Cyprus has fairly sparse bus services, though in the South the theoretically useful institution of the service (shared) taxi makes getting around fairly straightforward and cheap on the main routes -even if "service" is often the last thing on drivers' minds. Private taxis are relatively expensive; there has been no train service since the early 1950s. Car rental is reasonable by European standards, making it the best option for visitors to either side of the island -and something you should seriously consider, as it's often the only way to reach isolated points of interest.
Local buses in the South
The most important inter-urban routes in the South are served by a number of private companies, whose terminals tend to be clustered at various points in the main towns: there's never really anything that could be singled out as a central bus station. Except on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, when services can be skeletal to nonexistent, departures are fairly frequent during daylight hours -up to nine times daily from Larnaca to Ayia Napa, for exam pie. Fares, soid at kerbside offices or on board, remain reasonable despite sharp 2004 hikes in diesel prices; crossing the island from Nicosia to Pafos, for exampie, won't set you back much over C£5.50. If you make forays into the Troodhos, however, you'll find frequencies dropping sharply, with the need to plan an overnight in the hills; to explore up there it's far simpler to have a car, using the coastal towns as jump-off points. Worth just a mention are the old-fashioned villagers' market buses -essentially a Bedford truck chassis with a sort of multicoloured charabanc mounted on top. They are marvellously photogenic institutions, but with their typical once-daily, 6am-out-2pm back schedules -plus school-bus seating -they're unlikely to be of much practical use, though lately, large numbers of them are being refurbished by adventure companies for use in back-country safaris.
Local buses in the North
In the North, local buses are more consciously modelled on Turkish system, with coaches gathered at a single vehicle parking and a ticket-sales/waiting building adjacent. With fewer cars in the poorer economy, locals are more dependent on buses and accordingly departures are more frequent: as much as quarter-hourly between north Nicosia and Kyrenia. Fares are also lower than in the South, but once again you'll find public buses inconvenient to do much adventuring. For the most part your fellow passengers will not be native Cypriots, but Anatolian settlers and soldiers returning to postings. Walking along roads, you may be tooted at by the drivers of oncoming buses in a bid to get your custom; wave them down if you want to ride.
Of all the island cities, only Nicosia and Limassol are really big enough to sustain an urban bus network. With very few exceptions, however, these services run only from about 6am to 6pm (7pm in summer). Fares cost between C£0.50 and C£0.70, and route maps -worth snagging if you're staying a long time -are available from the relevant tourist office. In and around Larnaca and Pafos, a few routes are of interest to visitors, and detailed in the town accounts.
Service taxis and dolmuses
Another way of getting about Cyprus is the shared taxi or minibus, called a service taxi in the South and a dolmus in the North. Service taxis have now been amalgamated into a single company, Travel and Express; stretch limos and small transit vans carrying four to seven passengers can be booked by phone, and will pick up and drop off at any reasonable point leg a hotel or private dwelling). That's the theory anyway; tales of ignored bookings abound, and vehicle condition often leaves much to be desired. Ticket prices are little more than double the bus fare for the same route, and joumey times can be quick, though sometimes drivers' styles may have you fearing for your life. Drivers are famous for swearing fluently in Greek, English and Russian at other drivers (and passengers, especially those who delay them the least): local women scream at the drivers when they overtake on blind, hairpin curves -you'll be too petrified. Something to try once, perhaps. In the South, some of the so-called scheduled minibus services up to the lonely northern beaches near Polis seem to straddle categories a bit; they may offer a pick-up service and/or refuse to depart at all without a certain quota of passengers. Strictly speaking, there are few shared saloon cars in the North, but more often minibuses which dawdle, engines idling, in bus parks until they are full or nearily so, thus meeting the definition of dolmus -"stuffed".
Privately hired taxis within urban areas in the South have rigidly controlled fares, not exorbitant by British or North American standards. The meter starts at C£1.38 (C£1.82 between 8.30pm and 6am): the meter ticks over at a rate of C£O.24 per kilometre (£O.29 per kilometre during night hours as cited). Every piece of luggage weighing over 12kg incurs a C£O.24 charge. Pets are paid for at C£O.22 each, and the driver has the right to demand they be transported in a cage or carrier.
There also exist numbers of rural taxis providing service between Troodhos resorts or foothill villages and nearby towns; for these trips you should know the going rate, as meters will not be used. The per-kilometre rate is C£O.20 ordinarily, but C£O.15 on an out-and-back trip, or C£O.20 between 11 pm and 6am: one piece of baggage is carried free, otherwise C£O.20 per piece. As guidelines, Nicosia to Platres will cost about C£20 per carful: from Limassol to the same place slighty less: from larnaca to Pano Lefkara about C£12. From larnaca airport to Kyrenia (an increasing popular trajectory), budget a stiff C£50.
Around Christmas, New Year and Orthodox Easter, a C£O.66 tip is added mandatorily to your fare on both urban or rural taxis.
In the relatively small towns of the North, there's less need for urban taxis. Moving between population centres, fares for the senne distance are comparable to those in the South, for example £15-20 from Ercan airport to Kyrenia or resorts around it.
Almost three-quarters of visitors to either part of Cyprus end up driving themselves around at some time during their stay, and this is really the best way to see the country. Either a licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit is acceptable in the North, though in the South, nonEU drivers will be required to have an lDP in addition to their home licence.