Cyprus is a great destination for a long weekend or a week. You can best discover Cyprus by car. The the island in the Mediterranean sea is quite large and the interesting sights are spread out over the island. Having a car on Cyprus means that you’re flexible and you can discover the island worry-free. Besides it means that you can visit the less touristic places and you aren’t at Cyprus best sights with a busload of people.
On this page I’m telling you all about the sights we’ve visited on Cyprus by car and which delicious (vegetarian) food we had along the way.
Rent a car
The best thing to do is rent a car right after you’ve booked your flight to Cyprus. This way you can pick up your car at the airport and you’ve got it for the complete duration of your trip. I rented our car with Sunny Cars. We also had a rental car from Sunny Cars during our road trip in the South of France and we were very pleased with the service then. The main reason I prefer Sunny Cars is because they offer full coverage. At every other rental car company that I’ve had experience with, they try to sell you an extra insurance when you pick up the car. Sunny Cars doesn’t do that as you’re already fully insured.
As I’m conscious of my carbon footprint, I’m very pleased with Sunny Cars option to compensate the CO2 from your rental car.
After I booked the rental car in Cyprus I realized that they drive on the left hand side on Cyprus. I had only done that once earlier in South Africa, and I thought that shifting gears with my left hand might be challenging. I emailed Sunny Cars if I could switch my car to an automatic, and luckily it wasn’t a problem!
It took a bit of getting used to, to drive on the left hand side, but as you’re mainly on the main road it was quite easy.
Pafos or Paphos is the most popular city for tourists. As it has an International airport, there’s a big chance that Pafos is the first city you’ll visit on Cyprus.
Pafos is a city where the old and the new live side by side. Luxurious yachts lie next to ancient castles and new apartments neighbor old ruins. There are several archeological sights in Pafos. Most of them them are free to visit or have an entrance fee of just a couple of Euros.
Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa (Hrysopolitissa Basilica) is an ancient site that you can enter for free. Admire 4th century mosaics and the small Agia Kyriaki church that is still in use.
The boardwalk near the harbour is a popular spot for tourists. You can do some great people watching from the restaurants and cafes. Keep in mind that most of them are touristic and tacky (although Mar Bianco where I has this garlic bread is quite nice). You’ll find more authentic restaurants a bit outside of the touristic area. Omikron is great for an all day brunch and also has nice vegetarian options.
Aphrodites Rock (or Petra tou Romiou) is a rock formation that goes into the sea. It’s believed to be the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite.
It’s a wonderful place to watch the sunrise or sunset. There’s a carpark and a small restaurant just across the street.
Pissouri is a small town about 20 minutes from Paphos airport. It has romantic cobblestone streets and some great panoramic views. Vegetarians and vegans will be very happy with O’vrakas taverna. I had this delicious vegetarian moussaka and they also have a complete vegan menu.
Ancient Kourion is mostly known for its archaeological site. The remains are probably the most impressive of all the ones on Cyprus.
Kourion also has a beach that is popular with kite surfers as it’s often windy. There are sea beds with umbrellas and a few beach side restaurants. Chris Blue Beach is my favorite. They have delicious snacks, lunches, dinners and a showcase filled with sweets.
During my time in Cyprus we stayed in a wonderful holiday home in Kalavasos. This small town is very central located in the centre of the South coast. Our holiday home was wonderful as it had the real Cypriotic ambiance but it was completely renovated so in an excellent state.
We loved it that we didn’t stay in a big resort town but in a small authentic Cypriotic town. Kalavasos has a supermarket and 3 tavernas. One evening we had dinner at Taverna Plateia where you can get a delicious bread with halloumi cheese and salad. Another evening we had dinner at next-door Retro Taverna where I had a vegetarian dish with vegetables, fries and a salad.
Just a 10 minute drive from Kalavasos is Choirokoitia, a neolithic village. 9.000 Years ago a village was built at this spot and today you can see the remains as well as some rebuilt huts. As you can imagine with a 9.000 year old town, there isn’t much left from it, but it’s still impressive to visit a sight that was a town so long ago.
Larnaca is a beautiful town on the South coast of Cyprus. The main draw is the Church of Saint Lazarus. You can visit it for free. If you’re not modestly dressed, there are cloths that you can use to cover your shoulders or legs.
On the board walk you’ll also find the Medieval castle of Larnaca and plenty of restaurants. If you’ve got a big appetite I recommend Militzis. At this taverna the portions are big, and the quality is good. We went for the mezze and we got loads of dishes.
