Northern Cyprus

From Wikitravel
(Redirected from Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus)
Earth : Europe : Northern Cyprus
Jump to: navigation, search
Kyrenia Marina
Northern Cyprus in its region (de-facto).svg
Flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.svg
Quick Facts
Capital Nicosia
Government Republic
Currency Türk Lirası/Turkish lira (TRY)
Area 3,355km²
Population 264,172 (2006 estimate)
Language Turkish
Religion Islam
Electricity 240V, 50Hz (UK plug)
Country code +90 392
Internet TLD
Time Zone UTC+2

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC, Turkish Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti) is a self-proclaimed republic on the northern and eastern side of the island of Cyprus. Turkey is currently the only state which recognizes the TRNC. Cyprus itself is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey. After Sicily and Sardinia, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

As the two regions are nearly completely separate from a traveller's point of view, this article will concentrate on the northern territory governed by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This is not a political endorsement of claims by either side in the dispute. For travel information regarding the remainder of Cyprus, visit the Cyprus article.


Cyprus gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1960. Despite a constitution which guaranteed a degree of power-sharing between the Greek Cypriot majority and the Turkish Cypriot minority, the two populations – with backing from the governments of Greece and Turkey, respectively – clashed vehemently in 1974, with the end result being the invasion and occupation of the northern and eastern 36.7% of the island by Turkey. In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus". So far, only Turkey recognizes the TRNC, while all other governments and the United Nations recognize only the government of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island. The UN operates a peacekeeping force and a narrow buffer zone between the two ethnic groups.


Temperate; Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool winters.


Central plain with mountains to north and south; scattered but significant plains along southern area.


Cyprus is divided into 6 administrative regions, each named for its administrative capital. The southern districts of Larnaca, Limassol, and Paphos, the southern portion of Nicosia district, and a small part of Famagusta district are administered by the Republic of Cyprus. Since 1974, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus administers the following districts:

Turkish Cyprus regions map.png
Famagusta district
Kyrenia district
Nicosia district (including a small portion of Larnaca district)

However, separating Northern Cyprus into geographical regions such as the Karpaz Peninsula, Dillirga and Mesarya might be more useful from a traveller's point of view.


Note that Cypriot cities have a variety of historical spellings and writings, all in fairly common use, and which change according to the context, whether it be Greek Cypriot, Turkish or English. The following list emphasizes traditional English spellings, that will most often be encountered by the traveller.

  • Nicosia (Lefkoşa / Lefkosia) - the divided capital, with the untouched beautiful historical buildings in the walled city and an increasingly vibrant city center outside the walls
  • Kyrenia (Girne / Keryneia) - a beautiful Meditteranean city with a historical harbor, a castle overseeing it, and under the beautiful Beşparmak/Pentadaktylos mountains, swarming with good seaside hotels, beaches and clubs
  • Famagusta (Mağusa / Ammochostos) - home to a beautiful walled town, a ghost quarter under military control, good beaches and a vibrant nightlife
  • Morphou (Güzelyurt / Omorfo) - the gateway to the greenest area of Northern Cyprus, surrounded by citrus trees, home to a historical church and a nostalgic town center
  • Lefke (Lefka) - green and mountainous, home to beautiful date trees and seaview, and a historical mosque, gateway to Dillirga, the remote and beautiful part of Northern Cyprus
  • İskele (Trikomo) - some may say that this is a city as it is a district capital - dont be deceived. Small and similar to any major Cypriot village, gateway to the Karpaz Peninsula, beautiful beaches and home to good traditional restaurants.

Other destinations[edit]

Get in[edit]

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

In theory, all visitors to Northern Cyprus need to pass through TRNC immigration. In practice, when it comes to land crossings (at least the Ledra Street and Ledra Palace crossings in Nicosia) most people simply walk past the checkpoint and skip control altogether which seems perfectly fine with the border guards. There are security checks and people are required to show their ID card or passport on both sides of the crossing.

