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Panda’s 7 day itinerary for a road trip through Cyprus

July 22, 2021 3 Comments

I never ever thought I would find myself taking a road trip through Cyprus. To be honest I didn’t even know that Cyprus even existed a few years back. It fell onto my radar recently because of its relaxed entry requirements for covid vaccinated travellers. One of the things that make this unsuspecting island perfect for a visit is the diversity of experiences it offers-  you can tan on the beach or seek waterfalls in the mountains. History lovers will be excited to explore ruins, while adrenaline junkies can jump off cliffs into the sea. I managed to experience all of this & more in my 1 week road trip through Cyprus with my bestie Expat Lion.

You can see A LOT in 1 week if you have a car which is why I strongly recommend this route for travellers who want to do more than staying at an all inclusive resort. 

How to use this post:This post contains some hyperlinks with specific and detailed information. It will provide a day by day itinerary & daily overview of my road trip in Cyprus; but clicking on the hyperlinks will help you to be better planned for activities that are more detailed. On the days I provide accommodation information, it’s a place I recommend and enjoyed staying at. If there is no accommodation information, it’s because I stayed at a place I would not want others to waste time at.

If you’re looking for other destinations I travelled to during the pandemic, you may to consider my posts on Russia, Georgia & Zanzibar.

Note: The flights, accommodation and activities mentioned in this post were NOT sponsored/discounted/gifted. Here is a summary of our expenses for our road trip through Cyprus:

FIRST IT’S TIME FOR A BRIEF PPG (PANDA’S PROGRESSIVE GEOGRAPHY) LESSON!

Cyprus was formally annexed by Britain in 1914. Following nationalist violence in the 1950s, Cyprus was granted independence from the British in 1960.

 In 1963, the 11-year intercommunal violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots started, which displaced more than 25,000 Turkish Cypriots and brought the end of Turkish Cypriot representation in the republic.

On 15 July 1974, a coup d’état was staged by Greek Cypriot nationalists in an attempt to absorb Cyprus into Greece. This action precipitated the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on 20 July, which led to the capture of the present-day territory of Northern Cyprus in the following month, after a ceasefire collapsed, there was displacement of over 150,000 Greek Cypriots and 50,000 Turkish Cypriots. 

A separate Turkish Cypriot state in the north was established by unilateral declaration in 1983; the move was widely condemned by the international community, with Turkey alone recognizing the new state. These events and the resulting political situation are matters of a continuing dispute.  In Dec. 2002, the EU invited Cyprus to join in 2004. However, without reunification, only Greek Cyprus was to be welcomed into the EU. In April 2004, dual referendums were held, with the Greek side overwhelmingly rejecting a United Nations reunification plan, and the Turkish side voting in favour. In May, Greek Cyprus alone became a part of the EU.

The international community considers the northern part of the island as territory of the Republic of Cyprus occupied by Turkish forces. The occupation is viewed as illegal under international law, amounting to illegal occupation of EU territory since Cyprus became a member of the European Union.

The currency used in Cyprus is the Euro. English is widely spoken and they drive on the left side of the road (like the UK). 

PREPARING FOR TRAVELLING TO Cyprus

Nicosia is Cyprus’s capital city but the country has various international airports: Nicosia International Airport (NIC), Larnaca International Airport (LCA) and Paphos International Airport (PFO). Where you land depends largely on where you fly from. 

During this time, Cyprus has many rules regulating which countries are allowed entry. Please consult this OFFICIAL WEBSITE to see who is allowed, what the entry requirements are and what documents are needed.

South Africans DO require a visa to travel to Cyprus. I easily applied for my visa in Doha via the BLS application center. It cost me 130QAR. Please refer to their website for up to date procedure and requirements to apply. 

HOW WE GOT AROUND cyprus

Our timeline and the amount we managed to do/see on our road trip through Cyprus would not have been possible without our own vehicle. Public transportation options exist however you would need more time & flexibility than we could spare. Driving in Cyprus is quite easy with an extensive road system and well maintained roads. We rented our car from Kyprexxo which is a local Cypriot car rental company. I highly recommend this company because their prices are more reasonable than the bigger chains (Avis, National etc.) and their service is personalized. They will meet you at arrivals and drive you to their offices (just outside the airport building).

