Traveling to Cyprus and what to see in Cyprus

by Ale Werner

En este post encontrarás nuestra guía para viajar a Chipre por libre, una hermosa isla en mitad del mediterraneo con una gran influencia de varias culturas del antiguo continente. Que hacer y ver en Chipre, donde dormir, como moverse por el país y mucho más.

A little history about Cyprus before traveling …

Cyprus is a small island in the Mediterranean that has been influenced by different cultures of its neighbor’s countries.

Given its strategic position between Asia and Europe, the island has been dominated by different countries and empires over the centuries and years. The Mycenaeans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Romans, the Ottomans, the British and many others have occupied this lands. This is what makes their culture and archeology so varied and impressive, both from the point of view of the history lovers and the tourist. It is a wonderful country, with a coastline takes from a fairytale and cities full of life and history.

Even today, Cyprus is divided in two. The northeast half of the island is under the control of the Turks, who proclaim it as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.

To better understand the situation of the island, and to summarize, this separation occurred in 1974 when a coup tried to integrate Cyprus with Greece. Given this, most of the population (which were Greek) agreed. However, the Turkish government responded by invading the island and managing to control 37% of it, expelling all Greek Cypriots out of this side. This information is extremely relevant to travel to Cyprus, as it will completely affect the way you can move around the island.

The war in Cyprus and how it affects travelers.

To cross from one side to the other there are only 5 checkpoints across the island of Cyprus. Given the tense situation, nobody should try to cross through another place. If you arrive through the Turkish Republic, a stamp in the passport can cause problems to enter the west of the island and even Greece.

On the other hand, if you rent a car, the insurance covers only the side where you leased it. In the north, the Turkish Lira is used as the official currency and in the south the Euro. And most importantly, the European Union and most of the countries do not recognize this occupation as valid, so if you arrive at Ercan Airport no insurance or anyone will be responsible in case of problems with the flight (here only flights leave to and from Turkey).

Is it possible to know sides of the island when traveling to Cyprus?

Today the situation is less tense and you can visit both sides of the island when you travel to Cyprus, but we recommend you arrive through the south (Cypriot side) to avoid problems and be careful not to stamp your passport if you cross to the Turkish zone.

We cross sides one time through the checkpoint on Ledra street in Nicosia. It is pedestrian and we did not have any kind of problem. Keep in mind that there is a conflict, so investigate in advance the forbidden elements to pass from one side to another (like its 1 liter of maximum alcohol, 40 cigarettes per person, etc.).

View form the Kourion ruins - Limassol - Cyprus

Ancient Kourion – Limassol – Chipre

Que hacer en Chipre

Como te comentamos anteriormente, Chipre tiene mucho que ofrecer y viajar a Chipre por libre es una experiencia maravillosa tanto por la cultura del país como por los hermosos paisajes y playas. Al viajar a Chipre disfrutarás desde su rica historia que ha dotado a la isla de una cultura y arqueología diversa e influenciada por muchos pueblos e imperios; hasta su maravillosa línea costera con aguas transparentes, acantilados y playas donde relajarse y pasar un buen rato. Las ciudades y sus centros históricos son bastante pequeñas, por lo que es posible recorrerlas en sólo un par de horas.

Este país es mejor disfrutarlo que verlo por completo, por lo que decide bien cuál es el objetivo de tu viaje (relajo en la playa, trekking, turismo histórico, etc.) antes de empezar a emocionarte con ir a todo lo que tiene para ofrecer, ¡que es mucho! Hay mucho que ver en Chipre, es ideal para todo tipo de viaje… en familia, en pareja, para adultos mayores, en grupos grandes, en solitario o como desees.

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Puedes descargar el mapa haciendo click aquí.

What to see in Cyprus.

The island is small, but to better understand its attractions we have decided to divide it into 5 zones. In the attached map they are also divided so that you can go through them without a problem.

We could only visit 3 of these areas because we didn’t had enough time so we will talk more extensively about them in other posts. However, we have decided to leave here the highlighted sites in the other areas too, although we do not have photos or more information.

1. Limassol and its surroundings:

Limassol is one of the largest cities in the country, located on the Cypriot side of it. In its surroundings you can find several temples of Greek influence that are in ruins, but that you can visit and better understand the history of this country. We have written an article dedicated to this city because we have visited it, for more information click here.

2. Larnaca and Ayia Napa

For excellence, this area of Cyprus is ideal if you want to travel to Cyprus to enjoy its beaches and turquoise sea. The beaches of Ayia Napa have even won several international awards for their cleanliness and beauty. We have written an article dedicated to visiting Ayia Napa and Larnaca, as we have traveled to them on our trip to Cyprus. For more information, click here.

