Northern Cyprus



The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC, Turkish: Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti) is a republic on the north and east side of the island of Cyprus. It's a holiday destination with beaches and antiquities set in the Mediterranean Sea 70 km south of Turkey, the only country to recognise it. In 2021 its population was 383,000.

This article covers the northern part of Cyprus 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.

Towns[edit]

Map
Map of Northern Cyprus
Cypriot towns have multiple spellings. Names used on these pages correspond to road signs.
  • 1 Nicosia (Lefkoşa / Lefkosia) is the divided capital, with the historic centre within its stout walls.
  • 2 Kyrenia (Girne / Keryneia) has an attractive harbour and castle. This is the main base for visitors, with hotels along the coast for 20 km on either side.
  • 3 Famagusta (Mağusa / Ammochostos) is another walled city, with a beach strip north; south is blighted by the border zone.
  • 4 İskele Trikomo, Cyprus on Wikipedia (Trikomo) marks the north end of Famagusta resort strip. You come this way to reach Karpaz Peninsula.
  • 5 Güzelyurt Morphou on Wikipedia (Omorfo / Morphou) is the main village in the least developed area of Northern Cyprus.
  • 6 Lefke Lefka on Wikipedia (Lefka) is the other large village in that area.

Other destinations[edit]

  • 1 Karpaz is a long remote peninsula in the northeast. It has good beaches, Byzantine monasteries, and over-friendly wild donkeys.
  • 2 Erenköy is an exclave separated from the rest of TRNC. Formerly the village of Kokkina, it's nowadays a military area.

Understand[edit]

History[edit]

Cyprus has been contested for millennia by rival nations, who sought its minerals, cotton and control of sea lanes between Europe and the Levant. Turkey was a relative newcomer to this dogfight, as it was only by the 16th century that the Ottomans had substantial control of the mainland and could expand into a maritime empire. They captured Rhodes in 1522 and their next target was Cyprus, where the Venetians were ensconced. That terrible assault succeeded in 1571 and is the background to Shakespeare's Othello. The Ottomans retained Cyprus for 300 years and many Turks settled here, especially in the north, but overall there remained a Greek majority population.

Mainland Greece and almost all its islands likewise fell under Ottoman rule, but by the 19th century that empire was in decline, and Greece won its independence in 1830. That was the springboard for the Megali campaign to regain all the "Hellenistic" territories, which included Crete, Cyprus, and just about every trading port around the east Mediterranean. There were vicious wars that threatened to de-stabilise a much wider region (code for "let the Russians in") so the western powers stepped in, and in 1878 Britain took over Cyprus though still acknowledging the Ottomans as nominal rulers. That pretence ended in 1914 when Turkey entered World War I on the side of Germany and the island became part of the British Empire.

Orange tree at Bellapais Abbey

The post-war treaty of 1923 led to extensive population exchanges between Greece and Turkey, but this didn't affect Cyprus, where the two communities continued to detest each other. Throughout all this, Greek Cypriots dreamed not of independence but enosis, a merger with mainland Greece. After World War II Britain's colonies moved towards independence but here one community insisted on enosis while the other imagined that Cyprus would joyfully become Turkish the minute the Union Flag was hauled down. Factional violence became organised into rival militias EOKA and TMT, and Cyprus slid towards civil war.

The outcome was independence on 15 Aug 1960. Britain retained two large military territories on the south coast, but there was no partition, rather a power-sharing agreement and noble declarations about protecting the rights of minorities. One crucial clause in the peace deal gave Britain, Greece and Turkey the right to intervene militarily "to restore the status quo" in case the deal was overthrown. But power-sharing was dysfunctional from the outset and community violence continued; a series of peace initiatives were launched and sank. In 1974 the enosis faction seized power in a coup, and Turkey therefore invaded. By the time a ceasefire was agreed they controlled the northern third of the island, including its chief port Famagusta and half the capital Nicosia.

Talks to convert that ceasefire into a definitive treaty have dragged on ever since, so it's a "frozen conflict", with the United Nations patrolling a buffer zone between the two sides. In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", TRNC. So far only Turkey recognizes the TRNC, while all other governments and the United Nations regard it as a puppet state and recognize only the government of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island, excluding the British military territories. Since the 1990s a thaw between Greece and Turkey has led to easing of tensions within Cyprus, and it's nowadays easy to pass between the two parts, but the razor wire, watchtowers and derelict no-man's land are as stark as ever. The other dynamic from 2004 was Cyprus joining the European Union, a form of enosis stretching to Lisbon and Dublin that Turkey also aspires to join, but which raises questions of border control and trade rules with regard to TRNC.

