When considering driving in Cyprus, a lot of tourists feel hesitant because of the stories of mad Cypriot drivers. Sadly, the rumours you’ve heard are true.
But this should not put you off.
Cyprus is a beautiful island and one which you should definitely spend some time exploring as much as you can. This blog aims to equip you with some quick pointers on things you should know when driving in Cyprus.
Cypriots drive on the left
Due to the UK’s influence over Cyprus (the small island was once part of the British Empire), Cypriots drive on the left. This is great news for fellow Brits and you should feel fairly at home on the roads in Cyprus. Which leads us nicely onto…
Most road signs are in English (and Greek)
You should find that most signs around Cyprus are written in both English and Greek. Handy!
A few pointers on the rules of the road
Although there are lots of similarities between driving in Cyprus and driving in the UK, you should be aware of the following rules of the road:
- You must use your lights between the half hour before sunset and the half hour before sunrise.
- You can’t use your horn between 10pm and 6am, or if you’re near a hospital.
- You must carry two warning triangles when driving in Cyprus. Your rental car should come with these as standard, but it’s probably best to ask ahead (just in case).
- You will need to carry your driving license and a copy of your insurance with you at all times. Police are known to do random checks!
It’s true what they say about Cypriot drivers
For anyone familiar with Cyprus, you’ve likely heard their point of view on the driving quality around the island and scary Cyprus cars. Sadly, everything they’ve told you is true. During our week in Cyprus, we saw drivers jumping red lights, sitting in the middle of the road at roundabouts, jumping in and out of queues of traffic and a myriad of other bad habits. But something I need to stress is to not let this put you off. Poor driving is usually only in the cities, and if you take your time, keep your distance and keep your eyes on all nearby traffic, you should be fine. And if anyone is curious, one of the main reasons for this poor driving could be down to it being fairly easy to get a driving license in Cyprus (or so I’ve read)…
But if you do have an accident…
Call the police immediately on 112. But do not attempt to move your car (even if you’re blocking the whole road). Doing this will make you liable for the entire accident even if it wasn’t your fault. Just call the police and wait for them to arrive with further instructions.
A note on speed… (and fines)
Despite Cyprus being a lot like driving in the UK, they manage speed in a different way. For a start, mileage is in kilometres per hour, not miles per hour. Here’s a few rules of thumb when it comes to speed:
- Driving in built-up areas: Max 50 km/h or 65 km/h depending on the road. Max speeds in most built-up areas will be signposted.
- Outside built-up areas: Max 80 km/h
- On motorways: Max 100 km/h
You should also be aware that there is a cap on minimum speeds on motorways as well of 65 km/h.
If you are found to be speeding or violating any other road rules, police are empowered to fine you on the spot. But fines are not paid to the officer – you should be issued a ticket to pay later by following the instructions printed on it.
Don’t drink and drive, just don’t!
The alcohol limit is lower than in England and Wales, and the information given is:
- 22 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milligrams of breath
- 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milligrams of blood
As you can see, this can be a little confusing as everyone is different, so how will you know how much alcohol goes into your bloodstream?
Which brings me to my earlier point…
Don’t drink and drive, just don’t!
It’s not worth ruining your holiday over. Police are known to do random breath tests and if you’re over the limit, it’ll be six points on your license to take back home with you.
And given Cyprus’s reputation as being a great party island, police checks are frequent.
A few notes on car rental in Cyprus
Up until 2015, all rental cars in Cyprus were required to have bright red license plates, making it easy for tourists to stand out. Although this rule is no longer in force, most car hire companies still use red license plates as it’s an expense for them to change them.
Third party insurance is mandatory when driving in Cyprus. Although most rental companies will offer this, my advice would be to secure your own before your trip. You’ll easily halve your costs!
Although the driving limit is 18 years, you have to be over 21 to rent a car in Cyprus.
And beware of going off road in a rental car as you’ll void your agreement with them and could lose some of your deposit. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to go off road in Cyprus. Many tourist attractions outside of cities have dirt tracks leading up to them, which are technically off road.
We managed to find ourselves off road twice.
Once when visiting the Baths of Aphrodite (we drove past the car park, doh!) And the second time was when looking for the Monument of Peace… this time, the car park was actually off road. So… we drove very slowly and carefully and prayed that our car would be okay! (It was…)
Quite a lot of the larger gas stations have attendants on hand whose job it is to fill your car up. They will often do this as soon as you arrive, so don’t be surprised to find a friendly Cypriot by your car at the pump. Remember to tip them! Even just a couple of euro is enough to give your thanks, although tipping isn’t mandatory – it’s just a nice gesture!
Traffic and timing
If you’re a nervous driver in busy traffic, or if you’re apprehensive of Cypriot drivers, then I’d recommend avoiding driving in cities between 7-9am and 4-7pm (when rush hour hits).
Remember it gets hot, hot, hot in Cyprus!
When visiting Cyprus, most travellers are on the hunt for sunshine, beaches and cocktails. Understandably so as Cyprus has great weather – averaging 24ºC (75ºF) year around. That said, it’s been known to be much hotter than that during the summer months. When we visited in July 2017, Cyprus was in the middle of a heatwave, which meant we saw temperatures in excess of 35ºC (95ºF)! That’s hot, hot, hot for any Brit!
So with that bombshell comes this advice:
- Always carry water with you. (Like duh!) But what we’ve found to work well is by putting one bottle of water in the fridge overnight, and another in the freezer overnight. Take both in the car with you. By the time you’ve finished your refrigerated water, your frozen water will have started to melt in the heat and be ready to drink… and be super refreshingly cold!
- Pack a car sunshade. Unless your car rental company is particularly good, you probably won’t find a car sunshade in the boot. Take it from someone who kept burning their hand on the steering wheel every morning and afternoon, pack a car sunshade to take with you if you plan on touring the island!
There you have it – 10+ things you should know for driving in Cyprus. I hope this proves useful, and more importantly, enjoy your trip! If you have any questions for me, just pop a few notes in the comments or send me a message…
For more Cyprus info, take a look at a few of my other articles:
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