3. Nicosia:

You can not miss this city when traveling to Cyprus, because it is the true sample of the current situation in the country. As Berlin used to be 30 years ago, Nicosia is divided into two, one side Cypriot and the other Turkish. There is a pedestrian checkpoint where, by presenting your passport, you can cross from one side to another and live the enormous cultural and architectural difference between them. We have written an article dedicated to this city because we have visited it, for more information click here.

Phaphos:

Nuestro viaje no nos dio el tiempo de recorrer este lugar. Son embargo,  te diremos cuáles son las atracciones imperdibles que deberías visitar:

  1. Tumbas de los reyes:

    Un sitio patrimonio de la UNESCO, muchas de las tumbas datan del siglo IV a.C. Su nombre viene por lo magníficas de las tumbas talladas en la piedra; pues en realidad aquí sólo se enterraba aristócratas y altos mandos militares. El trabajo en la piedra es impresionante.

  2. Parque arqueológico:

    Se puede ver vestigios desde la prehistoria, pero mayormente las ruinas pertenecen al periodo romano de la isla. De este último quedan varios mosaicos en los suelos de cuatro villas romanas. También podrás ver un gran anfiteatro que hasta hoy es usado para conciertos y presentaciones teatrales.

  3. Saint Neophytos Monastery:

    A 10 kilómetros de Paphos se encuentra este monasterio fundado en el año 1159. Encontrarán una cueva, museo e iglesia a la vez. Es una muestra perfecta de un típico monasterio de la isla y de fácil acceso, pues la mayor parte está en las Troodos Mountains.

  4. Baños de Afrodita:

    Están bastante más alejados de la ciudad, pero valen la pena una visita de acuerdo a lo que nos comentaron. Cuenta la leyenda que aquí es donde se bañaba la Diosa del Amor… quien se baña en sus aguas se mantiene joven por siempre. Sin embargo, hoy en día han prohibido el baño en el lugar.

Troodos Mountains:

Por tiempo no visitamos las montañas. Te dejamos algunos puntos que nos recomendaron viajeros y encontramos en otros blogs online. Para más información puedes ingresar a la web oficial.

  1. Troodos Mountains:

    La punta más alta de la isla es el Monte del Olimpo. Varios recorridos de trekking te llevan hasta aquí; pasando por pueblos de montaña que te hacen pensar el tiempo se detuvo en ellos.

  2. Monasterio de Kykkos:

    Es el monasterio más grande de toda la isla de Chipre. Consagrado al arcángel Miguel, sus frescos y mosaicos son el mayor atractivo.

  3. Lofou:

    Una típica villa de montaña que se cree está en una zona habitada desde la Era de Bronce.

  4. Kaledonia Waterfall:

    Uno de los mayores atractivos de la isla para los amantes de la naturaleza. Para llegar a esta hay dos puntos de partida de trekking, de uno y dos kilómetros de recorrido cada uno. Es visitada por miles de turistas cada año.

  5. Millomeris Waterfalls:

    La más alta de las cascadas del área, con 20 metros de caída. Implica caminar aproximadamente 4 kilómetros para llegar a ellas por una reserva natural.

Important information to plan your trip to Cyprus

Best time to travel to Cyprus

The climate of the island is mediterranean so like other cities in this sector, the best time to travel to Cyprus is between April and June, and between September and October.

Apart from the very high temperatures, the months of July and August are high season. This implies a large number of tourists and locals.

Vaccines recommended for traveling to Cyprus

There are no mandatory vaccines to enter Cyprus, however, it is always good to get protected by the following:

  • Hepatitis A and B: We recommend it, you may eat in places that are not as healthy as they look.
  • Typhoid fever: Recommended.
  • Tetanus: It never hurts to have it.

Visa needs to enter Cyprus

Most countries do not need a visa to enter the country; the legislation is governed by the same rules as the European Union. The maximum stay in the largest of cases is 90 days, however, you can get more information from this link.

FIND HERE THE DOCUMENTS NECESSARY TO ENTER THE EUROPEAN UNION

Currency, prices and payment methods in Cyprus

Official currency.

The official currency used in Cyprus is the Euro. However, for the present conflict, the Turkish Liras are mostly used in the North.

Mony exchange and payment methods

If you are going to change from another currency to Euros or Liras, remember to do it in places that look reliable in the centers of the cities. In airports, it is known that prices and commissions are always higher. In addition, many of the shops and restaurants accept credit cards without applying extra commissions.

Prices

Prices on the island are quite high, compared to countries such as Spain and Greece. You can find local food options and hostels with shared pieces, but you should think that you are in Europe and therefore the prices are high.

How to get to Cyprus

Cyprus is part of the European Union, so it is legislated by the same visa laws as the rest of the countries of this one. To avoid problems, it is best to get to Cyprus on the southwest side of the island. For this there are different alternatives:

Arrive in Cyprus by plane:

There are two international airports in Cyprus:

Larnaca International Airport:

It was built in replacement of the Nicosia airport after the Turkish invasion. To go from the airport to the city you can:

  • Lease a car in advance to get better prices.
  • Take a taxi (approximately 15 euros). You can book it in advance inside the airport and fix the price.
  • On the outskirts of the airport, several local buses pass to the city center. Ask the guards the best way to the bus stop.
Paphos International Airport:

Located in the western area of the island, it is smaller than the previous one.

