Getting there & away
Most visitors to Cyprus arrive by air and many of them come on charter flights. Tickets on scheduled flights to Cyprus tend to be expensive, but Europe-based travellers may be able to pick up cheap last-minute tickets with charter companies if they shop around. This applies in practice only to travellers to the Republic of Cyprus, as charter tickets to Northern Cyprus are rarely available. If you’re already in Greece, you can pick up reasonably priced one-way or return tickets to the South from travel agents in Athens, Thessaloniki or Iraklio. The only way to arrive in the South by sea is by a cruise boat; there are no longer any passenger ferries, but vehicles may travel unaccompanied. However, there are fast and slower passenger ferries and car-ferry services linking the Turkish mainland with Northern Cyprus.
Travelling between the South and North is easy nowadays, since the restrictions on crossing the border have been eased. However, you are only allowed to cross at designated checkpoints.
Flights, tours and rail tickets can be booked at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel_services.
You will need a valid passport to enter Cyprus (North or South), and you will need one to cross between the North and South. You’ll need to produce your passport or ID card every time you check into a hotel in Cyprus, and when you conduct banking transactions.
As a foreigner, it’s best to carry your passport or ID card with you at all times, in case you are stopped by the police or the military for routine checks.
Tickets to Cyprus are at their most expensive in August. It’s a good idea to try picking up flight-only deals with package-holiday companies during this time. Prices depend to a large degree on the season, and to a lesser degree on the day of the week or even the time you fly.
Vacant seats on charter flights block-booked to Cyprus by package-tour companies are cheap, but conditions apply. First, you can rarely get more than two weeks for your itinerary and, second, the departure and arrival times are quite inflexible once booked. That said, a percentage of all package-tour seats is given over to flight-only travellers, so give it a go.
There are currently only passenger ferry services from Turkey to Northern Cyprus. The Republic of Cyprus used to be connected to mainland Europe by a regular passenger- and car-ferry service between Lemesos and Piraeus, Greece, with stops in Patmos and Rhodes, or sometimes in Crete instead. Cyprus was also connected to the Middle East by an onward service to Haifa in Israel.
Unfortunately, in October 2001 the two shipping companies that held the monopoly on travel to the South suspended all passenger services until further notice. Check the website of Salamis Lines (www.viamare.com) for the latest information.
Lemesos is the South’s main arrival and departure port, and the port is 3km southwest of the town centre. It’s reasonably well-equipped for sea travellers but with the suspension of passenger ferries, facilities are now mainly used by cruise-ship passengers. The terminal building has banks, tourist information facilities and duty-free shops.
Entering Cyprus is a smooth process, providing your papers are in order of course. The immigration officers are pretty relaxed, and will usually give you only a cursory glance.
There are scheduled flights and a limited amount of charter-only flights to Cyprus from most European cities and the Middle East, with discounts for students. Flights are heavily booked in the high season.
The Republic’s airports are at Larnaka airport(LCA; 2481 6130) and Pafos airport (PFO/LCPH; 2624 0506), while the North is served by Ercan airport (ECN; 231 4806).
Ercan airport, 14km east of North Nicosia (Lefkoşa) in Northern Cyprus, is not recognised by the international airline authorities, so you can’t fly there direct. Airlines must touch down first in Turkey and then fly on to Northern Cyprus. Ercan is smaller than Pafos airport and not particularly well-equipped with arrival facilities such as baggage carts and other conveniences. Car hire must be arranged beforehand. Taxis are your only choice to and from the airport.
Cyprus Airways is the national carrier of the Republic of Cyprus, and Northern Cyprus is served primarily by Turkish Airlines (Türk Hava Yolları; THY).
Aegean Airlines(A3; 22 71 65 00; www.aegeanair.com; hub Athens International Airport, Athens)
British Airways(BAW; 2276 1166; www.britishairways.com; hub Heathrow Airport, London)
CyprusTurkish Airlines(KTHY; 231 4142; www.kthy.net; hub Ercan Airport, Famagusta)
First Choice Airways(FCA; 2258 8000; www.firstchoice.co.uk; hub Gatwick Airport, London)
GB Airways(BA; 2276 1166; www.gbairways.com; hub Gatwick Airport, London)
Lufthansa(DLH; 2287 3330; www.lufthansa.com; hub Frankfurt Airport, Frankfurt)
Travellers in Africa can get to Cyprus most easily via Johannesburg and Nairobi on one of Olympic Airways regular flights through Athens. An alternative route into Cyprus is from Cairo to Larnaka direct with either Egypt Air or Cyprus Airways. Both airlines fly twice a week for US$150/200 one way/return. Tickets are available from Egypt Panorama Tours (359 0200; firstname.lastname@example.org; 4 Rd 79, Maadi, Cairo). Cash payment is advisable in preference to credit cards, which may incur a 10% surcharge.
