Cyprus travel guide
The Greek south of Cyprus has sat uncomfortably alongside Turkish North Cyprus since 1974, when the Mediterranean island was divided. This situation, possibly on the verge of resolution, makes an intriguing backdrop to any exploration of Cyprus, where modern history merges with some of the oldest relics in the region. Cyprus can be extremely touristy – coastal hotspots such as Agia Napa, Lemesos and Larnaca are brash and over developed. But move away from these resorts and you’ll find Cyprus has a mountainous interior, great for hiking and cycling, and small villages clustered around Orthodox churches, the perfect place to hole up in a taverna and relax.
Cyprus in details
- Capital: Nicosia
- Cyprus international airports: Larnaca and Paphos
- Population: 789,300
- Languages: Greek and English
- Time: GMT+2 (GMT+3 Mar-Oct)
- International dialling code: +357
- Voltage : 220/240 volts, 50 Hz
- Money: Euro. ATMs are easy to find and credit cards widely accepted.
- Stroll through no man's land – Walk through the no man’s land between the Greek and Turkish halves of Nicosia/Lefkosa, Cyprus’s divided capita
- Hike up Troödos Mountains – Wander the undeveloped countryside and Byzantine churches
- Explore the traditional villages – Stick your toes into the stunning sands on the Akamas Peninsula
- Get up early – wander around the ancient, coastal ruins of Kourion without the crowds
- Pack a picnic – Spend a day at Petra tou Romiou, the picturesque place where Aphrodite allegedly rose from the sea
- Find a local fisherman – And ask them nicely to zip you to the sea caves at Cape Greco, then jump in for a swim
- Be wary when talking politics to the locals in Cyprus – the subject of the Turkish/Greek conflict is still too raw for some.
- Do visit Cyprus’s turtle beaches, but tread carefully and do not interfere with the animals.
- Cyprus is a strongly Greek Orthodox society; many shops don’t open on Sundays.
- Remember to take your passport if you want to walk across to the Turkish side of Nicosia.
When to go to Cyprus
Summer (June-August) is hot in Cyprus, with temperatures over 35°C. It’s also peak holiday season; Cyprus’s resorts are packed. Spring and autumn are more pleasant, and good for walking; April and May - see the Cyprus hills covered in wildflowers. Turtles can be seen on Cyprus’s beaches: females come ashore to lay in May, with eggs hatching a month or two later. Winter, from December to March can be cold, especially in the mountains.
Getting around in Cyprus
Roads are generally good and distances short, so getting around Cyprus is easy. It’s best to hire a car, so you can explore Cyprus properly, especially for getting into the Troödos Mountains where there is no public transport.
Buses in Cyprus are frequent and well timed and good for getting around less rural areas, though do not run on Sundays. There are no trains.
Cyprus is a major touristic destination offering a wide variety of accommodation options. Whether you choose a place by the sea or up in the mountains make sure to book well in advance to ensure a good deal or look for offers.
There are luxury hotels all around Cyprus but also nice hotels for people with a smaller budget, many of which offer an all inclusive option. For the lovers of agrotourism, Cyprus also has a great number of picturesque small villages that offer a big variety of choices from traditional houses to boutique hotels that will allow you to get to know Cypriot culture and nature. There is also the option of booking an apartment that belongs to a holiday resort or not, or a holiday home in case you want to have more privacy. If you plan to stay for a long period of time, maybe you could look into long term renting of a place or even buying a property, which can vary from a small apartment to a luxury villa.
Whatever accommodation you choose, you will definitely find something that suits your taste and pocket.
Cyprus food & drink
Food in Cyprus is delicious, with lots of fresh vegetables, fresh fish and tasty dips. Cyprus’s taverna-style restaurants are usually laid-back and welcoming, offering a range of typically Greek dishes: souvlaki (skewered meat), haloumi (squeaky cheese), dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), calamari.
Other Cyprus favourites include trahana (a yoghurty soup) and tava (lamb and beef stew). Vegetarians will find enough meat-free meze dishes to fill them up.
