The CTO has produced an amazing amount of free information for visitors.
In addition to islandwide maps, there are maps for the major or most popular towns and there are also guided walks in Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol, etc that start at the CTO offices and are free of charge. You can also pick up maps of nature trails, routes for cyclists, and brochures on agro-tourism, traditional crafts and Cypriot cuisine. The CTO has bus timetables available, information on tours, and their offices are generally a mine of information.
Less than a four-hour flight from the Gulf and just a ‘hop’ away from Beirut, Cyprus is a destination growing in popularity with travellers from the Middle East; it’s a practical destination for a short break, a brilliant stopover point for journeys to the UK, other parts of Europe or the US, and a destination in its own right for longer holidays. It has always been popular for summer breaks but has recently been developing its winter attractions.
Year-round sunshine and the relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle are just two of the attractions that draw in nearly three million visitors a year, accounting for some 20 per cent of GNP. However, modern-day Cyprus is moving away from its dependence on agriculture and tourism and now over 60 per cent of its economy is based on the provision of professional services as the country develops a reputation or business excellence.
The Republic of Cyprus welcomes most of its holidaymakers from Europe, and specifically the UK, yet there are well over 18,000 visitors from the GCC each year. Many Arab visitors opt for a stay in Limassol, the commercial capital; the administrative capital, Nicosia, is great for a day out but its longer-stay visitors tend to be from the MICE market.
The south eastern part of the island, around Ayia Napa, developed a reputation as the Mediterranean’s ‘clubland’, but is now working hard to attract more families and nearby Protaras has succeeded in doing just that. Paphos, in the west, has its own airport and attracts a number of charter flights; much quieter, it also has a sizeable population of retirees from Europe, attracted by the sun and the Mediterranean lifestyle. The west and northwest coastline develops into craggy cliffs and small coves; the south coast has sandy beaches; and the south east has a number of attractive beaches and coves.
Summer temperatures in Cyprus stretch into the mid thirties, with Nicosia on the central plains recording the highest figures and the Troodos mountains the lowest (seldom more than the high twenties in the summer). Winters are milder than mainland Europe, but there is snow in the mountains, which also offer skiing.
The island is small, and most visitors choose to rent a car, motorbike or moped to explore. Mopeds are hugely popular and a great way to get around if you don’t need to cover large distances. But cars are more practical if you need to get from one end of the island to the other. You need an international driving licence, or one from your own country; hiring a car is not expensive, though you need to check carefully for liability and extra charges.
There is a good an inexpensive bus network, taxis are readily available, and you can also book seats in ‘service taxis’ which you share with other passengers between towns. A cheap and comfortable way of moving around, it can also be interesting because some of the passengers will want to be dropped off at small villages so you get to see lots of the countryside. However, service taxis are not the quickest way to travel so if you have a fixed appointment, allow yourself plenty of time.
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