Citizens of the European Union, the US, Japan and most other industrialized countries get an passport stamp valid for 90 days. EU and Turkish citizens can also use their ID cards, in which case the card is simply scanned. Others will need to apply at "representative offices" (the TRNC has no embassies outside Turkey) in London (29 Bedford Sq WC1B 3EG. ☎ +44 20 7631-1920), Washington D.C. (1667 K. Street, Suite 690, Washington D.C. 20006, USA. ☎ +1 202 887 6198), or New York (TRNC Office of the Representative, 821 United Nations Plaza, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10017, USA. ☎ +1 212 687 2350).

TRNC stamps are no longer a problem for later visits to Greece or Cyprus for EU citizens.

Beware that if you are not an EU/EEA citizen and you enter the island at the north, the officials in the south may deny you the entry, although it is more common for them to cancel your TRNC stamp. Again, in practice, walking past immigration control (which is what locals on both sides normally do) is tolerated and will spare you the bureaucracy.

EU citizens can cross at any of the border crossing points, the main ones being in Nicosia. The Ledra Palace crossing used to be used for official cars and UN vehicles only. Now UN vehicles are prohibited from using it as a crossing, and for ordinary mortals it is strictly pedestrian only. The road is wide enough for a vehicle and might be used for example if diplomats from either side were going to a UN meeting in the middle).

Citizens of Armenia and Nigeria require an entry visa to enter TRNC through Ercan airport, Kyrenia or Famafusta ports. Failure to present visa upon arrival leads to detention and deportation. Visas can be obtained at TRNC consulates Mersin or Istanbul. Entrance through checkpoints between TRNC and the Republic of Cyprus is visa free.

By plane[edit]

As the state is not recognised by any international organisation, its Ercan Airport is not recognised by the IATA. This means all flights (including charters) must touch down in Turkey before continuing to Ercan. Scheduled flights on Turkish Airlines, Atlasjet and Pegasus connect via various destinations in Turkey, and countries such as the UK, Germany and Iran.

It is also possible to fly to airports in southern Cyprus (Larnaca is the closest) and take a taxi to the north, crossing the Green Line near Nicosia. It is best to have a travel operator arrange for a taxi from the north to collect you, since Greek Cypriot taxi drivers may not be willing to take tourists to the north.

Alternatively - to avoid paying a "travel operator" - you can walk across the border at Ledra Street. There is a small tourist information "kiosk" on the left as soon as you cross.

It is also possible to take a taxi to the Ledra Palace crossing and arrange for a rental car to be delivered to you on the northern side.

By boat[edit]

Frequent ferry services operated by Fergün Shipping [1] connect Kyrenia to Alanya and Taşucu in Turkey. The only car ferry service is via Taşucu, and the fast ferry to and from Alanya only operates in the summer. There are occasional ferries to other destinations in Turkey as well.

By car[edit]

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. See details on crossing the Green Line below.

Since you need to have Turkish Cypriot car insurance to drive in the north (Cypriot (south) car insurance is not acceptable), it is important to know the working hours of insurance people at the border crossing points. Being the busiest crossing point, Agios Dometios/Kermia/Metehan crossing point in Nicosia offers the most extended hours. Here, the insurance people work 7 days a week from 08:00 to late at night usually till 24:00. At the rest of the crossing points, insurance people work from 08:00 to 17:00 7 days a week. On the other hand, immigration officers of the north and south work 24 hours a day all year long. So as long as you have Turkish Cypriot car insurance and your passports (IDs are acceptable for nationals of EU countries and Turkey) with you, you can enter north Cyprus (TRNC) any time.

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. In one reported case (admittedly in 2005 or 2006), a rental company refused to release a pre-booked car because the tourists had a hotel address in north Cyprus.

While driving in north, one should also be very careful about stationary speed cameras. The cameras work both ways on single lanes and work only one way on double lanes. There are 4 blue camera signs warning you before each camera and the signs are 100 metres apart. The fines range from €50 to €150 depending on excessive speed. Almost all main intersections on the highway between Nicosia and Famagusta have fixed speed cameras.

