There are no domestic air services in either the North or the South.
Cycling is a cheap, convenient, healthy, environmentally sound and, above all, fun way of travelling. In the Republic of Cyprus, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) produces a helpful brochure entitled Cyprus for Cycling, which lists 19 recommended mountain-bike rides around the South. These range from 2.5km to 19km from the Akamas Peninsula in the west to Cape Greco in the east. Bicycles can be hired in most areas. Rates start from around €15 a day and local tourist offices can provide you with a list of reputable local operators.
Prospective cyclists are advised to consider the following:
- It’s best to stick to cycling on ordinary roads, many of which parallel motorways, where cycling is not allowed. The roads are generally good, but there is rarely extra roadside room for cyclists, so you will have to cycle with care.
- You will need a bicycle with good gears to negotiate the long hauls up and around the Troödos Mountains and Kyrenia (Girne) Range.
- Towns and cities in general are much more cyclist friendly than their counterparts in other parts of the Mediterranean. In some tourist centres, such as Protaras and Agia Napa, there are urban bicycle paths, as well as beachside boulevards that incorporate space for bike riding.
- You cannot take bicycles on all buses.
Ferries or boats are not available for getting around the island.
Travelling between the Republic and Northern Cyprus is easy nowadays, since the restrictions on crossing through passport control have been eased; however, you are only allowed to cross at designated checkpoints. Don't forget your passport.
Crossing the Green Line
Crossing freely between the North and the South has become pretty straightforward since the easing of restrictions in 2003. It is now possible to cross at seven points on the island and there are ongoing negotiations between the two sides about opening more. Crossings at Ledra Palace Hotel and Ledra St are for pedestrians only, while crossings at Agios Dometios, Pergamos, Agios Nikolaos, Limnitis-Yeşilirmak and Zodhia are for vehicles. If you don’t have your own transport, a taxi will take you across and then to anywhere you want to go.
EU citizens are allowed to cross into the Republic if their point of entry into the country is in the North. For all other nationalities, the situation is murkier. Officially, the Republic regards Ercan Airport and the ferry ports of Famagusta (Gazimağusa) and Kyrenia (Girne) as illegal points of entry and can refuse you entry. In practice, for US, Canadian, New Zealand, Japanese and Australian citizens this is rarely enforced, but we know of at least two occasions in 2017 when non-EU passport -holders were refused entry into the South.
Buses in the South are frequent and run from Monday to Saturday, with limited services on Sunday. Five companies cover their respective districts and all have comprehensive websites.
Emel (www.limassolbuses.com) Lemesos district
Osea Buses (www.osea.com.cy) Larnaca district
Osel Buses (www.osel.com.cy) Nicosia district
Pafos Buses Pafos district
Zinonas Buses (www.zinonasbuses.com) Famagusta district
A useful website that does a good job pulling together all the routes is www.cyprusbybus.com. Buses that connect the cities are run by the InterCity Bus Company, which offers discounted fares on multiple journeys.
Buses in the North are a varied mix of old and newer privately owned buses too numerous to list here.
Travel in the Low Season
Most bus transport times listed by us are for peak season (June to October). Public-transport frequency decreases, together with tourist demand, during off-peak times. This is particularly problematic with mountain destinations, where the buses sometimes don't run at all. So before departure in quieter months be sure to check all transport times via the bus company’s website.
Fares cost €1.50 per ride, €5 per day, €15 per week and €40 for a month of unlimited journeys within a district, which includes rural villages. InterCity Buses are government subsidised and surprisingly reasonable, given the distances involved.
Bus prices in the North generally cost between 4TL and 8TL.
Bus reservations are not normally required in either the South or the North.
Car & Motorcycle
Driving in Cyprus
First, and most important: drive defensively. Cyprus has one of the highest accident rates in Europe, despite the overall good state of its roads, often due to reckless driving. In the Republic of Cyprus autopistas (motorways) connect the airport to major resorts and towns, while secondary roads are normally well surfaced with a minimum of potholes.
Cyprus Automobile Association (www.caa.com.cy). Covers the South. The 24-hour emergency road assistance number is 2231 3131.
There is no equivalent organisation in Northern Cyprus.
To rent a car in Cyprus, you'll need to be aged 21 and over (Republic) or 18 and over (Northern Cyprus). You'll also need the following.
- Driver’s licence. Note that a licence is required for any vehicle over 50cc.
- A credit or debit card (for the major companies at least).