Day 1

Stop 1- Cape Greco National Park

I wasn’t sure what kind of ‘park’ this would be but basically it’s just a large area. You can walk it (but you would be hot in summer) or drive to different viewpoints. You can also climb down the cliffs to find a swimming spot (but be careful of rough waters and rocks).  Don’t forget to visit Kamara Tou Koraka, a naturally formed arch over the cliff edge. It is cordoned off as it’s eroding away but is still worth a snap. Oh it also happens to be next to a bubble tea truck! 

The area is extremely scenic and costs nothing to visit. You do not need a 4WD to explore this area. 

Stop 2- Sea Caves at sunset

If you go nowhere else on your road trip through Cyprus, make sure you visit the Aya Napa sea caves for postcard worthy views. They’re a 5 minute drive away from Cape Greco and depending on which way you enter, you’ll probably pass the sign to the caves while making your way to Cape Greco. You can climb down (carefully) to sit in this natural frame. 

Or you can climb down even further to swim. If you go when it’s busy, you will witness the cliff divers jumping in from the top. Sunset is the best time to go as you can witness the beautiful caves being backlit by the golden hues of the setting sun. 

Accommodation: Best Western Larnaca

Day 2

Stop 1- Sha’s Mine

I read about this place on an obscure website and decided to take a chance to see if we could find it. The area is not a tourist attraction and it took some time to find this incredible ‘lake’. I don’t advise going near or touching the water simply because it may be hazardous. However, it’s really cool to see the changing colours in the water from a distance!

Stop 2- Lefkara Dam

Another off the beaten path gem, this is a picturesque spot to admire the view and snap some photos. There isn’t anything to do here but you could enjoy a picnic if you came prepared. You can drive along the dam in a regular car as there is a road that snakes all the way around. We did not follow the road in its entirety but just snapped some photos from its high points and came back the way we entered. 

Stop 3- Lefkara Village

If you’ve ever had an image of a quaint European mountain village steeped in history that gives you the feeling you are traveling back in time, I guarantee that Lefkara would fulfill that fantasy. Cobblestone walkways through narrow roads as you pass by balconies, floral displays, and Neo-Classical homes are the scenes you’ve probably envisioned when you think of a quaint European village. Lefkara has all this & more.

The village is known for filigree silver; the men in the village weave threads of silver to form intricate patterns. The items produced include jewellery, spoons, crosses, and many more items that could become unique gifts. The village is home to ‘lefkaritika embroidery’- a particular kind of delicate embroidery that the women in this village produce. The gorgeous embroidery is even included on UNESCO’s representative List of Intangible Culture Heritage. 

Accommodation- Euphoria Art Land (The Blue House)

Day 3

Stop 1- Caledonia Waterfall

No road trip through Cyprus is complete without a visit to a waterfall. The hike to Caledonia Waterfall is quite a relaxing one with a gentle incline. At the time when we visited, the waterfall was quite small but visiting after a rainfall would probably be better. If you wish to attempt this hike, you need to start the PSILO DENDRO farm parking lot and whenever the road forks, keep RIGHT. The path is quite well defined and shouldn’t take more than an hour (one way).

Stop 2- Millomeri Waterfall

Unlike Caledonia, Millomeri is extremely easy to access; the challenge lies in finding the correct location. To me, Millomeri was much more worth it to visit than Caledonia as it had a lovely pool at the bottom to swim in. There’s no hiking involved just a flight of stairs. If you wish to find this waterfall, follow the signs on the main road to get to my location pin. The Millomeri Waterfall pin on google maps takes you to a construction site.

Stop 3- Omodos Village

We stopped in another quaint countryside village called Omodos in order to refuel after our morning of chasing waterfalls. After some searching we found the ‘Fontini Bakery House’ which is a farm to table establishment offering large brunch platters. Even though their menu says it’s for 2, it can definitely feed 4 adults.

