Budget travel in Cyprus is nearly impossible. It’s not that the country is particularly expensive – it’s more than the Balkans but cheaper than the Nordic countries. No, Cyprus just makes it really difficult to enjoy the country if you’re not rich and looking for a luxury vacation.
Flights to Cyprus
Since Cyrpus is an Island, your only real option to get there is by plane, unless you’re planning on getting the ferry from the coast of Turkey (which is not budget-friendly). While my blog post on finding cheap flights will give you some great tips, there’s another trick that is invaluable for finding the cheapest flight to Cyprus. Using Skyscanner, search for round trip flights starting from Cyprus, select “everywhere” in the destination, and then find the location closest to you. When you reverse the route from that airport to Cyprus, the price should be about the same. For instance, I found round-trip tickets from Cluj to Larnaca for about $45 (€40) and was able to get a ride from Bucharest to Cluj for $17 (€15) with Blablacar, saving over $100 (€90) compared to what a direct flight from Bucharest would have cost.
Once you get to the island, you might want to rent a car to truly be able to explore some of the best places. If the minimum $20 a day for a rental car is not in your budget, don’t fret. The intercity buses are quite cheap. Round-trip tickets are mostly $8 (€7). You’ll probably need one between Larnaca and Limassol, and another between Limassol and Paphos. The cities themselves are mostly walkable, as long as you get accommodations not too far outside of town. Having said that, I did walk a whopping 50 miles within 5 days in Cyprus! Hopefully, you can find some locals, Couchsurfing hosts or other travelers to team up with.
There is a local bus system on the island, but the locals say it’s horrible. It doesn’t show up on Google Maps, and you have to pay to download their map. They have a website that you can use, but navigating it can be difficult. While it’s in English, you still need to know some Greek to find the locations. However, if you do work it out, bus rides are only $1.65 (€1.50) per ride. A central hub for the buses in both Larnaca and Limassol is the Old Hospital bus stop. Yep, the stops have the same name in both cities. Seriously confusing!
The timetable for the buses can be found on their website. One thing to know is that they don’t really follow the timetable, and they all stop around 6-7 p.m. Also, there are far fewer buses on the weekend, especially Sundays.
While Google Maps has hardly any data for Cyprus, you’ll find everything you need on the 2Gis App. If you can navigate through the Cyrillic alphabet, you’ll find all the bus stops. It’s also the best app in general for navigating around the island.
These photos make it look like I’m the only one who used the buses in Cyrpus. Sometimes I just got lucky, but they were often full.
Unfortunately, hitchhiking proved to be rather difficult for me, but perhaps you’ll have better luck.
First of all, the Cypriot government ordered all hostels to shut down in Cyprus back around 2014. Most of the cities – Larnaca, Nicosia and Paphos – complied with that order, but you can still find three available in Limassol. Ironically, they’re all within a couple minutes of each other, just down the street from the inter-city bus stop. They cost about $17 (€15) a night. There are few cities in Europe where you can’t find a hostel cheaper than that.
I stayed at Lima Sol Accommodations House and Trip Yard Hostel. Lima Sol was nothing to write home about. On the other hand, Trip Yard was fantastic. But there’s a secret I probably shouldn’t be telling you. Trip Yard is listed on Couchsurfing and you can get your first night there for free if you are on an extreme budget. It’s not in the dorms but rather outside in a tent or hammock. In the summer heat during my week in Cyrpus, the tent was actually the most comfortable place for me.
Update: Since my visit, several more hostels have opened up in Cyprus, primarily in Larnaca, Paphos and Ayia Napa. Most of them are charging around $30 a night, which hardly puts them in the budget range. There are other apartments and cheaper hotels for that same price, and for a better rating. Also, the Trip Yard moved in 2019 from Limassol to Larnaca. I don’t think their tent is still available, but they’re now the cheapest place to stay in Larnaca.
Speaking of Couchsurfing, that’s obviously the best way to explore Cyprus on a budget. But Cyprus is also the first place I really ran into trouble with Couchsurfing, other than just not being able to find a host. In a nutshell, I was confirmed to stay with a host who completely disappeared a few hours before I was scheduled to arrive, and only contacted me at midnight the following day, asking where I was! Then there was another guy who was very insistent that I meet up with him for sensual activities. Apparently, this pervert contacts every traveler and host on the island. Read the whole story about my crazy adventures with Couchsurfing in Cyprus.
Couchsurfing wasn’t entirely horrible there, and I did end up with a truly fantastic host who brought me out to the waterfalls, a truly hidden gem of a restaurant and swimming in the sea. He spent most of the time at his girlfriend’s house so I had his place to myself. There wasn’t any air conditioning or fans, but that’s usual in Cyprus. Get ready to sweat a lot when you’re there.
If you’re not traveling solo, I’d definitely recommend getting an Airbnb. There are some fantastic ones on the island, and they come out to less than individual beds in the hostels. Click on this link to get a $29 credit to your next Airbnb reservation.
