I had high hopes for solo travel in Cyprus. I really did. After spending almost an entire month in Greece earlier in 2019, I was so excited to get back to another Mediterranean Island that everyone told me had Greek vibes.
My misadventures of solo travel in Cyprus started off well. I was picked up in an air-conditioned car from the airport by a friendly male driver who gave me some tips and his business card. He scrawled his phone number on the back for me. “It’s safe here” he promised, “but you are alone. So, just in case.”
I smiled and thanked him, his thoughtfulness already giving this new country another point for me and watched the sunset over the sea as we pulled into my accommodation for my five-night stay. A beachside resort with a huge bed and balcony overlooking the water. It was a room I was excited about. A place I thought was definitely worth the splurge. Except, by the end, I hated it.
Before I get into the gory details of what went wrong for me and my solo travel experiences in Cyprus I need to set some framework. Trust me, I don’t love writing negative things about a destination. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this (looking at you Bali and Morocco) however, as a solo traveller, especially a solo female traveller, I believe that honesty needs to come before everything else. That being said, please recognize that this is based on my individual experience and, as I will explain more below, I think in this case that several of my ‘issues’ are due to my own poor planning.
So, with that clarification out of the way, here’s my story and tips for solo travel in Cyprus.
I Chose the Wrong Base for Solo Travel in Cyprus
I visited Cyprus during the month of November. I knew it would be way warmer than my home in Canada during that time of year but I still wanted to make sure that I picked a good, sunny, beach spot for my stay. So I did a bit of research as to the best place to stay in Cyprus as the town of Paphos popped up. Warm weather, good beaches, close to an airport. DONE.
However, I should not have stopped my research there because the funny thing about Paphos is that it’s known for its legend around the birth of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite. I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to legends so I thought that was actually pretty cool. Of course though, Paphos uses that legend to its advantage which means that Paphos is a really popular destination for couples and honeymooners.
I should have picked up on this fact when I searched for hostels in the area and got back very limited (and sad) results. Of course, I didn’t get that hint and used it as an excuse to treat myself to a stay at a beachside resort. Which, in fairness was beautiful. However, I quickly stood out as the awkward solo girl among a sea of older British couples and young European newlyweds. I was the only solo traveller there which meant I was constantly stared at by guests and staff alike. It was awkward and uncomfortable.
Takeaway number one for solo travel in Cyprus: Visit Paphos if you want, but don’t use it as a base.
I Chose the Wrong Season for Solo Travel in Cyprus
I’ve said it many times before and I will say it again, I LOVE shoulder season and off-season travel. There’s less crowds, lower costs, and the locals are often much friendlier during this time of the year.
However, not every destination is a good choice for off-season travels, especially as a solo traveller. As you probably guessed, Cyprus is one of them.
I learned from a few travellers (after the fact, of course) that one of the best places in Cyprus for solo travel is Ayia Napa. In fairness, it was originally where I wanted to go. It seemed like a bit of a party spot (to be honest, not really my style anymore) but it’s also known for its stunning beaches (definitely my style). That being said, when I looked into going there, most of the information I found online said that it pretty much shut down for the winter months and was best visited in summer. Whomp whomp.
However, this off-season theme continued in more ways than just having certain areas close down. One of the biggest things I noticed was the age of my fellow travellers and tourists in Cyprus. Let’s just say I was the baby. Yes, I did notice a few younger couples but the majority of tourists in Paphos and beyond were old enough to be my grandparents.
Now, I have nothing wrong with older people. I love them and think it’s adorable that the ones I meet along the way always end up looking out for me (this happened on my day trip from Paphos to Nicosia). That being said, when you travel solo it’s also nice to meet people who are closer in your own age to hang out with and, sadly, I had nobody.
Takeaway number 2 for solo travel in Cyprus: It’s not great for off-season travel.
Cypriot Men Can Be Really Forward
One of the things I always talk about in my solo travel guides is safety as a woman and how aggressive the men are (or, preferably, aren’t). Sadly, despite my initial airport driver being really kind and sweet, that trend did not continue. Cypriot men were, in my experience, very forward and somewhat aggressive.
My first uncomfortable experience with a Cypriot man was at a beach. I was napping in the sun listening to music when I noticed a man bring his towel closer to mine. My eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses but I kept an eye on him, noticing him watching me while he thought I slept. It was pretty creepy. Especially because he was probably a good 10-15 years older than me which, when people often think I’m much younger than I am, makes it even creepier.
After awhile, I got up to go in the sea and when I came back he had moved his towel even closer. That was enough for me. At this point I decided I was best to just grab my things and leave.
I was also followed one night back from watching the sunset by Paphos harbour. It was about a 30-minute walk from the town area to my resort and even though it was well lit, I didn’t love walking back that far by myself at night. I noticed a man following me for a little while so I stopped beside an older couple looking out over the sea, hoping that my proximity to them would encourage him to leave. It didn’t, he stopped too. So I picked up my pace and walked back to the resort, grateful that I wasn’t the only one on the path that evening. I didn’t see him again but I also didn’t stay in the port area after dark anymore either. Which sucked because that’s where the restaurants were which meant I lived off yoghurt and grocery store apples a couple of nights.
The most annoying incident I had was the day I went on a day trip to Nicosia. I pre-booked the tour and was to meet at the gate of a resort just 2 minutes down the road. I left for the day at 7am and was all of 5 steps outside of the resort where I was staying when I hear a man yell at me from down the street
“GOOD MORNING BEAUTIFUL!”
I ignored him, continuing on down the road away from him and towards the hotel, but he didn’t get the hint.
“BEAUTIFUL LADY! WAIT!”
He actually started running to catch up to me.
Thankfully, the second resort was literally right next door and I ducked through the gates and headed towards reception. He did not follow.
Now, have I had significantly worse experiences with men around the world while travelling solo? Absolutely. But, the fact remains that I wasn’t entirely comfortable as a solo female traveller and did feel like I needed to be more aware during my time in Cyprus than I have to be in other countries.
Overall, I Just Felt Uncomfortable
At the end of the day what it really comes down to is I felt uncomfortable. I felt awkward being the only young person and solo person where I was staying. I felt uncomfortable walking around alone in the evening. I felt uncomfortable going out to restaurants and eating alone.
Granted, feeling uncomfortable being alone happens in a lot of situations in a lot of places. However, as a seasoned solo traveller with 60 countries under my belt, I’m used to being alone. It doesn’t normally bother me. Plus, this wasn’t just a one-time feeling. This was how I felt the entire time I stayed in Cyprus which, when you really just want to enjoy a destination, is no fun.
I’m sorry to say Cyprus was not what I hoped it would be and, to be honest, I doubt I’ll end up going back. That being said I also recognize that a lot of the factors that made me dislike Cyprus are due to poor planning on my part. I am by no means saying don’t travel solo to Cyprus but, if you do, take my experiences into consideration and plan your visit better than I did.
A Note on Travel Insurance in Cyprus
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine twice before (once for damaged luggage, once because I developed a lung infection while traveling). While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance. With prices starting at $37 for 4 weeks, they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.