STA Travel, which is reliable throughout Asia, has branches in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. The Singapore office of STA Travel (6737 7188; email@example.com; 33A Cuppage Rd, Cuppage Tce, Singapore) is a good one-stop shop. Flights from Singapore to Larnaka cost from S$770/950 one way/return to around S$1000/1400 one way/return.
There are no direct services from Australia to Cyprus, but Emirates flies more or less directly from Melbourne or Perth via Singapore, with a change of aircraft in Dubai. Olympic Airways flies to Athens from Melbourne and Sydney, and can usually offer good value add-on Cyprus legs. Singapore Airlines flies into Athens three times a week, and there are daily connections with Cyprus Airways and Olympic Airways. You can also fly Malaysia Airlines from Melbourne to Beirut via Kuala Lumpur, and pick up a Royal Jordanian connection in Beirut to Larnaka.
STA Travel (1300 733 035; www.statravel.com.au) and Flight Centre(133 133; www.flightcentre.com.au) are major dealers in cheap air fares. Fares are some 10% cheaper if booked online. Another good website to check fares from Australia is www.travel.com.au.
Return ticket prices from Australia to Cyprus cost around A$2200/2835 in low/high season. Discounted fares of around A$1555 can also be found, but these have restricted conditions.
In New Zealand, as in Australia, STA Travel (0508 782 872; www.statravel.co.nz) and Flight Centre (0800 243 544; www.flightcentre.co.nz) are popular travel agents. Connections to Cyprus are as for Australia, with the additional cost of flying to and from Australia.
Travel CUTS (1-866-246-9762; www.travelcuts.com) has offices in all major cities. Its Montreal office, Voyages Campus Travel CUTS (514-843-8511), is a good place to ask about cheap deals. You should be able to get to Larnaka and back from Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver for C$1500.
Olympic Airways (Montreal 514-878-3891; Toronto 905-676-484) has two flights a week from Toronto to Athens via Montreal. From Athens, you can connect with either an Olympic Airways or Cyprus Airways flight to Larnaka.
You can use the same online sites as for the USA to search and book return flights from Canada to Cyprus. Return ticket prices include C$1420 from Toronto to Larnaka with British Airways or Lufthansa, and from C$2800 flying from Vancouver to Larnaka with various combinations of Lufthansa, Air Canada and British Airways.
There are regular services between France and the South with KLM (08 90 71 07 10) and Cyprus Airways (01 45 01 93 38). Austrian Airlines (08 20 81 68 16) also has daily flights to Larnaka via Vienna. Turkish Airlines (01 56 69 33 50) links Paris with Ercan airport in Northern Cyprus daily via Istanbul. Costs range from €339 to €485 return.
Reliable travel agents that you can check out include the following:
Héliades (01 42 60 87 81; 63 Rue Sainte-Anne, Paris)
STA Travel (SRS Studenten Reise Service; 030-285 82 64; www.statravel.de; Gleimstrasse 28) offers special student (aged 34 or under) and youth (aged 25 or under) fares.
Travel agents that offer cheap flights advertise in Zitty, Berlin’s fortnightly entertainment magazine.
In Frankfurt, try STA Travel (069-904 36 970; firstname.lastname@example.org; Berger Strasse 118). There is also an office for Cyprus Airways (069-695 89 30; Hahnstrasse 68) in Frankfurt.
Not surprisingly, Greece is well-connected to Cyprus, with up to seven flights daily to and from the South. Olympic Airways (reservations 0801 44444; www.olympic-airways.gr) flies up to four times weekly from Thessaloniki and twice daily from Athens to Larnaka, while Cyprus Airways (21-0372 2722) flies from Athens to Larnaka up to five times daily, and to Pafos twice weekly. There is an additional service from Iraklio in Crete to Larnaka three times a week. Ticket prices are reasonable but not overly cheap. Bank on around €220 to €250 for a return ticket from any of these destinations.
It’s possible to fly to Northern Cyprus from Greece. Daily flights with Turkish Airlines from Athens to Istanbul connect with a daily evening flight to Ercan. Contact Turkish Airlines (21-0324 6024; Filellinon 19, Athens) for details.
Some reputable travel agents in Greece worth seeking out are STA Travel (Athens21-0321 1188; email@example.com; Voulis 31, Athens; Thessaloniki231-022 1391; Tsimiski 130, Thessaloniki), Aktina Travel Services (21-0324 9925; firstname.lastname@example.org; Nikodimou 3, Athens) and Prince Travel (281-028 2706; 25 Avgoustou 30, Iraklio).
