Are you looking for tips and advice on visiting Cyprus? This Cyprus travel guide contains everything you need to know about visiting this beautiful Mediterranean country, including how to cross the border into Northern Cyprus.
Most of the photos in this post are from my October 2022 visit to Cyprus, where I toured all around the island, went into the mountains and crossed the border into Famagusta to visit the Ghost Town of Varosha.
I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my affiliate links.
In a hurry? Here are some quick links:
- You can book a tour to take care of the border crossing for you.
- Book the best 5 star luxury hotel in Cyprus here.
- Here are the best deals on all Cyprus hotels.
- It gets very hot in Cyprus. You need decent sunscreen and a packable sun hat.
- A Turkish phrase book will come in handy.
- Book your Cyprus rental car here.
- If you want to cross the border, read this guide first.
Cyprus travel guide.
Welcome to Cyprus, the enchanting island located in the Eastern Mediterranean. Known for its rich history, picturesque landscapes, stunning beaches, and warm hospitality, Cyprus offers a diverse range of experiences for every traveller.
This Cyprus travel guide will provide you with essential information, top attractions, cultural insights, and practical tips to make the most of your visit to this captivating island.
You can use the table of contents above, or use these quick links below to skip straight to a specific section.
- When to visit Cyprus.
- Getting to Cyprus and Getting around in Cyprus.
- Top Places, Beaches, Monasteries and Things to Do in Cyprus.
- Crossing the border into Northern Cyprus.
- Cuisine in Cyprus.
- Where to stay in Cyprus.
1. About Cyprus.
Cyprus is the third-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and boasts a rich cultural heritage influenced by Greek, Turkish, and British traditions. The island offers a unique blend of ancient ruins, vibrant cities, charming villages, and natural beauty, making it a perfect destination for history enthusiasts, sunseekers, and nature lovers alike.
2. When to visit Cyprus.
Cyprus enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. The peak tourist season runs from May to October when the weather is warm and sunny. For those seeking a quieter experience, visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October) is recommended when temperatures are pleasant, and crowds are smaller.
3. Getting to Cyprus.
Cyprus has two international airports: Larnaca International Airport (LCA) and Paphos International Airport (PFO). Numerous airlines offer direct flights to Cyprus from major cities across Europe and other international destinations.
Additionally, Cyprus can be reached by ferry from Greece and other neighbouring countries.
4. Getting around in Cyprus.
In this Cyprus travel guide, I am recommending that you rent a car to make the most of the island. You can also take advantage of the public transportation system, or join organised tours in Cyprus. The island has a well-connected network of buses, which is an affordable and convenient option.
Taxis, private transfers, and car rentals are also readily available for more flexibility. For car rentals, I use Discover Cars which is a car-comparison website, so you know you are always getting the best rental deal available.
5. Top places to visit in Cyprus.
Cyprus is home to several vibrant cities that are worth exploring. Spend some time in the capital city Nicosia or explore the charming harbour town of Limassol. If you’re looking for nightlife, head to Ayia Napa, known for its beaches and buzzing bar scene, and Paphos is a popular family option.
Further reading: 81 Unique and Exciting Things to do in Cyprus.
Cyprus travel guide: top places to visit:
- Nicosia: Explore the capital city’s historic sites, vibrant neighbourhoods, and the unique experience of a divided city (the last divided capital in the world).
- Limassol: Discover the cosmopolitan atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and enjoy the lively nightlife.
- Paphos: Visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites, including ancient ruins, archaeological sites, and the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite. Things to do in Paphos.
- Larnaca: Relax on the golden beaches, visit ancient churches, and indulge in fresh seafood.
- Ayia Napa: Experience the vibrant nightlife, stunning beaches, and thrilling water sports activities.
- Troodos Mountains: Immerse yourself in nature, hike scenic trails, and visit traditional mountain villages. See photos in Beautiful places in Cyprus.
Further reading on towns in Cyprus:
- 8 of the Best Towns to Visit in Cyprus
- 10 Fantastic Things to do in Paphos
- Famagusta Border Crossing: How to Visit the Ghost Town of Varosha.
