Hitchhiking can turn a dull trip into a pleasant experience to remember. This adventurous way of travelling gets you in touch with locals and those with immense knowledge about Cyprus, her people, and their social-cultural aspects.
Some locals will even invite you to cultural events, or to meet their family. Others will be your ‘tour guide’ throughout the journey, offering in-depth information on the features and monuments on the way.
Patience and tolerance are necessary to succeed as a ‘pro hitchhiker’ – leave early and be ready for delays. Once on a strategic spot, make the universal hitchhiking sign (extend your closed hand out, then stick the thumb upwards) and wait. Though a few cars may speed past you, don’t panic and keep waiting. When a driver stops, give your destination – if they’re heading there, you’re set. If not, they might suggest leaving you nearby, while others will make a detour to take you there.
Tip: if you can speak the local dialect (Turkish in north Cyprus or Greek in south Cyprus) it will make your ride even more enjoyable. Try bringing little gifts from your country with you as souvenirs for your new friend. Do make sure you listen to your gut instinct though – if you have doubts about a driver, thank them and try the next one.
Cyprus is served by a number of buses and minibuses every day. Main routes have buses running every 1-2 hours or more frequently in summer. The island has four main types of bus services: airport transfer buses run to and from the airport and all towns; inter-urban buses link two or more towns; urban buses connect various areas within a town, and are more frequent; and rural buses will take you to the villages of the island, but are infrequent. There are also tourist sightseeing buses.
You might be required to purchase tickets in advance. If not, you will pay the driver as there are no bus assistants (conductors) – be sure to always carry loose change for easier transactions. You will need Euros on the Greek side and Turkish Lira on the Turkish side – it costs approximately €1 – 5 (USD$1.20 – 5.95) or 3 – 25 Turkish Lira (USD$0.70 – 5.90) to move around. Buses serve different areas. Be sure to check the destinations usually shown on the front windscreen in large font. If visiting tourist attraction sites, it’s a good idea to book a private or a shared taxi if you’re with a group of people (see below).
Tip: If you’ll be frequenting a particular town opt for a package instead of daily tickets – it’s more economical. Get bus schedules from tourist offices or the specific bus companies. You can also get information from the bus drivers.
This is the most convenient way to travel, but it comes at an extra cost. Private taxis are available throughout all of Cyprus. Some even have the required documents to move you across the border, but you need the right papers to do so. You might be required to pay extra for this service.
You can call to reserve a taxi, which normally takes 30-45 minutes depending on the distance. Alternatively, you can flag down a taxi in the street. Several taxi stands are also placed strategically in town centres.
In south Cyprus, taxis tend to be modern and have air conditioning. They are also metered, meaning the rate is fixed. In north Cyprus, however, taxis don’t have meters, so ensure you negotiate the fare with the driver beforehand. If travelling within the town, expect to pay 10 – 15 Turkish Lira (less than €5 (USD$5.95)). Travelling between towns, for example from Lefkosa to Girne, will cost you 80 – 100 Turkish Lira (approximately €16 – 20 (USD$19 – 23.80)). Keep in mind that during public holidays or late at night prices might increase.
Tip: in south Cyprus, don’t keep the driver waiting as the meter will be running. If you bring extra bulky luggage or pets, negotiate the price beforehand. Tipping is optional, but many drivers expect and accept it. Keep it at 10% or more if you wish. Beeping is considered polite, especially the soft kind. Drivers are used to beeping to capture your attention if you need their services. Just respond appropriately and don’t take it as an unpleasant gesture. It is considered a friendly signal.
Shared taxis (‘dolmuş’)
For a cheaper way to travel across towns, opt for shared taxis, also known as dolmuş. They carry 4 – 8 passengers each paying a fixed amount. Although they are bound for town-to-town travel, they can make stops upon request. On the Greek side, you will need to reserve. On the Turkish side, you may reserve or flag them down anywhere if you spot one heading to your destination. They tend to be less frequent and charge more at night and on some holidays. Shared taxis are available every day except on public holidays.
Tip: if you’re not sure about your destination, tell your driver where you’re stopping. If possible sit at the front so that you can prompt them.
Cruises and boat rides
From short cruises to more extended trips lasting up to five days, taking a boat is an opportunity to become acquainted with Cyprus’s diverse marine life as you relax and interact with nature. A variety of companies offer exciting boat trips with lunch or dinner buffets and water sporting activities included in the package.
Whether you opt for a longer trip on the Greek side (2 – 5 days), or a shorter 5 – 8 hour experience in north Cyprus, trips generally include meals, drinks and snacks served either at a seaside restaurant, or on board, and can provide exciting activities including night tours for a romantic sunset experience.
You can opt to chill out on the boat admiring the picturesque coastline, or take part in the sporting activities, including scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing, and swimming. All boats have a sunbathing deck, so be sure to bring waterproof sunscreen for when you decide to take a dip.
Tip: don’t forget to bring your swimming costume, towel, cap, and waterproof sunscreen. If you’re fascinated by photography, this is the best place to take picturesque photos. Some companies offer snorkel, masks, and fins, so be sure to ask in advance.
Though not a current means of transport, it’s worth noting that donkeys are an integral part of Cyprus’s history. They played a key role in Cypriot farms to carry farm produce, and were a means of transport that enabled people to move around when the road network was almost non-existent. During World War I, they carried supplies, the injured, and those who died on the battlefield.
Following the 1974 war which forced many to abandon their farms, donkeys were left to fend for themselves. With the help of local farmers and animal lovers, these donkeys, which roam the sparsely populated Karpass Peninsula, are finding new homes, as well as new meaning. Today, local farmers, and other charitable organisation are saving and rehabilitating the animals.
Those wishing to learn more can enjoy excursions with donkeys organised at various farms. A donkey ‘safari’ will cost you €30 – 75 (USD$35.75 – 89.35). After discovering the benefits of donkey milk, other people are keeping the animal for its healthy milk, which is used as food and to make cosmetic products.
Tip: a visit to a donkey sanctuary contributes towards saving the animals, and you get to learn about the history of the Cyprus donkey. Golden Donkeys runs a shop from which you can pick cosmetics made from donkey milk.
Cyprus is not served by Uber as of now. N-taxi, a Limassol-based company, runs a taxi booking phone app which gives users the option to book days, a week or even a month in advance. Other useful applications include Cyprus by Bus, which providesvaluable information about public buses, routes, and timetable. You can use the application while connected to the internet, though details about the routes, bus stops, fares, and schedules can be accessed offline. Generally, the transport network is developing throughout Cyprus. There are plans to reintroduce rail transport to connect the cities, as well as neighbouring countries, in future.
Tip: transport applications are new on the island – as such, you might experience some hiccups here and there. If you’re going to use an app, download it and learn the basic concepts beforehand.