Overall, haggling is not part of the Cypriot culture, although gentle bartering is common in markets if prices are not marked.
Dangers & Annoyances
Cyprus is a relatively safe place for visitors. The main thing to be aware of is petty theft, especially in main tourist sights. Be careful but don't be paranoid. Organised crime, mainly from Eastern Europe, is a factor to be aware of and has had particular impact on prostitution, mainly confined to cabarets, in clearly defined areas of larger towns.
You may come across time-share touts if you hang around the main resorts in Cyprus, and in particular Pafos. If you like the island enough, a time share may be worth considering, but be careful about how and what you choose. You need to have all your rights and obligations in writing, especially where management companies promise to sell your time share for you if you decide to buy a new one.
Government Travel Advice
The following government websites offer travel advisories and information for travellers.
- Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.smartraveller.gov.au)
- British Foreign Office (www.fco.gov.uk/countryadvice)
- Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.voyage.gc.ca)
- US State Department (www.travel.state.gov)
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Country code (Republic of Cyprus)||357|
|Country code (Northern Cyprus)||90 392|
|International access code||00|
|Ambulance||199 or 112|
Entry & Exit Formalities
Citizens of EU member states and Switzerland can travel to the Republic with just their national identity card. Nationals of the UK have to carry a full passport (UK visitor passports are not acceptable) and all other nationalities must have a full valid passport. In Northern Cyprus, EU citizens can stay for up to three months.
You will need a valid passport 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.
Republic of Cyprus
General EU customs rules apply. You are allowed to bring in or out an unrestricted amount of (legal) goods, as long as they are for your own consumption.
Limits for entering or leaving Northern Cyprus:
- 200 cigarettes
- 1L of spirits or wine
- €100 worth of other goods
The importation of agricultural products is subject to strict quarantine control and requires prior approval by the Ministry of Agriculture & Natural Resources.
When travelling, be aware that you become subject to both British and the Republic of Cyprus customs regulations when crossing passport control at Pergamos (Larnaka) and Agios Nikolaos (Famagusta), as those two checkpoints are in the Dekelia Sovereign Base Area (Great Britain). The regulations are the same, but it might take a bit more time.
Generally no restrictions for stays up to three months in the Republic and in Northern Cyprus.
- In both the Republic of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus, nationals of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore can enter and stay for up to three months without a visa.
- Citizens of South Africa may enter for up to 30 days without a visa.
- You must have your passport to cross from one side to the other.
- The same passport-control crossing rules apply for Greek and Turkish travellers as for everyone else.
In general Cypriots are moderately conservative with a culture that is centred on the family. They are generally friendly overall and think nothing of asking personal questions about your profession, family relationships and even how much you earn!
- If you are offered a cup of Turkish/Cypriot coffee – accept. It is considered impolite to decline.
- Wait to be invited before using someone's first name.
- If invited to a Cypriot's house, bring a consumable gift such as pastries.
- Do not give white lilies as they are used at funerals.
Homosexuality is legal in the Republic. You will find interesting discussions, tips and contacts on anything gay in Cyprus at www.gay-cyprus.com.
In Northern Cyprus, homosexuality, which had long been officially banned, was decriminalised in 2010. However, you may still find an overall conservative attitude, and overt public displays of affection may be frowned upon. To date there are no organised support groups in the North, though there is a handful of gay forums, including www.turkeygay.net/cyprus.html.
- A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems as well as cancellation or delays to your travel arrangements is a good idea.
- Paying for your ticket with a credit card can often provide limited travel-accident insurance and you may be able to reclaim the payment if the operator doesn't deliver.
- Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/bookings. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Wi-fi is increasingly available at most hotels and in many cafes, restaurants and airports, particularly in the Republic. Internet cafes are difficult to find in the Republic but more common in Northern Cyprus. The following were in operation at the time of research but, be aware, that they do tend to come and go.
If you are arrested, you are entitled to make one phone call. If you use this to call your embassy or consulate, the staff should be able to refer you to an English-speaking lawyer. Be cautious around military areas and take 'No Photography' signs seriously or risk having your camera confiscated.
Drinking & Driving
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is strictly controlled, and being over the limit can result in a stiff fine and a night behind bars.
The Cypriot authorities in both Northern Cyprus and the Republic show zero tolerance towards drugs. Although, strictly speaking, a small amount of cannabis for personal use should be permissible (under EU law) in the South, it is just not worth the risk.
UK dailies and German and French newspapers are widely available in the South and North.