6. Beaches in Cyprus.
Cyprus is renowned for its stunning beaches with crystal-clear waters. From the golden sands of Nissi Beach in Ayia Napa to the secluded Lara Bay in Akamas Peninsula, there are beaches for every preference.
Don’t miss the famous Fig Tree Bay, Coral Bay, and Mackenzie Beach, among others.
If you want to explore the coastline further, you can take a boat trip along the Akamas Peninsula. Here you can discover hidden beaches and crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkelling or diving.
Further reading: 12 of the Best Beaches in Cyprus.
7. What to pack for visiting Cyprus.
Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. Pack lightweight clothing and plenty of sunscreen for summertime trips to the beach. In the winter, bring layers and outerwear to stay comfortable during colder days. It’s often about 10 degrees cooler in the mountains than it is at sea level.
My outfits above were from an autumn/fall visit when the temperatures were cooler. An overshirt, blazer or a light packable jacket like this one is ideal for autumn/winter in Cyprus (or for the mountains).
8. Cultural highlights in Cyprus.
This Cyprus travel guide contains lots of cultural highlights, with a separate section for monasteries in Cyprus.
Explore Cyprus’s rich cultural heritage through its ancient archaeological sites, Byzantine churches, and traditional villages. Visit UNESCO-listed sites like the Tombs of the Kings, the Paphos Archaeological Park, Avakas Gorge and the Choirokoitia Neolithic Settlement to delve into this small island’s history.
Further reading: 25 Stunning Sights in Cyprus.
9. Monasteries in Cyprus.
Cyprus is home to several historic and culturally significant monasteries that offer a glimpse into the island’s religious heritage. These monastic sites not only hold religious importance but also showcase impressive architecture, serene surroundings, and breathtaking views.
Here are a few notable monasteries to explore:
1. Kykkos Monastery
Located in the Troodos Mountains, Kykkos Monastery is one of the most revered monastic sites in Cyprus. It houses a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary and is considered one of the wealthiest and most influential monasteries on the island. Visitors can admire intricate Byzantine frescoes, exquisite mosaics, and a museum displaying religious artefacts and treasures.
2. Stavrovouni Monastery
Perched atop a rocky hill near Larnaca, Stavrovouni Monastery is one of the oldest monastic establishments in Cyprus. According to tradition, it was founded in the 4th century by Saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great. The monastery is known for its strict rules and restrictions, including prohibiting women from entering the main complex. The panoramic views from the monastery are truly awe-inspiring.
3. Bellapais Abbey
Situated in the village of Bellapais near Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus, Bellapais Abbey is a picturesque mediaeval monastery. It was built in the 13th century and is renowned for its Gothic architecture and serene ambiance. The abbey’s beautiful cloisters, peaceful courtyard, and stunning views of the surrounding countryside make it a popular destination for visitors.
4. Machairas Monastery
Nestled in the foothills of the Machairas Mountains, Machairas Monastery is a significant religious and cultural site in Cyprus. It houses a revered icon of the Virgin Mary, believed to be painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. The monastery complex features Byzantine-style churches, chapels, and a museum displaying religious artefacts. The tranquil surroundings offer a serene atmosphere for contemplation and spiritual reflection.
5. Panagia Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery
Located near Pafos, the Panagia Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is known for its beautiful architecture, including its impressive bell tower and ornate wooden iconostasis. The monastery is also famous for its production of fine wines, which visitors can sample and purchase.
These are just five monasteries taken from my Cyprus travel guide 12 Amazing Monasteries in Cyprus post.
When visiting these monasteries, it’s important to dress modestly and respectfully, covering shoulders and knees. I recommend taking a light scarf like this one for this purpose. Visitors should also observe any rules or guidelines set by the monastic communities, such as refraining from photography or maintaining a quiet demeanour.
Further reading: 12 Must-See Monasteries in Cyprus.
10. Things to do in Cyprus.
The most popular things to do in Cyprus include visiting picturesque beaches like Nissi Beach and taking a stroll amongst the Troodos Mountains National Park. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to Akamas National Park for a hike or kayak around the coastline.
Further reading: 81 Unique and Exciting Things to do in Cyprus.
You can enjoy a range of outdoor activities in Cyprus, including hiking, cycling, diving, and sailing. The Troodos Mountains offer picturesque trails, while the Akamas Peninsula is a haven for nature lovers. The warm Mediterranean Sea invites snorkelers and scuba divers to explore its underwater treasures.
Cyprus is full of history and culture, so don’t miss out on a visit to some of its most famous sites. Take a tour of the Neolithic settlements in Khirokitia or explore the ruins at Paphos Castle. Cyprus also boasts several UNESCO World Heritage Sites – from ancient monasteries to Byzantine churches – plus ancient ruins and archaeological sites.
11. Shopping in Cyprus.
There is a vibrant shopping scene in Cyprus, from bustling city markets to modern shopping malls. Discover traditional crafts, local products, and souvenirs such as handmade lace, pottery, traditional Cypriot sweets, and Cyprus wine.
12. The Turkish-occupied section of Northern Cyprus and crossing the border
While Cyprus is a divided island, it is essential to understand that the northern part of the island, known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), is recognized only by Turkey.
This section of the travel guide will provide information about visiting the TRNC and how to cross the border from the Republic of Cyprus.
Understanding the Situation
The division of Cyprus occurred in 1974, resulting in the establishment of the TRNC in the northern part of the island. The area is home to a vibrant Turkish Cypriot community and offers a unique cultural experience.
Visiting the TRNC
To visit the TRNC, you will need to cross the designated border checkpoints located throughout the island. The main checkpoints are Ledra Palace in Nicosia, Agios Dometios/Metehan in Nicosia, and Beyarmudu/Agios Nikolaos in Famagusta. These checkpoints are open for travellers with valid passports or ID cards.
Crossing the Border
When crossing from the Republic of Cyprus to the TRNC, you will need to present your passport or ID card at the border checkpoint. Be prepared for document checks and possible questioning. It is advisable to check the opening hours of the specific border checkpoint you plan to use, as they may vary. How to cross the border into Famagusta.
Documentation and Entry Requirements
Ensure that you have the necessary travel documents to enter the TRNC. If you are a citizen of a country that recognizes the TRNC, you may need to apply for a separate visa or entry permit. Check with the relevant consulates or embassies for up-to-date information on entry requirements.
Once you have crossed the border, you can explore the TRNC using various modes of transportation. Renting a car is a convenient option as it provides flexibility to explore different regions. Public buses and shared taxis (known as “dolmuş”) are also available for transportation within the TRNC.
Exploring Northern Cyprus
The TRNC offers a wealth of attractions and experiences. Explore the historic city of Famagusta, with its ancient city walls and iconic landmarks like the Othello Castle and Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque. Kyrenia (Girne) is another popular destination known for its picturesque harbour, Kyrenia Castle, and Bellapais Abbey. Discover traditional villages, beautiful beaches, and stunning natural landscapes throughout the region. The Ghost Town of Varosha is just outside Famagusta.
While visiting the TRNC, it is essential to respect the local customs and sensitivities. Be aware that the political situation is delicate, and it is advisable to refrain from discussing or expressing strong opinions about the division of Cyprus or the TRNC.
Returning to the Republic of Cyprus
When returning to the Republic of Cyprus from the TRNC, you will need to present your passport or ID card at the border checkpoint. Ensure that you allow enough time for the crossing, as border procedures may take some time, especially during peak travel seasons.
Note: It is essential to keep yourself informed about the latest travel advisories and regulations concerning the border crossings between the Republic of Cyprus and the TRNC, as they can change. Adhere to the guidelines provided by the respective authorities and exercise caution when visiting the Turkish-occupied section of Northern Cyprus.
13. Cyprus travel guide: local cuisine.
No trip to Cyprus would be complete without sampling local cuisine. Cypriot cuisine combines Greek, Turkish, and Middle Eastern flavours.
Don’t miss out on trying local specialties such as souvlaki, halloumi cheese, moussaka, stifado, fresh seafood, and traditional desserts like loukoumades and baklava.
I recommend taking a tour with Viator, where you can go into the mountains, meet the local villagers and sample the local produce.
Where to stay in Cyprus.
Cyprus offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. Whether you’re seeking luxury resorts, beachfront hotels, cosy guesthouses, or self-catering apartments, you’ll find a variety of choices across the island.