Capital North Nicosia
Currency Turkish lira (TRY)
Population 390.7 thousand (2021)
Country code +90
Time zone UTC+02:00
Emergencies 112
Driving side left

Geography[edit]

The Kyrenia or Pentadactylos ("five-fingered") mountain range rises from the coast to 1000 m. It's a limestone ridge with ancient fortresses perched on its heights, which dwindle eastwards to create the panhandle of the Karpaz Peninsula. Inland is a broad plain, fertile and traversed by the main roads. Further south the land rises again towards the Troodos Mountains, the mineral-rich uplands that caused copper (cuprum) to be named after Cyprus, but the Turkish advance halted before it.

TRNC is at 35° N in the east Med, the same latitude as Crete or central Tunisia, so it has a subtropical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Frost is rare at low altitude but in winter the sea is cold and rough, with a raw wind blowing off it, and many hotels and other facilities close up. April-June is a good season to visit for landward exploring, but Sept-Oct is better for water sports.

Visit North Cyprus is the TRNC tourist agency.

Talk[edit]

The language of Northern Cyprus is Turkish (see the Turkish phrasebook), with a distinct dialect in casual conversation. English is widely spoken in the hospitality sector, especially in Kyrenia. Obscure dialects of Greek persist among a few gnarly old folk, but you're more likely to overhear Russian, as TRNC like mainland Turkey remains easily accessible to them. Some local phrases are:

  • Napañ? (nah-PANG; how are you, literally how are you doing? - informal) or Naparsınız? (nah-par-sing-EEZ - formal or plural)
  • 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)

Get in[edit]

Passport stamp: Giriş 90 gün ziyaretçi = Entry 90 day visitor

Entry requirements[edit]

Most visitors can enter Northern Cyprus easily, whether by land from the Republic of Cyprus, or from elsewhere. Difficulty may arise if you enter the Republic from TRNC then leave by a different route, or vice versa, see below.

No advance visa is needed except for citizens of Syria, Armenia and Nigeria. Everyone else can simply rock up at the border by land, sea or air. A national ID card is sufficient for citizens of Turkey, the EU, and other countries within the Schengen Area (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). All others such as the UK or USA need to show a passport valid for 6 months beyond the date of entry. In theory you might be asked about your finances, accommodation and onward travel but they seldom bother. The outcome is a visitor visa for 30 to 90 days; this may not be extended, does not permit work or residence, and 90 days in any 180 is your maximum. Other visas for work, study, business and property ownership have the same 90-in-180 limit.

You can ask for your entry stamp to go on a separate slip of paper, though TRNC passport stamps are no longer a problem for later visits to Greece or Cyprus. The need might arise if you had to shuttle between TRNC and the Republic, and didn't want to fill up your passport.

Visas in advance for citizens of Syria, Armenia and Nigeria are obtained in person from a TRNC "Mission Abroad" (since they're not accredited as an embassy or consulate). There are two dozen, for instance in New York, Washington DC, London and Berlin, but none in the three source countries; perhaps one of the seven Missions in Turkey would be convenient.

North-south itineraries are nowadays only a potential problem. The south maintains that entering the island through the north is illegal. They equally maintain that EU citizens have freedom of movement throughout Cyprus and the Schengen Area. They also have border posts along the Green Line that they claim isn't a border. The upshot of this muddle is that EU citizens have no difficulty, but others (eg British) are at the whim of north-south politics. These are nowadays pragmatic, but any diplomatic rift with Turkey might suddenly lead to Cypriot immigration officials blocking your crossing from TRNC. On south-to-north itineraries, non-EU passport holders should ensure they're stamped out, to avoid later accusations that they've overstayed in the EU.

Do not bring a dog. The island of Cyprus is free of dog rabies, but it's common on mainland Turkey so cross-infection in TRNC is a risk.

By plane[edit]

Othello Tower in Famagusta

1 Ercan International Airport Ercan International Airport on Wikipedia (ECN IATA) is 13 km east of Nicosia. It has frequent flights from Istanbul (IST and SAW), and seasonal flights from across Europe. Since Northern Cyprus is not internationally recognised (including by IATA), all flights from other countries must touch down briefly in Turkey to perform a feegle-fogle with the paperwork then continue on their way.

You could also fly to Larnaca in the south and take a taxi to the border in Nicosia.

