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A street in Cyprus I © Artem Vasev / Pixabay
A street in Cyprus I © Artem Vasev / Pixabay

7 Things to Know Before Visiting Cyprus

Picture of Maureen Murori
Updated: 24 February 2018

Boasting sun-kissed beaches, delicious dishes, and great weather, Cyprus is a fascinating destination with warm and welcoming people. Before you book the next flight to the island of perfect sunsets, take a look at our need-to-know list ahead of your trip.

The ‘Green Line’ of division can be a sensitive issue

Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been divided by a narrow United Nations buffer zone called the ‘Green Line’ since 1974, following Turkish military invasion and occupation of the northern third of the island. The southern two-thirds community is recognized as a sovereign state named Cyprus, while the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is under Turkish control.

Interchangeably referred to as the Cyprus problem, Cyprus dispute or Cyprus issue, discussions over the matter can generate a lot of emotions and might be offensive to many. Despite the situation, Cyprus is a safe destination – crime rates are one of the lowest in Europe, if not the world.

Physical division still exists from Morphou through Nicosia to Famagusta. Over the years, however, the tension between the two sides of the geopolitically prized island has eased with smooth border crossing being experienced.

Check your paperwork before you travel

Visas are not required for EU tourists to enter Cyprus. Non-EU visitors require a passport valid for three months beyond their stay or for the duration of stay for EU visitors.

Visitors from Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Iceland can use their national identity cards for entry into the country. More information on visa requirements can be found on the local website.

There are two official languages

The official languages of Cyprus are both Greek and Turkish. Due to the existing division, Greek is majorly spoken in the southern community, and you will find many residents in the northern portion of the island using Turkish.

As a tourist destination and a former British colony, English is also widely spoken in the country. For easier and faster service delivery, however, knowing salutations and how to make requests in the local language will go an extra mile during your stay.

Street signs and official documents are usually in Greek or Turkish and English, depending on which side of the island you are on. With the dynamic language mobile applications, your stay and movements across cities should be easy and enjoyable.

Be aware of cultural etiquette

Like language, beliefs of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots are varied. A majority of South Cyprus residents are Christians of the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus. On the other side of the divide, Turkish Cypriots are predominantly Muslims. But most of them do not practise their faith, and therefore you will find few veiled women.

The dress code in Cyprus is similar to European styles, except when entering sacred places of worship like mosques. During such visits, women should wear long dresses or skirts and cover their arms and head. Normally, scarves are available at the entrance of the sacred places for women to cover their heads. Men are expected to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts.

Currency can be either Euro or lira

The Republic of Cyprus mainly uses Euro as its official currency. The new Turkish Lira is largely used in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

For your currency conversion, most banks in the country offer exchange services for all major cash including US dollars, UK pounds, Euros, and Turkish lira.

Additionally, hotels, restaurants, and shops accept most major international credit and charge cards.

Pack the right gear to charge your gadgets

Consider packing a 240 standard voltage European three-plug adapter to charge your cell phone and other electronic gadgets. Alternatively, you can buy the adapter in major stalls or electronic shops on the island.

Enjoy everything the Mediterranean has to offer

Visitors will be happy to hear that they’re promised great Mediterranean weather with nearly endless sunshine all year round. Summers are extremely humid and dry, while winters are relatively cold, with January and February being the coldest months. The sea temperature is the warmest in the Mediterranean, averaging from 16°C (61°F) in January, to 32°C (90°F) in August, making it a perfect escape destination for most Europeans during winter.

Lastly, for those who wish to drive around the countryside, Cyprus follows the British UK standard of keeping to the left hand side of the road.

Cypriots are very warm and social people who take pleasure in sharing and eating out in large groups of friends and family members. However, public binge drinking is considered shameful and unacceptable.