Originally known as Khittim, Larnaca in the southeast of Cyprus is an ancient port which has embraced the modern to create an eclectic mix of old and new. Together with the nearby Blue Flag beaches, World Heritage Sites and Great Salt Lake, Larnaca has proved an irresistible draw for British tourists who regularly top the visitors’ list. Between 2007 and 2008 the number of holiday makers travelling to the country increased by 4.4 percent and seem set to grow this year despite the credit crunch, as this beatific isle continues to offer good value for money.
Of the two main Cyprus Airports, Larnaca International Airport is by far the most popular with approximately 5.5 million passengers passing through its’ gates last year. Transfer from Larnaca Airport is possible by bus, taxi or private transfers, although it is advisable to organise car hire at Larnaca Airport if you want to truly take advantage of everything this fascinating island has to offer. The good thing is that unlike most other European destinations, Cypriots drive on the left and road signs are presented in both English and Greek so negotiating the new terrain should prove relatively simple. As Cyprus is not re-known for having the best public transportation system, getting around easily is only possible with private vehicles.
Therefore car hire is a necessity for those who want to really explore. The country makes up for the inadequacy in public transport however by having a fantastic road network with four lane motorways connecting to the major cities and well-maintained routes into smaller villages and towns. All roads are toll free and getting to well-loved towns such as Agia Napa, Protaras or Limassol by car takes just 45-60 minutes. Alternatively a drive to the magical city of Paphos on the west coast with its coral reef and archaeological treasures is 1½ hours. There are 8 car rental firms with offices located in Larnaca Airport arrivals. The Larnaca Airport car hire companies are Astra, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Petsas, Sixt and Thrifty.
To drive in Cyprus, the age limit is 18 years but most rental firms set a higher age restriction. Very few hire to anyone under 21 years of age (or over 72 in some cases) and many will add a minimum age surcharge for those less than 25 years old. Be very careful to check exactly what is included in the quoted price when you receive it. This is particularly true for insurance. Many companies will provide basic third party insurance in the quote but the excess is likely to be high. It is practical to buy additional cover not only to bring this excess down but for personal accident insurance, additional damage waiver (for items such as tyres and windscreen) and theft protection waiver.
When driving in Cyprus there are certain regulations that should be adhered to in order to ensure safe and uninterrupted passage. Like the UK, seat belts are obligatory for everyone, while children under 5 must be strapped into an appropriate child car seat in the back of the car. Over 5 years and it is feasible for kids to be sat in the front seat, provided a child’s seat belt has been fitted. Mobile phones must not be used when driving, although hands-free units are permitted and horns should not be sounded between 22:00 and 06:00. It is forbidden at any time, however, to do it near a hospital. One very important rule to note is that smoking in a vehicle whilst carrying a passenger under the age of 16 is forbidden.