By boat[edit]

Akgunlerdenizcilik ferries connect Kyrenia (Girne) to Alanya, Taşucu and Mersin in Turkey, and Famagusta (Mağusa) to Mersin.

The fast ferry from Alanya only sails in summer: from Alanya Th & Su at 12:00, from Kyrenia W & Sa at 10:00. This is a catamaran (shown in timetables as deniz otobüsü) for foot passengers taking 2 hr 30 min.

A similar fast-cat ferry, summer only, takes 80 min from Mersin. It sails from Mersin Su Tu & Th at 21:00, from Kyrenia M W & F at 23:00.

The third fast-cat route, summer only, takes two hours from Taşucu. It sails Fridays only from Taşucu at 14:00 and from Girne at 10:00.

The only car ferry is from Taşucu and takes six hours. It sails four times a week in summer: from Taşucu on Su M Tu & Th at 23:30 and from Kyrenia M & Tu at 14:00, W & F at 23:30. This ferry sails all year.

Ferries from Madenli south of İskenderun are not sailing, as the earthquake of 2023 damaged the port.

With your own boat, Kyrenia and Famagusta are the designated Ports of Entry to clear TRNC immigration and customs.

By road[edit]

The land crossings between TRNC and the Republic are:

  • Yesilirmak (by car) is the westernmost tip of TRNC, beyond Lefke.
  • Lefke (by car) south of Lefke village. A new route south of Lefke is under construction in 2024.
  • Astromeritis / Zodhia (by car) south of Güzelyurt.
  • Agios Dometios / Kermia / Metehan is the chief crossing by road, and pedestrians are permitted, at the west edge of Nicosia.
  • Ledra Palace (pedestrians only) is the oldest crossing, west flank of the old city walls of Nicosia.
  • Ledra Street (pedestrians only) is the most convenient for day-trips, an alley through the bazaar in old Nicosia.
  • Pergamos / Beyarmudu (by car) via Dhekelia military zone.
  • Strovilia near Agios Nikolaos (by car) in the east of the island near Famagusta.

If you hire a car from the south, check their small print to ensure they allow their vehicles to go north.

Car insurance from the Republic is not valid in TRNC, so you have to buy at the border; you can't buy elsewhere. And while the border posts are open 24 hours for immigration and customs, the kiosks for insurance are not. The main crossing at Agios Dometios / Kermia / Metehan has a kiosk open 08:00 to midnight, check the latest hours if you intend to use the others. You buy for a minimum of one month, which in 2024 costs €120 and is only valid for third party not comprehensive.

Get around[edit]

The Great Inn in Nicosia

By car[edit]

A car is by far the best way to travel around Northern Cyprus. There are rental desks in Nicosia city, Ercan Airport, Kyrenia and Famagusta - best book ahead, as their fleets are small and their opening hours limited. They can arrange to pick up / drop off at Kyrenia ferry port or at Ledra Palace border crossing in Nicosia.

Check the deal with fuel, they usually rent empty-to-empty, so the first task is to find a filling station. The second task is to estimate how much fuel you might use, as there's no credit for unused fuel.

If you hire in the south, you may take the vehicle north but must buy extra insurance at the border, see above.

The highways are in good repair, well-signposted, pleasantly uncongested by western standards, and local drivers are less frenetic than on the Turkish mainland.

Hitch-hiking is usually easy along these roads.

By bus[edit]

Dolmuşes - minibuses - are the main public transport. They don't have a fixed timetable and set off whenever full, but reckon on runs between Nicosia and Kyrenia every 30 minutes, and between other towns hourly. They're designed for locals not tourists and become very sparse by early evening. Some sights (such as St Hilarion) are several km from a dolmuş route, and the east peninsula beyond İskele and the west end beyond Lefke have infrequent services.

By taxi[edit]

There are many taxi ranks, but you won't see many taxis around to wave down, so make sure to get some numbers. Taxis wait at the airport, and at Ledra Palace and Kermiya crossings. A trip from Nicosia to Kyrenia in 2024 is about €60.

