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Cyprus is the jewel in the crown of the Mediterranean holiday islands. Beach resorts such as Paphos, historic sites, picturesque villages and hiking paths in the pristine Troodos Mountains are among the numerous reasons for choosing a Cypriot holiday. Public transport does not always cover the more undeveloped spots on the island so self-drives are consequently the best transport option.
The principal highways on the island are well maintained, but rural and mountain routes are more challenging to drive. International drivers should be careful when on the roads as locals tend to drive without paying much attention to the local highway code. Many signs are in English.
Driving licences: holidaymakers from the UK and the EU can drive here on their licence from their home country.
Which side of the road does Cyprus drive on: the left.
Motorways: 62mph (100kph)
Rural and two-lane routes: 50mph (80kph)
Town and village roads: 31mph (50kph)
Alcohol limits: 0.05 per cent, which is less than the 0.08 per cent allowed in the UK. Heavy fines or a possible court appearance face violators.
Minimum driving age: 18 years; 21 years for car hire.
Seatbelts: drivers and all passengers are required to wear seatbelts when the vehicle is in motion.
Mobile phones and GPS use: the use of a mobile phone is illegal when driving unless equipped with a hands-free attachment. GPS devices are offered as optional extras by car hire suppliers, with GPS useful in Nicosia and Larnaca where the streets have been known to test the navigational skills of even the most patient drivers.
Cost of fuel in Cyprus: slightly less expensive than in the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: credit cards are accepted at almost all of the 24-hour petrol stations on Cyprus. Car hire firms also allow customers to use debit and credit cards for payment.
Insurance: rental cars come with basic third-party insurance. Additional damage or theft cover is best added to safeguard against all eventualities. Drivers crossing from the south to the north of Cyprus should check that their vehicle’s insurance is not invalidated.
Traffic and parking: parking metres on town streets indicate where parking is available. Double yellow lines mean no parking while loading is permitted on single yellow lines. Urban streets are often busy, but once outside of towns, traffic congestion is a rarity.
City taxis operate 24 hours and can be hailed on the street although there are designated ranks in locations such as Eleftheria Square in Nicosia. The flag fare is about £2.75 and each subsequent kilometre travelled is charged at about £0.60. Waiting time is metered on a pro-rata rate of around £10 per hour. Shared taxis run between cities and villages on fixed schedules which are determined by the popularity of the route.
Bus routes cover most towns, villages and resorts on Cyprus. Services are mostly infrequent, especially on Sunday, and do not usually run after 18:00. Bus destinations are signposted in the front windows of the vehicles. There are bus stations in major urban hubs such as Limassol. Pafos Transport Organization serves urban routes as well as a route linking Paphos, Limassol and Nicosia. City fares are around £0.80 and intercity routes are a maximum of £8. Famagusta District Transport Organisation operates bus services around Famagusta, Paralimni and Ayia Napa in eastern Cyprus.
Grimaldi Freighter Cruises runs a weekly ferry service between the UK port of Southampton, Salerno (Italy) and Limassol. Fares per person in a two-berth cabin average at £680. There are currently no scheduled ferries from Piraeus (Greece) to Cyprus. Ferries run between Tasucu, in southern Turkey, to Girne (or Kyrenia) in Turkish Cyprus. Fares on the express services are between £70 and £80. Ferries are not typically used for domestic travel but tourist boat excursions are available at many resorts.
Larnaca International Airport is the busiest of Cyprus’s three airports. The other two airports are Paphos Airport and Ercan Airport. The latter is located in northern Cyprus, close to the city of Nicosia. Cyprus Airways and British Airways both fly from London-Heathrow to Larnaca, while EasyJet flies from London-Gatwick. Jet2.com, Monarch and Thomas Cook Airlines all offer seasonal services to Cyprus. Minimum one-way fares with British Airways are £120. There are no domestic air routes.
The city of Paphos boasts a medieval castle and superb wining and dining. It is a great base for exploring the west side of the island, as Aphrodite's Rock, Rikkos Beach and the Akamas Peninsula are all nearby. Akamas offers almost every conceivable water sport.
Among the abundant historic locations on Cyprus are the UNESCO designated sites at Khirokitia and the Tombs of the Kings, close to Paphos. The tombs are more than 2,000 years old and have lovely frescoed walls and Doric pillars.
The Troodos Mountains stretch across the middle of the island and are home to picturesque villages including Phini and Kakopetria. Spectacular terrain, hiking paths and skiing in winter ensure the mountains are a firm favourite with holidaymakers.
