If I was a betting kind a gal, I would bet that the majority of people do not regularly frequent the Cyprus farmers’ markets. Why? Well, I honestly don’t know is the simple answer. Perhaps it is because grocery stores tend to sell fruits and vegetables that are “local and in season” anyway. Perhaps it is because it is more convenient to go to a grocery store. Having said that, have you tried the fresh vegetables and fruits from a Cypriot farmers’ market? It’s cheaper. And – in a lot of cases – it’s tastier. I, for one, am a convert. Below is my guide to Cyprus farmers’ markets. At the very bottom of this article is a list of my favourite Cyprus farmers’ markets – including where, when and why you should go.
Sure, the settings aren’t plush. In Cyprus, some of the farmers’ markets literally take place in fields or parking lots. Also, not every farmers’ market is going to be at a convenient time, but there is at least one weekend market in Limassol and in Nicosia, so that’s two major cities covered. And, yes, the parking situation can be a bit tricky but there is always parking even if it means you have to walk 100 meters. But it’s worth it. If you want more “plush” settings, try the “covered” markets – the ones that take place in the old halls in Limassol and Nicosia. You may find a greater variety of fresh produce literally out of the back of farmers’ trucks, but it’s still very fresh!
2. Go Early
Farmers’ Markets in Cyprus start very early. Some start as early as 5am, and people go to shop as early as that too. Having said that, if you go by 11am, you will still find an ample selection of things. It’s around 12pm onwards that the selection starts to dwindle and, in some markets, the producers start to pack up. In addition, parking can be a nightmare close to the actual markets and it’s best to go early to find a good spot.
3. Browse Around
It can be overwhelming when you first arrive at a farmers’ market. Everything will look amazing and you might think you might as well just buy the first things you see. But look around. On closer inspection you will see that some stalls have cheaper prices or “deals”. This might be because the produce is older or not as fresh. The quality of produce also varies between stands, some have the best greens, others the best fruits, etc. Which leads us to the next tip.
4. Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Is the produce locally grown? If so, which city does it come from? When was it cut or picked? I’ve noticed that not all fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets are locally grown, so be sure to check before buying. Sometimes vendors might be willing to give you a sample, or show you the inside of the fruit or vegetable, but not always. It doesn’t hurt to ask and the vendors are always very friendly.
5. Carrier Bags
If your car is not nearby, and you plan to buy a lot, you might need a little trolley bag. There are people who bring these as it’s just easier than carrying many heavy bags around. If you buy a lot from a vendor, there may be someone there who can help you with your bags. This has certainly happened to me before and is quite welcome when you already are carrying 5 heavy bags!
No one takes payment in cards. It’s all cash. Something which I think is rather obvious, but I have forgotten this a few times and only realised once I arrived at the market. It’s very annoying. So bring cash with you.
7. My Tips
If you visit the Limassol New Town Farmers’ Market on a Sunday, there is an excellent bread maker who makes traditional Cypriot “arkatena”. You won’t be disappointed – I’ve had to carry loaves of this bread to Canada for relatives it is that good. But go early, she sells out quickly. Ask for “Georgia” if it’s not clear where you should go. Also, make sure you visit the Agro-Ktima truck at the end of the vegetable stalls. It’s a company that sells free range, locally grown chicken – a whole chicken (or one chopped in pieces) will cost you 10 euro. The company started 8 months ago – in 2013 – and already sell their produce in Melis (a major Cypriot butcher chain) in Limassol, and will be selling in Nicosia soon. Also, keep your eye out for carrots with long stems. For some reason I can only find baby carrots or very large carrots in the grocery stores, but I have found carrots which clearly look “homegrown” at the Limassol New Town Farmers’ Market. If you visit the Nicosia Oxi Market, keep an eye out for the small sweet strawberries in February and March. They are delicious.
MY FAVOURITE MARKETS *