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Cyprus is divided in many ways, but few of them matter if you’re a traveler looking to enjoy the beaches, ancient ruins, and water sports. Infamously, the island, which is the third largest in the Mediterranean, is divided between north and south; the north belongs to the unofficial Turkey-backed region of North Cyprus, and the southern two-thirds is the EU-recognized and Greece-backed Republic of Cyprus. The UN controls the border, which is called the Green Line, and visitors can easily cross it.
Here are some tips to help guide you on your trip to Cyprus. Cyprus is an enthralling mix of cultures both ancient and modern. You can either sit back, tan, and enjoy the hedonistic life or venture to the unknown parts, with medieval castles, nature, and privacy. Beach resorts provide modern luxuries yet the ancient ruins, such as the Tombs of the Kings and the Salamis Ruins, are just day trips away. If you’re interested in visiting Cyprus’s ruins, rent a car: the buses are notoriously unreliable and there are no trains.
Most of the popular beach areas are located on the south-eastern shore. These include Agia Napa (a wonderland/Disneyland of beach-themed bars, resorts, and restaurants), Lemesos (Limasol), Protaras, and Paphos. Pernera is a popular beach area on the western shore. A general rule of thumb: the further east you travel the more budget-friendly the towns. Two of the most popular coastal cities in North Cyprus are Famagusta and Kyrenia. The capital city of Nicosa is well worth a visit because of its beautiful ruins, excellent restaurants, and history museums.
If you’re interested in learning more about Cyprus’s history, which involves the Greeks, Romans, Turks, Venetians, Ottomans, British, and more, make sure to visit Nicosa’s Cypress Museum. As of May 2011, a visa is not required for U.S. travelers staying for less than 90 days. The official currency in the Republic of Cyprus is the euro, while North Cyprus officially uses the lira, though some businesses accept euros. English is commonly spoken. Note that July and August, which are peak season, can be exceptionally hot, so make sure to get a rental car with air conditioning. The most popular method of arriving in Cyprus is by plane and the biggest airport is in Larnaka.
Travel Tip: In general, tap water is safe for adults but it contains too many minerals for babies. Most tourists drink bottled water, but tap water is certainly fine for brushing teeth and other uses.