When to Visit Cypus
Because of a situation as much Middle Eastern as Mediterranean, Cyprus repays a visit in almost any month; the overall mildness of the climate allows citrus to grow at altitudes of 450m, grapevines to flourish up to 1000m and frost-tender cedars to sprout at 1500-metre elevations in the Troodhos. Such plant-zone limits would be unthinkable even on nearby Crete, despite an identical latitude of 34 degrees north. There's a local saying in the South that even the bad weather comes from Greece, arriving on the back of the prevailing west-southwest winds; the northerners say the same about Turkey, with cold midwinter storms trundling over from the mountains of Anatolia. If you're coming for the flora and birdlife -as many people do -then winter and spring, beginning early December and late February respectively, are for you. Rain falls in sporadic bursts throughout this period and into April, leaving the rare spectacle of a green, prairie-like Mesaoria, the central plain which most tourists only know as a parched, stubbly dustbowl. March in particular is often very fine, if cool at night; April can curiously be more unstable, with heavy downpours. You'll also cut costs significantly by showing up in the off-season.
As the months progress and the mercury climbs, you can either brave the multitudes at the seashore -considerable in the South -or follow the wild flowers inland and up the slopes of the Troodhos mountains, veritable havens of coolness and relative solitude. In the coastal South, midsummer is a bit too hot for comfort (though Pafos tends to be 1-2°C cooler than Limassol or Larnaca, and less humid, thanks to the prevailing winds), and of course incurs high-season prices Oune-Sept). During July or August you're probably better off in : the North, where the seaward, damper slope of the Kyrenia hills especially offers a refuge from crowds, though humid heat here can be trying. Many aficionados of the North choose to show up in September or October, when hotel space is at a premium.
Autumn everywhere is delightful, with the sea at its warmest, forays into the hills benefiting from stable weather, and the air (around Limassol and Pafos especially) heavy with the fumes of fermenting grapes. And if it's resort life you're after, the coastal strips don't completely wind down until November. This month, especially the latter half, can be wetter and gloomier than December, and Christmas/NewYear's breaks are popular.
Public holidays in Cyprus
* 1 January - New Year's Day
* 6 January - Epiphany
* Variable - Green Monday
* 25 March - Greek Independence Day
* 1 April - Greek Cypriot National Day
* Variable - Good Friday
* Variable - Easter Monday
* Variable - Easter Tuesday
* 1 May - Labour Day
* Variable - Holy Spirit
* 15 August - Dormition of the Theotokos(Assumption Day)
* 1 October - Cyprus Independence Day
* 28 October - Okhi Day (Greek National Day)
* 25 December - Christmas Day
* 26 December - Boxing Day
In general, you're unlikely to experience any problems in Cyprus other than a spell of constipation brought on by initial contact with potentially stodgy food. Water is fit to drink almost everywhere except Famagusta and its environs (where the sea has invaded well bore-holes), though not always so tasty; bottled water is widely available. No inoculations are required for any part of Cyprus, though as ever it's wise to keep your tetanus booster up to date.
Health hazards in Cyprus
Most routine threats to your health have to do with overexposure, the sea and flying insects. To avoid the danger of sunstroke wear a hat and drink plenty of fluids during the hot months. Jellyfish are rare, sea urchins more common. If you are unlucky enough to tread on, or graze, one of the latter, a sterilized sewing needle, scalpel and olive oil are effective aids to removing spines; left unextracted, they will fester. A pair of swim goggles and footwear for walking over tidal rocks should help you avoid both. In sandy-bottomed bays, rays and skates are fairly common; they have a barbed tail which is capable of inflicting nasty wounds with one swat. When entering such waters, make a bit of commotion so as to send on their way these creatures who have a habit of burrowing in the sand, with just the eyes visible.