It's a good idea to arrange car rental prior to arrival; not only is it generally cheaper but in high season you may find it difficult to find a car, particularly in Northern Cyprus. It's common practice for the rental agency to leave your vehicle at the airport, unlocked, with the key waiting for you under the floor mat. Don’t be surprised: with the obvious red hire-car plates and a nonexistent car-theft record, the car is as safe as can be.
- Cars and 4WDs are widely available for hire and cost around €25 per day for a week’s rental.
- In some towns, you can also rent motorcycles (from €10) or mopeds (€10).
- Rental cars are usually in good condition, but inspect your vehicle before you set off.
- Open-top 4WDs are popular options. If you hire a 2WD, make sure it has air-conditioning and enough power to get you up hills.
The Republic of Cyprus issues full car insurance when you rent a car. The North also issues full insurance to cars rented in the North, but has a special third-party insurance for cars coming from the South.
Since the 2003 border-crossing changes, there has been a lot of talk of the North’s car insurance, issued upon entry from the Republic. And after all this talk, things are still as clear as mud. If you ask about the insurance, you are likely to get numerous reactions and conflicting information. This is because the insurance 'law' concerning vehicles and drivers from the South is full of holes and open to interpretation (mainly by the North’s police force).
When you enter the North by car (privately owned or rented) at any checkpoint, your own car insurance will no longer be valid and you will have to purchase Turkish car insurance. It is third-party cover only, so do check exactly what is covered (and the cost) should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, and whatever you do, do not move your car until a police report has been made.
If you’re driving a rented car, keep in mind that while the Republic’s car-rental agencies have no objections to you taking rented cars to the North (although they don’t condone it), it’s up to you to decide whether this risk is worth taking. Establishing who is at fault in an accident can sometimes take a lot longer than you may think and be subject to many twists and turns.
Turkish-owned cars crossing into the South have to get the standard insurance, similar to that in other EU countries. At the time of research, the North's car-rental agencies did not allow rented cars to be taken into the Republic.
Blood-alcohol limit The legal limit is 50 mg of alcohol per 100mL of blood. Random breath testing is carried out. If you are found to be over the limit you can be fined and deprived of your licence.
Front seat belts Compulsory. Children under five years of age must not sit in the front seat.
Legal driving age for cars Twenty-one (Republic), 18 (Northern Cyprus).
Legal driving age for motorcycles and scooters Eighteen (80cc and over) or 17 (50cc and under). A licence is required.
Motorcyclists Must use headlights at all times and wear a helmet if riding a bike of 125cc or more.
Road distances Posted in kilometres only. Road signs are in Greek and Latin script in the Republic of Cyprus; in Northern Cyprus, destinations are given in Turkish only.
Roundabouts (traffic circles) Vehicles already in the circle have right of way.
Side of the road Drive on the left.
Speed limits In built-up areas, 50km/h, which increases to 80km/h on major roads and up to 100km/h on motorways. Speed limits in the North are 100km/h on open roads and 50km/h in towns.
While urban bus services exist in Nicosia, Lemesos, Larnaka, Pafos and Famagusta, about the only places where they are of any practical use are Larnaka and Pafos (to get to and from the airport) and Lemesos, where frequent local buses trundle between the tourist area and old harbour, and where there are also regular services to Kourion and Kolossi from the local bus station; and Ayia Napa, where there are regular services to Paralimni and Protaras.
In the South, taxis are extensive and available on a 24-hour basis; they can either be hailed from the street or a taxi rank, or booked over the phone. Taxis are generally modern, air-conditioned vehicles, usually comfortable Mercedes, and, apart from outside major centres, equipped with meters that the drivers are obliged to use.
'Taxi sharing', which is common in Greek cities such as Athens, is not permitted in Cyprus. Taxi drivers are normally courteous and helpful.
In the North, taxis do not sport meters, so agree on the fare with the driver beforehand. As a rough guide, expect to pay around 10TL to 15TL for a ride around any of the towns. A taxi ride from North Nicosia to Kyrenia will cost between 80TL and 100TL, and from North Nicosia to Famagusta, 120TL to 150TL.
Taking up to eight people, service taxis are a useful transport option between major cities in the South.
Travel & Express (www.travelexpress.com.cy) is run by an amalgamation of private companies with one national phone number. The individual offices can be contacted directly.
The North has dolmuşes (minibuses) between North Nicosia and the main towns, and Kyrenia and the main towns (fares between 5TL and 11TL, depending on the route). It also has service taxis (kombos) between North Nicosia and Kyrenia and Famagusta.
There is no train network in either the North or the South.