The Mediterranean isle of Cyprus is a traveller’s delight, filled with fascinating historical sites and beautiful locales. Wander through the fallen ruins of lost cities, or explore the ancient castles and fortresses that dot the Cypriot landscape. Join Odyssey Traveller as we take you on a journey through this wonderful country.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Bus services are frequent in southern Cyprus, with several bus services operating routes across the southern half of the island. Bus services in the north of the country are less frequent and less reliable however. Taxis are available in both the south and the north of the country, though keep in mind to agree on a fare before your trip if taking a cab in the north, as northern taxis do not have meters.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, Environment, & Weather
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, covering a total area of 9,251 square kilometres. The geography of Cyprus is dominated by two mountain ranges, the Kyrenia Range and the Troodos Mountains, which stretch across the country’s north and south-west respectively. The rivers of the island are seasonal, and dry out in the summer.
Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters. Depending on when you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.
World heritage sites
There are 3 properties in Cyprus listed on the World Heritage List, with a further 11 sites listed on the Tentative List. You can view the listed properties here: (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/cy). Cyprus’ listed properties include:
Choirokoitia, a Neolithic settlement that remains as one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean
Painted Churches in the Troodos Region, featuring gorgeous Byzantine murals and decorations
Paphos, an archaeological site containing the remains of villas, palaces, tombs and fortresses, as well as a collection of beautiful mosiacs.
Festivals & Events
The heritage, history and culture of Cyprus are commemorated through many colourful festivals and events held throughout the year. The Greek heritage of the island is celebrated through events such as the Paphos Ancient Greek Drama Festival, which stages performances of the works of ancient Greek playwrights. The performing arts are also held in wide esteem in Cyprus, with events such as the Shakespeare Festival and International Pharos Chamber Music Festival highlighting the Cypriots love of performance. The produce of the island is showcased through numerous fairs and shows throughout the year, including the Limassol Wine Festival which puts the fine wines of the island on display over late August and early September.
Medieval Cyprus, by Gwynneth der Parthog
Sweet and Bitter Island: A History of the British in Cyprus, by Tabitha Morgan
The Cypriot, by Andreas Koumi
Living In The Real Cyprus, by Vic Heaney
Eating & Drinking
Cypriot cuisine is heavily influenced by the flavours of the Mediterranean, particularly Greek and Turkish flavours. The culinary traditions of Greece are represented through popular dishes such as moussaka (a dish made from layers of eggplant and minced meat) and kleftiko (lamb marinated in lemon juice and flavoured with cinnamon) while Turkish influences shine through in dishes such as dolmades (rice and meat wrapped in grape leaves) and ekmek kadayif (Turkish bread pudding served with sugar syrup and whipped cream). Local vegetables such as kolokasi (a root vegetable similar to sweet potatoes) and agrelia (asparagus) constitute an integral part of the local diet, while meat dishes such as souvla (skewered meat cooked over a charcoal barbecue) remain central to the Cypriot dining experience. Haloumi is a particular staple of Cyprus – a salty cheese made from goat and sheep’s milk, haloumi is served alongside many dishes, and is even consumed with slices of watermelon as a sweet-and-savoury snack.
Cyprus has a long history of wine-making, with wine production on the island dating back several millenia. One of the most famous wines of Cyprus is Commandaria, a sweet dessert wine consumed on the island since the 12th century. Other popular alcoholic beverages include ‘Brandy Sour’, the national cocktail made from brandy, lemon squash, and soda water, and zivania, an alcoholic spirit made from grape skins and pomace. For something non-alcoholic, there’s always Cypriot coffee, which is generally served with a chilled glass of water on the side.
Health & Safety
Generally speaking, Cyprus is safe to travel in, though always exercise common sense while travelling.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply in Cyprus runs at 240V and 50Hz. Cyprus uses the Type G electric plug, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.
Cyprus has a single time zone, Eastern European Standard Time (UTC+2). Daylight savings in Cyprus commence on the last Sunday of March, and conclude on the last Sunday of October.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is not obligatory in Cyprus, with service charges of around 10% often included in the bill at hotels and restaurants. However, a tour guide may be expect to receive a tip, generally around 10%.
Wifi is widely available in Cyprus, and should be freely accessible in most hotels, cafes and restaurants.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Cyprus. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Cyprus
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although some locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of lekë in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of euros in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.