On foot[edit]

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.

It is possible to get a taxi or tourist bus to take you to the Ledra Palace crossing. Ledra Street is pedestrianized and would be a long walk hauling your luggage.

Going to and from the Republic of Cyprus[edit]

After the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, the restrictions on travel to the north from the Republic have been lifted. From the EU's point of view, the entire island is a part of its territory and thus, there can be no restrictions on EU citizens (including Cypriots) travelling across the Green Line.

EU citizens may thus now cross the Green Line provided that they have entered Cyprus from a legal point of entry (airport or port declared open by the Republic of Cyprus) Other nationalities may be arrested and deported by Greek-Cypriot authorities if they entered the island via the north.

The main crossings between the south and north are:

  • Astromerits/Zodhia (by car only) - the westernmost crossing near the town of Morphou/Güzelyurt
  • Agios Dometios/Kermia/Metehan - major road and pedestrian crossing near Nicosia
  • Ledra Palace (pedestrians only) - the oldest crossing, just outside the walls of old Nicosia to the west of the city
  • Ledra Street (pedestrians only) - newest crossing opened on 3 April 2008 along Nicosia's old shopping street, making it the most central of all crossings.
  • Pergamos/Beyarmudu
  • Strovilia near Agios Nikolaos - located at the eastern part of the island near Famagusta

Get around[edit]

By bus or dolmuş/shared taxis[edit]

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 18:00. You can check the bus terminals of these cities 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.

"Dolmuş" 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 TRY4-5) 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 problematic.

By taxi[edit]

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 TRY70-90.

By car[edit]

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. It seems that the main rental companies in the north are based in Kyrenia or (fewer) in Famagusta. Only few car hire firms have offices at Ercan airport but almost all of them deliver cars to Ercan Airport. If you are arriving from the south via Larnaka/Nicosia and want to pre-book a car, it is possible to use the internet to find a northern rental company willing to have a car waiting for you at the Ledra Palace crossing point in Nicosia. Rental costs in the north are much higher than in the south but the quality of the cars is good. Note that rental cars are normally rented with an empty tank, so the first task is to find a petrol station. The second task is to calculate how much fuel you are likely to use, as no credit is given for unused fuel.


The official language in north Cyprus is Turkish although a distinct Turkish Cypriot dialect is used in conversation. English is much less popular than in south Cyprus but could still be well understood, 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.

Here are a few phrases in the local dialect. For more phrases in standard Turkish, see the Turkish phrasebook.

  • Napan? (nah-PANG; how are you, literally how are you doing? - informal) or Naparsınız? (nah-par-sing-EEZ - formal)
  • Eyidir (a-e-DEER; I'm fine) or Napayım (nah-pay-EEM; I'm fine, literally, what should I do?)
  • Kaçadır bu? (ca-TCHA-durr boo; how much does this cost, literally, for how much is this?)
  • Çok güzel yer Kıbrıs (chock gue-ZELL yerr KEEP-rees; Cyprus is a very beautiful place)

See[edit][add listing]

Kyrenia Harbor and Castle
The Queen's Window at the St. Hilarion Castle
The Great Inn

Northern Cyprus is home to many fascinating sights, below is just a selection:

  • Kyrenia Harbor and Castle - Kyrenia is often called the pearl of the Mediterranean, and for good reason. Under the scenery of the green Beşparmak Mountains, with its picturesque pier, many boats anchored on the harbor and full of bars and restaurants, continuing the adjacent Kordonboyu Street and the captivating sunsets, this is a complete must-see and the perfect place to take a promenade. It is impossible to see the castle overseeing the harbor, and the castle is well worth a visit with the beautiful views and the shipwreck museum.
  • 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. Be prepared to see a magnificent mosque... built in the Gothic style, the Selimiye Mosque (also known as Ayasofya or St. Sophia Cathedral). Enjoy your meal and traditional crafts under the shade of the historical Great Inn (Büyük Han) - a favorite for tourists. Wander around the streets to see the traditional architecture, especially in the Samanbahçe quarter, the 500-year-old and yet active Great Turkish Bath (Büyük Hamam), shop at the historical Bandabulya bazaar, greet the Venetian Column at the historical heart of the city - Atatürk Square - and beware of the historical buildings and museums popping out from every corner!
  • Salamis ruins near Famagusta - this ancient Greek city is full of statues, agoras, and many more, including an amphitheatre where concerts and other events take place, and all of them right next to the see, with much of the complex still uncovered! This once-strategic great city is worth a visit.
  • Walled City of Famagusta - Just like the walled city of Nicosia, historical buildings pop out everywhere in this walled city center. Another magnificent Gothic-style mosque, Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, once home to the crowning ceremonies of the Lusignan kings, the well-preserved city walls, the Othello Tower, where the Cypriot section of Shakespeare's play Othello takes place, and many more!
  • Bellapais village near Kyrenia - known for its ancient monastery, which consists of picturesque ruins with great Gothic arches and towering stone walls, and a great view of Kyrenia. Cultural events such as classical music concerts take place throughout the year.
  • 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. Karpaz is very unspoilt, and the only national park in Northern Cyprus is known for its wild donkeys, who are so free they can block the roads - make sure to take photos with them! Near the Apostolos Andreas Monastery is the geographical end of Cyprus, Cape Apostolos Andreas, known as Cape Zafer (Zafer Burnu) locally. And do not miss the idyllic Golden Beach (Altın Kumsal), perhaps the most beautiful beach in all of Cyprus! (see the Beaches section below).

Do[edit][add listing]


Escape Beach Club
Golden Beach
Part of the Kaplıca beach
  • Beaches are an important feature of Northern Cyprus, found throughout the coastline from the westernmost Yeşilırmak to the easternmost Dipkarpaz. There is a beach for everybody: for those who like to indulge in the luxury of seaside resorts to those who love the remote unspoilt golden stretches of sand. Below is a list of possible locations for beachgoers:
    • The northern coast is swarming with golden beaches. Most of these beaches are vibrant, with many seaside hotels and clubs, which include,
      • Acapulco Hotel - in Çatalköy near Kyrenia. Big hotel built around a large cove, with a big pool and aquapark. Those who wish to stay overnight may check the hotel's website, otherwise, the fee for entrance is 25 TL (around $13 as of August 2013) per person.
      • Escape Beach, also known as Yavuz Çıkarma Plajı (Yavuz Landing Beach, a reference to it being the first place the Turkish army landed in Cyprus in 1974) - is home to the Escape Beach Club and Club Locca, one of the important dance clubs in Northern Cyprus. [2]
      • Cornaro Beach Club - associated with the nearby Malpas Hotel, the beach is home to a good fish restaurant [3]
      • Kaplıca and Tatlısu - for those who like serenity but would like some luxury. Closer to the Karpaz Peninsula, these two villages (around 5 km from each other) host two hotels, restaurants and seaside facilities - Kaplıca, with a longer and cleaner beach, is home to caravans but Tatlısu is calmer with wooden bungalows. The hotels are much cheaper than the great hotels around Kyrenia and in Bafra, but still clean.
    • Karpaz Peninsula is home to some very beautiful beaches, below are only two:
      • Golden Beach - dubbed as the most beautiful beach in the whole island, and one of the longest beaches in the island, this idyllic beach is located close to the tip of the peninsula, Dipkarpaz. The color of the water and the sea is unmatched and with all its remoteness, brings to mind the stereotypical Pacific beaches. However, there are no facilities, so be careful.
      • Bafra - this long beach is the subject of heavy investment, with many hotels such as Kaya Artemis Hotel (contains aquapark) and Noah's Ark Hotel recently being built, so this could be a destination for those looking for luxury. Part of the beach is operated by the municipality and is free of charge.
    • The eastern coast, again containing big facilities such as Salamis Bay Conti Hotel [4]
      • Palm Beach - located next to the ghost town Varosha/Maraş, this surely is an interesting beach. There were reports of pollution due to an oil spill in July 2013, but the locals continue to frequent it.
      • Glapsides Beach - a classical scene for Northern Cyprus, golden sands with good facilities
    • The Dillirga region also contains some beaches, including Aspava Restaurant's beach. The sand and the facilities here are not as good as in the other areas, however.

