Vavla – Diamond of the East | Cyprus

Are you looking for something different from your Cyprus holiday? Something unique, memorable and truly relaxing? Vavla is only minutes from the bright lights of Larnaca, and it’s the perfect place to experience the REAL Cyprus!

The swarthy rental agent with fantastic English gave a noticeable start, setting the suitcase back down on the ground.

“You’re staying where?!”

With a little smile I repeated our destination, “Vavla.”

“Well…that’s a first,” he replied.

Click here for our EPIC guide of “Things to do in Cyprus”!

Vavla is not on the tourist trail.

It should be.

But it isn’t.

That honour goes to nearby Lefkara, a circuitous 10-minute drive up and over the ridge to the north-east; home of polished silver as bright as the Mediterranean sun, lace that even caught the eye of Leonardo da Vinci (no, we haven’t yet commissioned our matching bibs!), and a population of 1,000 to Vavla’s 30 odd.

Sunrise on the hills around Vavla | Cyprus

Sunrise on the hills around Vavla | Cyprus

Seven days was all we had, yet even in so short a time we emerged with a suitcase full of stories, memories and ruminations on the future.

Young or old, we all love an audience for our stories; picking over old bones and eliciting memory, laughter, perhaps a tear.

Yet this felt like something more…

It was as though Vavla had a voice. Quiet now, and whispering. Yet the time is coming when that voice will be heard on a far greater stage than over a shot-glass of fiery zivania with family and friends.

Not today, not tomorrow, perhaps years from now. But the time IS coming when Vavla will be a destination in its own right, and the community will at last have its reason to return.

George, a Vavla local | Cyprus

George, a Vavla local | Cyprus

George is a local. Born and raised in Vavla, yet by necessity leaving his home for America’s shores of promise.

That time is gone now, the need satisfied, and in his own words, “As we grow old, we return to what we know.”

We had just returned from a day of hiking up the valley of the Agios Minas river, to the Chapel of Panagia tis Agapis (Our Lady of Love). The staccato “crack-crack” of shotguns still ringing in our ears.

Yes, shotguns.

Their eyes grew bright as we asked George and his wife Donna Marie of what we’d seen and heard.

Time and distance hadn’t dulled Donna Marie’s iconic New Yorker drawl as she told of her younger days with George, spent roaming the slopes of the snow-capped Troodos mountain range in whose lower climes is perched the village of Vavla.

It was a time of plenty. A time when Vavla had a far greater population and its lights shone nearly as bright as those of Lefkosia, Larnaca and Lemesos.

Hare, partridge and quail were abundant back then, and unlike the motivations of today’s thrill-seeking shooters, game was much sought after as food for the family dinner table.

Eurasian Woodcock (tasty!) | Cyprus

Eurasian Woodcock (tasty!) | Cyprus

Less common was the woodcock. A swift flyer, well camouflaged and with a devilishly sharp change in direction and turn of speed! A fine challenge for any aspiring young marksman and delicious reward for those with a steady arm and good reflexes.

Yet the real allure lay elsewhere. Of all things, it’s stomach.

See, the woodcock is a forager. Probing the soil with its rapier-like beak for earth worms, insects and other fine morsels.

The story goes that once in a while, a woodcock finds a diamond!

Mistakenly taken for something more delicious, the diamond is swallowed and there resides, safely ensconced until one lucky hunter takes it down, changing his life forever.

If you’re not a hunter, you’ll never find the diamond.

If you hunt a different prey, you’ll never find the diamond.

Even if you know the tale, it’s for nought if you don’t remember.

Tarry over long, and it returns from whence it came. Dust.

Vavla. The diamond in the east.

Golden alleys of Vavla | Cyprus

Golden alleys of Vavla | Cyprus

If you’re thinking this is the first and last article we write on Vavla, then you couldn’t be more wrong 😀

The truth is we had so much we wanted to say (and photos to show!), that it wouldn’t be doing the village and region justice to cram it all into a single post.

Consider this an introduction of sorts, and for Part 2 of this story, click here!

The food, the landscape, family, community; join us as we take you deeper, revealing every sparkling facet of this diamond of the east!

Click here for our EPIC guide of “Things to do in Cyprus”!

Planning your travel to Vavla, Cyprus

How to get to Vavla?

