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It literally only takes a few hours to drive around the entire island of Cyprus, definitely rent a car so you can easily roam around!
Cyprus is in the Eastern European Time Zone, so it’s GMT+2. In comparison to the UK, for example, Cyprus is two hours ahead of UK time.
Entering Cyprus is partly simple, because it’s a member of the European Union. But it can also be confusing because it’s split into two sides: Greece and Turkey. If you’d like to cross the borders, you’ll need to go through border checkpoints with your passport. In general, here are some basic FYIs.
The Republic of Cyprus is a member of the European Union but it’s NOT part of Schengen Agreement. To enter Cyprus, you’ll need to prepare these documents:
- Passports should be valid for at least six months.
- You need a return airline ticket, this will be checked even before you get on the airplane.
- If you’re a tourist or you’re visiting for business, you may enter the Republic of Cyprus for up to 90 days without a visa. For more than 90 days, you will need a temporary residency visa.
Since 1974, southern Cyprus has been declared the Republic of Cyprus (Greek-influenced.) Since 1983, the northern part of Cyprus is the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”.) Neither USA nor other countries recognize TRNC, except for Turkey. When you cross the border between northern and southern Cyprus, you’ll cross a buffer zone patrolled by the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The buffer zone, or the Green Line officially separates the two sides.
If you’re a U.S. citizen and considering entering from the Turkish northern side:
- Don’t enter Cyprus from Ercan Airport in the north since it’s not considered a “legal” entrance. Only enter Cyprus from the south: Larnaca and Paphos airports and at the seaports of Limassol, Larnaca, and Paphos. .
- In the north Turkish side, you can only stay for less than 90 days with a valid passport. If you stay longer than 90 days, you may be detained at Larnaca airport.
In order to cross between Turkey and Greek sides of Cyprus, you’ll encounter the Buffer Zone, aka: the famous Green Line which marks Nicosia as the only divided capital in the world. The Green Line was established after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, separating the North and the South through its ancient city.
The Buffer Zone refers to a 30-meter strip that was marked by the United Nations peacekeeping force. Unless you’re a diplomat or work for the UN, no one is allowed in Buffer Zone area around the Green Line. For more information, read this article: Crossing North & South Sides Of Cyprus? Here’s The Low Down.
Cyprus is considerably safe with low crime rate, so it would be okay for female travelers to go solo there. Utilize the usual travel precautions as one would do in any country, while eating at restaurants alone or heading to the bars at night would be fine. It’s highly recommended to rent a car and explore other villages since Cyprus isn’t too big, you can drive all the way across Cyprus in just a few hours.
Some areas to consider staying at if you’re going solo: Ayia napa, Protaras, or near Larnaca Airport.
The European emergency number is 112, you can also use 199 specifically for emergencies in Cyprus.
If you love the sun and heat, then visiting Cyprus during summertime is the most ideal. especially in August. Cyprus’ warmer months also last longer, from early June until October. During winter, it’s rainy season and temperatures range from 17°C to 31°C. The best season to visit is in autumn.
There are approximately 740,000 people who live on the island, the official languages in Cyprus are Greek (84%) and Turkish (13%). In the south, locals will speak Greek, and Turkish is widely spoken in the north. English is widely spoken in both parts since Cyprus was ruled by the British before.
One important key factor is to know the cultural difference between the south and the north. In the south Greek side, you can act and behave as you would in Europe. Meanwhile, in the north Turkish side you’ll need to use etiquette as you would if you were in Istanbul. So cover up in mosques, and don’t show too much skin in your attire.
With locals: Cypriots are extremely hospitable, so it’s common for them to invite you into their home to show you their local cultures. Some may take this as a sign of danger, but Cypriots are genuine. Of course, use your own judgement and street smart in your decision making process. Cypriot culture is also one that respects the elderly.
In churches, monasteries, and mosques: Your attire should be appropriate, so wear clothing that cover your knees, legs and shoulders (women.) Shoes should be taken off inside mosques, and women should cover your heads with scarves.
On beaches: Topless sunbathing isn’t entirely approved by the locals, since Cypriots are remain to be socially conservative. If you decide to sunbath topless, definitely cover up when you’re not laying down.
Cyprus uses two types of currencies: Euros (€) and Turkish Lira. In the south Greek part, you’ll need to use Euros. In the northern Turkish side, you’ll need to use Lira. You’ll be able to find ATMs everywhere throughout the country. Most places will accept credit cards but prefer you pay with cash.
Restaurants: Sometimes a 10% tip is included in the bill, but not all the time. If tip isn’t included, then leave €2 to €3.
Tour Guide: Since you’ll most likely hire one to cross from the Greek to the Turkey side, you should tip your guide 10% and your driver 5%.
Cab drivers and bartenders don’t expect tips but it’s appreciated. You can tip the hotel porters for helping your luggage with €1.
Like the rest of Europe, Cyprus uses one of the two European standard electrical socket types, with voltage of 220-240 Volts (U.S./Canada are 110-120 Volts.) Your converter should look like this:
Cypriot tap water is safe to drink, but most travelers still stick to bottled water since local tap water contains more minerals and it can cause upset stomach for some travelers. But note that if you order a Cypriot coffee, it’ll come with a glass of water and that’ll be tap.
In Cyprus, most hotels and restaurants will have free Wi-Fi. Larnaca Airport also has free Wi-Fi service.
Uber does not exist in Cyprus, but you can prebook taxis with nTaxi. You can use it in Nicosia, Limasool, Larnaca. If not, you’ll need to ask your hotel for a local taxi company. Or you can also keep the business card of your taxi driver from the airport, they’re eager to have more business throughout the duration of your trip.
You may find that although Cyprus is socially conservative, LGBTQ laws on the island is similar to those in the EU which means same-sex activity is legal. In 2014, even Northern Cyprus enacted anti-discrimination protection. With that said, there aren’t many openly gay venues, one gay sauna (Vinci Sauna,) and homosexual activities appears to be quite discrete. Some have even experienced frowns with PDA.
As a gay traveler, there are bars and clubs along Mackenzie Beach, and there’s The Elysium Bar Complex in Limassol. There are nude beaches for gay sunbathers in Paphos.