Cyprus Travel Guide
I’ve been to Cyprus several times and I really love this island. Cyprus is the easternmost Greek island that situated at the crossroads between East and West. In terms of culture, it is much closer to Europe, despite being divided into two parts. The entire island is filled with a wide range of natural and historic sites, mountain ridges, picturesque villages and lovely resort towns. With so many festivals throughout the year, traditions and myths, ruled by the hospitality and charm, Cyprus is a desired destination for many travelers.
Every stone here speaks of history. Homer once called Cyprus a “Forest covered island”. For centuries, Cyprus attracted, fascinated and inspired people. Sandy and rocky beaches, bright blue sea, picturesque villages, mountains covered with pine forests – there are so many things to do and to see. The tranquility and serenity of the villages are in striking contrast to bustling life in resort towns.
Thanks to being under British rule in the past, the traffic here travels on the left side of the road. With no working railway system, buses connect all major cities on the Greek side of the island. So if you’re not planning to head for distant mountainous regions, the bus is the cheapest, and so far the most convenient option. Buses usually cost 1,5 EUR in a city, while intercity buses cost a few euros more. Airport shuttles cost between 8-15 EUR. Monthly pass depends on the destination and range from 70-130 EUR. Taxi fares start at about 3.50 EUR.
There are several border crossings between North and South Cyprus, which can be used to visit both sides of the island. When you cross the border you’ll have to fill in a piece of paper with your name and passport number. This paper is then stamped, but NOT your passport, while the details punched into a computer to record that you have crossed the border. I have to admit that Cyprus authorities aren’t feeling enthusiastic about border crossings. However, I haven’t heard of any difficulties with crossing the border here.
Once in Northern Cyprus you may want to get to Turkey. One of the possible ways is by ferry, which runs from Tasucu to Kyrenia 6 days a week.
The main airport in Northern Cyprus is the Ercan International Airport. All regular international flights outside of Turkey are not non-stop, they require an intermediate landing at a Turkish airport.
To save money on accommodation in Cyprus consider using Airbnb as it provides great options with prices starting from 24 EUR if you book in advance. While hostels aren’t as widespread as elsewhere expect to pay around 12 EUR per night for a dorm room. Even though WiFi is usually a standard option, it’s not common to find hostels with free breakfast. Budget hotels start at around 45 EUR for a twin/double and go up from there. For a private home or apartment, expect to pay at least 70 EUR per night.
Prices will be slightly lower outside of the major cities and tourist areas. There are several campsites across Cyprus offering basic facilities to those traveling with a tent. Campground prices start around 5 EUR per night. Most coastal campsites are quite busy in the summer months.
With a wide variety of restaurants all over the island, you certainly won’t go hungry. As food is cheaper than in most northern European countries a full course meal will set you back around 13 EUR if you eat alone. If you go out for meze with homemade wine, then you should expect to spend around 45 EUR for two. Snacks, like souvlaki and sheftalia, cost 3-7 EUR almost everywhere.
Meat and fish dishes traditionally come with fries and vegetables. Fast food like McDonalds and Goody’s cost around 7 EUR. If you plan on buying your own groceries and cooking your own meals expect to pay between 53 EUR per week, depending on your diet. Local markets provide the cheapest and freshest food. Local wines like Commandaria are good value and will cost between 9-16 EUR.
How to do Cyprus on a budget
Try out Airbnb. If hotels or camping aren’t your options, Airbnb might be something you were looking for. As most popular accommodation options are usually reserved during high season, it is required to do some research and pick your option in advance. Some greatest options might be as low as 20 EUR a night for your own apartment.
Couchsurf. You just kill two birds with one stone by going couchsurf. Couchsurfing not only connects you with the residents who will give you a free place to stay, but also a local tour guide who can introduce you to all the great places to see.
Stay away from the main tourist areas. With the prices higher in resort towns, there are plenty of sites to explore in the middle of the island. Taverns and village restaurants outside of main beach resorts tend to offer lower food prices and larger portion sizes.
Prefer buying groceries in bigger supermarkets. Shops like Papantoniou, Lidl, Alpha-Mega or Phillippos or Carrefour allow you to save a lot of money and provide wider choice. For fruit and vegetables, try the fruit markets. They’re a fantastic experience and you’ll get some great bargains.
Attend the Cyprus Tourist Organization free tours. This is a great way to get acquainted with Cyprus architecture and culture. Can be found in most major cities, the tours are carried out by professional guides and give comprehensive advice on the history of the island.