Welcome to Cyprus!
Cyprus is an odd mixture with its cultural influenced by Western Europe, but its geographic proximity to the East. There are two major ethnic groups that inhabit the island: the Greek-speaking Greek Orthodox community (78%) and the Turkish-speaking Muslims (18%), which make this small island its own definite and beguiling character. Cypriots are laid-back and friendly, but extremely polite and somehow formal when interacting with the elderly or speaking in a professional environment. As a foreigner, respect Cypriot culture, knowing their taboo, dos and donts will help you to make the most of your holiday in Cyprus.
Cyprus Travel Taboo
The “moutza”, which consists of extending all five fingers, palm out, towards a person in a forward motion. The closer the hand is to the other person’s face the more offensive it’s considered. Similar to the American “talk to hand” gesture.
Cyprus Travel Donts
- Do not give white lilies as a gift, as it’s used for funerals. Traditionally, give something edible, such as pastries, which make a wonderful host gift. Gifts are not opened when received until later.
- Do not enter a mosque without removing your shoes. Do not walk in front of someone who is praying.
- Do not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
- Do not sit until told to sit down. Do not begin eating until after the host does. Do not pass dishes with your left hand. Finish everything on your plate and lay your knife and fork parallel on the right side of your plate to indicate that you are done eating.
- Do not refuse an offer of Greek coffee or a cold drink which is considered impolite.
- Do not pre-book your hire car. You can always get a much cheaper rental car locally when you arrive.
- Do not cross hierarchy rank. Cypriots are extremely respectful of hierarchy. People are respected for their age and position. Older people are served and introduced first.
- Do not open displays of affection if you are a gay. There is not wide social acceptance of gay people in Cyprus, and recognised gay venues are scarce.
Cyprus Travel Dos
- Do shake hands, smile, and maintain direct eye contact during the greeting. Very religious Muslims do not shake hands with women.
- Do respect elders. The family is the centre of the social structure of Cyprus. Elders are respected and children expect to take care of their parents when as they become old and or infirmed.
- Do learn a few Cypriot Greek words to help you get to know the locals. Cypriot Greek is quite different from mainland Greek due to the strong dialect spoken by many of the locals especially in the more remote mountain villages.
- Do develop personal relationship and trust, which form the cornerstone of business. Cypriots prefer face to face meetings rather than by telephone or in writing. It is imperative to show deference and respect to those in positions of authority.
- Do avoid confrontation. Cypriots do not like publicly admitting they are incorrect.
- Do be punctuate, although you should be prepared to be kept waiting. Avoid hyperbole and making exaggerated claims about your products or services.
- Do dress conservatively if going to a monastery or church. Men should wear pants and shirts. Women should wear pants or long skirts and cover their arms.
- Do bring good walking shoes, a swimsuit and some sunscreen in your bag.
- Do try something different in Cyprus. Diving, mountain biking, rock climbing, water-skiing or paragliding can all be enjoyed on the island.
- Do make sure your jeep has air conditioning while taking jeep safaris to see the more remote parts of the island.
- Do wear casual for most occasions. Beachwear is confined to the beach or poolside and more formal wear is required for business and exclusive social functions.
- Do take caution for photograph. Photography is strictly prohibited in the areas surrounding military facilities and security zones.
- Do tipping a little. Although a 10% service charge is included in the prices listed on every menu, it is customary to leave the waiter a little something extra.
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