Cyprus is an island country located underneath Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea. Although it’s technically located in Asia, it’s still part of the European Union (except for the Northern part of the island). The island has strong Greek influences but you can also notice Turkish influences. It’s slightly bigger than Crete. With a rich history and beautiful coastlines, it’s a great island to combine a beach holiday with culture. So who’s ready for some Cyprus travel?
Cyprus is divided into two parts. The southern part is known as the Republic of Cyprus. The northern part is known as the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus but is only officially recognized by Turkey. Normally it’s quite easy to travel between the two, however, rules apply which we will describe later in this blog. Because of the pandemic, it was pretty hard to visit the northern part, so in this blog we will only focus on the southern part of Cyprus.
We traveled to Cyprus at the beginning of September 2021 and traveled all over the island. There is plenty to see and visit and in this Ultimate Cyprus Travel Guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about visiting this country.
needed to see it all
Things to Know
The southern part of Cyprus is part of the EU and is a so-called Schengen Country. Residents and citizens from other Schengen countries, EU, or EEA do not need a visa to enter. If you are from another country you have to check this website to see if you need a visa or not.
The northern part is not recognized by Europe and is considered “illegal”. Both parts have airports but if you arrive in Cyprus in the northern part you are not allowed to go to the southern part because they say you illegally entered Cyprus and the EU. However, you can fly out from the northern part towards Turkey without problems.
For Covid related requirements, we would advise checking this website.
Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters. During the winter months, there is a lot of rainfall, especially during December and January. Day temperatures vary from 33°C (91°F) midsummer to 17°C (63°F) in the winter months.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Cyprus is from May to October when the weather is warm and there is not much rain expected. If you don’t like the big crowds we could advise you to avoid July and August which are the hottest months as well. If you like warm sea temperatures it’s best to go between July and October.
The currency used in South Cyprus is Euro.
At the time of writing (November 2021) 1 USD is approximately €0,89.
The price for one night in a hotel starts at around €45. A dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant costs about €20 to €30.
The official languages in Cyprus are Greek and Turkish. Locals however also developed a Cypriot dialect. Most people also speak English.
At most places like hotels and restaurants, there is free wifi. If you have an EU sim-card roaming is at the same cost as your normal abonnement. Be careful around the green zone (the line that separates the northern and the southern part) because your phone might switch to a Turkish provider and that can be expensive.
In the southern part, there is a Cypriot Greek culture that looks a lot like the normal Greek culture. The main religion is Greek Orthodox Christian. The northern part has a Turkish Culture and the main religion is Islam. In the southern part, you can find churches and mosques, however, in the northern part are not many churches left. The vibes in the southern part feel like Greek with Turkish influences.
Traveling to Cyprus
Cyprus is an island quite far away from the mainland and you can only travel to Cyprus by plane. There are 2 international airports in the southern part: Larnaca and Paphos. Larnaca is the biggest of the two. Then there is a third airport in the northern part, Ercan Airport, but as described above, entering through this airport is considered illegal by the southern part of Cyprus and the EU. If you are going to visit Turkey afterward you can fly out from this airport without a problem, since it offers the cheapest flights into Turkey.
Getting Around in Cyprus
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and it offers several ways to travel around. Our preferred way of traveling around in Cyprus is renting a car so you can explore the whole island easily. If you drive from Ayia Napa in the east to Polis in the west it is over 200 km. The roads are really good and there is a highway along the southern coast. Please take note that Cyprus is a former colony of Great Britain and they drive on the left side of the road. You can also rent a motorbike or quad bike, but as mentioned above it’s a large island and you might get a sore bum.
When renting a car in South Cyprus, you can easily cross the border over to North Cyprus. There are 8 border crossings in total. Firstly check if your rental car has an insurance to drive in North Cyprus though. As told before, the other way around (going from north to south) is not possible by rental car.
Another option to go around is by public transport. There is a good public bus system running from Monday to Saturday. Furthermore, you can also book tours to get from one point to another. The third option is to take a taxi.
Cyprus Must Sees
Larnaca is the biggest city on the east side of the island. Some of the things we would recommend to visit here are:
- Church of Saint Lazarus – A late 9th-century church
- Medieval Castle – Larnaca Fort – A 14th-century coastal fort
- Grand Mosque – Beautiful mosque in a historic building
- Piale Pasha, the sea front street – Larnacas’ first seafront street, starting from the Medieval Castle
- Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque – Beautiful mosque near at the edge of the Salt Lake
- Larnaca Salt lake – Huge salt lake which is completely white when dried out
Ayia Napa is located in the most eastern part of Cyprus. It is famous for its many resorts and hotels but besides that, there are many incredible places to visit here like:
- Makronissos Tombs & Beach – Beautiful old tombs with a beach nearby
- Ayia Napa Monastery – An old monastery, located in the city center
- Nissi Beach – One of the most popular beaches of Cyprus where you can walk through the water to Nissi Island
- Love Bridge (Coordinates: 34.982562, 34.016464) – A stunning natural bridge facing towards the sunset
- Agia Saranta Cave Church – An old church built into a cave
- St Nicholas Church – A white church with a blue dome near the waterfront
- Cape Greco National Forest Park – Interesting rock formations, Konnos Beach, and nice walking trails
- Sea Caves – Multiple caves along next to the rough sea with stunning views
Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus, located in the north of the southern side. The city is divided in two because the green line runs straight through it for almost 60 years already. The green line is the UN-forced buffer zone, a kind of no man’s land between the north and the south side. The places we recommend visiting in Nicosia are:
- The Green Line – A strip of no-mans-land that splits the city into two
- Nicosia’s old town – Narrow streets and interesting old buildings
- The Venetian wall & the Famagusta gate – These walls, built in the Middle Age surround the old town of Nicosia
- Shacolas Tower observatory – From the tower, you can look around 360 degrees over both parts of Nicosia
Lefkara is a small town with real cute streets filled with Greek vibes and shouldn’t be missed during your Cyprus travel. It’s also the birthplace of the Cypriotic lace called Lefkaritiko. We would advise visiting this town as a little detour when you make your way from Larnaca to Limassol or the other way around. It’s the perfect place to wander around in the cute streets, have a chat with the friendly locals, and get some souvenirs.