The above list of beaches is not exhaustive, there are many more beaches with good facilities, and many more unspoilt ones which are up to the traveller to discover.


Northern Cyprus has been dubbed as the Turkish Las Vegas. Casinos attract many visitors from not only Turkey and southern Cyprus, where they are banned, but also from foreign countries. Turkish Cypriot citizens are not allowed to enter the casinos, but you will find that the casinos are a bit relaxed about this rule.

You will find casinos everywhere in the country apart from the remote Morphou region. Every luxurious hotel has one, and there are a lot of those.

Naturally, formal dressing is expected at the casinos.

Do NOT get into quarrels in the casinos, even though they are very rare. The mafia is involved in them. You will find that many locals, especially the conservatives, are upset about casinos as they are a way of money laundering. Also, as a general piece of advice, it is advisable not to gamble with a lot of money.


Kyrenia and Famagusta have a vibrant nightlife, with numerous dance clubs and concerts in the summer. Nicosia may be a disappointment for the seekers of such activities. is a useful nightlife guide for Northern Cyprus.

The places marked as "night clubs", especially just outside Nicosia on the Nicosia-Morphou highway, are prostitution centers. Even though prostitution is illegal in Northern Cyprus, the government turns a blind eye to such activities, so the risk of prosecution is almost non-existent. Many local men frequent these "night clubs".

Water sports[edit]

The caretta caretta is the most famous turtle inhabiting the coasts of Northern Cyprus

Scuba diving in Northern Cyprus is a spectacular experience. Scuba diving is not allowed individually, but a quick Google search will reveal the companies who organize dives and Kyrenia Harbor is a good place to find them. Shipwrecks, sea turtles, soft corals, colorful sponges, stingrays, octopuses, scorpion fish, and countless others are there to be discovered. There are around 20 different sites for diving around Kyrenia.

Water sports such as windsurfing, jetskiing, waterskiing and sailing are also available at beaches throughout the coastline. Sailing is especially found at Escape Beach Club, near Kyrenia.


Concentrated in the summer season, numerous festivals take place throughout Northern Cyprus, organized by almost every municipality. Make sure to check the festival dates before going to Northern Cyprus. Concerts by local, Turkish and international bands and musicians, folk dance and modern dance shows and many other activities take place during these festivals. Alternatively, classical music lovers can visit the Bellapais Classical Music Festival in the historical atmosphere of the Bellapais Abbey.

Though the Nicosia Turkish Municipality itself does not organize festivals, for the festivals in the city, check Nicosia (North)#Do.

Other activities[edit]

  • Paragliding - seeing the beauty of Northern Cyprus from 2500 feet and gliding down is an unforgettable experience and well worth it. You can find companies which organize this at the Kyrenia Harbour, especially Tandem Paragliding.
  • Boat tours - there is no difficulty in finding boat or yacht tours to explore the northern coast from the Kyrenia Harbour during summer. Boat tours from the port of Famagusta to the Karpaz Peninsula are also available.
  • Hiking and trekking - the Kyrenia mountains are the places to do this. There are many centres which organize this, one being the Mountain Climbing Sports Association, meeting as often as weekly.
  • Golf - at the Korineum course [5]

Buy[edit][add listing]

A souvenir shop in Nicosia

Although the Turkish lira (TRY) is the official currency in the North, euros and English pounds sterling are widely accepted in the bigger cities. Credit cards are also accepted in larger shops, supermarkets, and the more upmarket restaurants. Scams at the exchange offices are unheard of.

