With three distinct areas to explore, your adventure awaits. The Republic of Cyprus, a proud member of the European Union, holds international recognition and governs the southern territory. Meanwhile, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus functions as a separate country, recognised only by Turkey. And don't forget the two British military bases Akrotiri and Dhekelia, which have open borders with the Republic of Cyprus. From the bustling cities to the serene countryside, Cyprus offers something for every traveler.
Cyprus is divided into 6 provinces, each named after its provincial capital. Since 1974, the whole of Kyrenia province, most of Famagusta province, and the northern portion of Nicosia province have been under Turkish military control. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus administers those areas. The Republic of Cyprus administers the following provinces:
|Akrotiri and Dhekelia |
British sovereign areas with a primarily military use. Limited in things to see and do, but generally accessible from the Republic of Cyprus districts
Cypriot cities have a variety of historical spellings and writings, all in fairly common use, and which change according to the context, whether it be Greek Cypriot, Turkish or English. The following list emphasizes traditional English spellings, that will most often be encountered by the traveller.
- 1 Nicosia (Greek: Λευκωσία or Lefkosia; Turkish: Lefkoşa) – the divided capital
- 2 Ayia Napa (Greek: Αγία Νάπα or Agia Napa; Turkish: Aya Napa) – in the far east of the Republic, considered by many to be the main party town of Cyprus
- 3 Larnaca (Greek: Λάρνακα or Larnaka; Turkish: İskele)
- 4 Limassol (Greek: Λεμεσός or Lemesos; Turkish: Limasol or Leymosun)
- 5 Paphos (Greek: Πάφος or Pafos; Turkish: Baf)
Other destinations edit
- 1 Akamas Peninsula (Greek: Ακάμας, Turkish: Akama)
- 2 Troodos Mountains (Greek: Τρόοδος, Turkish: Trodos Dağları)
- 3 Lefkara (Greek: Λεύκαρα) – The Lace village, in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains, a charming little town with lots of character, in the heart of Cyprus.
- 4 Khirokitia (Greek:Χοιροκοιτία) – A world heritage listed archaeological site from the Neolithic age.
|Population||1.1 million (2013)|
|Electricity||240 volt / 50 hertz (BS 1363)|
|Emergencies||112, +357-1400 (emergency medical services), 199 (fire department)|
|edit on Wikidata|
Modern history edit
Cyprus has a complex political history that has left a lasting impact on the island.
After gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, the Cypriot Constitution was created to ensure power-sharing between the Greek Cypriot majority and the Turkish Cypriot minority. However, tensions between the two groups escalated in 1974 when Greece and Turkey became involved in the conflict. As a result, Turkey ended up occupying 40% of the island, resulting in the establishment of the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC) in 1983.
The TRNC is recognised only by Turkey, while all other governments and the United Nations recognise only the government of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island. In order to maintain peace, the UN operates a peacekeeping force and a narrow buffer zone between the two Cypriot ethnic groups.
Whilst hostilities have been absent for some time, the island remains divided. However, the involvement of the European Union has led to increased efforts towards reunification between the two sides.
Subtropical Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters in the lowlands. Continental with warm, dry summers and cold, snowy winters in the mountains.
Central plain with mountains to north and south (often used for skiing); scattered but significant plains along southern coast.
The two major ethnic groups in Cyprus are Greeks and Turks.
The majority of Cypriots are Greek Cypriots, who have long controlled Cyprus's political, economic, and cultural sectors. Greek Cypriot culture is distinguished by a rich culinary legacy as well as a thriving music and dance scene. The majority of Greek Cypriots are Orthodox Christians.
In contrast, Turkish Cypriot culture is heavily influenced by Turkey. Turkish Cypriots make up around one-fifth of the population and have historically been sidelined in Cyprus's political and economic arenas. Virtually all Turkish Cypriots are Muslims.
Armenian Cypriots are a small but significant minority in Cyprus, with a population of approximately 3,500 people. They are descended from Armenian immigrants who settled in Cyprus during the Ottoman period. Despite their small numbers, Armenian Cypriots have played an important role in Cyprus's social and political landscape.
Get in edit
Minimum validity of travel documents
Cyprus is committed to implementing the Schengen Agreement although it hasn't yet done so. For citizens of the European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Area (EFTA) (i.e. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), an officially approved ID card (or a passport) is sufficient for entry. Other nationalities will generally require a passport for entry.
