Cyprus is for lovers

According to legend, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, rose from the waters near the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Ever since, Cyprus has been a ripe destination for those looking to kindle their romance. The over 400 mile coastline offers up some of the cleanest beaches you’ll find throughout the world. Olive and citrus groves, pine trees, and mountains provide a diverse range of activities, from hiking to skiing to sunbathing, all taking place in the course of a day. Typically, Cyprus provides year-round sunny weather, which makes it a hotspot for weddings.

 

Cyprus has also recently had a history of division. The northern section of the island is claimed and administered by Turkey. This arrangement is not recognized by any other country, however. The part of Cyprus discussed here refers to the Republic of Cyprus, an independent nation with close ties to Greece that covers the southern and central parts of the island.

 

Getting in, out, and about Cyprus

 

Although part of Europe and the European Union, Cyprus is not a party to the Schengen Agreement as of yet. It has signed on to the agreement but has not implemented it yet, which means it has its own separate border controls and visa requirements. For US travelers looking to stay there less than 90 days, a valid passport and proof of a return ticket or a ticket to an onward destination will allow you entry into the country. For stays longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for a residential permit.

 

The Turkish part of Cyprus is neither recognized by the US or the rest of the island. Consequently, residential permits and visas processed by that body are not valid for the rest of the island. Furthermore, there is a UN maintained buffer zone between the Turkish northern part of Cyprus and the Greek oriented majority of the island, the Republic of Cyprus. You should by no means try to venture into the buffer zone.

 

Cyprus does bar people with HIV or AIDS from entry into the country. There are no required vaccinations for entry into Cyprus, although many travelers get the vaccination against Hepatitis A. Once you have determined your itinerary, check with your local physician about what vaccines may be right for you.

 

In Cyprus, the water is potable in most areas; however, drinking bottled water is a good precaution against possibly contaminated water supplies. Take the same precautions in avoiding ice that has been made with tap water.

 

The traveler’s tongue

 

The official language in the Republic of Cyprus is Greek. While it is not unheard of for residents to speak Turkish, particularly as you move closer to northern Cyprus, most people will understand Greek. Since Cyprus was under British control for many years, English is also widely spoken. This makes for a perfect environment for English speakers to try their hand at Greek, a lovely language that rolls off the tongue. French, German, and Russian are additional languages commonly spoken in Cyprus as well.

 

Money matters in Cyprus

 

Cyprus’ unit of currency is the euro. Like most of the EU countries, Cyprus charges an additional Value Added Tax (VAT) of 15% on most goods and services. Unlike the rest of the EU, this tax is non-refundable. Nevertheless, Cyprus tends to be less expensive than most of Europe, while being more expensive than travel through much of the Middle East.

 

A 10% gratuity is frequently added to restaurant bills, but where it is not, a tip of around the same amount is appropriate. Tipping your taxi driver, hotel porter, tour guides, and hotel cleaning services is also welcomed.

 

Most businesses in Cyprus accept traveler’s checks and credit cards, and ATM machines abound, as well as currency exchange bureaus and banks that deal in international currency. This makes managing your money in Cyprus a cinch compared with many other international destinations.

 

For budget travelers, a stay in a hostel can range in price from $40 to $70 USD per night per person, while higher end accommodations are similar to Europe in pricing. Meals can be expensive, starting at around $20 USD. However, you can minimize these costs by shopping for local fresh produce and goods at supermarkets and open air markets. These are typically great values. For instance, a pound of fresh vegetables or fruit can come to around $1.50 USD.

 

Since Cyprus is confined to the one island, travel expenses tend to be on the inexpensive side. Cyprus lacks a rail system, so most travel is by bus, taxi, or car.

 

Highlights of a Cyprus vacation

 

Cyprus hosts a wide range of activities and sites for vacationers. Here are just a few of the highlights:

 

  • Nicosia. The capital city of Cyprus is the last divided capital in the world. The “green line” features barbed wire fences and guard towers, making it impossible to cross into the eastern Turkish part of the city. There is a watchtower located here that gives tourists access to a wide view of the city. Since it is a compact town, you will find walking a preferred means to get around. Numerous museums feature fine Greek and Byzantine art. Another hotspot is the Hamam Omerye, a 14th century building that has functioned as both a church and a mosque in its history, but is now a spa and Turkish bathhouse.
  • Protaras. This resort town features numerous sandy beaches and crystal clear blue waters. The most famous beach is Fig Tree Bay. Whatever water sports you can think of, from parasailing to cliff diving, you will find them all available in this area.
  • Paphos. This town is where, according to legend, the goddess Aphrodite arrived after her sea birth. It features beautiful ancient Greek ruins, including the House of Dionysos and the House of Theseus, which house exquisite mosaics. Enjoy productions of ancient Greek dramas and comedies at the Odeon, or hike through a natural wildlife sanctuary in the Paphos Bird Park, or tour the rocky and somber Tombs of the Kings.
  • The Troodos Mountains. Not only replete with well-kept hiking trails and small villages that offer a glimpse of traditional Cypriot life, the Troodos Mountains offer opportunities in the winter for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports.
  • The Baths of Aphrodite. This natural pool where Aphrodite is said to have swam is surrounded by rugged and wild terrain perfect for exploration. The best part is that entry is free.
  • Ayia Napa. For travelers young and old in search of hopping nightlife, Ayia Napa is famed as a party town. Situated close to numerous beaches. Paragliding and bungee jumping are available activities for the more adventurous of travelers.

 

Wherever your vacation takes you in Cyprus, you will find a romantic excursion in a year-round Mediterranean climate.