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!
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: –
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.
Car rental here in North Cyprus is affordable and common practice and you will have no problem being able to find a company to supply you with a car for the duration of your break, although most companies state a 3 day minimum rental. However it’s not unknown to be able to get a day’s rental in low season!
There are plenty of car rental companies to choose from and with modern technology it is easy to book direct online before you arrive. In peak season your choice may be limited by demand…North Cyprus is such an attractive destination for its sun, sea and sand, its places of cultural and historical interest that it’s not only tourist accommodation that is in demand during the long hot summer, but rental cars as well. Be sure to book your car well in advance to avoid disappointment and to get the most choice, the best deals and the most competitive prices.
Depending on the season prices do vary with low season usually stated as being November to March, mid season April to June and high season July to October. Many hire care companies will advertise special deals well in advance of the holiday season so it would be wise when deciding on your timetable to book early to take advantage of any deals available. More often than not if you choose to book online you will also receive a discounted price.
For the independent travellers your hotel or holiday village will be able to recommend a car rental company to you for sure, as often family members run a care hire company! If you’re renting a villa or borrowing a friend’s holiday home then check on the internet for companies offering the best deals and book before you travel. Major car rental companies like Avis, Budget and Hertz haven’t established offices in North Cyprus yet, so all the organisations offering cars here are small local companies. As such you can be assured a personal and friendly service.
Most hire companies now run a collection service if you are arriving at an airport in south Cyprus such as Larnaca or Paphos. Normal practice would be to pay the taxi transfer separately and not as part of the hire car agreement, as the hire companies often sub-contract to a regular taxi driver for these pick-ups. Alternatively, your car can be ready for you on arrival at Ercan airport in the north, or they can deliver your hire car to an address or pretty much anywhere you choose in North Cyprus and they will collect it from the same spot when you depart.
The range of cars available for rent in North Cyprus is very wide and in recent years has become more updated. For those who have visited North Cyprus in the past, the days of the Renault 19 and Renault 12 are sadly numbered! You can now rent the bastions of rental cars such as the Ford Focus or VW Polo or indeed even a top of the range 4 x 4. Consider what your requirements are and if you plan to see all of the castles in North Cyprus it might be wise to consider a 4 x 4 as the roads are a little rough once you head off the beaten track. And make sure you insist on a car with air-conditioning…trust us, you’ll need it!
Be sure to bring your driving licence with you of course, and if any other members of your holiday party want to be included on the car rental documents then they too need to bring their licence. Insurance and tax will most likely all be included in the price, but it’s important to note that the minimum age limit for hiring a car in North Cyprus is 25. Most hire car companies also offer 24 hour assistance should you have any problems that you may have with the hire vehicle.
If you want to take your hire car over the Green Line to South Cyprus we are afraid you cannot. It’s not illegal as some may otherwise advise you; it’s just that hire car companies in North Cyprus are reluctant to allow their cars across and therefore do not allow it.
You can easily spot rental cars here as they have red number plates instead of yellow – this should mean that local drivers take care and give rental cars space as they are most likely being driven by drivers unfamiliar with the road…in reality it means that people will speed up and try and overtake you! Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it!
If you come from the UK you’ll be happy to learn that in Cyprus – both North and South – you drive on the left. If you spot a car with Turkish number plates watch out as they occasionally forget and wander to the right side of the road as on the Turkish mainland they drive on the right! It makes for interesting driving!
This finishes our general information on car hire in North Cyprus and hope that it helps in your decision making process. Good luck and happy driving!
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.
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!