Credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and larger shops throughout Cyprus and ATMs are widely available.
The unit of currency in Northern Cyprus is the Turkish lira (Turkye Lira; TL). Exchange rates for the new Turkish lira are subject to fluctuations due to a high inflation rate.
The Republic’s unit of currency is the euro (€).
Banks in Cyprus exchange all major currencies in cash (travellers cheques are becoming increasingly rare). Most shops and hotels in Northern Cyprus accept hard currencies such as UK pounds, US dollars and euros.
You will find ATMs in most towns and larger villages throughout the island.
In the Republic, you can get a cash advance on Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Eurocard and American Express at a number of banks, and there are plenty of ATMs. In the North, cash advances are given on Visa cards at the Vakıflar and Kooperatif banks in North Nicosia and Kyrenia (Girne); major banks (such as Iş Bankası) in large towns will have ATMs, while there is an increasing number of petrol stations with ATMs attached. Do carry some cash with you though, especially if you’re travelling up to the Karpas (Kırpaşa) Peninsula.
Foreign-currency notes may be all right to use in major tourist centres in Cyprus, but are not much use in villages in the Troödos Mountains. In the North, foreign currency is more likely to be widely accepted in lieu of new Turkish lira.
Currency-exchange bureaus in tourist centres operate over extended hours and most weekends.
As ubiquitous as ATMs, credit cards can be used in stores, restaurants, supermarkets and petrol stations. In the latter, you can even buy petrol after hours from automatic dispensers with your credit card.
The Republic of Cyprus is more credit-card friendly than Northern Cyprus, though the main restaurants, hotels and car-hire companies in the North will happily take plastic.
If you need to access your funds, international transfers are possible from your home bank to any of Cyprus' major banks. While this method is reliable, it is usually slow – taking a week or more – and not helpful if you need a cash infusion quickly. Telegraphic transfers are nominally quicker (and cost more) but can still take up to three working days to come through.
Private financial agencies such as Western Union are usually the best bet, as you can often obtain your transferred money the same day.
Republic of Cyprus
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
- In the North and South, a 10% service charge is often added to a restaurant bill; if not, then a tip of a similar percentage is expected.
- Taxi drivers and hotel porters always appreciate a small tip.
Increasingly overlooked by card-wielding travellers, travellers cheques are a dying breed. They should not, however, be written off entirely as they’re an excellent form of backup.
Amex, Visa and Travelex cheques are the easiest to cash, particularly if in US dollars, British pounds or euros. Banks can charge hefty commissions, though, even on cheques denominated in euros. Whatever currency they are in, travellers cheques can be difficult to exchange in smaller towns. Always take your passport as identification when cashing travellers cheques.