The perfect way to explore Cyprus is by car because it gives you the freedom to go where you wish, when you wish and at your own pace. With a car you can choose to stop where you fancy and for as long as you want...
Many visitors to Cyprus find driving in Cyprus comfortable as the main towns are linked by good stretches of highway and dual carriageway and most towns are served by good roads and it is only driving in rural areas and the smaller villages that the experience becomes challenging! Having said that, whilst the Cyprus Highway Code and all road signs are modelled on the British system there is some confusion about place names and how they are spelt so it means drivers can be heading for Limassol but arrive in Lemessos, visit Nicosia or is it Lefkosia and meet a barrage of road signs spelling Larnaca/Larnaka and Paphos/Pafos in a colourful variety of ways!
Apart from remembering that maximum speeds are given in kilometres per hour, drivers must also remember that driving skills do not come naturally to Cypriots, who do like speed, to jump red traffic lights and if they are on motorbikes, to wear their safety helmet as arm decoration! The best policy is to drive defensively - always expecting the unexpected and if possible to avoid the rush hour periods (including the daily start of 'siesta time' in the summer months) when the main roads into town do grind to a halt!
On main roads the speed limit is 65 km/h unless traffic signs show otherwise and in built up areas the maximum speed is 30 km/h, with lower speed limits near schools. On the highway the maximim speed limit is 100 km/h and the minimum speed 65 km/h. Speeding fines are paid in cash ‘on the spot’ and often incur penalty points.
In recent years there has been a large road safety campaign and driving tests in Cyprus have been brought in line with those in other European countries. Seat belts are compulsory for all passengers. Children aged under five years must travel in the back of the vehicle in a proper child seat whilst children aged 5-10 years may travel in the front passenger seat if the vehicle is fitted with child safety straps. All car hire companies provide child car seats for all ages of children on request.
Importantly, smoking is prohibited in all vehicles carrying children under 16 years.
There are car hire companies in all of the main towns, both good small family-owned companies and international names. Hire cars can also be arranged at both Larnaka and Pafos Airports and Limassol Port.
If you are on the highway and the car develops a problem, there are emergency telephones at regular intervals and, traffic police make regular patrols - all personnel speak English. If you have trouble and are on an ordinary road, the international emergency number 112. This number is manned by English-speaking staff who will put you in contact with the switchboard of the emergency services - Fire, Ambulance or Police. All car hire companies provide clients with an emergency contact number.
And a few words of caution...
The sun can cause havoc with drivers' vision especially when it begins to set so it is prudent to avoid driving 'into the sun' at this time of day.
When leaving the vehicle, always use the sun shade provided for the windscreen as this does help reduce the temperature within the vehicle.