Omodos is very charming and is a very popular place for tourists. It is situated near the large resorts and the city of Limassol and is a wonderful idea to diversify your beach holiday. You can visit many vineyards for wine tastings but since I don’t drink alcohol, we did not.

Stop 4- Oniro by the Sea

This is technically a restaurant but since the restaurant was closed at the time of us visiting, we used it as a landmark. The main attraction is the shipwreck commanding attention- the stranded Edro III (a Sierra Leone-flagged ship) stuck there since December 2011. It makes for wonderful sunset photos and is directly opposite the sea caves of Paphos which look quite interesting. 

Day 4 

Stop 1- Boat ride in Blue Lagoon

We kept reading that this was one of the best things to do on the west coast o f Cyprus so we started researching how we could visit this lagoon. The lagoon has crystal clear water- some of the clearest I have ever seen- and provides people with the opportunity to snorkel and relax in the warm water. You can choose to visit Blue Lagoon via:

-Boat from Latchi Harbour

-Jeep Tour from Akamas

-Self drive buggy or 4WD

We opted for the boat tour which cost us 20 Euro with this company. Due to covid we had to bring our own snorkel equipment and the company did not provide life jackets.  It really was a great way to spend a morning! 

Stop 2- Hike in Avakas Gorge

From Latchi we changed and headed out to find Avakas Gorge. Google Maps took us on crazy routes but we finally managed to find the starting point for the hike which you can find here:

This is a leisurely unshaded hike that you can walk as far as you want to or turn back. We walked for around 2.5km as the sun was really beating down. It’s very lush and fascinating to see the rock formations but if you’re looking for a waterfall or lookout spot, this hike isn’t going to provide that. Do wear waterproof shoes with good grip for slippery rocks.

Stop 3- Dinner at See You Beach Bar

One of the quirkiest restaurants in Paphos, this casual beach bar offered some spectacular sunset views  and delicious food. It’s a popular wedding venue so that tells you everything about how gorgeous this place is. Definitely give it a visit!

Day 5

Stop 1- Kolossi Castle

I do not know why we paid 2.50 euro to traipse through an incredibly small and boring castle. Probably because it was on our way back to Larnaca from Paphos. There’s a number of historical ruins you can visit in Cyprus but none of them are free and I think it’s worth researching to see which one best piques your interest. You can read about them in this post.

Stop 2- Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s rock)

Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, was allegedly created from the sea foam off the coast of Cyprus, and was delivered to the shore on a shell, to this particular beach, which is now aptly named Aphrodite’s Beach. The “rock” actually consists of several large rocks looming from the sea. This place is surrounded with superstitions and legends. Infertile women leave offerings of fabric here to beseech the help of the goddess. Another legend says swimming around the rocks on a night with a full moon will make you age a year younger with each lap. And yet another says that this place has restorative qualities, as the goddess herself swam here after a night with a lover, and the waters restored her virginity. 

Whatever you visit for, expect a very stony beach filled with pebbles (bring water shoes) and clear water. Probably not the best beach in Cyprus but we just wanted to see what the fuss about the rock was. There is parking at the beach and amenities such as a shop and a restaurant. 

Stop 3- Larnaca Salt Lake & Old Town

Larnaca old town can be found by putting in ‘Church of Saint Lazarus’ into Google Maps. Find parking and wander around the area where you can buy souvenirs, send postcards and enjoy a meal in one of the charming restaurants. 

From there, we made our way to the Salt Lake for sunset which is the ideal spot in Larnaca to watch the sunset. You can access it from a variety of viewpoints particularly later in the year when the flamingos are present. Either way, you will enjoy walking on the salty surface as the sun sets. 

Day 6

Stop 1- NIPD Laboratory

We needed a PCR test to fly out the next day so we headed to this lab to do ours. You can walk in, pay by cash/card and be done with the test in 10 minutes. They have multiple branches around Cyprus so pick the one that suits you best. We received our results by email within 12 hours and printed them out to take to the airport. All the information can be found on this website.

Stop 2- Lympia Street Art

On our way to Nicosia we decided to stop in the small Village of Lympia to see some of their street art. A few village creatives banded together during lockdown to create some unique murals dotted around the village. A great place to start is at the Stairs of Love and then work your way to Chat Cafe where you can ask any of the locals for the locations of the other pieces. It’s also a good way to interact with the locals and we were fortunate enough to get a walking tour by a kind gentleman who was so proud of the village!