Travel to/from any other country (Schengen or not) from/to Cyprus will result in the normal immigration checks, although customs checks will be waived when travelling to/from another EU country.
Inquire with your travel agent or with the local embassy or consulate of Cyprus.
By plane edit
Nicosia International Airport (NIC IATA) was the previous main international airport. It is SW of Nicosia in the Green Line separating the Greek and Turkish parts of Cyprus - it has been out of use since 1974.
Cyprus is served by a variety of carriers. There are flight connections with most major European cities, e.g. London, Birmingham, Manchester, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Milan) and many Eastern European countries. There are also connections to almost all Middle Eastern capitals. There are no flights to Turkey from the south, although you can fly there with Aegean Air with only a short connection in Athens.
There is a frequent and cheap (€1.50) public bus connection from the airport into central Larnaca, but it is poorly signposted. The bus stop is at the departure hall level (upstairs) and shows a sign with a series of three digit bus numbers. Buses go to "Finikoudes", at the beach in Larnaca where buses to other destinations in Cyprus leave (see "getting around" section).
There is also a direct Larnaca Airport <-> Nicosia Bus service provided by Kapnos Airport Shuttle. The journey takes around 30-45 minutes, and a one way ticket costs €8 per person. There are buses throughout the night. More information about the service and the timetable can be found at the bus service website.
By boat edit
Regular passenger ferries from Greece returned in 2022, after a 20-year hiatus. Scandro Holding[dead link] operates a ferry between Piraeus and Limassol. Crossings are 1-2 times per week during the summer months and fortnightly off-season.
Cyprus is also a very popular destination for cruises, however only a few companies offers the possibility to disembark mid journey. You may also catch a freighter from Italy, Portugal, Southampton and various other European ports, providing you with the opportunity to bring a vehicle to Cyprus throughout the year.
Travelling to and from the north edit
Prior to Cyprus's accession to European Union, evidence of entry to Northern Cyprus resulted in denial of entry to the Greek part of Cyprus at the very least. After the accession, and according to EU legislation that considers Cyprus to have been admitted in full, an entry to the Turkish part is formally an entry to whole Cyprus and must therefore not result in any disadvantage to EU citizens. Citizens of non-EU member states (as, for instance, US/UK/Turkish citizens) must enter the island via one of the legal, according to the Republic of Cyprus, entry points (i.e. entry points in the southern part of the island) regardless of whether they want to visit the southern part or not.
Different entities and web pages claim different things. There are examples (from 2012) of people entering Northern Cyprus from Turkey, crossing the border with the south without any problems, although it was noticed when leaving Cyprus. There are legends about other people (not US/UK/AU nationals) getting EU-wide entry ban or having their naturalization requests denied after entering or exiting the island via the north, regardless of whether they visited the south or not. As of 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the following about all airports and ports: "The legal points of entry to the Republic of Cyprus are the intenational airports of Larnaca and Paphos and the ports of Larnaca, Limassol, Latsi and Paphos, which are situated in the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Entry to the territory of the Republic of Cyprus via any other port or airport in the area of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic does not exercise effective control (Turkish occupied area) is illegal."
The main crossings between the south and north are:
- Astromerits/Zodhia (by car only)
- Agios Dometios/Kermia/Metehan
- Ledra Palace (by car or foot) - the oldest crossing, just outside the walls of old Nicosia to the west of the city
- Strovilia near Agios Nikolaos - at the eastern part of the island
- Ledras Str. (foot only) - a pedestrian crossing at the old dead-end of the most popular street of Nicosia.
In 2012, crossing the green line was very simple. The visa form to be completed is very basic (barely usable as a souvenir!) and requires only the name, the nationality and the passport (or identity card) number to be entered. Then it is stamped, and the whole procedure should take no more than three minutes. Upon return, it is stamped again. As of 2017, passports are not stamped but still required to cross.
Get around edit
Public transportation in Cyprus has been revamped with all new buses in Nicosia. Still, most Cypriots drive. There are no railways in Cyprus.
Addresses in Cyprus are not very precise; locals, Google Maps, utility providers, and delivery services may all disagree and what the exact number of a house is. There may be multiple streets with the same street in the city, kilometers apart Addresses are used for formalities only, navigation is typically done via either exact pins in Google Maps, or house names, or points of interests nearby.