The food in Cyprus is the one department where you won’t have to watch your budget…too much. While there will always be fancy, five-star restaurants to blow your wad at, Cyprus offers a wide range of eateries. There are bakeries offering sandwiches and salads, kebab shops with gyros and doner wraps, street food trucks selling cheap hamburgers and hot dogs, and supermarkets where you can get all kinds of meals, or food to cook at home. Getting a meal for $4 (€3.50) is not hard. A large bottle of water costs about $0.75 (€0.60).
Usually, I’d say to avoid the touristy spots of town, like the harbors, city centers and old towns, but this isn’t necessary for Cyprus. Even the fancy harborfront in Larnaca has some surprisingly cheap restaurants intermingled with the tourist traps.
Gyro at Derlicious – Larnaca
On my first day walking along the waterfront of Larnaca, I ran into a perfect gem in the center of Mackenzie Beach near the airport. Derlicious is a small chain of small Greek food stands serving gyros and souvlaki (Greek grilled meat on skewers). For a really delicious, fully-loaded gyro and a drink, I spent $5.50 (€5). That’s less than half what the other restaurants on the beach were charging.
Sample Platter at Mezedokamomata Sotiris
My abovementioned Couchsurfing savior brought his girlfriend and me to a tiny hole-in-the-wall joint up in the hills outside of town. The place was called Mezedokamomata Sotiris and the lady running it was just tickled that a foreigner was eating at her restaurant. She didn’t speak a word of English, but she understood just how much I was enjoying the food. Most of the portions are $4.50-$5.50 (€4-€5). As with most places around the world, the small family-run places in rural locations tend to be the cheapest, as long as they’re not on a tourist route.
Ice Cream Tower at E. Pygra
It’s no secret I love ice cream. I eat it all the time when I travel, especially in hot countries. Thus, I was overjoyed when I found E. Pygra at the Old Harbor in Limassol. For a meager $1.65 (€1.50), I purchased an all-you-can-stack ice cream cone! Umm, twice…or maybe thrice. Don’t judge me! Anyway, Cyprus gets really inventive when it comes to their ice cream. Not only is it homemade, they have some really wild flavors such as halloumi and watermelon, or loukoumades (a Greek honey dessert). Check out this full list of crazy Cypriot ice cream flavors.
Nearly all the historic and archaeological sites I found, such as castles and excavations, were $2.80 (€2.50) for entry. Unfortunately, not all of them were worth it. If you’re interested in these locations, they are all worth a visit for that price. But if you’ve been around the world as much as I have, there’s not really anything special at most of them.
The Kition Ruins in the center of Larnaca were small with faded information panels and a casual walk-through doesn’t take more than a couple minutes. There’s a single walkway over the excavation site and I couldn’t read the faded words on the panels. The attraction might be budget-friendly, but still not really worth it.
Tomb of the Kings
The Tomb of the Kings in Pathos is another matter entirely. While there are a lot of negative reviews for the place, and several of the people leaving while I was there said it wasn’t worth it, I found the attraction highly interesting. Technically, there were no kings buried here, but rather high-ranking officials. The ruins are extensive and really take at least an hour or two to explore. Just make sure you avoid the mid-day heat in the summer months, and bring lots of water for you. There isn’t a lot of shade except in the underground tombs, and those are even hotter.
Larnaca Salt Lake
There are also plenty of free attractions on the island. My Airbnb host told me about the Larnaca Salt Lake, and I made it a priority. After a day trip to North Cyprus with WayAway, I met up with Sarah Funk for an absolutely delicious meal at Militzis Traditional Tavern before going for a photoshoot on the lake. If you get a chance, try to get to the lake for sunset. You might even get to see the flamingos there, depending on what time of the year you arrive.
Some of the better attractions on the island, such as the Blue Lagoon, Aphrodite’s Rock and the Troodos mountains are only accessible with your own transportation. I enjoyed a hike to the Caledonian Waterfall with my Couchsurfing host, but would never have made it there without a ride in his car.
Summary of Budget Travel in Cyprus
Aside from your flights, I would recommend budgeting $15 a day on Cyprus, plus accommodations. If you can get a Couchsurfing host, then it will be that $15 or less. If you have to pay for a hostel or Airbnb, expect your expenses to double ($30 a day). Obviously, you’ll have to do the usual things to stick to that budget, including skipping the fancy dinners, expensive tours, cocktails and hotels. But if you’re a budget traveler reading this, you should already know all those things.
Sure, there are other places in Europe you can visit for far less than $30 a day, but I would personally recommend a visit to Cyprus at least once in your travels. I completely fell in love with the country…except for the unbearable heat. I’m looking forward to going back someday, preferably in the spring or autumn. Will I see you there?
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Planning to Visit Cyprus?
I feel like I only scratched the surface of activities to do in Cyprus, especially without my own car to get around with. If you’re interested in the places I did make it to, here are my articles on them.
- Follow in my Footsteps: One Day Trip to Paphos, Cyprus – Europe’s 2017 Capital of Culture
- Follow in my Footsteps: Exploring Kyrenia, Bellapais Monastery and St. Hilarion Castle
- Journal Entry: My SNAFU With Couchsurfing in Cyprus
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.
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