Local Newspapers & Magazines
The Republic of Cyprus' English-language newspapers are the Cyprus Mail (www.cyprus-mail.com) and the Cyprus Weekly (www.incyprus.com.cy). In Northern Cyprus, look for the Turkish Daily News, Hurriyet Daily News (www.hurriyetdailynews.com) and Cyprus Today (www.cyprustoday.net).
Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) has programs and news bulletins in English on Radio 2 (91.1FM). British Forces Broadcasting Services (BFBS) 1 broadcasts 24 hours a day in English on 89.7FM (Nicosia), 92.1FM (west Cyprus) and 99.6FM (east Cyprus). BFBS 2 broadcasts on 89.9FM (Nicosia), 91.7FM (Lemesos) and 95.3FM (Larnaka). BBC World Service is picked up 24 hours a day on 1323AM.
Bayrak FM is the voice of the North and has a lively English-language program on 87.8FM and 105FM.
CyBC TV has news in English at 8pm on Channel 2. Midrange to top-end hotels will probably have satellite TV.
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.
The following hours are for high season and tend to decrease outside that time. They apply to the North and South, unless otherwise specified.
Banks Republic of Cyprus 8.30am to 12.30pm Monday to Friday; some also 3.15pm to 4.45pm Monday; Northern Cyprus 8am to noon and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday, 8am to noon Saturday and Sunday
Entertainment 9pm to 3am Thursday to Saturday
Restaurants 11am to 2pm and 7.30pm to 11pm daily
Shops 9am to 7pm weekdays, closing 2pm Wednesday, 9am to 2pm Saturday
Tourist offices 8.30am to 2.30pm and 3pm to 6.30pm Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 2.30pm Saturday and Sunday
Postal services on both sides of the island are generally very efficient. Post offices are located in all major towns and villages. Services are normally only related to selling stamps and some packing materials. Stamps can also be bought at newsagents and street kiosks. Post boxes are everywhere (in the South they are yellow and in the North, red).
If you send mail to any address in Northern Cyprus, ensure that you use the suffix 'Mersin 10, Turkey', not 'Northern Cyprus'.
In general, you can photograph anywhere in Cyprus, with the following fairly obvious exceptions.
- You cannot normally photograph anywhere near the Green Line. In practice, this is rarely monitored other than on both sides of the Green Line in Nicosia, where sensitivities run high. Warning signs, usually a camera with a line through it, are normally displayed prominently, so heed them.
- Military camps are another no-go area, and while there are military installations in both parts of Cyprus, you will be more aware of them in the North. Do not even get a camera out if you see a warning sign.
- Airports, ports and other government installations are normally touchy photo subjects, so you are advised to keep your camera out of sight near these places too. Museums do not normally allow you to photograph exhibits unless you have written permission.
- Churches with icons do not allow the use of a flash and, depending on the commercial value of the pictures you take, may not allow photos at all.
- Cypriots are often willing subjects for photos. However, it is bad form to simply point a camera at someone without at least acknowledging them.
- It is not culturally appropriate to take photographs in mosques when people are praying.
Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Photography is full of helpful tips for photography while on the road.
- Smoking Prohibited in all bars and restaurants, though some owners turn a blind eye and Cyprus hasn’t adopted the antismoking mentality as strongly as the UK or US. That said, a smoking bill in February 2017 bans smoking in all work areas, schools and playgrounds in the South, North Cyprus is still marginally more lax. Hotels throughout the island have nonsmoking rooms. E-cigarettes face similar restrictions to tobacco in the South but are accepted more readily in the North.
Taxes & Refunds
Value-added tax (VAT) is 19% sales tax levied on most goods and services. Restaurants must include VAT in their prices, but it's not always included in hotel room prices – check when booking. Non-EU residents can claim a refund on VAT paid on goods costing more than €50. When paying for your purchase request a Tax Free Form: customs must stamp it at the airport. You'll need to produce the relevant purchases in their original packaging.
Local SIM cards can be used in European and Australian phones. Other phones must be set to roaming to work, be wary of roaming charges.
There are no area codes as such in Cyprus; they are an integral part of the telephone number.
Telephoning between Northern Cyprus & the Republic
- If you have a mobile phone from outside Cyprus with global roaming activated, it’s possible to tune into the GSM networks of either side.
- If you have bought a pay-as-you-go Cypriot card from either side, it will only pick up its own network in Nicosia or North Nicosia. Go any further from the Green Line and you will have to revert to your international card, as roaming is not supported between the two local mobile networks.
- Text messaging between the North and the South is not possible.
If you don't want to purchase a local SIM card, pay-as-you-go mobiles with credit are available from €25.
Republic of Cyprus
In the South, mobile-phone numbers begin with 95, 96 or 97. If you plan to spend any time here, you may want to buy a SIM card for your (unlocked) mobile phone. Check out long-established CYTA (www.cyta.com.cy) for costs and top-up validity periods.