In terms of dry-land beasties, there are scorpions about -tap out your shoes in the morning -and one stubby, mottled species of viper; antivenins for It are available at local pharmacies. Those enormous, two-metre-iong black whip or Montpellier snakes which you'll see on the road are usually harmless to humans, and were in fact imported by the British to hunt both rodents and other venomous serpents. Mosquitos (kounoupia in Greek, sivrisinek in Turkish) can be troublesome in summer, especially between Famagusta and the Karpaz (Karpas) peninsula; solutions offered by hotels include pyrethrum incense coils.. electrified vapour pads, and air-conditioned rooms with closed windows. In the South, insect-repellent-vaporizing units with a 30ml refill bottle on the bottom (eg, Aroxol brand) are popular and effective, allowing you to sleep with the windows ajar on hot nights. Sand flies are almost invisible, but their bites pack a punch, and itch nearly as bad as mossies -insect repellent is the answer.
There are few stray animals on Cyprus and thus (uniquely for this part of the world) rabies is not much of a danger. Indeed one of the few things the Greekand TurkishCypriot communities agreed on before 1974 was to round up and put down most stray dogs, since many carried echinococcosis, a debilitating liver fluke which could spread to humans. Adherence to the practice is laxer now in the North, but overall the canine population is still not up to previous levels.
The standard of health care is relatively high in Cyprus, with many English-speaking and -trained doctors; indeed provision of health care to residents of surrounding Middle Eastern nations has recently become a highly successful hard-currency eamer. The fanc!er hotels can generally recommend local practitioners, and may even post lists of them. General hospitals in both sectors of the island have walk-in casualty wards where foreigners can have cuts sewn up and broken bones set at no cost.
Minor ailments can be dealt with at chemists (farmakfo in Greek, eczane in Turkish); pharmacists are well trained and can often dispense medicines which in Britain would only be available on prescription. In the South, you can dial the operator on 192 to ask for the rota of night-duty chemists; in both North and South, this is also published regularly in the English-language newspapers.
Shopping Opening hours
Town shops in the South are meant to be open daily in summer (June to mid-Sept) from 8am to 1 pm and again from 4 to 7.30pm, except for Wednesday and Saturday when there are no afternoon hours. During spring (Apr/May) and autumn (mid-Sept to Oct), afternoon hours end at 7pm. Winter (Nov-March) hours are daily 8.30am to 6pm, except for Wednesday and Saturday when everything shuts at 2pm.Both mountain village stores and establishments in tourist resorts are likely to keep longer hours. Food shops along roads leading to dormitory/suburb villages around major towns will be open beyond 7pm, often until 9.30pm. In August, all filling stations close down for a week, with a rota so that a very few are open at any given time. Office-based private professionals work nominally 8am to 1 pm and 3 to 6pm (mid- Sept to May), 8am to 1 pm and 4 to 7pm (June to mid-Sept).
In the North, summer hours are supposedly 8am to 1.30pm and 2.30 to 6.30pm Monday to Friday, plus a morning session on Saturday. In winter, shops are meant to be open continuously Barn to 6pm Monday, to Saturday. Observance of schedules may be haphazard, with midday summer closures extending until 4pm. Some office-based professionals are taking to closing by 5pm, especially in winter.
Travel Costs in Cyprus
The main Cyprus travel season begins early in spring and extends well into autumn, with July/August visits somewhat unappealing for a number of reasons. Obviously you'll save a lot on accommodation tariffs in either part of Cyprus if you're willing to go outside of midsummer (though September is also reckoned peak season), a sensible strategy whatever your budget. Some form of student identification is useful for discounted admission to archeological sites and museums, whose fees in any case are modest throughout the island.
The South of Cyprus
The southern Republic of Cyprus has a somewhat unfair reputation for being expensive. This is a holdover from the days when it was vastly pricier than almost any other nearby country, but with steadily climbing prices the rule in both Greece and Turkey, costs in the South are beginning to seem normal in comparison. However, entry to the EU has hiked costs noticeably -about twentY percent compared to 2000-2002.Travelling independentiy in the South, you should budget a minimum of around £30 per person a day. This assumes, however, exciusive reliance on bicycles, or public transport at £1.25-4 a go, staying in one of the limited number of basic village pensions or no-star hotels at about £12 per person a night and only one modest meal out for about £8.50 maximum, with the balance of food bought from shops.
To travel in some degree of comfort and style, though, you'll want at least £50 disposable per person, which should let you book a modest but acceptable hotel on double-occupancy basis and share the cost of a rental car (and petrol -slight~ less than in Britain), as well as two fuli main meals. Beer and wine are good, and cheapish at £1.75 and £6.50 per large bottle respectively at restaurants; village wine from the barrel goes for as little as £2.50 per litre, while brandy sours run just over a pound.
