Getting around Cyprus - car hire, taxis and bus services
At just 9,250km2 (1/26th the size of Britain) Cyprus is an easy country to navigate. As there are no trains in Cyprus the best way to get around is by hiring a car, flagging down a taxi or catching a bus.
Both the Turkish North and the Greek South have plenty of 'off the beaten track' attractions which are best-reached by car. You will need a driving license or International Driving Permit and will have to be over 21 years old (some car hire companies will loan you a vehicle at 18, although this is the exception rather than the rule). Traffic moves on the left and road signs are generally in English.
Hiring a car in Cyprus isn't something that should be undertaken lightly. Be warned that the Levantine attitude to The Highway Code is distinctly laissez faire and a genetic tendency to speed shared by both the Greeks and the Turks. Driving in Cyprus can be something of a white-knuckle ride and urban road networks make the Minotaur's maze look like child's play. However, the freedom that a car affords you more than justifies any associated hassle.
You can make considerable savings by booking in advance and the Internet provides the best starting point. If you aren't able to organise anything in advance you can expect to pay a financial premium and unfortunately there's little room for haggling. Most of the major players have car hire operations on the island and there are plenty of local entrepreneurs ready to take up the slack. Cyprus is a testing environment for automobiles: road maintenance is fairly desultory and servicing often infrequent, so make sure you take your car for a quick spin before signing anything (otherwise you could spend your first Cypriot sunset waiting for the local equivalent of the AA to turn up).
Then it's simply a matter of getting hold of a map and deciding where to go. In the south recommended 'days out' include: the ancient city of Amathus Cyprus, the unspoilt Akamas peninsula and the Troodos Mountains. If you're visiting the north then don't miss medieval Famagusta Northern Cyprus, the ruined city of Salamis Northern Cyprus or the string of crusader castles above the port of Kyrenia Northern Cyprus.
Shared taxis operate between the major towns (but not the small towns and villages), leaving at scheduled intervals throughout the day, and carrying up to eight passengers. This is quicker than the interurban bus services. Again, the shared taxis do not run on Sundays.
Rural taxis do not have fare meters installed, but charge around 22-26 cents per kilometre. These taxis must only be hired from their station. However, metered urban taxis operate around the clock in all towns and can be ordered over the phone or hailed in the street.
There are five major companies that service the bigger towns with inter-town routes operating from Monday through to Saturday:
• K Interurban Buses service routes between Lefkosia and Larnaka as well as Lemesos and Larnaka. Contact them on 24 64 34 92.
• Lefkosia Interurban Buses (telephone 22 66 58 14) operate between Lefkosia and Lemesos.
• Eman Buses run between Agia Napa and Larnaka. Phone 23 72 13 21
• Routes between Pafos and Polis are operated by Nea Amoroza Transport Co (telephone 26 93 68 22).
• Buses between Paralimni, Portaras and Larnaka are run by EPA Co. Contact them on 23 82 13 18.
Contact the companies directly for further information such as fares, timetables and bookings.
Local bus routes operate in most areas, with extended hours during the peak season in popular tourist areas. These are all ‘hail and ride’ services.