’s most popular tipples – Zivania. Zivania is a colourless alcohol that’s one of Cyprus’s most well-known drinks. It carries a light aroma of raisins, and is best enjoyed as an ice cold shot with a meze of almonds, soutzoukos (a traditional chewy sweet made of grape juice) and slices of cured meat. At 45% it isn’t for the faint hearted, but it remains popular amongst locals and is often served as a welcome drink to visitors.
Pick up some Cyprus food and drink in local markets
When visiting a new country, it can be fun to experiment with cooking the local cuisine yourself. Thanks to Limassol’s wealth of local food markets, there’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy incredible Cyprus food and drink from the comfort of your own luxury villa.
Limassol’s restored Municipal market is an ideal spot for self-caterers who are looking to pick up some Cyprus food and drink to take back to their large Cyprus villa. Located in the old town, the large stone structure was built in 1917 and has since become a listed building. Inside you’ll find a maze of shops and food stands, selling local honey, nuts and sweets, alongside everyday items like bread and meat.
To sample some of the city’s freshest food, Froutopia Fruit and Vegetable Market is also a great option. The store specialises in exotic fruit and health food, and you can expect to find fibre-rich dragon fruit, immune-boosting prickly pears and sweet pomegranates, famous for their anti-oxidant properties. You can also pick up all your other Mediterranean cooking essentials here, including olive oil, feta and sauces.
To experience delicious Cyprus food and drink, it’s also worth getting part of the hustle and bustle that takes place in a traditional Cypriot market. The Limassol Farmer’s Market takes place on the seafront every Sunday. Overlooking the city’s incredible sea views, you can buy cheap local farm produce, as well as other goods and services. There are also a number of coffee stalls, so you can sit back in the sun and watch the locals barter for their goods with a cup of traditional coffee.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing European break or a picturesque wedding destination, a private villa is the perfect way to enjoy the charm of the island and the best of Cyprus’s food and drink. Self-catering gives you the flexibility to enjoy Limassol’s rich restaurant scene or try your hand at making your own Mediterranean meze. Have a browse of our available properties and please get in touch if you have any questions.