A nice little treat for most of us are the cheap goodies we can buy coming in and out of North Cyprus! Note that there are limitations on what you can bring in and what you can take out however, (taking out is more relevant for the country you are travelling back to!).
When arriving into Ercan airport which serves North Cyprus you are currently allowed to bring in: –
Launched in late February 2009 the Cyprus Airport Services run KIBHAS airport shuttle service is now in full operation serving customers with transfers to Ercan Airport. It has been quite a while coming but now has a fleet of twelve buses and coaches departing from all the major towns and ports in North Cyprus.
In the not too distant past hire cars were really the only way of seeing a lot of the island, and not much has changed! To be able to have the freedom to explore North Cyprus, it’s always nicer to do it on your steam and to a schedule that suits you. Hiring a car is obviously one of the best options available so that you are not restricted.
However, there are some organised sightseeing trips and walking tours that your hotel or holiday village will be happy to help you arrange, and there are regular mini-bus (dolmush) services between all the major towns and regions, but these options may not be flexible enough for you.
There is only one passenger airport in North Cyprus, it’s called Ercan Airport and in recent years it has seen massive refurbishment and now serves people wishing to travel to and from North Cyprus. It’s located a 40 minute car journey from the harbour town of Kyrenia and 15 minutes from Lefkoşa.
Direct flights are not officially available to North Cyprus from anywhere other than Turkey. If you’re flying to and from the island from any other destination you have an hour’s stop-over on the Turkish mainland. On the way to Cyprus passengers can alight in Turkey for onward destinations whilst other passengers remain on-board and new ones embark for the one hour continuation flight to Northern Cyprus. Plans for the future include challenging the UK government on their ban of direct travel to North Cyprus, so watch this space!
When travelling to and from North Cyprus these days passengers can find themselves spoilt for choice in terms of the airline they choose and the airport they fly into! It wasn’t so long ago that you had to fly into the old and unfashionable Geçitkale airport whilst Ercan, the current passenger airport, was undergoing a major refurbishment. With the border opening to the south, the choice is even broader too.
Several airlines now offer flights to Ercan airport via Turkey, and it’s worth checking them all out before committing to purchase your tickets. All of them have the facility to purchase tickets online, with many now changing over to an e-ticket solution meaning no good old fashioned triplicate slips! However, for some it’s still more preferable to have a travel agent do the searching for you, and to pay in cash at their offices or via credit card on the phone.
Since the borders opened between the north and south of the island, the option of travelling into either of the two airports in the south, Larnaca and Paphos, has steadily gained popularity.
The main reasons are sometimes cheaper flights, as most major airlines can be very competitive with their pricing, and the fact that there is no obligatory stop-over in Turkey. From most European destinations it is only a 4 or 5 hour journey time to the south, whereas it would be a 5 or 6 hour journey time to the north because of the stop over in Turkey.
There is only one airport in use in North Cyprus and this is Ercan Airport, located on the outskirts of Lefkoşa. There is one other airport called Geçitkale which is located near to Ercan, but this has not been in use for passenger flights since 2004. In 2008 there were rumours that Geçitkale was due to become a potential operation centre involved in the exporting of North Cyprus products, but this has idea has since stalled.
Ercan serves North Cyprus with flights to most major European destinations, but due to embargoes and restrictions, flights to and from Ercan can only legally fly via Turkey. Flights are frequent and at the time of writing the main carriers only appear to be, Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines. AtlasJet and Onur Air will apparently be starting flights in 2012, but on researching they are not quite there yet. Cyprus Turkish Airlines, the state airline stopped flying in recent years and despite numerous attempts to reinstate the airline, nothing has come to fruition yet, which is real shame indeed.
Many find the word ‘dolmuş’ (pronounced ‘dolmoush’) to be a little strange, but it basically means a shared taxi, and the word is used to refer to the many mini buses and stretch taxis that you see driving around the main roads in Cyprus!
The dolmuş is great way to travel from town to town, it’s relatively cheap, and you can pretty much flag them down anywhere, even though there are also official bus or dolmuş stops these days! Each bus route is leased from the North Cyprus government, with vehicles being owned privately and with each driver holding a license for transporting passengers. You can spot a dolmuş by the fact that most of them are white Ford transit minibus type vehicles, and they usually have their final destination shown in the front windscreen. One other sign is that you may be walking along minding your own business and you get beeped at, meaning the driver is asking you if you want to get on – they aren’t being rude, they are being courteous!