Nicosia sits on the dividing line between north and south Cyprus. Its ample draws include the 14th century Hamam Omerye, the Cyprus Archaeological Museum and the Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion. Here, medieval streets are lined with atmospheric cafés. Some say the chic retail outlets on Makariou Avenue rival those of Paris’s Champs Elysees Avenue.
West from Limassol to Larnaca – from Limassol, branching off the A1 motorway and following the old coastal route to Larnaca is like stepping back in time. Poseidon Beach and Cape Kiti are among the interesting stopovers which offer a glimpse of traditional Cyprus.
North to the Troodos – the lower slopes of the mountains are an easy drive from Limassol or Paphos. Slow drives through verdant landscapes dotted with quaint villages, vineyards and small copses are heavenly. Kykkos Monastery is one of the unique sights en route.
Paphos to Astrofegia – staying parallel with the coast north of Paphos leads first to the Akamas Peninsula and its deserted beaches and Lara Bay turtle sanctuary before travelling east to Chrysochous Bay and Astrofegia.
A northern Cypriot odyssey - Famagusta is the vibrant seaside hub of the northern part of the island. Nicosia and uncrowded beaches at Karpaz and Kyrenia are easily reached. Yeni Iskele is a base for enjoying historic draws including Aphendrika Castle and the 6th century Aya Trias Basilica.
New Year’s Day (1 January)
Epiphany (6 January)
Ash Monday (February)
Greek Independence Day (25 March)
Greek Cyprus National Day (1 April)
Good Friday and Easter Monday (March/April)
International Labour Day (1 May)
Independence Day (1 October)
Greek National Day (28 October)
Christmas Day (25 December)
Boxing Day (26 December)
Cyprus offers a balmy Mediterranean climate with eight months of almost constant sunshine. Between April and November it is usually hot, with temperatures rising to 37ºC in August. In the coldest months of January and February, the daytime average in coastal regions is 18ºC, but inland temperatures can drop to as low as 5°C. Snowfall is common in the Troodos Mountains in winter.
Cyprus draws holidaymakers from the UK with its wonderful climate, beaches and historic sites. The fact that it was once a British colony enables English speakers to travel around without hassle. A little preparation and the basic travel information listed below can help a Cyprus holiday go more smoothly.
Cyprus contact numbers
Country code - (+357)
British High Commission, Nicosia – +357 2286 1100
Emergency services - 112 or 199
Cypriot Automobile Association 24-hour breakdown - +357 2231 3131
Cyprus adopted the euro in 2008. There are plenty of ATMs that offer 24-hour service in the island’s tourist resorts and cities. Banks provide currency and travellers’ cheque exchange services. Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro credit and debit cards are widely accepted by retailers.
Health and safety
No vaccinations are needed for trips to Cyprus. UK and EU citizens should ensure they take their European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) with them. Crime rarely affects tourists here but the usual precautions when it comes to safeguarding belongings and personal safety should be maintained. There are no specific health risks.
Cypriots on the whole are affable and welcoming, but not all are looking to form lifelong friendships with visitors. The subject of the split in the country between the Greek-ruled south and the Turkish north is best avoided. Island residents are hierarchical and show respect to their elders, and visitors should follow suit.
Visas for Cyprus
UK nationals do not require a visa for Cyprus and, providing their passport has 90 days’ validity remaining, are given a 90-day entry permit. Cyprus is a member of the EU Schengen Zone and citizens of other signatory nations are admitted for 90-day stays by either showing their passport or identity card.
The electricity supply in Cyprus is 220-240 Volts and sockets are compatible with three-pin plugs. Visitors from the UK do not need an adaptor plug, whereas most other people will need an adaptor or, in the case of US or Canadian travellers, a dual-voltage appliance or transformer.
Businesses: 08:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 19:00, Monday to Friday (summer), 08:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday (winter)
Government offices: 08:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday
Shops: 09:00 to 19:00, Monday to Saturday (winter), 09:00 to 20:30, Monday to Saturday (summer)
Banks: 08:15 to 13:30, Monday to Friday (May to September), 08:30 to 13:30 and 15:15 to 16:45, Monday to Friday (October to April)
Gh’ya – Hello
Nei – Yes
Ohki - No
Parakalo – Please
Me sihorite – Excuse me
Efkharisto – Thank you
Posso kane? – How much is it?
Milate Anglika? - Do you speak English?
Den katalavéno – I don't understand