Do you remember the first time you hired a car? When you signed the forms, handed over your card details and set off with a sense of nervous excitement, eager to explore but also anxious to return the car without giving the rental company any reason to charge you extra? Mine was in Cyprus and in the 20-odd years that have followed I’ve hired cars in many parts of the world but always remembered driving between the villages of the Troodos Mountains and along the west coast with fondness.
Hiring a car in Cyprus is a pleasure for three main reasons. Firstly, they drive on the correct side of the road (for us Brits at least), so there’s none of the usual problems of trying to get in on the wrong side of the car or reaching for the gear stick with the wrong hand. Then there’s the distances: take a drive on some of the world’s more expansive islands and in a couple of hours you’ll barely travel an inch on the map. That’s never a worry in Cyprus, where you can cross from west to east (Paphos to Larnaca) in under two hours and from either side be in the mountains in half that time. And finally there’s the joy of driving on quiet roads as, once you leave behind the main coastal road, other cars on the road are almost a novelty.
So what’s the best way to make the most of having a car on Cyprus? Sunvil offer a one week fly drive itinerary that takes in the west coast. It allows a few days in the Paphos area; time enough to enjoy the popular beaches and also to explore the area’s ancient attractions. Within the town itself (now a UNESCO site) is the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, built around the harbour in the time of Alexander the Great. Most of the visible remains date from Roman times and include several well-preserved mosaics in the ruins of Roman villas. Further afield is the Roman Amphitheatre and Aphrodite’s Rock, a sea-stack that looks at its most stunning just before sunset.
From Paphos, the itinerary then takes you up the west coast to the Akamas Peninsula and the Aphrodite Beach Hotel in Latchi. This is a perfect base from which to explore the peninsula, whether by foot or on a bike. Trails lead you across this glorious wilderness, with beautiful sea views and a diverse range of wildlife (look out for Bonelli’s eagles).
On a two week fly drive you can of course see even more, with time to say in the inland rural areas (from where you can explore the wine villages and mountains) and along the coast.
Cyprus offers a great range of attractions and a hire car is the best way to explore the island at your own pace. Oh, and you can even smile as you fill up as the petrol prices are few pence lower than we’re used to in the UK.