You could say this is writing for the record, for the North Cyprus history books. It will certainly be documented elsewhere but we felt it necessary, for our own memories, to write about the period in time where life stood still for the world. North Cyprus will not get much attention for its efforts to defeat Covid-19 on the world stage, so we will shout about it here!
Maraş/Marash or Varosha, is a well-known area to all who live in Northern and Southern Cyprus, and one which is used often as an example of what still remains a huge bone of contention for the divided island.
Fancy a bit of a shopping trip whilst visiting North Cyprus? Why not make a visit to Arasta in the heart of the walled city of Lefkoşa to experience some modern shopping, located in a wonderfully historical location! Arasta is located at the top end of Girne Caddesi which is the main road leading up from the Kyrenia Gate – keep walking and you will come upon it one way or another! You will know you have arrived when you enter a vibrant and busy shopping district.
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!
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.
If you are visiting the city of Lefkoşa whilst on your travels in North Cyprus, or just fancy spending some time looking around whilst you may have business to attend to, it’s well worth taking time to explore the sights, of which there are plenty.
Beside the abundance of museums covered in our separate article, there are some great examples of period architecture, some of which have been restored in recent years and some which are still partially intact, enabling you to at least get a feel for the history of this ancient city. Lefkoşa is believed to have begun as Ledroi in around 280 BC, and was further developed during the Byzantine era and further still by the various occupiers of the subsequent centuries, and has always been a place of importance.
If you want to see the best of North Cyprus you can get to appreciate the landscape via the healthy option of a good bracing stroll across the mountains and lowlands, and there are a few organisations who have sought to accommodate people’s desire for walking and hiking too.
Before 2003 if you lived in North Cyprus you could only shop in North Cyprus, but with the opening of the Ledra checkpoint in the heart of Lefkosa in April 2003, locals and European shoppers alike were able to explore the delights of what the south of the island had to offer.