Other: Ercan Airport.

Discard the option to reach the island through this airport, because it is not internationally recognized and therefore entry into the country by this point is illegal. It is legal only for Turkey, so there are only flights from this country. Therefore you will be forced to enter and leave the island through mainland Turkey.

Reach Cyprus by ferry:

Today you can only get to Cyprus by ferry from Turkey. The lines that transported from Greece and from Israel are closed because of the conflict. However, we do not recommend it since it takes several hours of travel and flights are much more convenient. Also, remember that getting to Cyprus on your Turkish side is not recommended because of the subsequent conflicts you may have.

Where to sleep in Cyprus and accommodation in Cyprus

Given the size of the island, which is quite small, the best option is to find accommodation in Cyprus in a central city that allows you to move around different places with day trips to get to know the country better.

For this, we recommend two cities that allow you to reach other places in one or two hours, making it more pleasant to explore the island with freedom: Larnaca and Limassol. In both, it is best to stay close to the historic centers, but not in these, where the quality of the accommodation will be worse at a higher price. The hotels in Cyprus are quite good, but it is also very common to rent much more spacious apartments at lower prices. This is a very good alternative and we recommend it completely.

How to get around Cyprus

Cyprus is a small island, in about 4 hours you can cross it completely. To move around Cyprus and its cities you can use:

1. Public transport:

It is not so good and in general does not reach the most difficult access sites. Anyway, here is the link of the most popular company on the island, intercity; and also a web page dedicated to helping you get around bus between cities, cyprusbybus.

2. Lease a car.

Several companies offer the basic cars for 10 euros a day or even less if you find good deals, so, given that each city is one hour or more from the other and that they are small enough to visit them only for the day, renting a car in Cyprus is very conveniently. Keep in mind that on the island is driven by the left, so even the plates of the leased cars are of another color to distinguish tourists distracted on the streets. You will see more than one sign reminding you to drive on the left.

Here we tell you our best tips for leasing a car abroad.

Gastronomy in Cyprus and where to eat in Cyprus.

Food of Cyprus is strongly influenced by the Turkish and the Greek. You’ll find kebab, hummus, tehina, yogurt sauce (tzantziki), etc. One of the distinctive dishes of the island, and that you can not stop trying, is the Mezze. It consists of a series of cold and hot dishes that are brought to the table to share among the attendees. Among them, there is lamb, kebab, salads, pita, different sauces such as hummus, tahini, halloumi, black and green olives and many others that will only surprise your palate.

The island also stands out for its wines, some of which are only produced here as the “kumandaria”, a very pleasant sweet wine and the “zivania”, similar to whiskey, but made with the fermented grapes left over from the distillation of the wine.

Times and places to eat.

In all the historical centers of the cities, you will find an endless number of restaurants to eat. The most popular and tasty are the most full, so the easiest way to get a good one is to sit down in the one where there are more persons eating. In general, lunches are open from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and dinners from 6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Some places continue open at late night but only serve drinks and beers, not food.

Shopping and shopping in Cyprus

Locally, the largest production for consumption and export are wines. In the center of the island, there are several pretty good vineyards where you can buy bottles at good prices compared to other countries in the area.

Like Greece, fabrics such as sarongs, towels, and tablecloths are also among the most outstanding products in the field of purchases.

You can also find religious figures, given the importance that Orthodox Christianity has on the island and the large number of churches that you can see there.

The south of Cyprus, as part of the European Union, owns well-known international stores. In Nicosia, the last divided city of Europe, the change in the quality of the stores and articles sell is incredible when crossing the checkpoint. On the south side, you can find stores like Pull & Bear, Birkenstock and others of the same style, but once you cross the border, it becomes the mecca for imitations and “Chinese” products. Used clothes, souvenirs of poor quality and even the same towels that we see on the Greek side but this time brought from somewhere like Vietnam and at 25% of the price original price.

The most recommended things to buy?

For us, it was hard to find souvenirs or gifts that were worth the price, so we recommend textiles if you want to take something back to your country. These can be found in all the historical centers of the cities, just walk the streets to find varied stores where they all sell practically the same.

Scams and risks when visiting Cyprus

In general, Cyprus is quite safe and there are no specific scams in this area reported. In the Turkish area, there are scams regarding the sale of houses and land at very low prices but that is not valid because they are not recognized by the European Union and internationally. These are houses of the Greeks expelled from that side of the island that the Turkish try to resell illegally.

In any case, always be careful with your belongings in tourist and busy areas. You should not leave your things unattended.

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