The first ever moving vehicle to be imported into Cyprus was a black steam engine or locomotive in 1892. The man that brought it to the island wanted to drive it from Larnaca to Nicosia, but the device was very unreliable and kept breaking down on the side of the road, letting off vast amounts of thick, black smoke.
Cyprus has come a long way since then in creating an excellent roads infrastructure, and the work is ongoing, with new upgrades and road constructions planned. Motorways (sometimes referred to as highways) mostly have four lanes, i.e., 2 per direction, while main roads/intercity roads mostly have two lanes, 1 per direction. However, there are a few exceptions.
Cyprus does have speed limits which are often ignored by locals. On motorways, the minimum speed is 65 Km, while the maximum is either 80km or 100 Km. Built-up areas have a maximum speed of 50 Km, but areas near schools, etc. are often 30 Km. Speed limits are set for the safety of all. Please do not ignore them.
The standard of driving in Cyprus is still inadequate, even though the authorities report improved driving standards. Road signs and traffic signals are still often ignored, and speeding is still a big problem, as well as drink driving and boy racers.
Traffic Fatalaties in Cyprus
However, Cyprus has seen a yearly reduction in road deaths and injuries.
Here are the official road fatality statistics for several recent years:
- 2008 – there were a total of 82 road deaths
- 2009 – there were 89 road deaths
- 2010 – there were 60 road deaths
- 2011 – there were 71 road deaths
- 2012 – there were 51 road deaths
- 2013 – there were 44 road deaths
- 2014 – there were 45 road deaths
- 2015 – there were 57 road deaths
- 2016 – there were 46 road deaths
And, proving that things are not getting any better:
- 2017 – there were 53 road deaths
Many foreigners adopt the attitude of ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’; however this exacerbates the problem, and will never solve it. Road deaths on this scale will continue until we all realize that speed, alcohol, and negligence kills.
Cyprus signed the European Road Safety Charter, the aim of which was to halve fatal road accidents by 2010. The 6-year Strategic Plan for Road Safety in Cyprus (2005-2010) did have a small effect on reducing road deaths, especially in under 25-year-olds.
A new Strategic Plan for the period 2011-2020 has commenced. The former Minister of Communications and Works and Chairman of the Road Safety Council Erato Kozakou Marcoullis declared 2011 as Year of Road Safety against driving under the influence of alcohol, with the motto “Driving and alcohol do not match: Say no to alcohol.” However, it didn’t have much effect as road deaths increased by 18% for 2011.
Obtaining a Drivers License in Cyprus
You must be 17 and a half years of age or older to obtain a provisional drivers license in Cyprus, and you must be accompanied by an experienced driver age 35 or older who has held a full driving license for at least five years. The same applies to provisional license holders aged 18. However, the accompanying person may be 25 years of age.
If you are moving to Cyprus and you have a UK provisional license you can now take driving lessons using your UK temporary license. After you have lived in Cyprus six months, you need to exchange your UK provisional license for a Cypriot provisional permit, before you can take the driving test.
Download free information (in pdf format, may not be compatible with mobile devices) about learning to drive in Cyprus. The information is provided free courtesy of a reputable British driving instructor who operates a driving school in Cyprus.
Cyprus Driving Laws
There are many road/traffic offenses incorporated into Cyprus law, too many to list here, but here are few that you may not have been aware of, and the corresponding penalty.
- Smoking cigarettes in a private motor vehicle with a person under the age of sixteen in the car. – fine €85
- Parking with the vehicle facing other than in the direction of traffic flow. This rule applies at any time day or night even if it is in a permitted parking place. – fine €85
- A driver who is in an irregular position inside the vehicle or raises his hand from the steering wheel unnecessarily. – fine €25
- Passengers not sitting in fixed seats, obstructing or interfering with the normal operation of the vehicle or is making signs or gestures that could be seen as traffic signals – fine €25
- Unnecessary reversing – fine €25
- Unnecessary use of horn in built-up areas – fine €25
Major Roadways in Cyprus
The main motorways in Cyprus are:
- A1 Nicosia – Limassol
- A2 Nicosia – Larnaca
- A3 Larnaca Airport – Ayia Napa
- A5 Larnaca – Limassol
- A6 Limassol – Paphos
- A7 Paphos – Polis
- A8 Limassol – Saittas
- A9 Nicosia – Astromeritis
- A22 Nicosia 3rd Ring road
Road Signs and Cameras
Road speed cameras used to be fitted around Cyprus with fines made on road traffic offenders, however, due to technical problems the cameras were removed. A new network of road speed cameras was to be in operation again around Cyprus during 2012, but this did not transpire.
The next announcement was those speed cameras will be operational again by the end of 2015, but this did not occur either.
As of November 2017, there is still no definite date for the installation of speed cameras.
Road signs are easy to identify, and reading them should be no problem due to them being written in Greek and English.
Roads leading up to the higher regions of Troodos mountains may be closed in winter due to snow or ice, often at such times only four-wheel drive vehicles or vehicles fitted with snow chains will be allowed to reach the highest parts.