The South-East coast of Cyprus is a great area to visit. It’s located in the Republic of Cyprus and doesn’t belong to North Cyprus (even though it might seem like that on some maps). There are 2 resort towns in the South-East of Cyprus; Protaras and Ayia Napa. Me personally, I like to avoid these 13 in a dozen resort towns. But there are some beautiful sights around it.
There are several top sights in the South-East of Cyprus, below I’m telling you all about them.
Sculpture park is a freely accessible open-air park in Ayia Napa with many sculptures made by 20 artists. The park is open 24 hours and is very nice to visit at sunset.
Just South of the Sculpture Park you can find Love Bridge. It’s a natural rock formation that formed an arch over the water. This sight is also beautiful to watch for sunset or sunrise. You can walk on the bridge and jump into the water, but it’s only for dare devils! You can also just sit down somewhere and wacht the sun go down in the sea behind Love Bridge.
Kamara Tou Koraka
Kamara tou Koraka stone arch is located on the Northern side of the area at Cape Greco National Park. You can drive all the way there with your car. You can’t walk on the stone bridge anymore, but it’s still a beautiful sight.
The most South-Eastern point of Cyprus (and therefor of Europe) is the Cape Greco peninsula. This rocky coastline is definitely worth a visit. You can drive to the very end by car and from there walk over the rock formations.
Nicosia (or Lefkosia) is a divided city. The South side belongs to the Greek Cypriots and the North side to the Turkish Cypriots. The division is made out of walls, oil barrels and barbed wire. You can walk all along the division. I thought it was quite intense to see the armed soldiers, guard posts and the piece of no mans land in between where you can see the remains of the battle that was fought.
The border has been closed for 30 years, but luckily it opened in 2003. You can easily cross as a pedestrian but your rental car has to stay on the South side.
From the North side of Lefkosia you can take a Dolmüs (shared mini bus) to Kyrenia, it’ll cost you 10 Turkish Lire per person. It’s smart to withdraw cash once you’ve entered the Turkish side so that you’ve got Turkish Lire for the bus and taxi.
Kyrenia, or Girne in Turkish, is a harbor town in Northern Cyprus. It’s a 20-30 minute drive in the mini van (Dolmüs) from Nicosia. The main draw is the old harbor with its many restaurants and the adjacent Kyrenia Castle.
Saint Hilarion Castle
Saint Hilarion Castle is a beautiful old castle on the top of a hill on North Cyprus. From Nicosia you can best hop on the Dolmüs to Kyrenia and from there you can take a taxi. On some blogs I read that you can also exit the Dolmüs close to Hilarion Castle and then walk the last bit. I wouldn’t recommend it though as it’s quite a long walk to the entrance. You’ll need to walk up hill for at least an hour, through a military zone.
I would recommend that you take a taxi from Kyrenia. There’s a taxi stand right next to where the Dolmüs van drops you off. The taxi takes you to the entrance of Hilarion Castle and picks you up when you’re done. You agree beforehand if he picks you up 1 hour later (150 Lire), 1.5 hours later (180 Lire) or 2 hours later (200 Lire). I think 1 hour wouldn’t give you enough time to look around. So go for either 1.5 hours or even 2 if you want to go at a very relaxed pace. You’ll have to climb some stairs to get to the top, but all along the way you’ll get fantastic views of Kyrenia. The entrance fee (2€) can be payed in Euros or Lires.
The best overview picture of Hilarion Castle can be taken on the road to the castle. You can ask your taxi driver to stop there for a minute, he probably won’t mind.
The Troodos Mountains can be found in the centre of the republic of Cyprus. There are many nice nature trails that you can discover. There are all kinds of lengths and difficulty levels, so there’s something for everyone. There are several nice old bridges and waterfalls. We went to the Millomeris waterfalls. There’s a carpark really close to the waterfall, or you can park at the parking lot in the town Pano Platres and have a 20 minute walk through nature to get to it.
Laneia is a wonderful little town just South of the Troodos Mountains. With its cobblestoned streets and colored shutters, Laneia is the perfect background for your Cyprus vacation pictures.
Got hungry from all the hikes in the Troodos Mountains? You can have a nice lunch or dinner at the Wallnut Tree Restaurant (on Google Maps it’s called Wall Nut Tree Tavern, with a space between wall and nut). This restaurant has a beautiful grape vine covered terrace where you can enjoy your meal in the shade.