Aphrodite had a good reason to choose Cyprus as her birthplace and turned it into an island of love; soft sand rolling into the azure Mediterranean makes time stand still, hidden bays and rocky coves where you can dive and snorkel and explore the enthralling sea life, or perhaps lively resorts where the fun never stops – you are destined to find the right spot for you! Once you learn more about Cyprus, you will realize that somebody has been here way before you.
Stone Age compositions, Roman ruins and theatres, Venetian city walls and Crusader castles, Ottoman monuments and Cyprus's colonial era buildings show the myriad of civilizations and cultures that have existed here. The overall cultural influence is Greek with its traditional villages and coloured churches that have turned Cyprus in what it is today. And what it is today will make you want to stay here forever.
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Basic info and car hire in Cyprus
- Location: Island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea
- Capital: Nicosia also known as Lefkosia
- Population: 1,141,166 (2013)
- Official languages: Greek and Turkish
- Currency: Euro (€)
- Weather: Subtropical climate. Mild winters and long warm to hot, dry summers. This country has one of the warmest climates in the Mediterranean part of the European Union. Temperatures in the winter time are around 15°C/59 °F, and an average temperature in the summer time is around 25 °C/77 °F. Snow is rare and only occurs in the Troodos Mountains in the central part of island. Rain occurs mainly in winter.
- Public holidays in Cyprus: New Year’s Day (January 1st), Greek Independence Day (March 25th), Cyprus National Day (April 1st), Labour Day (May 1st), Cyprus Independence Day (October 1st), Greek National Day (October 28th), Christmas Eve (December 24th) and Christmas Day (December 25th).
- Internet coverage: Mobile internet in Cyprus is generally only available in cities and suburban areas. Rural areas have limited 3G and 3.5G coverage so mobile data often drop back to GPRS, an inferior and much slower network. The main internet providers are Cyta, MTN and Primetel. Hotels, bars and restaurants have wi-fi. (More info on mobile internet you can find here).
- Road conditions: Most main routes are well maintained. Smaller roads on the other hand can be bumpy or completely unpaved. If you want to explore the country's interior, you might want to consider renting a small 4x4 – about 40% of the minor interior roads have loose surfaces. Around the coast, luckily, most roads tend to be well maintained and smooth.
Driving in Cyprus
- Suitable for tourists: Good connections. Motorways offer quick travel on large distances.
- Problematic areas: Besides the occasional poor road conditions there aren't many problematic areas. Traffic jams in Cyprus are a rarity. It can get a bit congested during rush-hour in cities Nicosia/Lefkosia and Limassol.
- Age limits: 21(minimum age may vary by car rental company. A Young Driver fee will apply to drivers under 25 years of age. In order to rent a car, it is required that a driver must have a driver license for at least 3 years).
- International Driving Permit: Yes.
- Additional papers: ID (passport), valid driving license, registration documents and proof of insurance (It is advisable to buy insurance at the rent a car company, in case your policy does not cover your insurance while driving in Cyprus).
- Additional requirements: Warning triangle and hands-free equipment if you are talking on your mobile phone while driving are required. A reflective vest, first aid kit and a fire extinguisher are recommended.
- Children in the car: Children under the age of 5 must not sit in the front passenger seat. Children from 5 to 10 years old may occupy the front passenger seat only if an appropriate child restraint has been fitted.
- Drink & drive: maximum BAC = 0.02 %
- Driving side of the road: Left
- Lights: Dipped headlights need to be used half an hour before sunset and half an hour before sunrise.
- General speed limits: 100kph on motorways (minimum speed on motorways is 60kph), 80kph on main roads outside built-up areas, 50kph in built-up areas.
- Parking suggestions: Parking meters are found in city centres and are valid for 1 hour. Parking on double yellow lines near zebra crossings, traffic lights and fire hydrants is forbidden.
- Best time to visit: Tourist season lasts from April to October, but spring might be the best time to visit Cyprus. The air is warm, the skies are blue and it is not overly crowded. Spring also hosts the biggest and most cheerful festivals.
What to see in Cyprus
The majority of visitors begin their trip on the narrow coastal strip in the south, which hosts many towns, each with a historic old town, promenade and popular beaches. Beyond them, to the north, the island’s main mountain range, the Troodos Massif comfortably stretches across most of the western side of Cyprus. This mountain range sure takes a lot of room, but once you see what it offers you won't hold any grudges against it; exuberant villages, ancient churches and mysterious monasteries.
The walking paths hidden in the forest are not only undemanding but also absolutely stunning! To the west of the island is a plateau covered in vineyards, the enormous wilderness woods of Tiliria and the stark beauty of the Akamas Peninsula.
If you like sun, sea and sand holidays, you have a broad spectre of choice – in the south, Protaras and Ayia Napa east of Larnaka, the beaches either side of Lemesos, Paphos and its Coral Bay are jammed with resorts offering all types of activities; if you are jumping with joy right now, then the coastal town Kyrenia (Girne) and north of Gazimağusa are also perfect for you. For smaller hotels with a more distinctive character, try the north coast around Polis and the Akamas Peninsula, or the hill villages of the Troodos Mountains which offer traditional homes converted into guesthouses. Very welcoming and unique indeed.
Our favourite spots
Paphos is a coastal city in the southwestern part of Cyprus with numerous stunning attractions that you absolutely have to visit, so make sure you stay in the south of Cyprus for much longer than just a day. If we really had to single out just a couple of must-see sights, then perhaps the Tombs of the Kings and Rock of the Greek or Aphrodite's Rock would be our pick. That is only if we really, really had to.
Larnaka is by far the most easy-going base for visitors. It may be a seaside resort but surprisingly enough it has kept its provincial soul. The centre has a very working day-to-day atmosphere, rather than just being known for its summer resorts, which portrays a very authentic image of how life goes on there.
Cape Greco is a national park so beautiful you will not believe your eyes. Words cannot do justice to the inspiring, untouched nature and stunning views this park has to offer, but we will try and do our best. The park has a variety of walking trails that begin east of the resort of Ayia Napa. In the early spring, you can also admire the beautiful Cyprus' regional wild orchids flirting with its absolute highlight, the magnificent coastal scenery with hypnotic blue sea beyond. This is a picture-perfect escape from the buzzing south coast. And take lots of photos, we can assure you that you will never get bored of gazing at them from your living room couch.
Platres is positioned under the slopes of Troodos Mountains and offers trails under charming pine trees and small rivers, including hotels tucked in its dense woods. Hiking out there with definitely rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. Exactly what you need! You can also explore the region by car. It is recommended to rent a 4x4 vehicle, especially if you are planning to drive “off road”.
Kyrenia (Girne) – Now this might be a bold statement but this is the prettiest town in North Cyprus! Its harbour side old district shows that Kyrenia stayed true to the old Ottoman character, and this kind of loyalty earned its place in our hearts for eternity.
The lonely and beautifully rugged Karpaz Peninsula in the northeast of the island is reserved for all the explorers out there! It’s the island's most undiscovered and undeveloped area.