Car rental Larnaca
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Why rent a car in Larnaca?
Larnaca is the gateway to Cyprus for most. Millions come from Europe and further afield every year to bask on the beaches and party the night away at the island’s numerous clubs. With a plethora of natural attractions and archaeological sites scattered throughout the country, a rental car is almost necessary. Not only will having your own car get you to the sites but also to the more secluded, stunning beaches. Picking up a car in Larnaca to twist and turn your way across the entire island is most recommended.
Top ways to enter Larnaca
Most visitors will enter Larnaca, and probably Cyprus in general, through Larnaca International Airport. Due to the Turkish invasion in 1974, the airport in Nicosia shut down which led Larnaca International Airport to become the primary gateway to the island. The airport is located just south of the city. The largest rental providers have desk in the terminal building. Other providers have offices nearby and offer a shuttle service from the airport.
Some may enter Larnaca on cruise ships at the Larnaca Marina. While the city used to be served by ferries from various other countries, it is currently only served by cruises. If arriving at the Marina, rental cars can be picked up in the city, close to the airport.
Useful city facts
Larnaca, like the rest of coastal Cyprus, has a climate that includes hot summers and very mild winters. The average summer high temperature in the city is 27 °C (81 °F) in the summer and 17 °C (63 °F) in January. The warmer summer months, and thereby tourist high season, are April to November. During summer, the city sees almost no rain. The other months bring some, but by no means a lot of, rain. Water temperatures range from 20 °C (70 °F) in April to 27 °C (81 °F) in July and August.
The city is one of the sunniest in Europe, having over 3,300 hours of sunshine each year. The sunlight difference between the city and the rest of Europe is particularly stark during winter, when the city has an average of 6 hours of sunshine each day compared to an average of 1 hour of sunshine a day in London.
Whether Larnaca was founded by Noah’s grandson as is often said or not, it is certain that the are has been inhabited for thousands of years. The Kingdom if Kition was established by Mycenaeans in the 13th century BC in present-day Larnaca. The residents primarily mined copper. The area would later be settled by the Phoenicians after which the city would flourish. Persian, Hellanistic, and Roman rule would come along later before the kingdom was destroyed by earthquakes in the 4th century AD. Museums and archaeological sites from these times can be found in the modern city today.
Top destinations and activities
Beaches - The primary reason most travelers head to Cyprus, and Larnaca in particular, is for the beaches. In the city there are two beaches. Finikoudes Beach is in the very center with shallow water. The beach has umbrellas and lounge chairs for rent, as is typical for Greece and Cyprus. Do remember that you will have no shade without an umbrella. Mackenzie Beach is south of the city. Here you can lie on the beach while landing and departing planes fly right over you.
Kamares Aqueduct - Also known as the Bekir Pasha Aqueduct, the Kamares Aqueduct is just outside of the city. Though it may look older, it was built between 1747 and 1750. The structure with 75 arches was used until 1939 to bring water to the city.
St. Lazarus Church - Just a short walk from Finikoudes Beach, St. Lazarus is Greek Orthodox church built in the 800s. The Orthodox Church says that it was built after Lazarus’ tomb was found and its relics transferred to Constantinople. The Church is said to have been compensation for such and built on the tomb. Even though some parts of the church were destroyed during the Ottomon conquest, it still serves as a lovely example of architecture. The church was used for many years for both Islamic and Christian religious services.
Diving - Divers flock to Larnaca from all over the world since one of the top diving sites in the world sits just off the coast. The MS Zenobia made her maiden voyage from Sweden through the Straits of Gibraltar stopping in Lancara en route to Syria. Due to it listing to port, it was forced to leave the harbour and anchor offshore. A few days later it would sink where it was anchored with no casualties. Now it serves as a perfect dive site for any level of diver. Many outfitters offer lessons and will teach beginner divers including a dive to the top of the ship. Experienced divers can explore the entire site and see the trucks that were destined for the Middle East.
Traffic and parking tips
As is usually the case across the Mediterian, driving in Cyprus can be quite hectic for the uninitiated. Most traffic regulations are often treated as mere guidelines by Cypriot drivers with laws prohibiting driving under the influence being a notable exception (due to the harsh penalties). Expect other drivers to only care about themselves including ignoring road markings, making illegal shortcuts, failing to use their signal, and taking the best route for themselves through traffic circles (roundabouts). Also note that everyone else on the road will know that you are driving a rental car due to its red license plate (all rental cars have red license plates).