From Larnaca Airport it’s a 35 minute drive. The first 20 minutes are via the broad and fast A3, A5 and A1 highways, and then from the Choirokoitia exit another 15 minutes up into the Troodos foothills along a winding but high quality and well signposted sealed road.

If you’re travelling at night you’ll find the lighting isn’t great the higher you get, and the locals do tend to adopt their own ‘exciting’ version of the road rules, but you’ll be fine!

Where to stay in Vavla?

There are two accommodation choices that we recommend:

Vavla Rustic Retreat

Vavla Rustic Retreat is where we stayed for our seven days in Vavla.

We can’t speak highly enough of both the quality of the accommodation and the support we got from the owner, Kelley. She was the perfect host and was absolutely brilliant in helping us out with food and activity recommendations in the local and broader area, particularly after we mentioned our keen interest in local cuisine and our love of hiking!

Kelley is originally from the USA so you’ll have no worries whatsoever in your communication both before and during your stay. We’ll put together a far more detailed review of Vavla Rustic Retreat shortly, complete with photos, and link through to that article as soon as it is available.

Meanwhile, you can also check out Tripadvisor for the latest reviews and you can check availability and rates on

Our House

Our House is our second recommendation and is located right next door to Vavla Rustic Retreat.

Donna Marie and George are the owners of Our House and while we didn’t stay with them, they provided us with the most wonderful introduction to Cypriot cuisine through a magnificent breakfast and dinner (on which we will write a LOT more very soon!). We also received a tour of their accommodation and it looked absolutely lovely.

Donna is also from the USA and George has excellent English from his time spent in New York, so again, don’t worry about anything being lost in translation!

You can see their fantastic reviews on Tripadvisor and you can check their availability and rates on


  1. Hi Andrew & Karen and Shane
    Thank you for the interesting information on hiking in Cyprus. Could you advise on the following, please?
    1. Is it possible to travel around Cyprus without a car? I don’t drive.
    2. Are there local guides or travel agents for trekking in Cyprus?
    3. Is English spoken everywhere in Cyprus?
    4. Is November a good month to trek in Troodos Mountains?
    Much appreciation for your advice.

    Sonya Chen

    1. Hi Sonya, not a problem at all 🙂

      1) Yes, there are buses that you can use across the island – I suggest having a read of our Guide to Cyprus, as we discuss bus options in more detail there –
      2) I’m sure there are, but it isn’t something we investigated, as we did it all ourselves
      3) Not everywhere, but all the major cities and towns have enough to get by just fine. It was only in the smaller villages where we occasionally had difficulties. Young people everywhere can speak English.
      4) It will be cooling down, but very nice I’m sure. There is a very small chance it may snow, but I think this would be rare.

      Have fun!

  2. It is not that often that we see Vavla, our home village, featured so heavily online! But you are right, it is a slumbering being, on the verge of waking up with a roar. An active community that is intent on improving the village – a new amphitheatre built recently and a taverna being constructed as we speak. But it is the little tasks that make Vavla special – the pots of flowers that are tended by volunteers for example. We live on the road to Agias Minas monastery and enjoy the peace and quiet of rural Cyprus… a slower, more gentle pace of life. I would say that there are other accommodation providers in the village, not just the 2 you mentioned such as Cyprus Country Holidays and Vavla Nature House. Always happy to help with any plans or information to help with planning your Cyprus adventure.

  3. My Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World did not show Vavla. Now I know it is there. Google said that the population is 52. What happened to the other 22? I’m looking forward to the rest of the story.
    Andy at Andy’s International Hairdresser at Gilles Plains is from Cyprus.

    1. We did note that Google claimed 52, however that was back in 2011 and according to the locals the current population on a daily basis is around the 30 mark. It sounds like it rises on weekends as well.

    1. Thanks Natala! That’s actually a part of why we chose Cyprus as a destination, as it sounded like there were still some corners that had gone unexplored, which is unusual for Europe.

      There’s plenty more to come! 🙂

      1. For those of us who have grown up on the opposite side of the world, most of our travel inspiration from Europe is focused on the countries with a much larger exposure; England, Spain, France, Germany etc… It’s very difficult for a small nation like Cyprus to get the attention that it rightly deserves.

        This is something that we’d like to change, and hopefully this is one small step in making that happen 🙂

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