Stop 3- Nicosia Border Crossing into Turkish Cyprus 

A somewhat complex yet also simple activity of interest. If you’ve read the PPG at the beginning of this post, you’ll know that Cyprus is divided into the South (Greek) and North (Turkish). While we spent the majority of our time in the south, we also wanted to visit the North to see how it differed. Few things to remember if you decide to do this:

  • You need a negative Covid result. A rapid test will suffice and can be done for free at Nicosia Mall (20 minute wait). It must be printed out.
  • The correct border crossing is at Ledra Street (find pin below). You will be denied entry at other border crossings.
  • If you’re vaccinated, carry proof of vaccination.
  • Once you cross the border, you can use your bank card & euros but transactions and change will be handled in Turkish Lira.  

Crossing into Turkish Cyprus is 100% worth it and does not require a separate visa. The best food I had in Cyprus was on the Turkish side!

Day 7

Stop 1- Ayia Napa Love Bridge 

Love Bridge is a rocky arch bridge of natural origin, with one edge stretching into the crystal clear, turquoise and emerald sea from an elevated coastal plateau. The bridge has formed completely naturally without any human intervention. It is believed that if you kiss while standing in the middle of the bridge arch and make a wish, it will surely come true. Sadly I had no one to kiss while on this bridge but I did snap some photos so I still think it was worth a visit. There is a sign prohibiting swimming in the area so we drove along to find another beach.

Stop 2- Protaras Beaches 

You can honestly stop at any beach that takes your fancy in the Ayia Napa, Protaras or Cape Greco area. I don’t really recall the names of the beaches we stopped at but I don’t think any of them were bad; you need to find one that suits your vibe. 

This Mediterranean gem has some wonderful culture, activities and scenery up its sleeve. A road trip through Cyprus is an ideal to explore this idyllic getaway and venture beyond tanning and lazing on the pristine beaches. Offering archaeological ruins, beautiful sandy beaches, rugged mountains and of course the pleasing Mediterranean climate, Cyprus promises a magnificent experience to everyone all year round. If you haven’t visited already, I would strongly recommend a road trip through Cyprus! Lastly, I have a wealth of information on my Instagram especially in the Cyprus highlight. Do have a look. If you enjoyed this post, please pin it using the pin below:

QUICK QUESTIONS:

HOW LONG SHOULD I GO FOR?

A week is a great amount of time to start with. Cyprus is pretty small and you could honestly see everything and move at a vey slow pace in two weeks. If you wanted to explore more of the north then you would need to add on more time.

SHOULD I PURCHASE A SIM CARD?

I found wifi in public places and hotels to be strong enough for video calls.

DID YOU APPLY FOR A VISA?

I applied for and received my visa within 10 days from the Cyprus Visa Application Centre here in Doha. The requirements were straightforward and the process was smooth. Access the details from their official site.

WERE PEOPLE FRIENDLY AND DID THEY SPEAK ENGLISH?

Every person in Cyprus spoke English well and I would be really surprised if you found someone who wasn’t able to help you. Language is NOT a barrier.

DID YOU THINK THIS TRIP WOULD BE SUITABLE FOR KIDS?

I personally have no experience traveling with children so I can’t be sure what they would like. However my itinerary was very active involving hikes, that may not be suitable for young children. Chidden over 10 would probably be just fine though. I would advise doing research into family friendly activities if planning to travel with young children. 

Have you visited Cyprus? Or are you thinking of a road trip through Cyprus? Let me know in the comments below!!

expatpanda

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3 Comments

  • Diana July 23, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    This looks like an amazing trip! I didn’t know much about Cyprus so thanks for the virtual tour. Wonderful photos!

    • expatpanda July 23, 2021 at 8:54 pm

      Thank you for reading and for your kind words 🧡

  • higgledypiggledymom July 29, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    well that trip was delightful, colorful and well worth taking! Thanks for the tour-I loved it! Stay well =)

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