You can fly to Cyprus from the Netherlands daily. The cheapest return deal is with Austrian Airlines (via Vienna) for €330, followed by Alitalia via Rome (€350), Lufthansa via Frankfurt or Munich (€365), and KLM (€400) direct from Amsterdam.
Travel agents in Amsterdam include the following:
Kilroy Travels (020-524 51 00; www.kilroytravels.com; Singel 413)
MalibuTravel (020-626 32 20; postbus@point topoint.demon.nl; Prinsengracht 230)
MyTravel Reiswinkels (020-692 77 88; email@example.com; v Baerlestraat 82)
With Cyprus so close to the Middle East, transport links between the countries of the Levant and Larnaka are good, but tickets are rarely discounted. Cyprus Airways is represented in Israel by Open Sky (03-795 1570; Ben Yehuda 23, Tel Aviv), in Jordan by Petra Travel & Tourism (06-562 0115; Abdulhamid Sharaf St, Amman), in Syria by Al Patra Travel & Tourism (011-232 4513; 29th May St, Alani Ave, Damascus) and in Lebanon by Cyprus Airways (01-371 136; Starco Center Block B, Beirut Central).
A good place in Israel to buy discounted tickets is Israworld (03-522 7099; www.israworld.com; Ben Yehuda 66, Tel Aviv). It quoted US$110/150 for a one-way/return ticket to Larnaka with Cyprus Airways.
Trailfinders (020-7937 1234; www.trailfinder.co.uk; 215 Kensington High St, W8 6BD) produces a lavishly illustrated brochure that includes air-fare details. STA Travel (020-7361 6161; www.statravel.co.uk; 86 Old Brompton Rd, SW7 3LQ) has branches in the UK. Look in the Sunday papers and Exchange & Mart for ads. Also look out for the free magazines and newspapers widely available in London. Those that are especially useful include Footloose, Supertravel Magazine, TNT and Trailfinder. You can pick these up outside the main train and underground stations.
Most British travel agents are registered with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). If you have paid for your flight at an ABTA-registered agent that goes out of business, ABTA will guarantee a refund or an alternative. Unregistered bucket shops are riskier but sometimes cheaper.
If you book directly with the airline companies, the best deals are with British Airways (0845 722 2111), which flies to Larnaka direct daily. A return ticket costs UK£150/215 in low/high season. Olympic Airways (0870 606 0460) flies twice daily (via Athens) for UK£200/250. Lufthansa (0845 773 7747) flies two to four times a week (via Frankfurt) for UK£200/300. There are some flights to Pafos, but they cost around UK£300 return.
Although there is a London office for Cyprus Airways (020-8359 1333; 5 The Exchange, Brent Cross Gardens, NW4 3RJ), it’s cheaper to buy its tickets through a travel agent.
A good website for booking your own tickets is Travelocity (www.travelocity.co.uk). A quick search of the website brought up return fares ranging from UK£100 with Czech Airlines to UK£180 with Austrian Airlines. Expedia (www.expedia.co.uk) is another good online booking site, but a search for return tickets to Larnaka brought up return fares including UK£139 with British Airways and UK£240 with Cyprus Airways. Another UK website, Cheaptickets (www.cheaptickets.co.uk), brought up return fares ranging from UK£240 with Cyprus Airways to UK£560 with Lufthansa.
Return tickets to Ercan airport in Northern Cyprus range from UK£320 to UK£470 with Turkish Airlines (020-7766 9300).
Package holidays to the Republic of Cyprus come in all shapes and sizes, and range in price from UK£350 to UK£700 for one week’s accommodation with breakfast in a decent-sized hotel in Pafos.
You can fly to Cyprus from the USA with a number of airlines, but all involve a stop and possibly a change of airline in Europe. The New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune and San Francisco Examiner all produce weekly travel sections in which you can find any number of travel agents’ advertisements.
Council Travel (www.counciltravel.com) and STA Travel (www.sta-travel.com) have offices in major cities nationwide. The magazine Travel Unlimited publishes details of the cheapest air fares and courier possibilities for destinations all over the world from the USA.
Among the cheaper fares offered by travel agents are return tickets with United Airlines and American Airlines connecting with Cyprus Airways flights. Tickets start at US$1515. Other permutations with British Airways, Continental Airlines, Olympic Airways or KLM are a little more expensive at US$1580. Cyprus Airways in the US is represented by Kinisis Travel & Tours (718-267 6882; 34-09 Broadway, Astoria, New York).
You can often get cheaper deals by booking online. Check out the following for some good ticket deals: