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About Cyprus (CY)


The third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus (CY) is kind of a complicated place. The island is divided into two regions: the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus; and the de facto governing Republic of Cyprus, which occupies the majority two-thirds of the island. Cyprus is technically in Asia, but politically a member of the European Union. So, it’s generally one country but thought of as two separate entities — Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus. Given the political sensitivities involved, most travel guides tend to treat Cyprus accordingly. Only travelers who plan to visit both regions will need to concern themselves with the ins and outs of crossing the border. Otherwise, the island is one of the most popular destinations in the Mediterranean for aquatic activities and historical sightseeing.

  Getting around

Public transportation doesn’t exist outside of Nicosia, the capital city, and the majority of visitors rent a car. Meanwhile, most visitors enter and exit from the southern side of the country, where cheap car rentals are found. It’s possible — but not recommended — to enter the north via car hire; however, with a couple of caveats. First and foremost, some — not all — car rental companies in Cyprus will refuse to release the car if they know you’re taking it into the north. Second of all, you will need to purchase insurance at the border crossing, and depending upon which crossing you choose, insurance companies may not be open. Generally speaking, taking a car hire into the north is not a good idea. Meanwhile, driving in Cyprus is the main mode of transportation, but road conditions are described as “poor and crumbling”, and local drivers are notoriously selfish and reckless. The best advice is to stock up on your insurance coverage and hit the road in an all-wheel drive vehicle. Smaller cars tend to operate from a default disadvantage.

  Choosing your car

Car rentals in Cyprus are supplied by the big name brands: Europcar, Sixt, Hertz, Budget, and Avis. Choose from compact hatchbacks, economy, standard and fullsize 4-door sedans, SUVs, estate wagons, premium and luxury vehicles, and 7-12 seater minivans.

  Tips and advice

1

Outside of the main motorways, road signage is reportedly sparse and occasionally inaccurate.

2

If you’re determined to enter the north, doing so by foot is recommended. The Ledras Street pedestrian bridge is the favored crossing of those in-the-know.

3

Due to the popularity of Cyprus as a tourist destination, booking your car hire well in advance is highly recommended.

4

Nearly all traffic regulations are based on those found in the U.K., as result of prior British rule. However, locals consider said regulations to be mere “guidelines”.

5

Parking in Cyprus is unofficially defined as any open spot that’s not currently occupied. Although there are rules in place, they are very rarely enforced.

6

Car horns are used liberally in Cyprus for everything from expressing frustration to saying hello to a friend across the street.

Cyprus Driving Rules and Tips


Driving is one of the best ways to see Cyprus, as it is a small country and the public transportation can be a hit or miss (only buses and taxis). Use the information below to help you when you are driving in the area.

Documentation

You will need the following documents:

  • A valid driver’s license from your country. Driver’s licenses from Australia, Canada, Georgia, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, and Zimbabwe are good for 6 months; all others are valid for 30 days.
  • An International Driver’s Permit, especially if you don’t have an EU license. Buy it in your home country before you leave.
  • Official photo ID (passport).
  • Proof of insurance, if renting a car. (Call ahead to make sure you will be covered.)
  • Ownership papers for the car you are driving or a letter from the owner.

Age Restrictions

You must be 18 to drive a car. You can drive a moped or small motorcycle at 17.

Driving Rules, Laws, and Regulations

  • Drive on the left hand side of the road; pass on the right.
  • Road signs are in English.
  • All people in the car must wear a seatbelt.
  • Children cannot ride in the front seat.
  • Use your headlights at dawn and dusk.
  • Wear a helmet if you are on a motorcycle.
  • Don’t eat or drink while driving; you can be fined 85 euros.
  • Don’t use a phone while driving.
  • In roundabouts, yield to traffic already in the roundabout.
  • In smaller towns, streets will be narrow. Signage will be minimal.
  • Most drivers will be aggressive, so always check for oncoming traffic even if you have the right of way.
  • Some places will be referred to by two different names, as the signs were changed in recent years.
  • Roads are generally good, though most are unlit at night. Some smaller roads aren’t paved.
  • You must carry a warning triangle in the car for emergencies.
  • Insurance may not cover you if you drive in Northern Cyprus (the Turkish occupied part of the country).

Speed Limits and Fines

Follow the speed limit signs as posted, which will be in kilometers per hour. You'll find the maximum speeds below:

  • 50 km/h (30 mph) on Urban areas
  • 80 km/h (50 mph) on Rural areas
  • 100 km/h (60 mph) on Motorways

Speeding fines are based on the percentage you are over the limit, outlined below; you can be fined on the spot. Cyprus also employs a point deduction system if you are in the country for an extended time.

  • Under 30% over the limit: 1 euro per km/h over.
  • 31%-50%: 2 euros per km/h over.
  • 51%-75%: 3 euros per km/h over.
  • 75% or more: You must go to court.

Drunk Driving

The blood alcohol content (BAC) for Cyprus is 0.05g/100ml, which is about one drink per hour. As a foreign driver, you can be fined on the spot. You may be required to appear in court, or you could even be arrested at the time of the offense. Police do stop people, especially at night, for random alcohol tests.

Parking

  • Parking meters are located throughout urban areas, paid by the hour.
  • You can also park where you don’t see yellow lines.
  • Some businesses will have parking lots. You'll also find paid parking lots, where you’ll need to pay for a ticket to display in your car. Tickets are valid all day.

Don’t forget to grab a pair of sunglasses to take with you, as Cyprus is sunny most of the year.

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