Limassol is a city where you can find many ancient sights which are worth visiting.
In the center you can find:
- Limassol Castle – Old castle close to the harbour
- The Grand Mosque – An old mosque close to the Limassol Castle
- The old town – The area where you can find the castle, the mosque, and the old port
West of the city you can find more amazing places:
- Lady’s Mile beach – This 5 km long beach is the longest of Cyprus and leads to the Akrotiri Peninsula
- Kolossi Castle – A big, square formed castle a little bit out of the city
- Kourion Archaeological Site – One of the most impressive archeological sites of an ancient Greek city
- Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates – Ancient site whit a partially renovated greek temple
If you drive further towards Paphos we would recommend you to visit Aphrodite’s Rock, one of the most famous places in Cyprus.
Paphos is the biggest city on the west side of Cyprus and a great base to explore everything in this area. Some of the places you should not miss in the center of Paphos:
- Paphos Archaeological Park – A big archaeological area in the center of Paphos
- Hrysopolitissa church – An old basilica close the the Paphos Archaeological Park
- Tombs of the Kings – The most impressive tombs on the island in a pretty good state
And the things close to Paphos we don’t want you to miss:
- Daytrip to Polis. We would recommend renting a quad bike there and exploring Akamas National Park where you can find the beautiful Blue Lagoons. You can’t drive the road in Akamas with a normal car, hence we would recommend a quad.
- Edro III Shipwreck – An almost 100m long shipwreck located close to the shore since 2011
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If you don’t plan on renting a car or want to know more about the history of Cyprus, then its worth to book some organised trips. This way you’ll still see plenty of the island!
Where to Stay
Cyprus is quite a big island, and if you want to travel all around Cyprus we would recommend to staying in a couple of places spread out over the country. We listed a few options per city. Some are budget, some more luxurious.
Hotels in Larnaca:
Located in the center of Larnaca and only a 5 minute walk from the beach this is a affordable place to stay.
Studio from €48 per night
This luxurious adults-only hotel with a rooftop pool is located in the center of Larnaca, close to the beach.
Double room from €173 per night
Hotels in Ayia Napa:
These apartments are located in the center of Ayia Napa, approximately 1km from the beach.
Apartment from €58 per night
Lovely hotel with a large pool right at the beach. You can read more about this hotel below.
Double room from €154 per night
Pavlo Napa Beach Hotel was a great place to stay. We ended our Cyprus travel trip here to relax and explore the beautiful surroundings of Ayia Napa. The hotel was located perfectly, right on the beach of a small bay and close to the most popular Nissi Beach. The large pool with many sunbeds was great for relaxing. It offers stays with breakfast only, but also half board or all-inclusive options. We had a great stay and love to come back here someday!
Hotels in Nicosia:
Nice rooms located in the old center of Nicosia, close to the Green Line and the shops and restaurants.
Double room from €44 per night
This luxury hotel is located on the edge of the old city center and offers great service.
Double room from €175 per night
Hotels in Limassol:
Nice hotel with parking place in the big city of Limassol.
Double room from €62 per night
Beautiful hotel with a large pool right at the beach.
Double room from €261 per night
Hotels in Paphos:
Located a bit out of the center but with a lovely pool and close to the beach.
Studio from €49 per night
Beautiful resort with multiple pools and beachfront location.
Double room from €250 per night
Where to Eat
- Staono Kato – Larnaca, mid range price class
- Special Kebab House – Larnaca, low price class
- Flames Restaurant – Aya Napa, mid range price class
- Sesoula Kalamaki – Aya napa, low price class
- Piatsa Gourounaki – Nicosia, mid range price class
- To Anamma – Nicosia, low price class
- Meze Taverna Restaurant – Limassol, mid range price class
- Karatello Tavern – Limassol, low price class
- Dias Zeus – Paphos, mid range price class
- T&J’s Fish and Chips – Paphos, low price class
What to Bring
- Summerly clothes – It can get very hot during the summer months!
- A jumper – For when it gets a bit chillier in the evening
- Flip flops – No explanation is necessary
- Swimwear – It’s a Mediterranean island
- Camera – To save these memories for later
We hope you will enjoy your Cyprus travel trip as much as we did! The mixture of Mediterranean and Turkish vibes are pretty nice to experience. If you have other suggestions, which people should not miss, you can leave them behind in the comments below.