Duty & Tax Free Shopping in North Cyprus

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: -

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North Cyprus Kibhas Shuttle Bus

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. [Read more...]

Car Hire 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.

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Flights to North Cyprus

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!

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Flight Options into North Cyprus

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.

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Flight Options into South Cyprus

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.

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North Cyprus by Plane

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 AirlinesAtlasJet 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.

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The Dolmuş in North Cyprus

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!

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Visas for North Cyprus

When travelling to North Cyprus the majority of nationalities only need be concerned with having a current passport that has at least 6 months validity remaining.  Citizens of all EU countries together with Australia, Canada, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland do not require a visa prior to travelling.  Other nationalities should check with their local embassy office, or indeed visit the offices of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) if they happen to have a representative in your native country.

However, do remember that at the moment those who fly to Ercan have to land at a Turkish mainland airport first, and Turkish passport and visa requirements may differ.

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Transport in North Cyprus

North Cyprus does have a fairly adequate transport system – it has shipping facilities and plenty of inland transport facilities for example – but in terms of getting around the island, some forms of public transport are fairly basic but at the same time perfectly acceptable!

North Cyprus’s road network is improving with time, and most routes in-between the major cities and towns are modern with regard to road surfacing and lighting.  However, you may find that within towns themselves, the roads need regular maintenance work, and with the upgrading of other utilities such as telephone, electric and water going on at the same time, it can sometimes lead to the uprooting of roads!

More upgrading is being done in North Cyprus all the time, specifically in the Kyrenia area where you may come across the fairly new bypass, which runs parallel to the existing road leading from Kyrenia to Alsancak.  Additionally there is work taking place to improve the major road from Tatlisu on the east coast, but again work has been slow to progress so it’s anyones guess as to when it will be completed.

Public transport facilities come in the form of the dolmuş (pronounced dolmush), and buses, which are a network of mini vans taking passengers to and from major towns and cities.  You can pick them up anywhere along the main roads, but these may not get you everywhere you want to go.

There is an up to date taxi network in North Cyprus as an alternative, with companies operating fleets of modern vehicles, you can pick these up at taxi ranks or by booking via your hotel, or sometimes by flagging them down on the road.  All taxis are metered and often have set fares for airport transfers for example.

North Cyprus also has a passenger and car ferry boat service that departs from Kyrenia and travels to one or two destinations in Turkey, dependent on the time of year.

Ercan is a small but modern airport serving passengers travelling to and from North Cyprus via Turkey, and is the central hub for air cargo transportation as well.  Major airlines such as Turkish Airlines, Cyprus Turkish Airlines, Pegasus and Atlasjet all fly via Ercan.

It is also worth mentioning that there is disabled access in some of the major hotels and holiday villages, but unfortunately you will find that many hotels do not offer such facilities and that getting around can be difficult for the less physically able in Northern Cyprus.  However, there is a company called Enable Holiday Mobility based in the North which can help provide mobility products during your stay should you require them.

For more detailed information on each mode of transportation available, please click on any of the links within this article or the related tags below for further articles.