By bus edit
There is a comprehensive network of bus routes that cover all Cyprus. Use Cyprus By Bus to plan your journey using buses in Cyprus. As an alternative for public transportation routing you can try Moovit, although it does not have real-time information about buses. Google Maps does not have public transportation information.
Bus stops are best found in the Cyprus By Bus application. Stops names may refer to long-gone local streets and buildings, sometimes streets with same names reappear in other corners of the city. There may be multiple stops with the same name close to each other, all for different services.
Bus schedule only specifies departure from the initial stop, there are no estimations on when a bus may arrive to your stop, except real-time tracking in the Cyprus By Bus application (not on the website).
- Larnaca Airport Shuttle services: Larnaca airport to Nicosia, Larnaca airport to Limassol
- Paphos Airport Shuttle services: Paphos airport to Nicosia, Paphos airport to Limassol
On the Turkish side, buses are more frequent (and smaller). In Nicosia, they depart from stops at the street north of the northern gate. Prices are similar to prices on the Greek side of Cyprus. Beware that return tickets may not be valid on all buses on the Turkish side.
InterCity buses edit
Buses between major cities go daily at different times, typically hourly/bihourly between 06:00 and 21:00. All buses are sit-only, typically green, and have air conditioning and a luggage compartment below. You're allowed to store a bike there only as long as it fits together with the remaining luggage.
Although Cyprus By Bus may have schedule for InterCity buses, it's better to double-check with printed schedules on stops and the InterCity Buses website.
Services run every half-hour or so from 06:00 or 07:00, but terminate at 17:00 or 18:00 on the dot. You can book a taxi to pick you up anywhere and ask to be dropped off anywhere in city limits; the flip side is that it will often take you longer to get in or out of the city than the journey itself! Figure on £4-6 for a taxi ride on any of these, with an increased price on Sundays and holidays. Also known as a service taxi.
By car edit
Car hire is the easiest (but the most expensive) way to get around the island. Companies will typically not rent cars for fewer than three days, although some international vendors (Budget) will offer one or two day service for a high fee. Renting in advance can be beneficial as walk-in options are obviously limited to available cars. As a former British colony, Cyprus drives on the left side of the road. However, driving standards are poor. Drivers attack their art with an equal mix of aggressiveness and incompetence and view road rules as mere guidelines. Some main roads do not even have road markings and people often sound their horn, especially in Nicosia. Take care when crossing the roads, and even greater care when driving on them. Highways are generally of excellent condition and quite traversable, but other roads vary greatly in quality. As with surrounding countries, rental cars frequently use diesel fuel and manual transmission rentals are cheaper than automatic transmission, although typically only by a few euro.
- The many archaeological and antiquities sites scattered around the island, dating from the New Stone Age through to the Roman Empire
- The beautiful coastline of the island, still quite unspoilt in many places, is well worth exploring
- Nicosia, the capital as it has a wealth of history, preserved Venetian walls surrounding the city, some wonderful bars and restaurants within the old walls of the city and of course the 'green line', the dividing line with the Turkish part of Cyprus, which cuts through the centre of Nicosia, now the only divided capital
- The Troodos mountains, rising as high as 1,952 metres, offering some beautiful trail walks and also quaint little villages such as Kakopetria, Platres and Phini. In winter there is the chance to ski there and the ski resort is being developed
- Paphos harbor and archeological park. Nearby Rock of Aphrodite can be a beautiful scene for picnics
- Hamam Omerye in Nicosia is a 14th-century building restored to operate again as a hammam for all to enjoy, relax and rejuvenate. Dating back to French rule and located in the heart of Nicosia's old town is Hamam Omerye, a working example of Cyprus' rich culture and diversity, stone struggle, yet sense of freedom and flexibility. The site's history dates back to the 14th century, when it stood as an Augustinian church of St Mary. Stone-built, with small domes, it is chronologically placed at around the time of Frankish and Venetian rule, approximately the same time that the city acquired its Venetian Walls. In 1571, Mustapha Pasha converted the church into a mosque, believing that this particular spot is where the prophet Omer rested during his visit to Lefkosia. Most of the original building was destroyed by Ottoman artillery, although the door of the main entrance still belongs to the 14th-century Lusignan building, whilst remains of a later Renaissance phase can be seen at the north-eastern side of the monument. In 2003, the EU funded a bi-communal UNDP/UNOPS project, "Partnership for the Future", in collaboration with Nicosia Municipality and Nicosia Master Plan, to restore the Hamam Omerye Bath, revitalising its spirit and sustaining its historical essence. The hamam is still in use, and after a restoration project, it has become a favourite place for relaxation in Lefkosia. In 2006 it received the Europa Nostra prize for the Conservation of Architectural Heritage.