Winter visits -or even extended residence, a popular strategy with British senior citizens -offer considerable savings. Onebedroom apartments can be found starting at £200 per month, two-bedroom ones from £300. Car rental can be 35 percent cheaper, and hotels nearly as much less, than normal. Full English breakfast at coastal resorts can be had for about £2.50, while a three-course set meal with wine can go for as little as £7. If you wear out your wardrobe, January-February sales for shoes and clothing take place as in northern Europe.
The North of Cyprus
The economy of Northern Cyprus, both before and after adopted the Turkish lira as official currency in 1983, has lagged behind that of the South, and consequently it is significantly cheaper -except in the confines of a four-star resort. You'll even find certain items less expensive than in Turkey, owing to a combination of subsidies and judicious direct imoorts from Britain.
For various reasons it's paradoxically much harder to travel independently in the North despite its occasionally lower costs at street level. You're at a considerable disadvantage given the very limited number of hotels geared to a walk-in trade; at packageoriented hotels, theoretical over-the-counter prices are often higher than those granted to advance bookings and agencies. Owing to the historically unstable nature of the Turkish lira, accommodation rates are invariably Quoted in hard currency, usually pounds sterling, and the Guide follows this example. There are a bare handful of small, attractive pensions and hotels in and around Kyrania, for example, charging £8-12 per person a night, as well as a handful of small inns on the Karpaz peninsula; elsewhere in the North you can count the number of such places on one hand.
Eating out can sometimes be less expensive than in Turkey, for example; even in the Kyrenia area or at major hotels it's difficult to spend more than £11 per person on a meal, plus a few pounds for imported Turkish wine. However, the recent influx of a Greek-Cypriot clientele has had its effect, and meal prices anywhere along the well-trodden routes, even in ostensibly remote areas, will rarely be below £7. Car rental is inexpensive, starting at about £12 a day during the off-season, though petrol prices are approaching European levels, at £0.58 a litre. Overall, budget about £35 a day per person (including accommodation) to live quite well.
Important Telephone Numbers
International operator (reverse-charge calls, from private or hotel phones only) 198
Inland directory assistance 192
Overseas directory assistance 194
Speaking clock 193
Police, fire and ambulance 199 or 112
Forest fire reporting 189 or 1407
Fixed-phone numbers in... start with:
Nicosia district 22
"Free Famagusta" district 23
Larnaca district 24
Limassol district 25
Pafos district 26
Directory assistance 118
International operator 115
Forest fire reporting 177
Red tapes and visas in Cyprus
Most foreign nationals require only a valid passport for entry into either the southern or northern sectors of Cyprus. Canadian, New Zealand, Australian and US nationals do not require a visa for either half of the island, and get a three-month tourist-visa stamp in passports upon arrival. EU nationals no longer have their passports stamped upon arrival in the South at either of the two airports.
The southern Republic has long declared all seaports and airports in the North "prohibited ports of entry and exit", but since the Republic joined the EU in May 2004 there is in fact nothing they can do to stop EU nationals entering the South if they've entered the North first.
Upon arrival in the North, however, whether at a seaport, airport or land-crossing, it is still customary for a free visa to be stamped on a separate, loose slip of paper. Most Turkish-Cypriot officials speak good English but, if in doubt, the Turkish for "On a loose sheet, please" is Lutfen gevsek kagitda. Staff at Ercan airport are used to such requests and keep a stack of loose visa slips handy.
The other potential sticking point on entry to the South is the ban on any imported perishables; eat those apples on the plane in, or the customs officers will eat them foryou. However, the previous ban on bringing in produce from the North is set to be substantial relaxed. Additional, when transitting from the North to the South, you are at present limited to EUR135 worth of gifts and personal purchases, 400 cigarettes and a litre of spirits. Car boots will be opened and inspected at the Ayios Dhometios crossing by Cypriot customs officials, and at pyla/Beyarmudu or the FourMile Crossing by SBA police deputizing for the Republic. As a reciprocal measure, the Northern authorities announced in February 2005 low limits on the value of routine shopping that Northem residents could bring back from trips to the South.