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.
Getting to Cyprus, since it’s an island in the Mediterranean, is mainly by plane. While my blog post on finding cheap flights will give you some great tips, there’s one more which is invaluable for finding the cheapest flight to Cyprus. Use Skyscanner, and search for round trip flights from Cyprus to everywhere, 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) from what the flight would have cost from Bucharest direct.
Once you get to the island, you might want to rent a car to truly be able to explore some of the best places. But if the minimum $20 a day for a car rental 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 for Larnaca – Limassol and another for Limassol – 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 in 5 days on Cyprus! Hopefully you can find some locals, couchsurfing hosts or other travelers to team up with. Unfortunately, hitchhiking has proven to be more difficult for me, but perhaps you’ll have better luck.
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. The have a website which 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 Old Hospital bus stop. Yep, same name, two cities.
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 PM. Also, there are far fewer buses on the weekend, especially Sunday.
First of all, the Cypriot government ordered all hostels 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. Unfortunately, they cost about $17 (€15) a night. there are few cities in Europe where you can’t find hostels cheaper than that.
I stayed at Lima Sol Accommodations House and Trip Yard Hostel. Lima Sol was nothing to write home about. 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 in a pinch. It’s not in the dorms, but rather outside in a tent or hammock. Of course, in the summer heat, the tent was actually the most comfortable place for me personally in my week on Cyprus.
Speaking of couchsurfing, that’s obviously the best way to explore Cyprus on a budget. But Cyprus is also the first place I ran into trouble with Couchsurfing, other than just not being able to find a host. You can read about my whole adventure with Couchsurfing in Cyprus.
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 $38 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 the fancy, five-star restaurants to blow your budget at, Cyprus offers a wide range of alternatives. There are bakeries offering sandwiches and salads, kebabs with gyros and doner, 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, and 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 on Cyprus. While these all have their fancy restaurants, some of the cheaper ones listed above can also be found intermingled. Just take your time and you’re sure to find something in your budget.
At least you can get an all-you-can-stack ice cream cone at E. Pygra at the Old Harbor for a meager. $1.65 (€1.50).
Nearly all the historic and archaeological sites, such as castles and excavations, I found 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 Larnaca were small with faded information panels and a casual walk-through doesn’t take more than a couple minutes.
The Tomb of the Kings in Pathos is another matter entirely. While there are a lot of negative reviews for the place, and many of the people leaving while I was there said it wasn’t worth it, I found it highly interesting. Technically, there were no kings buried here, but rather high-ranking officials. But the ruins are extensive, and really take at least an hour or two to explore. Just make sure you avoid mid-day 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.
There are also plenty of free attractions on the island. I didn’t make it to many, but the Larnaca Salt Lake was stunning, and I also enjoyed a hike to the Caledonian Waterfall with my couchsurfing host. If you get a chance, try to make it for sunset at the salt lake. 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. See the above section on that for suggestions on how to get there.
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 that a day, but I would personally recommend a visit to Cyprus at least once in your travels. I personally have completely fallen in love with the country, except for the unbearable heat. I’m looking forward to coming back someday, preferably in the spring or autumn. Will I see you there?
Planning to visit Cyprus?
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.