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Northern Cyprus

Travel Guide Europe Cyprus Northern Cyprus

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Introduction

Kyrenia - Girne

Kyrenia - Girne

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The Turkish Republic Of Northern Cyprus, also known as Northern Cyprus declared independence in 1983 from the Republic of Cyprus. This movement is supported by Turkey and currently the only country recognize its independence is Turkey. Turkey supports Northern Cyprus militarily and financially. Roughly 400,000 tourists come very year to see ancient mosques and ruins. There area also stunning beaches and mountains to explore.

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Geography

Northern Cyprus has an area of 8,689 km2, which amounts to around a third of the island. 75 kilometres to the north of Northern Cyprus lies Turkey with Syria lying 97 kilometres to the east. It lies between latitudes 34° and 36° N, and longitudes 32° and 35° E. The coastline of Northern Cyprus features two bays: the Morphou Bay and the Famagusta Bay, and there are four capes: Cape Apostolos Andreas, Cape Kormakitis, Cape Zeytin and Cape Kasa, with Cape Apostolos Andreas being the endpoint of the Karpaz Peninsula. The narrow Kyrenia mountain range lies along the northern coastline, and the highest point in Northern Cyprus, Mount Selvili, lies in this mountain range with an altitude of 1,024 metres. The Mesaoria plain, extending from the Güzelyurt district to the eastern coastline is another defining landscape. The Mesaoria plains consist of plain fields and small hills, and is crossed by several seasonal streams. The eastern part of the plain is used for dry agriculture, such as the cultivation of wheat and barley, and are therefore predominantly green in the winter and spring, while it turns yellow and brown in the summer. 56.7% of the land in Northern Cyprus is agriculturally viable

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Regions

Northern Cyprus is divided into five districts. Lefkoşa, Gazimağusa, Girne, Güzelyurt and İskele. In addition there are further twelve sub-districts divided between the five larger districts and twenty-eight municipalities.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque

Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque was originally built as Saint Nicolas Cathedral in 1298. It was consecrated as a Christian cathedral in 1328. When the Ottoman Empire captured Famagusta they turned the cathedral into a mosque. Although converted into a mosque this structure still has a medieval gothic flare to it that only belongs to Christian churches of that era, even though a Minaret was added. The interior of the mosque is devoid of any of the original Christian art although some tombs can still be spotted on the north aisle

Other Sights and Activities

  • Kyrenia Harbor and Castle
  • Castles - the Beşparmak Mountains are home to three picturesque and well-preserved castles, the St. Hilarion Castle, Buffavento Castle and Kantara Castle. St. Hilarion is just above Kyrenia, and Kantara is closer to the Karpaz Peninsula. All of them offer breathtaking scenery of the coastline and the mountains, and also some refreshing clean air and hikes.
  • Walled City of Nicosia - this is the destination of the tourists who cross the Ledra Street into the north, even though they miss much more of Northern Cyprus! Nicosia is home to perhaps the most well-preserved city walls that belong to a capital in the world - they have even made their way to the municipal emblem as the symbol of the city.
  • Salamis ruins near Famagusta
  • Walled City of Famagusta - Just like the walled city of Nicosia, historical buildings pop out everywhere in this walled city centre.
  • Bellapais village near Kyrenia - known for its ancient monastery
  • Apostolos Andreas Monastery, Karpaz National Park and Cape Apostolos Andreas - located at the tip of the Karpaz Peninsula, farther north than Dipkarpaz, this well-preserved monastery is an ancient site of pilgrimage.

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Weather

The winter in Northern Cyprus is cool and rainy, particularly between December and February, with 60% of annual rainfall. These rains produce winter torrents that fill most of the rivers, which typically dry up as the year progresses. Snow has been known to fall on the Kyrenia Range, but seldom elsewhere in spite of low night temperatures. The short spring is characterized by unstable weather, occasional heavy storms and the "meltem", or westerly wind. Summer is hot and dry enough to turn low-lying lands on the island brown. Parts of the island experience the "Poyraz", a north-westerly wind, or the sirocco, a wind from Africa, which is dry and dusty. Summer is followed by a short, turbulent autumn.

Climate conditions on the island vary by geographical factors. The Mesaoria Plain, cut off from the summer breezes and from much of the humidity of the sea, may reach temperature peaks of 40 to 45 °C. Humidity rises at the Karpaz Peninsula. Humidity and water temperature, 16 to 28 °C, combine to stabilize coastal weather, which does not experience inland extremes. The Southern Range blocks air currents that bring rain and atmospheric humidity from the south-west, diminishing both on its eastern side.

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Getting There

By Plane

The main airport in Northern Cyprus is Ercan International Airport, which is only recognised as a legal entry point by Turkey and Azerbaijan (as well as Northern Cyprus itself of course). The following airlines fly there:

  • Atlasjet (Adana, Ankara, Istanbul-Atatürk, Izmir)
  • Cyprus Turkish Airlines (UK: London Stansted/Heathrow/Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, TR: Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Dalaman, Gaziantep, Istanbul-Atatürk, İzmir, Trabzon, DE: Frankfurt)
  • Onur Air (Istanbul-Atatürk)
  • Pegasus Airlines (UK: London Stansted, TR: Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen)
  • SunExpress (Antalya, Izmir)
  • Turkish Airlines (UK: London Stansted, TR: Istanbul-Atatürk)
  • World Focus Airlines (Istanbul-Atatürk)

By Car

You can enter northern Cyprus (TRNC) with a rental car from the South at six of the eight(see below) border crossing points. However, you will need to purchase car insurance for the North at the border (€20 for three days €35 for one month); this is due to the fact that the insurance companies and police departments of both sides do not co-operate.
It should be noted, though, a few of the Cypriot (south) car rental companies can refuse to hire a car if they know that it will be driven to the north.