In the North, mobile-phone numbers start with either 0542 (Telsim) or 0533 (Turkcell). To call a local number, you’ll need to dial the full 11-digit number, ie including the Northern Cyprus code of 0392.
Turkcell has good coverage and it costs about 20TL for a pay-as-you-go SIM with enough credit to start you off.
- Most toilets will display a sign requesting you do not flush toilet paper as due to poor island-wide plumbing, this can easily cause a blockage. Wastepaper baskets are provided.
- It is wise to carry a small packet of tissues when you are out and about.
- Most public toilets are free, while some charge a small fee. You can also use the public facilities in a bar or cafe, although it is standard to offer a small sum or buy a drink in return.
As well as the tourist authorities listed below, you can pick up maps and brochures at travel and tour agencies, and hotels generally can provide guests with a map and information on tours and car hire.
Cyprus Tourism Organisation Headquarters are in Nicosia with branch offices in major towns in Cyprus (Agia Napa, Lemesos, Larnaka, Pafos, Polis and Platres).
North Cyprus Tourism Organisation Located in North Nicosia at Kyrenia Gate (Girne Kapısı) with another branch at the Ledra Palace Hotel crossing point. It also maintains tourist offices in Famagusta (Gazimağusa), Kyrenia and Yenierenköy (Yiallousa), which have free country and town maps, plus an increasing number of brochures.
The Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO; www.visitcyprus.com) has introduced a series of audio guides, which you can download from the website in mp3 or mobile-phone format with a choice of six languages. Sights covered include the following:
- Nicosia (Lefkosia) Cyprus Museum, House of Hatzigeorgakis Kornesios, Omeriye Mosque and Makarios Cultural Foundation Byzantine Museum.
- Troödos area Ten Byzantine churches.
- Lemesos (Limassol) area Archaeological site of Kourion, Kolossi Castle and Petra tou Romiou.
- Larnaka area Agios Lazaros, Hala Sultan Tekkesi and Choirokoitia.
- Pafos area Pafos Archaeological Site, Pafos Castle, Tombs of the Kings and Baths of Aphrodite.
Travel with Children
Cyprus is a family-friendly destination with excellent food to satisfy even the fussiest of eaters and a broad range of attractions that appeal to adults and children alike, as well as superb beaches. Visiting as a family does require some planning, but no more than for any other European country.
Best Regions for Kids
- Pafos & the West
Pafos overflows with watery activities: boat rides, fishing trips, snorkelling and a water park. Or there’s the spine-tingling trip to the Tomb of the Kings.
- Lemesos & the South
The city beaches offer shallow waters and plenty of activities, while horse riding, a water park and an expansive sports centre all keep the adrenalin up.
- Larnaka & the East
Older kids will really enjoy the underwater activities, plus sandy beaches, sea caves, camel rides and a fascinating museum on, you guessed it, the sea.
- Kyrenia (Girne) & the North
Fairy-tale castles, deserted beaches, nature strolls and the hulking Kyrenia shipwreck in the town’s main museum should blow their little socks off.
- Famagusta (Gazimağusa) & the Karpas Peninsula
Famagusta’s medieval walled city captures the imagination. On the peninsula, stride out on endless beaches, enjoy a cycling trip, visit an eco village and see turtles in the wild.
Cyprus for Kids
Cyprus is definitely a family-friendly destination. The culture revolves around the (extended) family and children are adored. Stripped back to basics, beaches, castles, ancient sights and virtual year-round sunshine are pretty good raw ingredients. Add to this water sports, museums, parks, boat rides and loads of ice cream, and it becomes serious spoil-them-rotten time. Note that the majority of theme parks and human-made entertainment for children is in the Republic.
Always make a point of asking staff at tourist offices for a list of family activities, including traditional fiestas, plus suggestions on hotels that cater for children.
Overall, beaches in the main resorts have shallow waters, bucket-and-spade-worthy pebbles and sand, various activities (pedalos, boat rides, volleyball or similar), plus family-friendly restaurants and ice-cream vendors within tottering distance of the sand.
Restaurants & Mealtimes
Children are generally made very welcome at restaurants here. On the downside, few have nappy-changing facilities, although this is changing, albeit at a glacial pace. Most restaurants have a children’s menu, and as Cypriot food is rarely spicy, kids tend to like it anyway. One challenge can be adapting to the later eating hours. However, it’s generally easy to zip into the nearest kebab (or similar) fast-food place, and patisseries often sell savoury snacks and sweeter treats.
Theme Parks & Wildlife
- Extreme Park (Nicosia) An enormous playground encompassing everything from trampolines to obstacle courses.
