A Smart Traveller's Guide to Currency in Cyprus
A small island that is famous for its stunning coastline and its ancient history, Cyprus has a lot to offer. If you’re heading to Cyprus, you can stretch your budget by making a few simple, clever changes to the way you pay overseas.
In this guide, you’ll get an overview of Cyprus’s currency and payment options, including:
- The official currency of Cyprus
- The pros and cons of using a bank card in Cyprus
- What the Cyprus Euro looks like
- The average costs of things in Cyprus
- How the euro converts
- What to do with leftover euros
- How to exchange the currency in Cyprus
- Some hot tips to help you save money
- How to buy Euros before you leave
What Currency is Used in Cyprus
The official currency of the Republic of Cyprus is the Euro, the European Union monetary unit adopted by 18 other EU countries, collectively called the eurozone. The euro replaced its old Cypriot currency – the Cypriot pound – in 2008.
The common symbol for the euro is € while the currency code is EUR. One euro is divided into 100 cents.
Part of northern Cyprus is a Turkish-occupied zone recognised only by Turkey as an independent state, called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
This complicates the currency situation in the country because though the region isn’t internationally recognised as separate from the rest of the Republic of Cyprus, it uses the currency of its occupiers: the Turkish lira. You’ll need Turkish lira if you choose to travel into this region as euros are not the legal tender here.
The Turkish lira is made up of 100 kuruş and is represented by the currency sign ₺ and the international currency code TRY.
The Cypriot Euro and the Turkish Lira
Two very different currencies in a complex political setup. Be prepared on your Cypriot trip by brushing up on the two common currencies used in the country.
The Cypriot Euro
The euro is made up of 15 denominations, including seven banknotes and eight coin denominations.
The euro coin denominations include one cent, two cents, five cents, ten cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, €1, and €2. Euro banknotes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500.
Most euro currency units are the same but one side of the euro coins reflects a national design chosen by each member of the eurozone. These coins can be used interchangeably across the eurozone.
In Cyprus, there are three national designs for euro coins. The €1 and €2 coins feature an ancient cruciform idol from prehistoric Cyprus. The ten, 20, and 50 cent coins depict a Cypriot trading vessel from the fourth century. The smallest denominations show a moufflon, a local species of wild sheep.
The Turkish Lira
The Turkish lira used in Northern Cyprus comes in 12 denominations of six banknotes and six coins. The banknotes include ₺1, ₺5, ₺10, ₺50, and ₺100. Turkish lira coins are available as one kurus (1kr), 5kr, 10kr, 25kr, 50kr, and ₺1.
All Turkish notes and coins feature a portrait of the first Turkish president and founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Using a Currency Converter
The euro’s value is impacted by many different factors, from supply and demand of the currency to economic and political events both regionally and globally.
This is the same for the Turkish lira, although it’s subject to even greater fluctuations because of a high inflation rate.
Our foreign currency converter below will show you the mid-market exchange rate - the midway point between the buy and sell rate. This is the ‘truest’ rate you’ll find (the one shown on Google and XE).
Use this tool to get a real-time rate of AUD to EUR or TRY and find out how much it will cost you to buy euros or lira with S Money.
How to Exchange Currency in Cyprus
As a popular tourist destination, it’s natural that Cyprus has many options for you to change your home currency into the local currency on arrival on the island.
There are three main options for currency exchange, each with their own pros and cons.
Make note, it’s sometimes possible to use foreign currencies in the major tourist hotspots. In the north, where the situation with the Turkish lira makes things more confusing, most shops will accept UK pounds, US dollars, and euros.
ATMs in Cyprus
It’s possible to find ATMs even in the small villages and towns in Cyprus so you should easily be able to withdraw cash, as long as your bank card has a four-digit PIN.
In some areas, banks offer a cash advance on cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club, and American Express.
In the north, look for the Vakıflar and Kooperatif banks in North Nicosia and Kyrenia for cash advances on Visa cards. Major banks in large towns have ATMs while several petrol stations also have them.
Just remember, some ATMs may charge fees to withdraw currency – and this is on top of your home bank’s fees and charges, which may apply to international ATM withdrawals and currency conversions.
If you’re provided with the option of being charged in your home currency, ignore it and choose the local currency instead. Otherwise, you may face hefty fees for the service.
Currency Exchange Outlets
The best place to exchange currency in Cyprus is at local banks. The Bank of Cyprus is a good bet, with locations everywhere and a decent exchange rate.
Avoid the temptation to exchange your currency at the airport. These exchange bureaus have a captive market so they inflate their fees and rates.
Finally, make sure your home currency banknotes are in good condition since some merchants will refuse to exchange damaged bills.
Watch Out for Counterfeit Banknotes
There’s also an issue with fake banknotes in Cyprus and hefty consequences if you’re caught with them. To ensure you have the real deal, look out for these features:
- The initials of the European Central Bank in five different languages on the front of the euro note (these will be, in the following order: BCE ECB EZB EKT EKP).
- A shifting holographic image when you tilt the note.
- A glossy strip on the back of the €5, €10, and €20 notes.
- A number that changes colour on the back of larger denominations.
- A raised print.
- A watermark.
- A security thread.
- A see-through number.