By Boat

Fergün Shipping Company has ferries travelling between the southern coast of Turkey and the Turkish part of Cyprus. Connections include Alanya-Girne, Tasucu-Girne and Gazimagusa-Mersin.

By Foot

You can cross by foot at Ledra Street in the old town, and at the Ledra Palace crossing point to the west of the old town. Both crossings are for pedestrians only, so if you are travelling by car, you will need to use one of the other crossing points. See below for details on crossing the Green Line.

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Getting Around

By Car

Renting a car is by far the most effective way to travel around Northern Cyprus. There are several rent-a-car services in Nicosia, Kyrenia and Famagusta.

There are many taxi stations in Northern Cyprus, but you won't able to see many taxis around to wave them down, so make sure to get some numbers. There are taxi services in the Ledra Palace and Kermiya crossings, and at the Ercan Airport. Taxis are rather expensive though, with a journey from Nicosia to Kyrenia costing around 70-90 TL.

By Bus

Public transport is in a pathetic state in Northern Cyprus. The main cities (Nicosia, Famagusta and Kyrenia) are connected by buses run by the İtimat company, but these services stop after 6:00pm. You can check the bus terminals of these cites for other buses, and there are usually buses that run once a day to and from rural areas (though these tend to bring commuters to Nicosia in the morning and leave at night). Bus services within cities are in a better condition, though these stop at late hours as well. Ercan Airport is rather well-connected to the main cities with buses.

"Dolmus" or "kombos" are excellent options for budget travellers. These are shared taxis that stop for people who wave them down. The price of travelling between major cities and towns via dolmus (around 4-5 TL) are much lower than taxis, however, there are no schedules. Dolmus run often, and backpackers should be able to locate them in a few minutes. In city centres, there are usually plenty of dolmus options going to many cities, though late hours are still problemmatic.

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Red Tape

As Northern Cyprus is not an internationally recognized state, the rules for entry are a little confusing, but far more relaxed than they were just a few years ago, and entry is certainly not difficult.

All visitors to Northern Cyprus will need to pass through TRNC immigration, which is fairly painless. Citizens of the European Union, the US, Japan and most other industrialized countries get a visitor visa issued free of charge at the border or green line crossing point.

When passing a Green Line checkpoint between the Republic and TRNC or entering via air or sea, TRNC immigration will stamp either a piece of paper (which seems to be the norm at the Green Line) or your passport (which seems to be the norm at air and seaports). You can usually get the officer to stamp the other document if you so wish. As TRNC stamps are no longer a problem for later visits to Greece or Cyprus, at least for EU citizens, you may choose whether to have that souvenir stamp in your passport or not.

Beware that if you are not a European citizen and you enter the island at the north, the officials in the south may deny you the entry, though there have been reports that this rule is not strictly implemented, especially for Canadian and US citizens. For European citizens, entry to both sides constitutes no problem.

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Money

See also Money Matters

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Language

The official language in north Cyprus is Turkish although a distinct Turkish Cypriot dialect is used in conversation. English is also widely used, especially in the resort town of Kyrenia. However, the entire island is somewhat of a cultural melting pot and in villages off the beaten track, some elderly locals who lived among Greek Cypriots before 1974 still use the Greek Cypriot dialect as their first language, even though they are Turkish Cypriots.

Learning a few Turkish words and phrases, and especially those indigenous to the Turkish Cypriot dialect, will be very much appreciated by these warm people who are proud of their culture.

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Eat

Turkish-Cypriot cuisine is a fine blend of Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines featuring mouth watering seafood to kebabs, numerous mezes to delicious home made fruit preserves called macun (pronounced ma-joon). Go to any traditional restaurant and ask the local foods they serve.

Some of the key foods featured in the Turkish-Cypriot cuisine, and some of whom do not exist in mainland Turkish and Greek cuisines, include Molehiya, Enginar Dolması, Kolokas, Bullez, Çiçek Dolması, Magarina-Bulli, Pilav, Bulgur Köftesi, Mucendra, Hummus Çorbası, Hellimli and Pirohu.

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Safety

Northern Cyprus is a relatively safe place, as tourists do not have to worry much about crime. In Kyrenia, British retirees often speak of how safe they feel there, and that they can walk down dark streets at any time of night and feel safe. Crimes such as pickpocketing are unheard of, even in the bigger cities and lively areas, such as the Dereboyu quarter of Nicosia.

However, there are a few exceptions to this. The walled town of Nicosia, inhabited mostly by Turkish mainlanders, is known as an unsafe place among locals and most refrain from going there apart from the main streets at night. While during daytime it is as safe as anywhere in Northern Cyprus, be careful during the night, especially if going through dark streets, and exercise common sense. Catcalling for female travellers is sometimes encountered when the Turkish mainlanders are involved, though this by no means should cause limitations. Violent crime is very rare, and even though Kyrenia has the highest rate of violent crime in Northern Cyprus, it is still rare and it is safer than most cities in Europe and America.

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

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This is version 10. Last edited at 10:10 on Jan 20, 15 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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