Due to Cyprus’ history as a British territory, traffic is left-hand drive, unlike in Greece or Turkey.
There are roads on the island that are mountain roads or considered off-road meant for 4WD vehicles only. It is prohibited by all car rental providers to use these remote roads. Taking these roads will violate the rental contract and void any insurance.
Parking may cause some concern for drivers. While there is free parking, it is often times hard to find a sport without parking somewhere you are not supposed to, though many others will have done the same already. At times it can feel as if sidewalks are actually just parking lots. The city has various municipal and private parking garages. These are often a driver’s best option. Some hotels do not have parking at all and garages must be used.
There are no toll roads in Cyprus. If including mainland Greece in your trip’s itinerary, you should note that there are toll roads and see our pages of the relevant Greek cities, for example, Athens.
Ideas for a day-trip
- Lefkara - A village (or, well, three villages) in the hills in the middle of the island, Lefkara is a gorgeous place that must be visited. The largest of the villages is Pano Lefkara and is about 40 km away from Larnaca. In addition to the small streets, stone houses, and just overall lovely village, the nearby unspoilt countryside also is perfect for spending a day in
- Ayia Napa - If nightlife is why you come to Cyprus then Ayia Napa is where you want to be. The city, located just 50 km east of Larnaca, is the nightlife capital of the country. The epicenter for partying is called the Square. It is deceivingly small, packed with bars and clubs. With some many venues located in such a small area, places compete with each other for customers. This leads to generally low prices but also the dreaded touts. During the daytime, it is certainly worth visiting one of the area’s gorgeous beaches.
- Cape Greco - Between Ayia Napa and Protaras, Cape Greco is a headland on the corner of the island. The cape is a protected nature park and has numerous natural features that draw tourists. The Sea Caves and the Bridge of Love, a hole carved by the sea with a “bridge” on top that can be walked on, are both perfect examples. The Blue Lagoon is also worth visiting, though be prepared for it to be crowded with tourists and boats.
- Mt. Olympus - Not the Mt. Olympus of Greek Pantheon fame, but a great destination nonetheless. The mountain is 115 km from Larnaca. It sits in the Troodos National Forest Park. While there is a radar station at the summit of the mountain prohibiting hikers from getting to the top, it’s still worth the hike. Of course, spending the day in other parts of the park will not disappoint.
- Nicosia - The capital of Cyprus (or rather the capitals of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus) is just 50 km north of Larnaca. The city is not as popular with tourists due to its lack of beaches (being in the very center of the island) and archaeological sites. However, that could make visiting the financial and administrative center of the country worthwhile. The city is actually split in half by the UN administered buffer zone. In the very center on Ledra Road, pedestrians can cross to Northern Cyprus. Passport control is more of a formality than anything else and will even not lead to your passport being stamped.
Most popular rental types and cars
Given the free for all that leads to the necessity of parking in spots one wouldn’t think even possible, it makes sense that renters in Cyprus generally prefer smaller cars. The most popular class of rental car is the mini, the smallest of which Chevrolet Spark is a good example. The next most popular classes are economy, of which the Nissan Micra is an example, and Compact, of which Nissan Note is an example.
Note: All rental car providers prohibit travel to Northern Cyprus. Though some may suggest that all you need to purchase third party liability at the border, due note that this still violated the terms of the rental contract, does not include any insurance for damage to the care, and invalidates Full Coverage or any other insurance you have purchased. Of course, it is possible to drop off one rental car in Nicosia on th eGreek side and pick up another car on the Northern Cypriot side of the border which absolves all the previous problems.
- Rhodes - Though no ferries leave from Cyprus to the island of Rhodes anymore, flights from Cyprus Airlines (and seasonal from Aegean Airlines) are available and take just over an hour. Rhodes is one of the most visited Greek Islands. It offers numerous archaeological sites, amazing beaches, and an amazing old town.
- Turkey - Ferries leave from Girne in Northern Cyprus for Tasucu on the Turkish coast of the Mediterainian. Of course, you can not take a rental car from Cyprus to North Cyprus on the ferry. There nearest cities to Tasucu which you can pick up another rental car are Konya and Antalya. From there you can explore the rest of Mediteranian Turkey along with Agean Turkey and all of its archaeological sites and fantastic beaches.
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