Fewer banks in Cyprus now accept travellers cheques, making them harder to exchange for cash. Those that do take them will likely charge commissions of between 1% and 4%.
Our advice? Stick to classic cash exchanges, use your bank card at a bank or ATM, or simply sort out your currency before you leave home.
Buying Euros and Lira Before You Go
If you’re looking for value, add ‘buy currency’ to your travel planning list and secure your euros and lira before you leave home. This also frees up your time to explore Cyprus further.
There are three ways to buy Cypriot currency from home:
- Buying euros and lira online to be delivered or for you to pick up in-store.
- Swapping AUD for EUR or TRY at a currency exchange store.
- Buying euros and lira at the airport.
Since Australian airport exchange bureaus are among the most expensive in the world, it’s not a good idea to leave your currency exchange until the last minute.
Instead, get the most value by jumping online. Online currency exchange retailers like S Money can offer the real mid-market exchange rates you see on Google or XE.
If you still prefer to exchange currency at a bricks-and-mortar bureau, head to one in the CBD as suburban outlets don’t usually offer the best deals.
Using Your Bank Card in Cyprus
Bank cards are a convenient way to pay for your food and accommodation while you’re travelling, but it’s important to know the fees and charges you may incur while overseas.
You have the choice of three main types of plastic payment from many different companies, so it’s important you find out which option will be best for you.
In Cyprus, major providers such as Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, but you may have more trouble trying to use American Express, Cirrus, or Maestro.
Outside the main tourist areas and big cities like Nicosia, you may have more trouble finding small businesses that will accept bank cards so it’s a good idea to have cash on you whenever possible.
Debit cards can usually be used in Cyprus, particularly in tourist areas. Just beware, your home bank may impose high rates and fees if you use your card overseas. These fees might cover ATM withdrawals, overseas transactions, and currency conversions.
Some cards that offer more competitive rates and lower (or even no) fees include:
Most Cypriot hotels, restaurants, petrol stations, supermarkets, and other big businesses will accept credit cards.
You’ll generally find it easier to pay with plastic in the Republic of Cyprus than in Northern Cyprus, though you shouldn’t have trouble with the major car hire companies, hotels, and restaurants in the north.
Beware the fees you may incur by using your credit card overseas. These could include cash advance fees for ATM withdrawals, international transaction fees, and overseas ATM withdrawal charges.
Prepaid Travel Cards
Prepaid travel cards work by letting you load up in the currency of your choice and lock in the exchange rate.
Though you avoid some fees for spending in a foreign currency, you might end up squandering those savings on other charges, such as reload fees and inactivity fees. Travel cards also usually apply ATM withdrawal fees.
Not only this, it can often take days for your currency to actually load onto your card, leaving you potentially cash-strapped.
If you still like the idea of locking in the exchange rate, both the Revolut and TransferWise debit cards come with currency loading options.
The Average Cost to Travel Around Cyprus
Properly budgeting for your trip can help you stretch your savings (and know where you have a little wiggle room too!). Here are some of the average costs you’re likely to encounter in Cyprus:
A room in a guesthouse
A classic meze dinner
€20–30 per day
Museum or major attraction entry ticket
Leftover Euros at the End of Your Trip? What to Do with That Unused Cash
It’s annoying returning from a trip with a wad of foreign cash but there are plenty of ways to dispose of these unwanted coins and notes:
- Your airline might distribute envelopes for currency collection to donate to charities (check out Qantas’s Change for Good program with UNICEF).
- Australian international airports often have collection boxes for unwanted currency, which is donated to charity.
- Drop off your currency at any branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which then gives every cent to UNICEF.
- Change your currency either at the airport or, better yet, with a money changer in the city.
- Why not hold onto those euros for a friend just heading off? It’ll be a lovely surprise and going away gift for them!
- Keep your money for later trips to Europe. The euro is the official legal currency of 19 eurozone countries and accepted by many more.
7 Travel Money Tips for Trips to Cyprus
Many tourists waste money through not finding the best ways to exchange their currency.
To help you avoid this predicament, here are a few practical tips to help you get the most bang for your … euro:
- Avoid the airports! Currency exchange bureaus at the airport charge epic fees. If you like a good deal – or even just a reasonable one – avoid these at all costs.
- Only carry what you need – It can be expensive to change euros back into AUDs so only take what you think you’ll spend. Not only this – nobody likes to tuck wads of notes into their socks and toiletries for safekeeping on longer journeys.
- Ask for a mix of denominations – Make it easy on yourself and the vendors by getting a mix of smaller notes.
- Check your exchange rate – Google and XE.com are the standard market exchange rate but you’ll notice how wildly bank and currency exchanges can vary their rates. Try to get as close to the market rate as possible.
- Look out for hidden fees – The bane of our (financial) existence, hidden fees will often make a huge difference to the cost of your holiday. Be particularly wary of hidden bank fees for overseas card usage.
- The right card makes all the difference – Having a card is convenient but it can take a hit to the bank account if you have the wrong card. Research and arm yourself with the best card for travel for big savings.
- Mix it up! Many travellers only use their credit card while some only think about cash. But the best option depends on your situation. Save the card for huge purchases such as hotels and car hire and reserve your cash for smaller wins – transport, attractions, or meals out.
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