Transport and Driving in Cyprus
With one of the highest car-ownership-per-capita rates in the world, expats will likely find that driving is their most common mode of transport in Cyprus. While the island’s major cities have bus and taxi services, there is no operational railway service and public transport between towns isn’t as accessible as travel within them.
Public transport in Cyprus
There are several kinds of bus services in Cyprus. Rural buses between villages and cities are the most limited, since they only leave once or twice a day and don’t run on Sundays. Trans-urban buses link cities and towns with each other and are far more frequent, while bus services that run within cities are, to differing extents, the most frequent and reliable public transport service in Cyprus.
Different bus companies operate in each part of the country, such as the OSEL buses that run in Nicosia and OSYPA Limited’s buses in Paphos. In Northern Cyprus, the de facto Turkish Cypriot government leases out routes to private operators. Because of this variation, buses in Cyprus don’t all look the same but most of them have their destination displayed on the windscreen.
Because buses in Cyprus are independently operated, expats should check the bus routes of individual operators with their respective companies or at tourist offices. Services often cease in the early evening and are limited on weekends, while some are extended in tourist season and run until midnight.
There are several taxi services in Cyprus. Urban taxis are the most widespread and offer 24-hour services in all major cities. While expats are recommended to book in advance, taxis can be hailed from the street.
Taxi prices in Cyprus are regulated by law and differ depending on the time of day, and whether it is a public holiday. Some cities have dedicated taxi ranks, such as Eleftheria Square in Nicosia.
There are island-wide taxi services that transport commuters between all major towns for a fixed rate. These do not, for the most part, operate between smaller towns.
Driving in Cyprus
Driving in Cyprus is the most effective way of getting around. The distance from Paphos to Nicosia, for instance, can be driven in two hours. Road signs in Cyprus are often in English and Greek, roads are generally well maintained, petrol stations are widely available and traffic is less congested than in other European cities. Cars are also easy to hire and readily available.
About a third of the roads on the island are unpaved, however, and while normal passenger vehicles should be able to drive on most of them, it may be best to ask locals before going for a drive through the country.
Cars in Cyprus drive on the left-hand side. The speed limit on major highways is 60mph (100km/h), 30mph (50 km/h) in built-up areas and, unless otherwise indicated, 50mph (80km/h) on inter-urban or rural roads. Driving while using a mobile phone is only allowed when the driver uses a hands-free device.
EU drivers can drive until their foreign licence expires, while licensed drivers from a list of pre-approved countries can legally drive for up to six months. These countries include the USA, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Non-EU expats can drive for a maximum of 30 days, or with a valid international driving licence.
The biggest downside of driving in Cyprus is the way that many people drive. Cypriot drivers are notorious for not stopping at roundabouts, not using indicators and aggressive driving, although expats who drive defensively should be fine.
Cycling in Cyprus
Cycling in Cyprus is practical, considering the short distances between places. It isn't allowed on major motorways, but there are usually ordinary roads running parallel to them. Nicosia is perhaps the friendliest city for cyclists, with its bike-sharing scheme and dedicated cycling lanes. There are hundreds of bicycles at more than ten stations across the city, in an effort to get residents to use bicycles as an alternative form of transport.