Those looking for traditional items to buy may find them especially at the Great Inn (Büyük Han) in Nicosia. Souvenir shops are available in all major cities, especially at the Kyrenia Harbor and the Arasta region of the walled part of Nicosia. Lefkara lace, originally produced in the Lefkara village which remains in the southern side of the Cyprus, then carried on by the displaced Turkish Cypriots, is now a widespread item to buy. Sele and sesta are traditional items made of straw.

There is currently one shopping mall in Famagusta, the Lemar AVM, with many international brands. International brands can also be found in the thriving and vibrant Dereboyu region in Nicosia, a 15-minutes walk from the walled city.

There is also a bazaar called "Big Old Bazaar" located in the middle of the main road from Bogaz To Gastria 15 minutes from the hotels Kaya Artemis and Noha`s Ark Deluxe, this shopping mall is partly opened and has already several stores in it.


North Cyprus property is low cost in comparison to property in the south of Cyprus. However, potential buyers should be wary of title disputes, as title insurance is not generally available. Accordingly, it is very important to understand the various types of title deeds available in North Cyprus. See North Cyprus Title Deeds.

Also be sure and check thoroughly that the property (whether a house or land) intended for purchase in North Cyprus, was not originally (and still legally is according to international law) owned by a Greek Cypriot (prior to the war in 1974 and abandoned as a result).

There is a risk, if the property was once owned by a Greek Cypriot, that the buyers could face legal action in the Republic of Cyprus and elsewhere in the EU, including the United Kingdom, from where most foreign buyers come from. The buyer could likely be ordered by the (Greek) Cypriot, British or other EU member courts to pay legal fees to their legal Greek Cypriot owner. There has only ever been one case where this has in any way happened, however, known as the Orams case [6], where no money was ever paid to the plaintiff. More recently, the Demopoulos [7] case of 2010 led to the European Court of Human Rights recognising that the current owners of property in Northern Cyprus have rights over their land and ruling that the Immovable Property Commission of Northern Cyprus is the correct place for future disputes to be settled.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Grilled halloumi
Fırın kebabı or kleftiko

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, etc.. Some special meals are explained below:

  • Halloumi, known as hellim in Turkish (use the Turkish name as some Turkish Cypriots may be offended from the use of the Greek name due to trademark disputes), is an important feature of the Cypriot cuisine. The Turkish Cypriots use it in many meals, such as Hellimli (a sort of cake with hellim), Hellim Böreği (a sort of pastry) or Pirohu (the traditional Turkish meal of mantı with hellim instead of meat)
  • Şeftali Kebabı, made from lamb, is a very delicious must-eat
  • Fırın Kebabı or Kleftiko is a mouth-watering local kebab made from lamb and the Cypriot potato, also known for its taste
  • Magarına Bulli, is pasta with chicken, and hellim sprinkled all over it. Ask especially for hand-made pasta (el magarınası) and yahnili magarına

Mezes include:

  • Grilled hellim - if you come to Northern Cyprus and leave without trying this, your trip will be incomplete, as hellim is a rare sort of cheese that can be grilled without melting
  • Çakısdez (pronounced chuck-ess-dez) - green olives, manually and onerously crushed using special stones, and added flavor using garlic
  • Humus - mashed chickpeas, sesame paste, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, this is an excellent side dish for kebabs
  • Samarella - dried meat

And here are some local desserts. Turkish Cypriot cuisine offers a huge variety of desserts so this list is far from complete:

  • Pekmez - the Beşparmak/Pentadaktylos mountains are swarming with carob trees and this thick syrup of carob juice tastes exceptionally good in Cyprus. At traditional restaurants, you will find mouth-watering desserts made of pekmez, such as gullurikya.
  • Nor böreği - nor is another type of cheese special to Cyprus, and this pastry with nor, cinnamon and sugar is almost addictive
  • Katmer - there are two types of this, sini gatmeri and sac gatmeri (pronounced sach, NOT sak). Sac gatmeri is an exceptionally delicious AND light pastry made of sugar and dough.
  • Ekmek Kadayıfı - soft, special sort of dough filled with the nor and sweet syrup - splendid with vanilla ice-cream!
  • Macun - preserved fruits. Try especially ceviz macunu (walnut macun).

