Public transport in Cyprus is unreliable and inefficient. Very few people (bar pensioners or visitors) use public transport on the island. The only mode of public transport on offer is the bus network, but the service is poorly run, unreliable and with limited routes. Plans are in the works for the development of an improved urban public transport system, starting with Nicosia and Lemesos.
Nevertheless, do enquire about bus services to the mountain villages, which start from Nicosia’s central bus station at Plateia Solomou (22 665 814). PEAL Troodos (25 552 220) has recently introduced a service to Troodos via Platres and other scenic villages, leaving from the CTO office on Germasogeia and from behind the central bus station.
All taxis are legally obliged to have a meter. There are taxi ranks in all towns and they may also be flagged down on the street, but booking over the telephone is the easiest and most efficient way. Be aware that fares are slightly more expensive after 8.30pm and on certain public holidays.
Taxis are relatively costly and therefore not recommended for travelling between towns. The best way to get from one town to another in Cyprus, if you’re not driving yourself, is to take a Travel Express service taxi. The shared taxis pick you up and drop you off precisely where you want to go, and are much cheaper than normal taxis. They do take longer, however, as they collect passengers from various addresses around town and deliver them to their specific destinations. Taxis operate every half hour between all the main towns, with the last one leaving at 6pm. Routes served are Nicosia-Lemesos, Larnaka-Nicosia, Nicosia-Larnaka Airport, Larnaka-Lemesos, Lemesos-Larnaka Airport, Lemesos-Pafos and Lemesos-Pafos Airport.
Travel Express 77 777 474, www.travelexpress.com.cy.
Renting a car is a good idea if you want to travel independently around the island. All the main international firms are represented in Cyprus, with offices in all towns. EasyCar (www.easycar.com) operates online.
Astra Self Drive Cars 77 777 800, www.astracarrentals.com.
Budget 24 643 293, www.budgetcyprus.com.
Europcar 24 643 085, www.europcar.com.cy.
Hertz 24 643 388, www.hertz.com.cy.
Petsas Rent a Car 22 456 450, www.petsas.com.cy.
There are several crossing points along the north–south border, of which the most commonly used by visitors are the two in Nicosia (Lefkosia). EU and US citizens are allowed into the north without visas at time of writing, though check in advance of a visit. Do not try and cross between the north and south other than at a designated checkpoint.
The opening of Nicosia’s Ledra Street checkpoint in the wake of Cyprus’s accession to the EU has eased the movement of locals and visitors across the border. Ledra Street is a mostly pedestrianised commercial road through the heart of old Nicosia; the crossing is for foot and bicycle traffic only.
The wall that used to divide Ledra Street (or Lidras) in two was torn down in April 2008 and, for the first time since 1964, people can move freely back and forth. Passports or EU IDs still need to be presented at the Greek Cypriot and then Turkish Cypriot checkpoints. Once across, you will be within a few strides of most major sights.
If going through Ledra Palace, take the Pafos Gate roundabout and from there walk west along the Venetian Walls. After a two-minute walk you will see the Greek Cypriot checkpoint. Just past that, you will enter the UN-controlled buffer zone. On your left is the famed Ledra Palace Hotel. Just in front of the hotel, you will see a small grey pavilion with a display of photographs and drawings documenting the Nicosia Master Plan, a project that focuses on the restoration of old buildings on both sides of Nicosia, funded by USAID and the EU. Ask inside for a free guide to Nicosia’s historical and cultural sights and a map of the city.
When you reach the Turkish Cypriot checkpoint, you will be asked to show your passport.
There is a taxi stand just beyond the checkpoint, but if your plan is simply to visit the old town, you won’t need one; it’s only five minutes away (go straight on from the checkpoint and turn right at the first traffic lights). Several currency exchange points are located on the same street. Almost all shops in the north accept Euros and pound sterling as well as Turkish lira.
Crossing to the north by car requires additional insurance, as the insurance issued in the south is not valid in the occupied north. Insurance can be obtained either when you cross – several Turkish Cypriot insurance companies have their stands at each crossing point – or in advance, at the Ledra Palace checkpoint, where a friendly insurance man called Dervis
will help you. (The Ledra Palace crossing itself is for pedestrians only.) On average, a three-day insurance package costs €17 and a month’s €26, depending on the terms and conditions. Prices are the same for private and rental cars.
The Agios Dometios crossing point in Nicosia is about ten minutes’ drive north-west from the city centre. Visitors should carry their passport and driving licence. Usually it will take five to ten minutes to cross, providing it is not a public holiday, when the queues are always longer (especially just before lunchtime). Then follow the signs for the motorway to Kyrenia (Girne), Famagusta (Gazi Maƒusa) and Morphou (Güzelyurt).
The other checkpoints are useful if you are staying in Pafos or one of the Troodos mountain resorts (try Zodhia) or Agia Napa, Protaras or Paralimni (the Strovilia and Pergamos checkpoints are much closer than Agios Dometios).
Taxis are a convenient way of getting around if you do not have your own car. There are two types of taxis, private ones and local service taxis. A one-way trip by private taxi from Nicosia to Kyrenia costs about €21, to Famagusta €43 and to Morphou €35. The service taxi company that goes to Kyrenia is Kombos, located at Elim Sokak 29, close to Kyrenia (Girne) Gate in north Nicosia. A one-way trip costs about €2.60. The service to Famagusta is run
by Itimat (Yolu Sokak, just outside the walls) which charges €3.50 for a one-way journey. If you want to travel to Morphou, you should use Cimen (Yolu Sokak). The trip costs about €2.60 and taxis leave every 15 minutes.
There are also buses from north Nicosia to all main towns and villages. The bus station is located in Gazeteci Kemal Asik Caddessi, about 15 minutes’ walk from the Ledra Palace crossing.
Getting to Cyprus
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