When most people think of Cyprus, they think of sun, beaches and cheap drinks.
But us road cyclists are a bit different.
We look at a map of Cyprus, see the network of roads and south-eastern Mediterranean location and wonder: what’s road cycling in Cyprus like?!
Written by John Maskell
Is road cycling in Cyprus any good?
The short answer is yes. In the past, the island has been better known for mountain biking than road cycling, but with the Gran Fondo Cyprus (which is a UCI Gran Fondo World Championships qualifier) and hotels starting to market themselves to the triathlon scene, Cyprus is edging its way onto the radar of the road cycling world.
The main things Cyprus offers cyclists are a decent spring/autumn climate and a good road network. We were impressed by the smooth road surfaces and pretty scenery, the noticeable lack of traffic, good hotels and towns seeped in ancient history and mythology. For these reasons, we think Cyprus makes a great alternative to the better known destinations, and is an excellent one to shortlist if you're looking for somewhere your cycling friends haven't yet been!
(For a comparison between Cyprus and Mallorca, jump to this section).
Interested in cycling Cyprus?
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to plan some unforgettable Cyprus cycling: detailed information on the best Cyprus cycling routes plus where to stay, when to visit and information on bike rental too.
Read on and plan your Cyprus cycling adventure.
Cyprus cycling routes
Geography of Cyprus
The highest point in Cyprus is Mount Olympus in the Troodos Mountains. It stands tall at 1,952 metres, which is just over 500 metres higher than the highest point in Mallorca’s Tramuntana range.
The Troodos mountains run from Poli in the northwest down towards Limassol in the south.
Paphos, which was our base for this trip, is in the middle of the west coast and gives good access to both coastal cycling routes as well as fantastic cycling into the Troodos mountains.
An overview of cycling around Cyprus
Cyprus is definitely well behind the Mallorcas and Gironas of this world in terms of density of road cyclists; but this is gradually changing for the better.
When looking at Strava heatmaps for road cycling Cyprus, there seems to be a good number of popular rides from Poli in the north west, from Paphos in the west, from Limassol in the south and from the capital Nicosia into the Troodos mountains in the centre.
A lot of the rides are along coastal routes (note the point above about unpaved sections) or follow the valleys up towards Mount Olympus / Troodos mountains. There is also a lot of cycling activity within the Troodos mountains, which lie in between the four towns mentioned above. Be aware that as you ride inland you’ll encounter long climbs (20km+) with gradients that get up to the double digits. You can also expect regular, fantastic views of the sea.
In terms of Cyprus’s scenery, expect quite a lot of scrub but also pine-clad peaks, busy towns and tranquil old stone villages with vineyards, olive groves and ancient churches. Even in December, we’ve heard you’ll find oranges on the trees and vegetables growing in the fields.
What are the roads like in Cyprus?
The general feeling we got was that Cyprus was more geared up for mountain biking than road biking: a lot of the bike shops are more focused on renting, fixing and selling mountain bikes and the Troodos forest has a lot of well maintained mountain biking trails. Points to note:
That said, the road conditions we came across in Cyprus were very good and, dare we say it, at least as good as those in Mallorca.
You’ll spot that we don’t suggested venturing into the north of Cyprus. While the whole of the Republic of Cyprus is a full member of the EU, the country is divided by the Green Line (a UN demilitarized buffer zone) which separates what is known as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” from the south. The British government does not recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
We understand it’s technically possible to travel to the north of Cyprus from the south via certain crossing points, such as Nicosia, but it seems an unnecessary risk and hassle when the south has so much cycling to offer. We wouldn’t recommend it. You can check out the detailed UK Foreign Office travel advice here.
Our suggested Cyprus cycling routes
We have deliberately chosen three rides that are somewhat different to each other:
Click on the buttons below to take you through to cycling route maps and detailed descriptions of these Cyprus cycling routes.
Each ride starts and finishes near our Paphos cycling base, on the sea front in Paphos at the Aliathon hotel but, of course, you can easily amend this.
Read our Tips for cycling in Cyprus before you set out.