See[edit]

Salamis
  • Kyrenia is dominated by its castle; the museum within displays a shipwreck from 4th century BC. The harbour is an attractive area for strolling, bathed in golden light at evening.
  • Bellapais Abbey near Kyrenia is a scenic ruin with great Gothic arches and towering stone walls.
  • Castles: in the Beşparmak Mountains are St Hilarion Castle (above Kyrenia), Buffavento and Kantara Castle (towards Karpaz).
  • Walled City of Nicosia: the walls were built in 1567 are are mostly intact, though bisected by the north / south border. Until the 19th century they defined city limits and contain Selimiye Mosque and Büyük Han or Great Inn. A short walk beyond are Samanbahçe quarter, Büyük Hamam the ancient baths, and Bandabulya bazaar.
  • Walled City of Famagusta sights include Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, the walls themselves, and Othello Tower, where the Cypriot section of Shakespeare's play Othello is set.
  • Salamis is the ruin of a Roman city north of Famagusta, with statues, agoras, and an amphitheatre.
  • Karpaz to the northeast is festooned with wild donkeys. Apostolos Andreas Monastery is an ancient pilgrimage site.

Do[edit]

On Kaplıca beach
  • Beaches are a major part of the appeal of Northern Cyprus. The north coast has the best, clean and sandy, on the long resort strip either side of Kyrenia. Some are private to hotels. Karpaz Peninsula has equally good beaches, much quieter, for instance near Dikarpaz. West coast has a beach strip north of Famagusta. South of Famagusta is blighted by the border, with Varosha a strange ghost town.
  • Casinos: gambling is legal in Northern Cyprus but not in mainland Turkey or the Republic of Cyprus, so these attract a louche crowd. Every upscale hotel has a casino, dress smart. Organised crime has its tentacles all over them, for money-laundering, prostitution and other rackets.
  • Nightlife other than gambling and paid-for sex is a tourist thing not a local habit. In the beach resort strips of Kyrenia and Famagusta, you can bop away like it was Paphos, but Nicosia is strangely quiet for a capital.
  • Scuba diving: this is the Med, so adjust your expectations. First, it's seasonal, the Med is cold in winter and dive shacks close up. Most coral was stripped out years ago and the waters over-fished, so marine life is encountered (such as the loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta) but is not as abundant as the Red Sea. However the lack of river run-off means clear waters, and the limestone scenery catches the sunlight. This makes Northern Cyprus a good destination for novice training and low-experience divers; rufty-tufty old salts will be content with a day or two diving then head off to explore the landward sights. Kyrenia beach strip has most of the dive operators.
  • Other sports such as windsurfing, jet-skiing, water-skiing, sailing and paragliding are likewise based around Kyrenia.
  • Boat tours putter out from all the main harbours.
  • Hiking and trekking are best in the Kyrenia mountains.
  • Northern Cyprus Music Festival is held at Bellapais Monastery near Kyrenia mid-Sept to early November.

Buy[edit]

Money[edit]

Exchange rates for Turkish lira

As of January 2024:

  • US$1 ≈ 30 TL
  • €1 ≈ 33 TL
  • UK£1 ≈ 38 TL
  • AU$1 ≈ 20 TL
  • CA$1 ≈ 22 TL

Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com

The Turkish lira is the official currency in Northern Cyprus, one and the same as the mainland lira, denoted as TL (ISO code TRY). That means that Northern Cyprus suffers the same hyper-inflation as the mainland, about 50% per annum, so exchange rates and prices quoted on these pages go out of date quickly. Don't exchange until you get here, and don't leave with a wad unspent. Euros, UK pounds and credit cards are accepted by all but the smallest businesses. These may even quote prices in or insist on euros to counter inflation.

Lira banknotes are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 TL, see Turkey#Money for specimens. You need the E9 series from 2009, previous issues are no longer valid. You might encounter coins of 1 TL or less, worth next-to-nothing. One lira is divided into 100 kuruş, an amount you could barely see with a microscope.

Exchange desks are honest, and the standard scams are unheard of.

Shopping[edit]

  • AVM means a shopping centre, AlışVeriş Merkezi, and these are found in the main towns along with convenience stores. TRNC doesn't have big western-style supermarkets.
  • Tourist souvenirs are likewise sold in the main towns. The cuter the surroundings the higher the price, so Büyük Han the Great Inn of Nicosia costs most.

Property[edit]

Northern Cyprus property is low cost compared to the Republic of Cyprus, but you're going to need a good lawyer. The long list of pitfalls in buying property in the south also applies to the north, and is compounded by the problem of title. Thousands of Cypriots driven out in the war of 1974 still hold titles to their land, which courts may enforce over later purchasers.