- There are over 60 churches scattered across Cyprus with wall paintings, of which the ten churches in Troodos Mountains are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as Painted Churches in the Troödos Region.
Greek is spoken by 80-85% of the population, serves as the mother tongue of Greek Cypriots and is mainly spoken in Southern Cyprus.
Cypriot Greek and the Greek spoken in Greece have many similarities, but there are some distinct differences between the two dialects. The Cypriot dialect includes many loanwords from Turkish, Arabic, and English.
Turkish, spoken by 15-20% of the population, is primarily spoken in Northern Cyprus and is the mother tongue of Turkish Cypriots.
The most generally taught foreign language is English, a remnant of British colonial rule, and as many as 70-80% of Cypriots can speak English - less so in Northern Cyprus. English usually serves as people's second language.
Cyprus has always been a relatively expensive destination. Except for some agricultural products, practically everything has to be imported. The cost of living in Cyprus is comparable to Central Europe, especially in the tourist areas. Price examples: National Beer cost €3 to €3.50, a pack of cigarettes €4, a hamburger €5-7, squids about €10, a steak around €20. Away from the tourist hotels and beaches the prices are much more moderate.
Exchange rates for euros
As of January 2023:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
Cyprus uses the euro, like several other European countries. One euro is divided into 100 cents. The official symbol for the euro is €, and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.
All banknotes and coins of this common currency are legal tender within all the countries, except that low-denomination coins (one and two cent) are phased out in some of them. The banknotes look the same across countries, while coins have a standard common design on the reverse, expressing the value, and a national country-specific design on the obverse. The obverse is also used for different designs of commemorative coins. The design of the obverse does not affect the coin's acceptability .
Northern Cyprus uses Turkish lira (TRY). Euros are generally also accepted in the tourist centres, but at the unfavourable rate of €1 buying 10 TRY rather than 14 TRY. There are many ATMs in the north too.
Things to buy edit
- Cypriot wine - the iconic local variety known as Commandaria is strong, sweet and somewhat akin to Porto wine
- Lacework of an intricate nature - from the village of Lefkara.
- Zivania - a strong spirit based alcoholic drink
- Filfar - the traditional Cyprus orange liqueur
- Leather goods such as shoes and handbags
- Cypriot meze (appetizers akin to Spanish tapas) are an art form, and some restaurant serve nothing but. Meze are available in a meat variety or fish variety but quite often come as a mixed batch, which is rather pleasing.
- Kleftiko roasted lamb with flavours of herbs and lemon.
- Halloumi (Hellim) is a uniquely Cypriot cheese, made from a mix of cow's and sheep's milk. Hard and salty when raw, it mellows and softens when cooked and is hence often served grilled.
- Taramosalata is traditionally made out of taramas, the salted roe of the cod or carp. The roe is either mixed with bread crumbs or mashed potatoes. Parsley, onion, lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar are added and it is seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Shoushoukos is a traditional sweet made out of grape juice. A series of almonds are threaded with a needle and they are then dipped into the grape juice several times until it becomes quite thick.
- Palouzes and kiofterka are both traditional sweets made out of grape juice.
Palouzes is a pudding made with grape juice, flour and different flavorings. Kiofterka are made from any leftover pudding. They cut it into pieces, dehydrate it, and the result is a hard but chewy thing.
There are countless hotels and hotel apartments of varying degrees of luxury within Cyprus. Some of the hotels are: Kefalos Beach Tourist Village, Holiday Inn, Le Meridien, Hilton, Elias Beach Hotel. Alternative self-catering accommodation is offered in restored traditional houses in picturesque villages all over Cyprus through the government Agrotourism initiative.
Cyprus' climate and natural advantages mean that there is always a steady supply of travellers seeking employment and residency on the island. Perhaps the biggest change that has occurred has been the accession of southern Cyprus to the European Union on 1 May 2004, opening up new employment opportunities for European citizens.