Various festivals around the island, especially in the summertime promote the fruits and foods of the local places. The “palouze festival”, the “fig” festival, the “cherry” festival and many more are worth visiting.
There are a variety of local drinks produced in Cyprus. A local spirit called “Zivania” which is made usually from grapes, a lot of wine varieties, beers and “Koumandaria” which is one of the oldest wines produced in the world! “Zivania” is a local drink with high alcoholic concentration if taken from original sources on some villages. It can be also found in milder versions as it is mass produced by some local brands. In Nicosia there is an annual beer festival, usually held in September. In Limassol we have a very old wine festival which attracts thousands of visitors each year. Both are worth visiting.
You can find a wide variety of coffee - from the traditional "greek" - usually black and strong, through the favorite of all Cypriots "frappe" - iced shaken beverage to deal with the summer heat, to the more classic espresso, cappuccino, etc.
Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos have their own shopping malls where someone can find a variety of shops. However, someone can find high end shops both in Nicosia (visit Stasicratous Street in Nicosia Centre) and in Limassol (Makariou Street).
Visitors who prefer to buy some local products can visit local village shops and buy Zivania (alcoholic beverage), Sioutzouko (delicacy made of wine), and traditional Loukoumia (sweets with different flavours).
Cypriots are well known worldwide for the genuine and sincere hospitality and friendliness. The words Kalosorisate (Welcome!)and Kopiaste (Come join us!) are in every Cypriots tip of the mouth whether you are a stranger or whether you are known to them. The welcoming spirit of Cyprus is evident all over and it is one of the main factors that so many visitors to the island of Cyprus will return again and again.
10,000 years of Cyprus history make it impossible to even begin to describe the Cypriot culture. Ten millennia of history has left its mark all over the island of Cyprus, in the hundreds of archaeological sites scattered around Cyprus. To name but a few, the ancient amphitheaters of Curium outside of Limassol and Paphos where even now, during the summer months, concerts and plays still take place, the neolithic settlement of Hirokitia, the tens of Byzantine churches dotted around the island, the antiquities of Paphos, the sanctuary of Aphrodite ...
The island is an open-air museum of prehistoric settlements, classical Greek temples, Roman theatres and villas, Early Christian basilicas, Byzantine churches and monasteries, Crusader castles, Gothic cathedrals, Venetian fortifications, Muslim mosques, and British colonial-style buildings. The old ways of life, customs and traditions are still beautifully preserved in the rural villages, and interesting elements of the island are captured in the many museums and galleries.
The government and the people of Cyprus are today actively and intensely promoting the Cypriot culture and making it available to all. Art, literature, music, traditional dance, theater, cinema are some aspects where particular emphasis is placed.
Christmas and Easter time are the most important but the 15th of August, Green Monday, the Holy Spirit day, and the “Theofania” are also celebrated across the country. If you happen to be in Cyprus during summer time then a variety of festivals all over can be found.
Health & safety in Cyprus
Medical care needs in Cyprus are met through Government General Hospitals and Private Clinics / Hospitals. The majority of doctors can converse in English, whilst nursing staff speak a range of languages.
Government General Hospitals and Private Clinics/Hospitals are mostly concentrated in urban areas, while health centres, sub centres, and dispensaries function in the rural areas, providing a network to meet the medical needs of the whole population.
All Government General Hospitals as well as some private clinics have Accident and Emergency Departments for emergency cases. Holidaymakers can also make use of their health insurance, which covers medical expenses, provided that this insurance covers the length of their stay on the island.
Cyprus has an excellent reputation for being a safe and friendly place. Crime in Cyprus is, comparatively, at a very low level. The Police Force is always ready to provide any assistance to persons who need help. Dial the telephone numbers below for the various police departments:
- In case of emergency: 112.
- For complaints: 1460
- For drugs information: 1498
You can visit THE OFFICIAL PORTAL OF CYPRUS TOURISM for more