The landmark case was Apostolides v Orams 2009. Apostolides and his family fled in 1974 from Laptos, nowadays Lapta on Kyrenia resort strip. It was only with the easing of border restrictions in 2003 that they were able to return, to find a villa built there by David and Linda Orams from England, who'd bought the land in good faith from a local agent. Apostolides sued in the Cypriot courts but their judgement was not enforceable in the north, so the case bounced around the British and European courts before a definitive ruling in Apostolides' favour by the European Court of Justice. It was a pyrrhic victory, as the Orams abandoned the property and Apostolides got nothing out of it, but the lawyers still got paid plenty.

So a wave of further cases never materialised. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2013 and 2015 that though TRNC was not recognised, it did have de facto an independent judiciary and legal system, and that future disputes should be heard there, specifically by the Immovable Property Commission. That body is more likely than a southern court to rule that those who've paid money for land in the north also have enforceable rights.

Eat[edit]

Grilled halloumi

Most Northern Cypriot cuisine will be familiar if you've eaten Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern fare back home. Dishes you might not find elsewhere are Molehiya, Enginar Dolması, Kolokas, Bullez, Çiçek Dolması, Magarina-Bulli, Pilav, Bulgur Köftesi, Mucendra, Hummus Çorbası, Hellimli and Pirohu.

  • Halloumi is known as hellim in Turkish. It can be grilled without melting so it features in many dishes, such as hellimli cake, hellim böreği a pastry, and pirohu the traditional Turkish meal of mantı with hellim instead of meat.
  • Şeftali Kebabı is made from lamb.
  • Fırın Kebabı is the Turkish equivalent of kleftiko, a kebab of lamb and Cypriot potatoes.
  • Magarına Bulli is pasta with chicken, and hellim sprinkled all over it. Best is hand-made pasta, el magarınası or yahnili magarına.
  • Çakısdez (pronounced chuck-ess-dez) are green olives, hand-crushed using special stones, and flavored with garlic.
  • Samarella is sun-dried meat, traditionally goat.

Turkish Cypriots like their desserts:

  • Pekmez is a thick syrup of carob juice, from the carob trees of the Pentadaktylos mountains, made into gloochy desserts such as gullurikya.
  • Nor böreği is a pastry with cinnamon, sugar and "nor", a cheese particular to Cyprus.
  • Sini gatmeri is an almond filo whirl, and sac (say "sach") gatmeri is a light pastry of sugar and dough.
  • Ekmek Kadayıfı is soft dough filled with nor cheese and sweet syrup, try it with vanilla ice-cream.
  • Macun are preserved fruits, such as ceviz (walnut) macunu.

European-style food can be found wherever there are large tourist populations, so Kyrenia has the best selection, and supermarkets have supplies for self-catering.

Drink[edit]

Zivania - this brand is from the south
Tax on alcohol is low in TRNC, so all alcohol-based drinks are cheaper than in the south or on the mainland. The resort strips have free-standing pubs; elsewhere the cafes serve alcohol.
  • Rakı is the national drink, as in mainland Turkey. It's an aniseed-flavoured spirit similar to Greek ouzo, drunk mixed with water (which turns it cloudy) in a long glass, as an aperitif or alongside a meal.
  • Brandy from Cyprus is sweeter than from the mainland, from its double distillation of white wines and aging in oak barrels. Most production is around Limassol in the south but TRNC has a couple of distilleries. To offset the sweetness it's often drunk as Brandy Sour, mixing in the squash of local lemons.
  • Zivania is also described as brandy but is more like grappa or marc, a colourless sugarless distillate from wine grape pressings. Drink it neat as an aperitif. It's unique to Cyprus, and in the south is EU-protected as a name of origin, with a maximum 60% strength. Inevitably TRNC has set up its own trade protection system, which even Turkey doesn't recognise, and you may find higher-strength products better used for lighting the barbecue or treating a nasty sore on your cat's backside.
  • Wine producers include Aphrodite and Kantara, but most wine is imported from the Turkish mainland. There's a mixture of grape varietals and no system equivalent to AOC, but it's perfectly good enough for chasing down a kebab.
  • Beer is the usual Turkish brands - Efes is the commonest. International imports are found in the resort strips, where you're seldom far from an Irish pub.
  • Non-alcoholic drinks include ayran the Turkish classic yogurt, fresh squeezed orange juice, Turkish coffee; and the tap-water is safe to drink though "flat" from desalination.

