As the world sees a decline in Covid19 cases, the travel industry is slowly waking up from the winter sleep it has been in for the last two years. This means more flights, trips, and good offers. Northern Europe is not kind when it comes to sunshine in winter, so traveling somewhere warm and sunny is a must throughout the winter months. This year, I have decided to give a new destination a chance – a small island country just a bit south of Turkey. Cyprus, just like Crete, is a great choice for someone who prefers to explore on their own – rental cars (and gas prices) are affordable and so is the accommodation. As I didn’t plan to spend a whole week on this trip, we took the chance to fly for an extended weekend starting from Thursday morning and back on Sunday. All in all, this was 2 full days exploring Cyprus by car in March.
Flying into Cyprus
Getting to Cyprus is rather easy thanks to numerous international flights arriving here every day from all over Europe. We took advantage of one of the cheapest options available – Ryan Air. 4 hours flight from Tallinn to Paphos and back cost us around 180Euro for two. Flight time was perfect, arriving during lunchtime still gave us plenty of time to explore Paphos before it got dark (and cold). Paphos airport is quite small and easy to navigate.
Rental car in Paphos airport
When it comes to public transport, Cyprus is not the ideal destination. Buses are rare and sometimes unpredictable. I would recommend renting a car if you plan to visit any other place other than Paphos itself. The island is quite interesting to explore on your own, and a car is a must. We opted for a small local agency called Thrasos Car rental – they offered us a good deal and we had no problem with the car throughout the journey. Returning the car was even easier. The car we got was the smallest automatic (Nissan Micra) and it was enough to take us around the island. The agency doesn’t require any credit cards or take deposits – you pay cash and that’s it, good to go.
Cyprus 2 day itinerary – Day One
On the first full day in Cyprus, we started the day by visiting Paphos archaeological park – a huge green area right at the end of the beachfront promenade. This open-air museum is a must-visit for any history fan – it is even included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list since 1980. Some of the highlights that I enjoyed the most:
- Fantastic well-preserved floor mosaics are considered among the finest in the world and serve as a stunning record of Greco-Roman daily life;
- Odeon Theatre, second century AD, with around 1200 seats.
Once we finished exploring the ancient city and had an extended lunch at one of the numerous seafront cafes, our next destination was the famous Aphrodite’s Rock beach. The drive time is around 40 minutes, the beach has good parking with a restaurant and souvenir shop. The beach itself is rocky and especially beautiful during sunset. The best photos can be done from the higher points overlooking the bay.
We continued our journey to the East and eventually reached Protaras just after sunset.
Cyprus 2 day itinerary – Day Two
Our second day in Cyprus turned out to be very cold and windy. After breakfast, we hopped in the car and headed towards Larnaca to see and explore the city a bit. Larnaca seemed like a typical seaside town. Unlike resorts, it was quite lively with shops and cafes open. We had a quick coffee and after a short walk headed to the mountain village called Pano Lefkara.
Just like everywhere else touristy, this village was hibernating and seemed deserted. Few shops were open and friendly owners invited us in to see the handicraft and jewelry they were selling. The village is very pretty and photogenic – you can take fantastic photos on every corner. I would have stayed there a few hours exploring if it wasn’t so cold (eventually it started snowing).
We spent the rest of the day shopping at larger supermarkets and heating our room with the AC. Even locals said it is abnormally cold for this time of the year.
Driving in Cyprus
One thing to remember about driving in Cyprus – the traffic is on the left-hand side. If you are from the UK or Australia, this shouldn’t be a problem. For most Europeans or US visitors, however, this may be unusual at first. For us, it was the first time as well, but no worries – you get used to it really fast! The speed limits are similar for most European countries – 50km/h in the city, 65-80km/h on country roads, and 100km/h on the motorway (although locals drive 120).
The island has a very good motorway crossing from west to the east and you can get from one side of the island to the other in around 2 hours. Mountain roads, on the other hand, are sometimes narrow and much more scenic. We didn’t drive to Troodos mountains due to potential snow on the roads, but if you are visiting in warmer months, this is definitely a great road trip.
Gas prices are nice and cheap compared to most of Europe – during our visit in March 2022, one liter of 95 petrol cost 1.40€ (while back at home it was over 2€).
Accommodation in Cyprus
Depending on your budget, there are various options when it comes to where to stay in Cyprus. We visited in March, which is off-season, and got really good deals on 4* hotels. We spent the first night in Paphos Garden Resort 4*. The hotel is very nice, the breakfast was excellent. The location was good as well – just a 15 min walk to the beachfront promenade where all the restaurants and shops are located. During the winter months, Paphos is the best place to visit as most beach resorts are closed and very quiet. This hotel has free parking.
For the next two nights, we decided to explore the other side of the island and booked a 4* hotel in Ayia Napa. However, just before the trip, I got a call from the hotel saying it is closed and got re-booked into a 5* hotel in Protaras resort – Constantinos the Great 5*. This hotel was even better – a true 5* with excellent meals, a SPA area, and a fantastic beachfront location.
Food in Cyprus
Cyprus is very close to Greece – they share the same language and culture. Food is no exception. While walking on the seafront promenade in Paphos, you could see Gyros, seafood, and other typical Greek dishes. The portions are quite big, you usually get french fries and salad as well. On the first night, I ordered mussels – these are big and really tasty! The prices are between 10-15 € which is not cheap. Supermarket prices are more or less the same like everywhere in Europe. If you are looking to save on food expenses, I would recommend booking a hotel with dinners. We had half board at the 5* hotel and the variety was amazing – all sorts of meat, fish, salads, etc.
Should you visit Cyprus off-season?
To sum up – Cyprus is a fantastic destination to visit both during the summer season (as a beach holiday) or off-season like we did to explore it by car. We weren’t lucky with the weather – it was really cold on day one with temperatures around +10. However, usually, it is mild and even during winter can get as warm as +16-19. They say that the perfect month to visit is November – the sea is still warm to swim in but the crowds have gone and you can have the beach all to yourself. It’s good to have a car and be flexible – if one part gets too cold, you can drive somewhere else. We didn’t see the whole island, so will be coming back for Troodos, Limassol, Aiya Napa, and Nicosia.
Have you been to Cyprus? When and how did you like it?