- Distance: 152km
- Elevation: 3,160m
- Epic rating:
- Distance: 130km
- Elevation: 2,970m
- Epic rating:
- Distance: 72km
- Elevation: 770m
- Epic rating:
Easy cycling in Cyprus
We have deliberately not written up some of the more family-friendly coastal Paphos cycling routes along the seafront as these are easy to follow on mixed terrain cycle paths and can be done easily without a “.gpx file” or guide. Most of the bike shops rent hybrid bikes for both adults and children that would be suitable for cycling these coastal routes.
If you fancy an easy group ride, you could also check out the weekly Wednesday evening bike rides from Limassaol, 7:45-10pm. There’s more information here.
Cyprus cycling events and races
The Cyprus Cycling Federation, which is a member of the UCI, has been organising road races in Cyprus since 1978.
Probably the best known cycling event in Cyprus is the four-day international mountain bike competition (the "Cyprus Sunshine Epic" - it was originally known as "Afxentia").
The Cyprus Gran Fondo is a more recent addition to Cyprus’ cycling scene, and is organised by Activate Cyprus. It runs during the last weekend of March 2020 and offers a three-day road “Cycling for All” event. The first day gives you the chance to qualify for the Individual Time Trial World Championships. The following two days provide two separate chances (one in every stage) to qualify for the Road Race World Championships.
For the triathletes out there, there are a number of triathlons based in Paophos (see here). Also Ayia Napa Triathlon is another early season race which is growing in stature and worth checking out. It has grown from 23 athletes in 2014 to around 700 in 2019. It’s being held 21 and 22 March 2020 and there are middle distance, standard distance and sprint distances available. The course is reputedly flat and fast.
Where to stay in Cyprus (for road cyclists)
What’s the best place to stay in Cyprus (for cyclists)?
Cyprus is known as Aphrodite’s Island, the Goddess herself symbolising love, beauty, passion and procreation. Aphrodite’s birthplace is on the west coast of Cyprus some 25km southeast of the main town of Paphos, which is where we were based on this trip.
Paphos v Limassol
There were a number of reasons we chose Paphos over Limassol. For the following reasons we think Paphos is a better bet for road cyclists:
Paphos is also arguably more culturally interesting than Limassol. The Archaeological Park of Kato Paphos (Kato means lower) is located near the harbour close to the majority of the hotels. It was built by Nicocles, the last king of Palaipafos at the end of the 4th century BC and around this time Paphos was the capital city of Cyprus. The complex includes important monuments such as the Asklepieion, the Odeon, the Agora, the Saranta Kolones castle (forty Columns), the Limeniotissa ruins of the early Christian Basilica and the Tombs of the Kings.
Paphos is also home to the famous Tombs of the Kings and the underground tombs are carved out of granite rock. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site dating back to the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Our choice: Aliathon Hotel
The Aliathon Hotel is a large hotel that's close to Paphos's seafront and has seven different swimming pools. It's also close to the Geroskipou Municipal stadium running track and the Yeroskipu 50m / 10 lane international pool. It's the hotel of choice for sports companies such as ETE TriCamps, Aspire Cycling and Mokapot Productions and has Canyon bike rentals available via Aspire Cycling.
What we loved
Things to know
The Aliathon, was good value for money, clean and set in wonderful gardens with a surprisingly large number of house martins flying low along the paths catching insects in mid-flight. The food was good and there were no “add-ons” like having to pay for bottled water: something we find annoying in some budget Mallorca hotels. To conclude; it was definitely value for money.
If we had wanted to be on the sea side of the road then opposite the Aliathon Hotel is the Athena Hotel. The Athena hotel was slightly more expensive than the Aliathon when we were booking, but it has better views over the sea and also has dedicated bike rooms. The Athena is also used by multiple sports companies and we regularly saw triathletes training in the pool.
If we had gone with the family and needed a smarter, but more expensive hotel, we would have probably chosen the 5* Almyra hotel which is also slightly closer to Pathos harbour and the old town area. It is used by some of the sports companies and was recommended to us by friends who stayed there in 2018.