Of course, traditional European restaurants exist too, from the basic fish and chips providers up to expensive haute cuisine. More recently, Indian curry houses have been opening and there are some good Chinese and Thai restaurants also. The fast-food chain Burger City, directly linked to Burger King, has restaurants in all district capitals apart from İskele. Turkish food, such as döner, adana kebap and tantuni is also widespread.

For those self-catering, food of many types and nationalities can be found in the many supermarkets. Even pork cuts can now be found from specialist retailers.

For vegetarians and vegans, Northern Cyprus can be a tough place, but virtually all restaurants and cafes serve salad varieties in the cities, though the traditional restaurants in less touristy areas may not.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Zivania from Northern Cyprus
Orange tree at Bellapais - Northern Cyprus is known for the taste of its oranges - and their juice!
  • Zivania - one of the most important local drinks, made from grape. Unlike the Republic of Cyprus, as Northern Cyprus is not bound by European regulations, there are zivania varieties with up to 95% alcohol presence, so take care! There is a saying among Turkish Cypriots which goes like "the best of zivania is the one that burns well when you set it on fire". Do learn how much alcohol the zivania you're buying contains.
  • Brandy - popular because of its taste, the Cypriot brandy is well worth a try. What is more spectacular, though, is the local cocktail, the Brandy Sour, a mixture of brandy and the lemon squash, made from the lemons of the Morphou region.
  • Wine - Northern Cyprus is not an important wine producer, but there are two notable local brands: Aphrodite and Kantara. Even though the official travel guide describes it as "light, fruity and palatable", some travellers have reported that it is better to avoid it. It is still worth a try, though. Wines from the Turkish mainland are generally good and the average cost is about TL12 per bottle (2013). However imported wines from South Africa, Chile, Australia and Argentina are widely available and are fairly reliable and good value.
  • Locally produced Rakı, which is the national drink of the Turks (similar to Ouzo which is the national drink of the Greeks, as they both have a strong aniseed flavor, but with different proportions) and all internationally imported varieties.
  • Beer - The lager brand named Efes is ubiquitous and well worth a try, as are some bland European brands such as Carling and Heineken. English ales and Guinness are rare but can sometimes be found.

As for non-alcoholic drinks,

  • Ayran - the Turkish classic
  • Orange juice - Northern Cyprus is famous for its great oranges, so why not try their juice?

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Accommodation in Northern Cyprus is plentiful. Rooms are typically of lower standard than in South Cyprus and are correspondingly lower priced. The Northern Cyprus Hoteliers Association [8] maintains a list of virtually all accommodation. Whether visiting Northern Cyprus or Cyprus proper, it is customary (and recommended) to thoroughly inspect the room you are considering prior to renting it.



Working is forbidden to anybody not in possession of a permit, which is not easily obtainable for visitors.



The electricity is 240volt and the UK style 3 rectangular pinned plugs and sockets are used. Be warned that power cuts are fairly frequent and that the proper voltage is frequently over- or under-shot, which can be damaging to anything plugged in.

Stay healthy[edit]

  • There are many Gymnasiums situated in in the main cities such as Nicosia, Famagusta and Kyrenia.
  • Only drink bottled water. The tap water is OK if boiled.

Stay safe[edit]

Dial 155 for police, from any phone without charge. Alternatively, here are numbers of district police offices for more non-emergency calls:

  • Nicosia: 22-83311
  • Famagusta: 36-65310
  • Kyrenia: 81-52014
  • Morphou: 71-42140
  • İskele: 37-12333
  • Karpaz: 38-12325

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 throughout the world.

The police is reliable and helpful, often described as friendly, with corruption being rare. Offering bribes to a police officer is a very risky act.



