Though many islanders speak English, a few phrases of the local language can go a long way in Cyprus. The official language is modern Greek, yet the locals have a heavy Cypriot dialect that’s spoken daily. This dialect is an amalgamation of Ancient Greek and modern Greek that also includes words from Latin and Turkish. In order to get by, check out our 21 essential phrases you’ll need while there.
Both phrases mean ‘hello’. The first one is used when addressing many people, when being polite, or when talking to someone in plural. ‘Ya sou‘ is more informal and is commonly used between friends.
Meaning: Good morning
This is one of the best known Greek words that is usually used in Cyprus up until noon. It literally translates to ‘good day’, though is said in the morning wishing others to have a great day.
Meaning: Good night
This is what’s used before going to bed or when leaving a place at night. It’s also often heard by those preparing to leave – saying “Tha sas kalinichtiso” translates as ‘I’m going to wish you good night’, hinting towards a departure.
Meaning: Yes / No
Two vital words any traveller will need on a daily basis. The Cypriot dialect has a habit of shortening words and the case of ‘ohi‘ is no different, as people in Cyprus pronounce it as ‘oi‘.
Meaning: Thank you
Everyone knows being polite goes a long way, especially when visitors try to express it in the local language. This word might be tricky for those who are not used to such sounds, yet the effort will be appreciated.
Meaning: Please / You’re welcome
This simple word has a double meaning and is understood depending on the context. If someone thanks you, you reply with “parakalo” meaning ‘you’re welcome’. If you want to ask for something such as “Can I have a Cypriot coffee please?”, you’d say “Mboro na eho ena kafe, parakalo?”.
Meaning: Where is the…?
Essential when asking for directions, especially if you’re exploring a city’s Old Town where perhaps some of the old people you’ll come across might not speak good English. Use this short phrase and add where you want to go to complete the question.
Meaning: Left / Right
This will come in handy when receiving directions, as well as when you’re telling your taxi driver where to head to.
Meaning: I’m hungry
After exploring the wonders of the island, you might want to indulge in some delicious Cypriot cuisine. If you want to let the waiters know you’re dying to taste the dishes, try this phrase. And if you’re really hungry, add ‘poli‘ at the end, meaning ‘I’m very hungry’.
Meaning: The bill please
‘Logariasmos‘ is a tricky word for many, but do give it try.
Meaning: Can I have some water?
Stay hydrated during your travels. The months between May and September see some very high, humid temperatures, so it’s vital to consume lots of water. Grab a bottle from a kiosk found on every corner, or from a restaurant or tavern.