Here are some popular destinations and areas to consider for your stay in Cyprus:
Paphos is a popular coastal city on the southwest coast of Cyprus, known for its rich history and archaeological sites. It offers a range of accommodation options, including luxury resorts, all-inclusive hotels, and budget-friendly guesthouses. The Kato Paphos area, near the harbour, is a great choice for easy access to historical attractions, restaurants, and nightlife. Best hotels in Paphos.
Limassol, located on the southern coast, is Cyprus’ second-largest city and a vibrant hub for business and tourism. Here, you’ll find a mix of upscale hotels, boutique accommodations, and budget-friendly options. The city offers beautiful beaches, a lively promenade, and a bustling city centre with shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Best hotels in Limassol.
As the capital city of Cyprus, Nicosia has a diverse range of accommodation options. You’ll find luxury hotels, boutique properties, and budget-friendly guesthouses, especially in the city centre. Nicosia is an excellent base for exploring the city’s rich history, cultural attractions, and vibrant dining scene. Nicosia is the last divided capital in the world, divided by a ‘green line’ along the border. Best hotels in Nicosia.
4. Ayia Napa
Ayia Napa is a renowned beach resort town on the southeastern coast of Cyprus, famous for its lively nightlife and stunning beaches. It offers a wide selection of accommodations, including beachfront resorts, family-friendly hotels, and budget-friendly apartments. If you’re looking for a vibrant and energetic atmosphere, Ayia Napa is an ideal choice. Best hotels in Ayia Napa.
Just a short distance from Ayia Napa, Protaras is another popular beach resort area with crystal-clear waters and beautiful sandy beaches. This family-friendly destination offers a variety of hotels and self-catering accommodations, making it an excellent choice for a relaxing beach vacation. Best hotels in Protaras.
Larnaca, located on the southern coast of Cyprus, is known for its beautiful beaches, historical sites, and lively promenade. The city offers a range of accommodations, including beachfront hotels, luxury resorts, and budget-friendly options. Larnaca is also home to the island’s main international airport, making it a convenient choice for many travellers. Best hotels in Larnaca.
7. Troodos Mountains
For a tranquil mountain retreat, consider staying in the Troodos Mountains. This picturesque region offers charming guesthouses, traditional village accommodations, and mountain resorts. It’s a perfect choice for nature lovers, hikers, and those seeking a peaceful escape from the coastal areas. Best hotels in the Troodos Mountains.
8. Rural Villages
Cyprus has many beautiful rural villages scattered across the island, offering a more authentic and traditional experience. Staying in a village accommodation allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture, enjoy traditional Cypriot hospitality, and experience a slower pace of life. Best hotels in the rural villages.
Note: It is advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your preferred choice. Consider factors such as location, amenities, and proximity to attractions based on your interests and travel plans.
If you prefer, you can see hotels on Booking.com by location using the map below.Booking.com
15. Map of Cyprus
The Google map below shows all the towns in Cyprus as listed in this Cyprus Travel Guide. Click the blue icons to see more information about each place, or click the star to add to your own Google Maps.
16. Practical tips for travellers.
This section of my Cyprus travel guide provides essential information on entry requirements, healthcare, electricity, time zone, and other practical aspects to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip to Cyprus.
Language and Communication: The official languages of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish. English is widely spoken and understood, especially in tourist areas.
Currency and Money Matters: The currency of Cyprus is the Euro (EUR). ATMs are widely available, and credit cards are accepted in most establishments. It is advisable to carry some cash for smaller purchases and in case of emergencies.
Safety and Emergency Information: Cyprus is generally a safe destination for travellers. However, it is always recommended to take common safety precautions and be aware of any specific guidelines or warnings issued by local authorities.
Here are some safety products from Amazon which may interest you:
- Use an anti-theft sling bag or an anti-theft backpack.
- Keep bank cards safe with an RFID blocking pouch or an RFID travel wallet.
- Use a portable door lock to lock your room from the inside.
- Try using an alarmed door stop for extra peace of mind.
- Use a compact travel safe (I have used this one and this one).
