There are some countries that just beg to be explored by road trip. Places like Iceland, Scotland & California are all synonymous with hitting the open road and I’d argue that driving in Cyprus fits firmly into this category.
While there are some public buses in Cyprus that go between the major cities, a lot of the best beaches, historical sites and charming villages are best reached by hiring a car in Cyprus. If you’re planning on visiting this lovely Mediterranean island in the near future, here’s everything you need to know about driving in Cyprus to ensure you have a hassle-free trip!
14 Driving in Cyprus Tips
1. Prepare for Driving on the Left
One of the major questions many visitors to this island nation have is whether driving in Cyprus is done on the left or right side of the road. Brits & Aussies can rejoice as this is one of the few countries in the world where they drive on the left!
If you haven’t driven on the left before, then one of the best tips is to remember the “me in the middle” rule. This simply means that as a driver, you should always be in the middle of the road. Other things to note including making sure to give way to the right when entering a roundabout and turning into the correct lane when making a turn.
Even if you are worried you might forget to drive on the left, don’t worry! There are numerous signs on the heavily trafficked roads that are there to remind you.
2. Shop around for great deals
Many of the major car hire companies that you’ll find internationally are available in Cyprus so travellers are spoiled for choice when renting a car. While you might have loyalty to a specific brand, the best way to get a good deal is to shop around. We recommend doing this by searching on Rentalcars.Com.
They compare results from all the major car hire companies that are available in Cyprus and allow you to find a great deal for your specific travel dates. We ended up renting a car from Europcar which is typically more expensive in other countries but showed up as a great deal for our travel dates.
3. Plan Ahead If Driving to Northern Cyprus
The fact that the island of Cyprus is currently divided means there are some further complications to consider when driving in Cyprus. If hiring a car in the southern part of Cyprus, it’s best to speak to the car rental company to determine what their policy is with regards to driving to Northern Cyprus.
Many car rental companies will allow you to drive to Northern Cyprus, however, you won’t be covered by their insurance policy. You can, however, buy third party insurance when crossing the border.
If you want to see some of Northern Cyprus but don’t want to take your rental car across the border, then it’s worth spending a couple of days in Nicosia and crossing the Green Line by foot.
4. Buy Third Party Excess Insurance
Whenever you rent a car abroad, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re fully covered for any unfortunate incidents. Most car rental companies will provide standard insurance that still has a significant excess (or deductible). That means if you need to make a claim you could still be out of pocket a few hundred dollars.
While car rental companies will offer their own insurance to cover the excess, this is a much more expensive option compared to buying equivalent insurance from a third party like iCarHireInsurance. If you rent a car numerous times a year, their annual policy, in particular, is great value.
5. Check if you need an IDP
After our recent trip to Southern Spain where we weren’t able to rent a car because we didn’t have an International Driver’s Permit (IDP), we’re always checking if the country we’re travelling to requires an IDP.
When driving in Cyprus, you’ll only need an IDP if your license is in a non-Latin alphabet from and from a country outside of the European Union. That means if you’re travelling to Cyprus on an EU, US, Australian or UK license you won’t need an IDP when renting a car.
6. A 4WD is worth considering
When driving in Cyprus, it’s a good idea to consider renting a 4WD. While it’s by no means necessary, particularly if you’re sticking to the highways, there are a lot of dirt and unpaved roads that go to some of the tourist attractions.
This is particularly the case for a number of things to do in Paphos, such as visiting the Adonis Baths, Lara Beach & The Blue Lagoon. If you don’t rent a 4WD it’s still possible to get these sites in other ways, for example, you can take a ferry to the Blue Lagoon, renting an ATV or simply taking the risk by driving a regular car and hoping to avoid damage!
7. Free Parking is typically available
One of the great things about driving in Cyprus is that we didn’t have to pay for parking at all during our time in the country. This is at least partly because the definition of a parking spot is a bit looser compared to what you might expect elsewhere in the West.
Whether it’s parking right on the side curb, or simply parking in an undefined spot of a parking lot, it’s generally okay so long as it’s not dangerous and not blocking any car from getting out. The main place where we found you had to pay for parking was in the middle of large cities like Limassol or Larnaca.
8. Check the Fuel Policy & Mileage Limits
When picking up your car hire in Cyprus, make sure to pay attention to the fuel policy and the mileage limits of your policy.
One of the surprising things when we picked up our car, was that they had a ‘return empty’ policy. That meant that we paid for a full tank of fuel when picking up the car but could bring it back empty. We, therefore, had to plan a bit in advance when fuelling up our car to make sure we didn’t give the car rental company free fuel when returning our car!
9. No Self-Service Fuel Stations
Speaking of fuel policies, one thing to be aware of when fuelling up your car in Cyprus is that petrol stations aren’t self-service. That means that when you pull into a gas station, simply tell the attendant how much fuel you want and they will fill it up for you. When they’re done, you’ll still need to go inside to the kiosk to pay your bill, though.
10. Freeze a Water Bottle Overnight
Hopefully this comes as no surprise to you, but Cyprus is hot. Very hot, in fact. It’s important to always remain hydrated and have plenty of water with you. A good trick we found to ensure our water didn’t get too warm throughout the day is to freeze a water bottle overnight. By the time we finished our water in the morning, the frozen water bottle was ready for drinking!
11. Check the Speed Limits
Standard speed limits in Cyprus are 100 km/h on the main highways, between 65 to 80 km/h on other roads and sometimes lower on more rural roads, particularly in the mountainous villages.
Like anywhere else in the world, make sure to keep an eye on your driving speed as there are speed cameras around and they are working towards installing more sophisticated ones in the future.
12. Bring an AUX Cord & Cigarette Charger
If you’re travelling to Cyprus on a budget and aren’t renting the most expensive of cars, then I recommend buying an AUX cord and a cigarette car charger. This will allow you to listen to your favourite music and charge your phone while it eats up your battery as you use it for driving directions.
We were incredibly happy we had these items with us, particularly as the USB port in our car wasn’t particularly good at charging our phones!
13. Drivers apparently have a bad reputation
Many people in Cyprus will tell you that Cypriot drivers are some of the worst that you’ll find in the world. We didn’t really anything worse than normal when driving in Cyprus, though this might have been due to the fact we’d been living in Georgia for a few months prior to our trip here where we actually found the driving crazy!
All in all, as long as you drive sensibly, I don’t think there is anything you really need to worry about when it comes to local drivers.
14. Watch Your Alcohol Consumption
The legal amount of alcohol allowed in your blood when driving in Cyprus is 0.05% is in line with many European countries, but lower than you will find in England. Police checks are also known to be common in well-known party areas such as Ayia Napa.
This means that if you’re planning on having a few drinks in the evening or going for a wine tasting tour in Cyprus, make sure to have a designated driver or leave the car at home!
Driving in Cyprus as a tourist is undoubtedly the best way to see the country and following these tips will hopefully ensure you have a great and affordable trip!
When travelling in Cyprus, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you planning on renting a car in Cyprus? Have you been recently? Let us know in the comments below!