I’ll tell you about how difficult it is to get to the Northern part of Cyprus from the South, the pitfalls, and useful information about car and pedestrian crossings between Northern and Southern Cyprus.
Cyprus is divided into two parts — the South and the North, and everyone planning to vacation on this island is aware of it. Is it worth going to Northern Cyprus? Is it difficult to get to the Northern part from the South? Do you need a visa, insurance, and can you go to the North with a rental car?
I’ve written a separate article about what to see in Northern Cyprus, interesting places, and our adventures with a detailed itinerary. But for now, let’s focus on the practical details of how to get to Northern Cyprus from its Southern part.
Firstly, a warning! If you fly from Turkey directly to the Turkish part of Cyprus, you are breaking the law in the eyes of the Cypriot government. Therefore, entering Northern Cyprus without violating Cypriot laws is only possible from the territory of Cyprus (Southern Cyprus). I refer to it as the South for the convenience of reading this article only.
Northern and Southern Cyprus are divided along the demarcation line of the so-called “Green Zone,” which is quite wide. Cyprus was divided back in 1964, and since 1974, after the Turkish troops’ intervention, the green line has been controlled by UN forces.
The easiest way to get to Northern Cyprus is by rental car, which you can rent directly at Larnaca Airport upon arrival. If you want to save up to 20% on the rental cost, book in advance with only a 15% prepayment and the option to cancel. I have a separate post about the peculiarities of renting a car in Cyprus.
Do you need to inform the rental company that you are going to Northern Cyprus?
I think not. Firstly, they didn’t ask us about it, and there were no prohibitions in the contract or verbally. I don’t know what would happen if we had informed them about going to Northern Cyprus, but I believe nothing would have happened. Why talk about your plans if no one asks?!
Border crossings between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Cyprus:
- Two crossings in Nicosia — a car crossing near Ledra Palace and a pedestrian crossing near Agios-Dometios.
- Between the cities of Ayia Napa and Famagusta, there is a car crossing Famagusta/Versulles near the village of Strovilia.
- Baramudu/Pergamos crossing on the northern coast of Cyprus, convenient if you are traveling from/to Paphos.
- Morfou/Astrometris crossing in the central part of Cyprus, you’re unlikely to use it, but I provide it for the sake of completeness.
What is Needed to Visit Northern Cyprus
To visit Northern Cyprus, you need a multiple-entry Schengen visa. Can you enter Northern Cyprus with a single-entry pro-visa issued at the Cyprus airport? Yes, you can. In our case, it was a multiple-entry Schengen visa.
To enter Northern Cyprus with a rental car, you need to buy additional insurance. This is done at the border crossing between Southern and Northern Cyprus. Insurance can be for three days, a week, a month, or a year. You will need a maximum of a three-day insurance, costing 20 euros in cash, purchased at the checkpoint.
The border crossing between Northern and Southern Cyprus takes from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the season. In March, there were few people, and the crossing took a maximum of 5 minutes. Cypriots didn’t check anything; they waved us through. In the Turkish part, we bought insurance at one booth, showed passports to the ladies in scarves at another. That’s it. We continued on. No stamps in the passport for crossing the border! No additional paperwork. Turkish border guards were friendly, and we had no problems.
The procedure for returning is symmetrical, only passports were checked by both Greek Cypriots and Turks.
We crossed into Northern Cyprus in the Ayia Napa-Famagusta area. We found the road easily by setting the town of Famagusta in the smartphone navigator and went on our way. We used offline apps like Sygic Car Navigator and Maps Me. It works great and helps a lot in planning the optimal route. In 2023, Google Maps should be sufficient.
Another popular crossing is in the capital of Cyprus — Nicosia (Lefcosia, Lefcosa), which is divided into two parts by a neutral green zone. You can return to Southern Cyprus through it. Since we had already been to Nicosia, we hurried back to Ayia Napa — it was convenient in terms of logistics and the further route around Cyprus.
Traffic in Northern Cyprus
Traffic in Northern Cyprus is the same as in the southern part of Cyprus — left-hand drive, and we had no problems with driving. The roads are slightly worse, parking is a bit harder to find than in the south, but not to the extent that it’s worth dwelling on.