- Parko Paliasto (Agia Napa) A traditional funfair with plenty of head-spinning rides.
- Lemesos Zoo A recently renovated small zoo with a large aviary.
- Pafos Zoo A superb zoo and bird park.
- Mazotos Camel Park (Mazotos, Larnaka) Ride on camels, then freshen up in the swimming pool
- Water World, Agia Napa It’s big, it’s splashy and it’s been the recipient of a tidal wave of international awards.
- Fasouri Watermania, Fasouri, Lemesos Options range from paddling pools for tots to kamikaze slides for teens.
- Aphrodite Waterpark, Pafos Great for all ages with plenty of slides as well as shallow pools.
Museums & History
- Natural History Museum (Larnaka) Great for kids, with a good playground and peacocks, pelicans and macaws, plus the all-time favourites – creepy crawlies.
- Grivas Museum & Monument (Pafos) Kids will love the central ship exhibit.
- Kyrenia Castle (Kyrenia) The Shipwreck Museum is sure to enthrall kids of all ages.
- St Hilarion Castle (Northern Coast) Walt Disney apparently drew inspiration from this castle for his Snow White; it’s that sort of place.
- Buffavento Castle (Northern Coast) Older kids should enjoy the hilly hike to this lofty castle, with its corners to explore and sensational views.
- Kantara Castle (Karpas Peninsula) This castle has a real magical appeal with turrets, towers and lookouts.
- July and August can be very busy with tourists and hotels in the main tourist resorts.
- Late spring is a good time to travel with young children as the weather is still warm enough for beach days, without being too hot, and attractions are not too crowded – until the Easter holidays, that is.
- Apartment hotels which have their own kitchenettes are great euro-economising options for families for kids.
- Crayons and paper are rarely given out in restaurants – bring your own.
- Always ask the local tourist office for the nearest children's playground.
- Cypriots adore kids. Expect your children to be kissed, offered sweets, have their cheeks pinched and their hair ruffled at least once a day!
Overall Cyprus is not geared towards smooth travel for people with disabilities, sadly. Most restaurants, shops and tourist sights are not equipped to handle wheelchairs, though midrange and top-end accommodation options generally have wheelchair ramps, plus rooms with appropriate facilities. Transport is tricky, but you should be able to organise a specially modified hire car from one of the international car-rental companies with advance warning. In fact, advance warning is always a good idea; start with your travel agent and see what they can offer in terms of information and assistance.
- Accessible Cyprus (www.accessible-cyprus.com) Overseen by the CTO and lists hotels with facilities for people with disabilities.
- Para-Quip (www.paraquip.com.cy) Rents out mobility scooters and similar.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel
Aside from international volunteering agencies, there is not a lot of scope for volunteer work in Cyprus. You can check out the following.
- Grol Garden (www.grolgarden.info) Organic permaculture garden in Northern Cyprus which accepts local and international volunteers.
- Transitions Abroad (www.transitionsabroad.com) A good website to start your research.
- Turtle Conservation Project (www.seaturtle.org/mtrg/projects/cyprus/volunteer) Voluntary opportunities for the marine-turtle conservation project on the Karpas Peninsula.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & measures Cyprus uses the metric system.
Women travellers will encounter little sexual harassment, though you’ll get more or less constant verbal 'approaches' from Cypriot men. This is common for both foreign and Cypriot women, but foreign women merit particular attention from these verbal Romeos. This can get rather tiresome, if not outright offensive. It is best to ignore the advances.
Solo women travellers should take reasonable care at rowdy nightclub resorts, such as in Agia Napa, where inebriated foreign males may be a nuisance.
Nationals of EU countries, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland may work freely in the Republic of Cyprus. If you are offered a contract, your employer will normally steer you through any bureaucracy.
Virtually everyone else is supposed to obtain a work permit, and if they plan to stay more than 90 days, a residence visa. These procedures are well-nigh impossible unless you have a job contract lined up before you begin.
This type of work is a more obvious option in Northern Cyprus, where English is not as widely spoken. There is competition, however, and language-teaching qualifications are a big help, namely a TEFL qualification.
Information on possible teaching work – in a school or as a private tutor – can be found in universities, foreign-language bookshops and language schools. Many have noticeboards listing opportunities or where you can place your own advert.
Summer work at the main coastal resorts is a possibility, especially if you arrive early in the season and are prepared to stay a while. Check any local press in foreign languages, which will normally list ads for waiters, nannies, chefs, babysitters, cleaners and the like.
It is possible to stumble upon work on yachts and cruisers, though it will usually be unpaid. Ask around at the various harbours.