I’ll share from my experience whether driving a car in Cyprus is challenging, what you might get fined for, what to be aware of, and the specifics of driving and parking in Cyprus.
Where to Rent a Car in Cyprus
Cyprus is an island with an incredible number of interesting places – beautiful mountain villages, seaside fishing villages with restaurants, remote beaches, picturesque ruins, monasteries, and simply beautiful natural spots. Seeing all this without a car can be problematic or expensive, and you won’t be able to explore it through tours alone.
So, rent a car that will meet you at the airport, take the wheel, and explore the island.
Driving in Cyprus
In Cyprus, driving is on the left-hand side of the road, so the steering wheel of the car you rent will be on the right.
Tip! Rent a car with an automatic transmission; this way, the transition to driving on the right side will be nearly painless. You’ll need to get used to using the turn signals with your right hand and the windshield wipers with your left.
The good news is that most roads have separate lanes. When on the highway, stick to the far left lane whenever possible.
The speed limits are 50 km/h in cities, 80 km/h outside cities, and 100 km/h on highways. There are signs everywhere, so just be attentive, and you’ll be fine.
While driving, you’re not allowed to eat, drink, or talk on the phone. If your car is stopped but the engine is running, you’re considered to be driving. To eat or drink in your car or make a phone call, pull over and turn off the engine.
In cities, most roads also have separate lanes. Rental cars have red license plates, so other drivers can tell you’re a tourist.
Road Quality in Cyprus
90% of the roads in Cyprus are of excellent quality. These are either highways between major cities or high-quality asphalt roads between villages and small towns.
Dirt roads may be found in national parks, such as the Akamas Peninsula or some sections in Cape Greco, and in some mountain areas. Most dirt roads can still be navigated with a regular passenger car.
An SUV is only needed for certain dirt roads in the mountains, the Akamas Peninsula, and the Karpas Peninsula (Northern Cyprus). In 90% of cases, a regular small car will suffice, so plan accordingly.
Tolls in Cyprus
Travel on all roads in Cyprus is toll-free.
Alcohol and Driving
Cyprus is a European country, so you can have a little to drink and then drive. The limit is 0.22 per mille of alcohol, which is equivalent to 50 grams of strong alcohol, a glass of beer, or 120 ml of wine. It’s a reasonable amount, and you can even visit wineries and do some tasting. Just remember not to overdo it; it’s better to buy some for the evening.
Parking in Cyprus
In Cyprus, there are both paid and free parking options. Free parking is more common in small villages, near most beaches, restaurants, cafes, hotels, and shopping centers.
Paid parking is more common in larger cities. The bigger the city, the less likely you are to find free parking. You can recognize paid parking by the presence of a parking meter or an attendant at the entrance.
The average cost of parking is 0.5 Euros per hour.
Gas Stations in Cyprus
There are many gas stations, and they can be found everywhere. Gasoline prices are roughly the same at all stations.
Gas stations come in both self-service and full-service varieties.
Traffic Violation Fines
From time to time, Cyprus conducts campaigns to catch traffic violators, resulting in an increased police presence on the roads. During normal times, you’re unlikely to encounter the police more than a couple of times during your vacation. All violations are recorded by external surveillance cameras.
- Cameras can be stationary or mobile.
- Children under 150 cm in height must travel in a child car seat.
- The main violations they watch for include:
- Not wearing a seatbelt: Fine of 150 Euros.
- Carrying a child without a child seat: Strictly enforced, fine of 150 Euros.
- Exceeding the speed limit by more than 10% in cities: Fines range from 2 to 5 Euros per km over the limit.
- Exceeding the speed limit by more than 20% on highways.
- Incorrect overtaking: Fine of 300 Euros.
- Running a red light: Fine of 300 Euros.
- Exceeding the allowable alcohol limit (0.22 per mille): Fines range from 125 Euros to 500 Euros, with severe cases possibly going to court.
What Won’t Get You Fined?
You won’t be fined for accidentally driving into oncoming traffic or making an illegal U-turn if it doesn’t result in an accident. The police are understanding of tourists who are still adapting to driving on the road.
If you don’t have your documents with you, there’s no problem. Car numbers are registered in a unified database, which the police have access to. Car theft is almost non-existent in Cyprus, so many people don’t even lock their cars in parking lots. The police may not even ask for your car documents when they stop you.
In Cyprus, European driving culture is followed, which means it’s not customary to honk unnecessarily, drive recklessly, or violate obvious rules of conduct. In 15 years of traveling and vacationing on this island, we’ve never had any problems with the police or local drivers.
If Your Car Breaks Down
What to do if your car suddenly stalls, breaks down, or if you’re in an accident:
Since you’re a tourist renting a car, the first thing to do is call the rental agency where you got the car. They’ll come to help you.
The same applies if you’re in an accident – call the rental agency first, and then the police. They will provide assistance for sure.