Currency of Northern Cyprus
Turkish lira is used in Northern Cyprus. They also accept euros, but the exchange rate is not the most favorable. They accept payment cards from all popular systems, but not everywhere, and the rate is also not the most comfortable. But you’ll have to accept this; there’s nothing critical.
Based on this, if you plan to spend more than 50 euros in Northern Cyprus, it’s worth exchanging euros for lira at exchange points or banks. If, like us, you plan only to see the sights, have lunch once (up to 10 euros), and pay for entrance fees to attractions (from 3 to 10 euros), you can “not bother” with exchanging. Entrance fees to major attractions cost 3 euros, and you can pay for them in euros.
Accommodation prices are the same as in southern Cyprus, and food is slightly cheaper.
If you’re stopping for the night, in Kyrenia and with good weather, we would also stay overnight — we really liked this city and its history.
Military Presence in Northern Cyprus
There are many military personnel, and military bases often are near tourist attractions. Several times, when trying to photograph the panorama of mountains nearby, a military jeep appeared out of nowhere, asking to hide the camera, or they threatened problems. Make your own conclusions. In general, some oppressive general feeling remained, but it’s still worth going to Northern Cyprus at least once. There’s a lot of interesting things there.
How Much Time is Needed for Visiting Northern Cyprus
If you’re interested, you can read in detail about the travel route to Northern Cyprus. For now, I’ll say that 1–2 days will be enough to see everything. It took us a full day to visit all the significant places and return late in the evening to our “home” in Cyprus.
Will I go to Northern Cyprus for the second time?
Most likely, yes. I would like to return to Hilarion Castle and the city of Kyrenia (Girne), near which it is located. We were not very lucky with the weather on that day; the panorama from the mountains was covered with clouds, giving us a reason to come back. Besides, it’s essential to visit the protected area of the Karpas Peninsula — the island’s easternmost point.
Transfers in Cyprus
If you decide not to use a rental car or plan to relax by the sea without going far, you can order a transfer from/to the airport online on the Kiwi Taxi website. This service will meet you at the airport and take you to the hotel. Taxi rides within the city are also possible. On the website, you can choose the city and the location where you want to order a car. The driver will meet you with a sign with your surname at the specified location, for example, at the terminal exit.
Where to Find Affordable Hotels or Apartments in Cyprus
For finding and renting accommodation in Northern Cyprus, we use Booking.com – Cyprus – a familiar and convenient site with maximum coverage of hotels and apartments.
How to Rent a Car in Cyprus
For three years in a row, we have been vacationing in Cyprus and using the LocalRent broker, which brings together the best local car rental companies in Cyprus. The strengths of the site are reliability, a good selection of cars at pleasant prices, support in Russian, and round-the-clock communication via Viber/WhatsApp. I also recommend reading material on How to Rent a Car in Cyprus — everything is straightforward and clear.
How to Buy Cheap Air Tickets to Cyprus
I use the Aviasales service. Why? Because it finds the cheapest tickets for me, it has a low-price map that helps me plan my vacation, and it’s convenient and reliable. To search for tickets, you can use the low-price calendar — enter the departure-arrival points and click on the date with the suitable price; everything is intuitively clear.
Airport Transfers in Cyprus
Cyprus is a top summer destination, and often taxi drivers at the airport overcharge for their services. Moreover, most of them don’t have child car seats. They don’t install them because it takes up the space of an adult passenger. Because of this, tourists with children have to run around the airport in search of a free car with a child car seat.
Both problems are easily solved. You can order both individual and group transfers online. You can also choose the option with a child seat. You won’t have to overpay to taxi drivers, and there will be no problems with the safety of children.
It all happens very simply. After placing an order, a driver with a sign bearing your name will meet you. Immediately after exiting the arrival hall, you get into the car and drive to your hotel.
Useful Links for Trip Planning
- Aviasales – Budget airline tickets worldwide.
- Booking.com – Familiar and convenient website for searching and booking accommodation worldwide.
- Hotline Finance – Travel insurance for Ukrainian citizens, green cards for traveling abroad by car, round-the-clock online support.
- LocalRent – Budget car rental in Georgia from locally verified rental companies with free cancellation option.