Although 99% Turkish Cypriots are Sunni Muslims, the vast majority of Turkish Cypriots are overwhelmingly secular. Unlike mainland Turks and Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots are not conservative and many do not actually practice the religion. For example, alcohol is frequently consumed by Turkish Cypriots and women dress casually (Headscarves and veils are very rare and are limited to very few deeply religious women and some elderly women). Religion only plays a limited role within the community, for example, with the circumcision of Turkish Cypriot boys at a young age due to religious reasons, as well as with funerals, and very occasionally religious weddings by an imam, which is symbolic, as only civil weddings are recognized by the strictly secular Turkish Cypriot state.

However secular and liberal the Turkish Cypriots are on religion, it is considered rude to insult or mock some of its traditions, and also ensure that you do not speak badly of the Islamic religion in the areas where the majority of the population is made up of immigrants from Turkey as they are likely to be much more conservative and intolerant about this particular situation than the Turkish Cypriots. In regard to the Call to Prayer, which is read 5 times a day from the speakers of mosques throughout North Cyprus. Do not mock or mimic these calls, as some Turkish Cypriots might get offended.


It is best to avoid discussion of the various merits of the Greek-Turkish divide and the violent events beginning in 1963 to 1974, with the end result being the partition of the northern and eastern 40% of the island, as the vast majority of Turkish Cypriots are very nationalistic and sensitive on this issue.

Openly denigrating or insulting symbols of the state, especially the flag or Kemal Atatürk are liable to cause deep offense and possibly result in charges.

Etiquette :

One should also show respect in approaching people of the opposite sex or be mindful of any gestures which are regarded as very offensive, such as staring and addressing the locals in a loud voice (because it is regarded as condescending).

Gay and lesbian travelers:

Until 2014 Homosexuality was considered a crime by a law which was enacted during the British control of the island however, the law was not enforced. As of 2014 homosexuality has been legalized and there are no problems for homosexual couples travelling to the country.


Dial 112 for medical emergencies 155 for police, 199 for fires and 177 for forest fires. All these numbers are free of charge and can be called from a telephone booth without inserting a calling card, or any phone including cell phones.


Public pay phones are extremely rare in Northern Cyprus, you will find that they are non-existent in main tourist stops and main avenues. In rural areas, traditional coffee shop owners will allow you to use their phones for emergency calls.

International calls are routed to Northern Cyprus via the Turkish area code 392. When dialling from Turkey, the usual domestic format of 0 + 392 + 7-digit local number is used. When calling from other countries +90 + 392 + 7-digit local number is used.

On the other hand, calls from (southern Greek part of) Cyprus can be made by dialing the 0 + 139 + 7-digit local number format which charges at local rates as well as the international +90 + 392 + 7-digit local number format which charges at international rates.

Numbers beginning with 0800 are pay-free, 7-digit numbers starting with 444 (mainly used by companies) are charged as local calls, though you might have to add a 392 before and use it as 0 + 392 + 444.

The two local mobile phone networks will allow you to make and accept international and local calls on your mobile phones, however the connections are expensive. Far better to buy a local pay-as-you-go SIM-card from either TelSim (Vodafone) or Turkcell which offer the usual facilities at much cheaper rates.

Be aware that mobile phones with Greek Cypriot SIM cards will not work in Northern Cyprus as there is no agreement between the companies (CYTA and MTN) and the Turkish operators. Similarly, your SIM card purchased for use in North Cyprus will not work south of the border.


The better hotels all offer internet connections of some sort, and there are numerous internet cafes, easily found in the main cities. Most cafes also offer free Wi-Fi spots, some even don't have a password.

Northern Cyprus has a 3G mobile data network, do check the prices if you are planning to purchase an SIM card.WikiPedia:Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Dmoz:Middle_East/Cyprus/Northern_Cyprus/ World66:asia/middleeast/cyprus/northerncyprus

Create category

This country guide is usable. It has links to this country's major cities and other destinations (and all are at usable status or better), a valid regional structure and information about this country's currency, language, cuisine, and culture is included. At least the most prominent attraction is identified with directions. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!