Sleep[edit]

Accommodation in Northern Cyprus is plentiful. A 40 km resort strip is centred on Kyrenia, aimed at western holiday makers; supply exceeds demand and there are some excellent package deals. Famagusta has a smaller strip but hasn't attracted western tourism. Nicosia has surprisingly little for a capital city. Karpaz at the east end and Güzelyurt in the west have few hotels and accommodation is in small pansiyons. Inspect their rooms thoroughly before checking in and be prepared to hold your nose.

Learn[edit]

Etel Winery

Northern Cyprus has five universities, all private.

  • Near East University (Yakın Doğu Üniversitesi)
  • Eastern Mediterranean University (Doğu Akdeniz Üniversitesi)
  • Cyprus International University (Uluslararası Kıbrıs Üniversitesi)
  • European University of Lefke (Lefke Avrupa Üniversitesi)
  • Girne American University (Girne Amerikan Üniversitesi)

There's also a campus of Middle East Technical University at Güzelyurt, and of Istanbul Technical University at Famagusta.

Work[edit]

Working is forbidden to anybody not in possession of a permit, which unlikely to be granted to non-Turkish visitors.

Cope[edit]

Queen's Window at St Hilarion Castle

Electricity is 240 volt AC, and plugs and sockets are 3-pin rectangular, same as the UK. Power cuts are fairly frequent, and voltage glitches may damage electronics.

Laundromats are found in the three cities.

Embassies are in south Nicosia, since they don't recognise the north, and have limited ability to assist you here.

Stay healthy[edit]

  • Health care here is private so adequate health insurance is essential. An annual policy is often the best deal; check that coverage includes TRNC not just the EU.
  • TRNC has lots of doctors familiar with the ailments of elderly westerners. Your accommodation will know who's reliable and who's out to fleece you.
  • Take enough of your usual medication and some spare but not too much, including paraphernalia such as injecting kit for diabetes. Take also the prescriptions to prove it's legit and for your sole use.

Stay safe[edit]

Don't lark about on the border fence

Northern Cyprus is safe, take usual care of valuables, and watch out for traffic (which drives on the left). In the water, beware mad bats on jet skis.

Central Nicosia attracts a seedy crowd, though pickpocketing, assault and sexual assault remain uncommon by western standards.

Don't lark about on the border fence or use unauthorised crossings. The guards will assume you're making a recce for smuggling or human trafficking.

Respect[edit]

99% of Turkish Cypriots are nominally Sunni Muslims, but secular. Only a pious elderly minority routinely attend a mosque, and it's rare to see women in veils. The majority are like westerners: religion is confined to rights-of-passage around birth, marriage and death, and plays no role in daily life, yet mightily offended they would be if you mocked their religion or its rites and observances. However they're equally sensitive on symbols of the state, such as the flag or imagery of Kemal Atatürk. Disrespecting these puts you in harm's way, and doing so on the mainland could get you jailed.

The Greek-Turkish violence of 1963 to 1974 and subsequent partition are still a raw memory. Don't bring the subject up, but if it arises, express sympathetic interest; it's their experience that counts, not your opinion.

LGBTQ+ travelers should be comfortable especially in the Kyrenia tourist strip, where hotels are vying for their trade. Homosexuality was legalized in 2009, but same-sex relationships are not recognized by the government. Open displays of same-sex affection will draw stares, maybe cat-calling to the same extent as for lightly-dressed hetero women, but not violence.

Connect[edit]

Loggerhead turtles inhabit these waters

Northern Cyprus uses Turkish area code 392. When dialling from Turkey, Northern Cyprus or the Republic of Cyprus, the dialling format is 0 392 xxx xxxx and the call is charged as domestic. From any other country the format is +90 392 xxx xxxx and it's charged as international.

The mobile networks are KKTC Turkcell and KKTC Telsim (Vodafone). They have 4G coverage of most of the north - it's a small place so you're seldom far from a relay mast. As of 2024, 5G has not reached the north. Wifi is widely available in public places.

Calling on a non-local mobile phone incurs international rates, consider buying a local SIM card. However the north operators may permit roaming in the south, and vice versa, check their deals. Nicosia North old city is within range of the southern networks, but elsewhere the "buffer zone" is too broad for cross-over.

Go next[edit]

  • Nicosia South has plenty to see and you just stroll across the border at Ledra Street.
  • The rest of southern Cyprus has lots of historic sites, museums, and lively beach resorts such as Paphos.
  • Mainland Turkey is easily reached by flights to Istanbul or ferries to its Mediterranean coast.



This country travel guide to Northern Cyprus is a usable article. It has information about the country and for getting in, as well as links to several destinations. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.