Cyprus – the pearl of the Mediterranean! Greece, Italy, France, Spain, or other Mediterranean counties may sound more familiar and more typical summer getaways at the sea, but don’t underestimate Cyprus.
This little island has it all – beaches, mountains, sunny weather all year round, and in many cases it is cheaper than other European counties at the Mediterranean Sea. However, there are some things I wish I knew before going to Cyprus.
Cyprus travel guide: know before you go!
1. Driving on the left side of the road
The island of Cyprus was under the rule of the British Empire for quite some time during the 19th and 20th centuries and there are still some territories on the island that belong to the United Kingdom.
This has left some impact on the way people live on the island and one of the things is driving on the left side of the road. As a tourist, you will most likely want to rent a car and explore Cyprus, which means driving on the left side of the road.
For those of us, who are used to driving on the right side, it can be a bit scary, but to be honest, it was our first-time experience and it was easier than we thought it would be.
Rental cars all have red-colored license plates, so everybody knows you might be a first-timer. Also make sure to rent a car with automatic transmission, take your time, and don’t stress! It will be fine!
Also, you will notice road signs with speed limits. The numbers are in kilometers per hour and NOT miles per hour!
2. Cyprus island is divided in two parts
After the Cyprus conflict in the second half of the 20th century between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, the island remains divided into two parts.
Although the whole island is internationally recognized as a united territory under the Republic of Cyprus, de facto the island is divided – the North part of the island is de facto administered by the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (internationally solely recognized by Turkey).
The United Nations maintains a buffer zone called the ‘Green Line’ as a border between the two parts in order to avoid any further conflicts, so the reality is that there is a border with specific border crossing points – checkpoints.
It is possible to travel to both parts of the island, but you should do it at the checkpoints to avoid any inconveniences. Also – it is suggested to enter the island through airports or ports on the Greek Cypriot part (South part) to avoid possible problems when traveling around the island.
3. Cyprus is in the European Union, but not in the Schengen Area, however…
For many non-European travelers, it is recommended to obtain the Schengen Visa in order to travel around Europe (or at least, to Schengen Area countries), however, there are European countries, which are not in the Schengen Area, but they allow foreign travelers with Schengen Visas to enter the country.
And Cyprus is one of them. It means – if you have a Schengen Visa, you are allowed to enter Cyprus without a national visa. Of course, if you come from a European Union country, you do not need a visa to enter Cyprus.
4. The official currency in the Republic of Cyprus is the euro, however…
…Turkish lira is the currency used in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
5. The official languages are Greek and Turkish, but…
…people – younger and older – speak English quite widely around the island. But especially tourist areas are full of Russian-speaking people. You will see signs, advertisements, and restaurant menus in Greek, English, and Russian languages as well.
6. Power sockets, plugs, and switches
Another impact left in Cyprus from British rule is the Type G power plug – the one with three pins in a triangular position that connects to a socket with three holes. It means most of the other European travelers, as well as Russian travelers, will need to bring adapters for their electric devices.
And I really mean it, because not one hotel had them (we stayed in about 3-4 hotels) and neither you should rely on Airbnbs having them – we stayed in three different places and we found only one adapter in each house (probably other tourists left them).
Besides, the store was sold out of all the adapters, when we wanted to buy them. Just bring your own! And switches – each socket has a switch! If you plug your device and there is no electricity, most likely, you forgot to switch the socket on!
7. Hot water in Cyprus comes from the Sun!
You may notice that almost all the houses in Cyprus have water tanks and solar panels on the roofs. It is because hot water comes from the Sun.
No wonder, because there are about 300 to 340 sunny days in Cyprus per year. If the day is sunny, then the water will heat up and you will have a hot shower.
However, sometimes during the winter months, days can be rainy and you will need to switch on the electric heating. Usually, hotels take care of this for you, but if you rent a house or an Airbnb, then you will have to manage it yourself.
Cyprus travel guide: travel tips for Cyprus!
1. Rent a car!
I really mean it! Unless you are extremely uninterested and don’t want to see anything on the island, and will stay at the hotel and beach all the time, you should rent a car!
The island is so beautiful with many unique places, which are mostly located away from the cities. It will be much easier for you to move around if you have a car because there is no train and buses will only take you only so far… A car is a must!
2. Plan more time than you think you will need!
On the first day of traveling around the island, we only managed to see one-third of what I had planned for the day. And from that day on it was clear as the sky in Cyprus – you should plan more time for things!
Hiking, exploring, and getting to the waterfalls and best places TAKES TIME! And you don’t want to be running around like crazy during your vacation. Just plan more time for enjoying things and try not to stop at every beach on the island!
3. Don’t waste your vacation at the beach – explore the island!
As an adventurer, it is hard for me to watch people laying at the beach 7 days in a row when there are exciting and unique places nearby waiting for somebody to visit them.
Cyprus is full of beautiful places! Here is what I recommend: Best of the best! 11 must-see places in Cyprus! Or check out this list for the ultimate Cyprus experience: Ultimate Cyprus Bucket List: 27 Things To Do And See!
4. When is the best time to go to Cyprus?
It is somehow true, that most people take a vacation during summer, right? And you know what happens? There are crowds of people everywhere!
Well, I am not a big fan of that. I love to travel when there are fewer people, find some hidden gems, and spend some alone time. It makes my memories more special, when I can share them alone or with fewer people.
It is very hot in Cyprus during summertime when temperatures rise well above 30-35 degrees (85-95 F). But it is sunny and warm also during late spring and early autumn, but there will definitely be fewer people.
If you long for some sun during winter, Cyprus is the place to go – most of the days are still sunny and warm and all the tourist places around the island will be quite empty!
5. Enjoy local things – wine, food, and village life!
It is not traveling if you are not trying new things, foods, or drinks! Troodos mountains in Cyprus are full of local wineries, where you can buy local wine for extremely cheap prices (we paid 5 EUR per 75 cl bottle in Kolios winery).
You should also try some pita bread with souvlaki or meze food. Try spending the night in a village (for example, in Omodos) to experience more authentic Cypriot life!
6. Be brave! Look for hidden gems on the island!
Hey, you do not have to try anything extreme! Just look for something right on the edge of your comfort zone! Here are some adventures that I recommend: Adventure time! 9 unusual ideas to explore Cyprus, but here are some unique gems that you should see while in Cyprus: 15 most unique places in Cyprus!
7. Don’t stay in one place, but travel around!
The island is quite small, but it is not meant for one-day excursions! If possible, try spending the night at different places around the island.
This way you will spend less time driving and more time exploring! Sometimes people underestimate, how long and tiring it is to drive on mountain roads – the distance from one point to another could be short, but it takes a lot of time to drive the roads in the mountains!
Spending the night somewhere along the road will give you more time for resting and an early morning start for the next day!
Cyprus is that one special place, where it has it all! There are mountains, beaches, good weather all the time, boat trips and hiking days, swimming and exploring sea caves, eating fresh local food, etc.
It is amazing how much fun you can fit on one small island! Besides everything is reachable pretty easily and fast.
You can wake up one day and choose whatever you wish to do and go! I really hope you can experience this island one day to the fullest! By the way, if you can, please, leave a comment below if there are any significant changes to anything that is written in this blog post! Many thanks!
More Cyprus travel inspiration!
- 15 Most Famous Instagram Spots In Cyprus
- 15 Most Unique Places In Cyprus
- 9 Special Ideas To Do In Troodos Mountains In Cyprus
- Best Of The Best! 11 Must-See Places In Cyprus
- Ultimate Cyprus Bucket List: 27 Things To Do And See