- You can also get hidden travel safes, for example in the shape of a water bottle, coke can, hairbrush or even a holy bible.
- A waterproof and fireproof document pouch will protect your travel documents.
Etiquette and Customs: Respect the local customs and traditions while visiting Cyprus. Familiarise yourself with common etiquette, such as greeting locals with a friendly “Kalimera” (good morning) and dressing appropriately when visiting religious sites.
17. Common FAQs when searching for Cyprus Travel Guide.
Q: Do I need a visa to visit Cyprus?
A: EU citizens can enter Cyprus with a valid passport or ID card. Non-EU citizens may require a visa. Check with the nearest Cypriot embassy or consulate for specific visa requirements based on your nationality.
Q: What is the currency in Cyprus?
A: The currency in Cyprus is the Euro (EUR). Currency exchange services are widely available, and credit cards are accepted in most establishments.
Q: Is English widely spoken in Cyprus?
A: Yes, English is widely spoken and understood in Cyprus, especially in tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants. Communication should not be a problem for most travellers.
Q: What is the best time to visit Cyprus?
A: The peak tourist season in Cyprus is from May to October when the weather is warm and sunny. However, visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October) offers pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and more affordable prices.
Q: How do I get around in Cyprus?
A: Cyprus has a reliable public transportation system, including buses that connect major cities and towns. Renting a car is a popular option for more flexibility, and taxis are also readily available. Some organised tours and excursions can also provide transportation. See sections above in this Cyprus travel guide for more information.
Q: Are there any cultural customs or etiquette I should be aware of in Cyprus?
A: Cypriots are generally warm and hospitable. It is customary to greet people with a friendly “Kalimera” (good morning) or “Kalinixta” (good night). Respect local customs, dress modestly when visiting religious sites, and follow the guidelines of each location.
Q: What are some popular Cypriot dishes I should try?
A: Cypriot cuisine is a delightful blend of Mediterranean flavours. Don’t miss trying traditional dishes like souvlaki (grilled meat skewers), halloumi cheese, moussaka, fresh seafood, kleftiko (slow-cooked lamb), and loukoumades (honey-dipped dough balls).
Q: Are there any health concerns or vaccinations required for Cyprus?
A: There are no specific vaccinations required for entry to Cyprus. However, it is advisable to have up-to-date routine vaccinations. It’s also recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses during your trip.
Q: What are some popular activities and attractions in Cyprus?
A: Cyprus offers a diverse range of activities and attractions. Explore ancient archaeological sites like the Tombs of the Kings, visit the beautiful beaches of Nissi Beach or Fig Tree Bay, discover the charming old towns of Nicosia and Limassol, and hike in the scenic Troodos Mountains. See sections above in this Cyprus travel guide for more information.
Further reading: 81 Unique and Exciting Things to do in Cyprus.
Q: Is tap water safe to drink in Cyprus?
A: The tap water in Cyprus is generally safe to drink. However, some people prefer to drink bottled water, which is widely available for purchase.
Q: Is Cyprus a safe destination for travellers?
A: Cyprus is considered a safe destination for travellers. However, it is always recommended to take common safety precautions, such as safeguarding personal belongings, being cautious in crowded areas, and following any local advisories or guidelines.
Note: It is important to stay updated with the latest travel advisories and guidelines from relevant authorities before your trip to Cyprus, as travel requirements and conditions may change.
Further reading: 26 Beautiful Photos of Cyprus.
Here are my favourite travel products for Cyprus on Amazon:
- Cyprus gets very hot. You need a decent natural sunscreen.
- For this reason you also need refillable water bottles and a foldable-yet-stylish sun hat.
- Cyprus uses the same plugs as the UK. If you’re not from the UK, you need this universal travel adaptor.
- This is the best quick-dry sand-repellent beach towel.
- Packing cubes are a travellers best friend. I recommend these ones.
- Going hiking in the Troodos mountains? These are the best hiking socks.
- If you plan to cross the Turkish border, it’s a good idea to take a Turkish phrase book.
Related reading for Cyprus Travel Guide.
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You are reading Hazel’s Travels – an online publication and travel blog which aims to provide advice and inspiration for travel in Europe, the UK and USA.Tags: Cyprus, Europe