The burgeoning Cypriot tourism industry, however, means that there is a huge seasonal demand for temporary workers of most nationalities during the summer months, with a definite preference for English-speaking workers in order to service the very large numbers of British tourists. The Greek Cypriot south remains the best overall bet for jobs, as the South is where the majority of the tourist trade is located. The Turkish North is much harder to get work in as a traveler, as the local economy is in a precarious position and high local unemployment means competition for work is fierce.
Seasonal employment will most probably involve working in one of the countless bars, hotels and resort complexes of the south. Such work is usually poorly paid, but accommodation is often thrown in as some compensation and the Cypriot lifestyle usually makes up for low wages. Many holiday companies employ 'reps' (representatives) and marketing staff to assist their operations on the island - this work is usually more financially rewarding.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) is another worthwhile option, well paid though often difficult to find.
Finally, Cyprus' ongoing construction boom in tourism infrastructure results in a demand for skilled builders and tradespeople.
If you are considering an extended stay on the island, there are a number of educational courses that you can take. Popular options include Greek language courses and arts courses. Most will have a tuition fee attached, and EU nationals should not have any visa problems. If you are from outside the EU, you will need to speak to individual colleges/organisations about visa requirements.
Stay safe edit
Cyprus is a remarkably safe country, with very little violent crime. Cars and houses frequently go unlocked. That said however, it is wise to be careful when accepting drinks from strangers, especially in Ayia Napa, since there have been numerous occasions of muggings.
Note also that the numerous Cypriot "cabarets" are not what their name implies but rather brothels associated with organized crime.
The hunting season in Cyprus is from November till February. There are around 59,000 hunters with licences. On Sundays and Wednesdays you have to be careful when going for a walk in the countryside. Note that many hunters don't respect the areas where hunting is forbidden. Cypriot hunters are known to drink alcohol before and during hunting. Keep your dogs and children safe.
Stay healthy edit
Tap water in Cyprus is potable, but can have an unpleasant taste and may give you an upset stomach at first because of the minerals content.
Generally speaking, both Greek and Turkish Cypriots have a reputation for being hospitable to foreign visitors.
- Cypriots are generally direct communicators. They are generally comfortable with expressing their opinions openly and clearly. Further, Cypriots often take their time when speaking and can draw out conversations.
- Show respect to the elderly and authority figures; do not yawn in front of them, do not use foul language in front of them, and do not do anything that would make them feel challenged.
- Cypriots place a huge emphasis on family values. Be mindful of that when conversing with Cypriots.
- It is common for Cypriots to ask you direct personal questions. Cypriots do this to get to know you better.
- Cypriots value transparency and loyalty. Don't promise something if you don't plan on following through with it. Don't say something if you don't mean it. Don't say "next time" if there isn't going to be a "next time".
Things to do edit
- Try to demonstrate that you're dependable. If a Cypriot asks you for a favour, try to follow through with it.
- Try to be as honest as possible with Cypriots. Indirectness and wishy-washiness aren't appreciated in Cyprus. Remember: to Cypriots, their word is their bond and they will hold you to the same standard.
- Try to demonstrate interest in the people around you. You can easily make a friend or two by doing this.
- Try to demonstrate an interest in the country. Cypriots appreciate the many few that show interest in their country. Political discussions are common and Cypriots take politics seriously.
Things to avoid edit
- If you have been invited to a Cypriot home, do not refuse anything that has been offered to you; it can be seen as insulting to the host.
- Show absolute respect when discussing the country's division. Since the 1970s, the island has been divided into two and every Cypriot has strong views about it.
- Avoid using the terms "South Cyprus" and "North Cyprus" in front of Greek Cypriots.
- Internet access is increasingly available in tourist centres in the guise of Internet cafés and side rooms equipped with monitors. Prices vary, so shop about. €2 an hour seems average, but you can do better. Many cafés now offer free wi-fi access and hotels and resorts often offer Internet access to their guests.
Beware that Greek Cyprus celebrates Easter on different dates than Western Europe, in most years. On Easter Sunday, many museums etc. are closed, and buses run reduced services in some places even until Easter Tuesday. In August most places (including stores and pharmacies, excluding big retail stores) go on a week-two week holidays with only a written announcement on the store about the days.
Cyprus operates on a 230 V, 50 Hz electrical system using the BS-1363 3-pin British plugs. Europlug adapters are widely available in local stores.