Alternatively, if we had been in Cyprus to really get to know the Troodos mountains, we might have stayed at the very highly rated Casale Panayiotis which is based around a handful of stone cottages in a luxurious spa retreat in the Marathasa valley right in the heart of the Troodos mountains.
We would have had to rent a car as this hotel is very remote, but is on the doorstep of some very good riding within the mountains. It is significantly more expensive than the Aliathon and Athena, but does come highly recommended.
Paphos bike rental, cyprus
As we were based in Paphos, we’ve focused on Paphos bike hire rather than bike rental in Cyprus more broadly.
Cyprus bike rental and services
Kato Paphos, Agapinoros 1, Paphos
Tel: +357 26 220803
Bike rentals and repairs in Paphos: specialises in Cervelo, Orbea, Specialized, Ridley. Rentals are mainly Orbea, Cannondale and Focus. Bring your own pedals, helmet, bidons and lights. They can also provide guides. We found Ride Easy to be a great bike shop: they seemed to sell most makes, hire out good bikes, and could provide guides with a few days’ notice. They also have a good central location near the Old Town.
Price: 15-30 euros per day.
Olympic Lagoon Resort bike station
Poseidonos Ave 48, Paphos
Tel: +357 24332112
Bike rentals: Scott bikes with various models on offer. For an extra fee you can also hire pedals, helmet, GPS, car bike rack and multitools. Note: Activate Cyprus' HQ is in Larnaca. They have bike stations in Paphos and Tochni Village.
Price: 20-35 euros per day.
Aliathon Holiday Village, 3 Theas Aphrodites Avenue, 8204, Paphos.
Tel: +357 967 079 20
Bike rentals: specialises in Canyon bikes. Advisable to bring your own pedals, bottles and Garmin as they charge extra for these. Can provide guides.
Price: 20 to 50 euros per day.
CWC Pro-cycle Works Cyprus Ltd
Koukia, Paphos 8500
Tel: +357 26432033
We saw Alan Yates, the director, with a race car loaded with decent road bikes: it is not just a mountain bike rental company. Bikes are Boardman and Ribble bikes. They also offer guided tour options, service car support and a stranded rider recovery service.
Prices: 15 to 50 euros per day with delivery and collection.
Kayser LBS: 16 Sotiri Papalazarou, Yeroskipou, Paphos 8201
Tel: +357 97 758926
Apparently Laurent Kayser, the owner, can mend anything from road bikes to mountain bikes.
No bike rental.
Zephyros Adventure Sports Paphos, 8102
Tel: +357 26930037
Mountain biking guiding only. Price up to 65 euros per day, including transport, mountain bike hire, mechanical and car support back up, lunch and photographs. Kayaking, climbing and other sports on offer.
Undecided on whether to hire a bike or bring your own? Read this now.
WHEN TO GO
The best times to visit Cyprus for road cycling are probably in October and November and then in March, April and May.
While air temperatures are pretty decent between December and March, the high number of rain days is less attractive.
During summer, average high temperatures are around 30-33 0C, so for most of us would be too hot and besides the summer is the European racing season so many of us would be busy elsewhere.
Air Temp (0C)
Sea temp (0C)
Hours of sun
Source: Cyprus Tourism Board
Cyprus v Mallorca - a weather comparison
The table below gives a good comparison of the High/Low data in the European off-season for both Cyprus and Mallorca. You should see from the table that the Cyprus low monthly average is some 4-5 0C above that of Mallorca, but the average high temperatures are not so different.
Cyprus’s more consistent temperature range is most likely because the sea around Cyprus (last two columns) is also 2-3 0C warmer than that in Mallorca making Paphos an ideal location for triathlon training as well as road cycling.
Cyprus is less windy than Mallorca (and in fact the island seems to promote the fact that headwinds are rare here). However, in December, January and February Cyprus has greater rainfall than Mallorca and between January and March there is often snow in the mountains, sufficient to ski.
However, in April, (when we went) the rainfall is less in Cyprus than in Mallorca at an average of only three days over the month.
Cyprus: Paphos Temp High/Low (0C)
Mallorca: Palma Temp High/Low (0C)
22 / 13
19 / 8
18 / 10
16 / 5
16 / 8
15 / 4
17 / 8
16 / 4
18 / 9
17 / 5
21 / 11
20 / 8
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
TIPS AND ARTICLES
Getting to Cyprus
If you do want to cycle on the west coast, south coast or in the Troodos mountains then it is advisable to use either Paphos International Airport or Larnaca Airport.
It is illegal to land in the Turkish occupied north eastern side of Cyprus and then cross the UN controlled partition to the Republic of Cyprus.
Cyprus historically held a strategic location as a trading route to and from the holy lands. Consequently, Cyprus has been occupied by virtually every Tom, Dick and Harry on the planet from the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Alexander the Great, Roman Empire, Arab caliphates, French Lusignan dynasty, the Venetians and then Ottoman rule for three centuries.
Cyprus was formally annexed by the British in 1914, gained independence in 1960, was invaded by Turkey in 1974 (and is still split by the Green Line, a UN buffer zone, because of this act of aggression). Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004 and adopted the Euro in 2008. Although the island is geographically Asian, it’s an EU-member and, certainly in relation to the southern part of the island, culturally and politically is part of Europe.
This guide focuses on the internationally recognised Republic of Cyrus; i.e. the south western part of the island that is within the Eurozone. If you’re concerned about the politics, you can find details of the current Foreign Office advice, here.
The result of all this culture (or, depending on your perspective, occupation) means that Cyprus is littered with historic monuments and churches which makes it a very interesting place to cycle around, whatever your ability. Of particular interest are the painted churches in the Troodos mountains. These ten UNESCO Byzantine churches are dedicated to the Holy Cross and are particularly significant in so far as they pay homage to Agia Eleni, Mother of Constantine the Great, who passed through Cyprus on his way back from the Holy Land.
Due to the British occupation, Cypriots still drive and cycle on the left hand side. They also speak very good English. However they tend to do everything else via the more European metric system, including speed limits.
Take a look at The Cyprus Cycling guide by Helen Smeaton (though this is targeted towards mountain biking).
The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop is also worth a read. The story is based in Famagusta in Cyprus during the conflict between Cyprus and Turkey. It was a No 1 Sunday Times bestseller.
Cyprus vs Mallorca
The Republic of Cyprus lies on the east side of the Mediterranean sea, south of Turkey and west of Syria and Lebanon. Its location is considerably more eastern and southern than Mallorca within the Mediterranean sea. Consequently, because of its location, Cyprus is some 4-5 0C warmer than Mallorca during the European winter season at night and in the mornings. The sea is also consistently a few degrees warmer. It is less windy than Mallorca but it does rain more over the early winter months.
The overall population at circa 860,000 is very similar to that of Mallorca, but the island of Cyprus is nearly three times larger (it’s the third largest island in the Mediterranean): so for cycling this means less traffic and longer roads.
Conversely the flight to Cyprus from London is around 4 hours 30 minutes; double the flight time to Mallorca and as a consequence the cost of the flight is also roughly double that of flights to Mallorca. The longer flight time and cost was the main reason we heard from local bike shop owners in Paphos for the relative lack of cyclists compared to numbers in Spain.
But honestly, Cyprus is also not as “sophisticated” as Mallorca having suffered from the March 2013 IMF bailout and haircutting of all deposits over Euro 100,000 during the 2012-2013 financial crisis. This seems to have left many buildings half built and probably is still contributing to general lack of confidence to invest heavily in say a fancy restaurant, factory or hotel.
Yet despite this, we really enjoyed our trip and there's always something special about exploring a destination that is a bit off the beaten track.
A few final tips
The British Foreign Office guidance refers to the fact driving standards are poor: “In 2018 there were 53 road deaths in Cyprus (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 6.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2018.” Take care.
Be aware that it gets dark early in Cyprus during winter. In December, the sun sets around 4:45pm and even in mid March, it’ll be dark by 6pm.
Watch out for the goats/mouflon free-roaming inland. There are quite a few and you don’t want to meet one on the road if you’re descending at speed!
And finally - don't miss our cycling tips for Cyprus!
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