tourism north cyprus


When it comes to choosing the best accommodation in North Cyprus suited to your own requirements and tastes, take a look at this article which gives food for thought on the individual suitability of available accommodation.  There are so many different types of accommodation from 5 star to 1 star, holiday villages, budget accommodation and guesthouses, that you should have no trouble in finding what you need.

The Malpas 5 star hotel has been a wonderful addition to the recent surge of top class luxury hotel opening in North Cyprus, and after a few years in the making it opened its doors to guests in 2007. 

The Malpas is finished to the highest standards and it has utilised modern technology in an effort to create an eco-friendly facility particularly with regards to its plumbing and re-use of water, (a small but significant step in the right direction).  The hotel can offer both residents and non-residents a wealth of amenities and attractions too, and it has proved a welcome compliment to the range and location of hotels across the northern third of the island.

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!

Firstly we will admit to perhaps using the phrase ‘eco-tourism’ a little too freely – however, there really are many ventures in North Cyprus which do try their utmost to offer the environmentally aware visitor a more eco-friendly type of holiday!

Whilst the rise of the 5 star hotel resort seems to be pretty much the dominant force at present on the island, there are major efforts to boost offerings for visitors who wish to experience a more traditional type of existence whilst on holiday.  Projects often funded by the government, grants and aid from the European Union, as well as NGO organisation assistance and expertise, are already forcing the issue with some success.

One such area of North Cyprus that has already benefited is a village called Büyükkonuk that is a real-life example of a sustainable community.  Located at the gateway to the Karpaz region, Büyükkonuk has benefited from funding from the European Union to help its fruition as well as some forward thinking individuals who have realised that mass hotel development is perhaps sometimes not be the first choice for everyone.

The local Turkish Cypriot residents of the village are enjoying their success and actually find the attention they receive from visitors quite exciting, and they have stepped up to the task admirably!  An annual festival has been proof of the village’s success with many visitors coming to sample the delights crafted there such as the handicrafts made by local people.

You can lodge at simple village accommodation, experience traditional Cypriot life with spontaneous and scheduled activities and tours, and the area has miles of undisturbed walking territory and nature to spend your days exploring.  One family business which actively promotes this area and can offer organised holidays and accommodation is Delcraft, run by Ismail and Lois Cemal.  They are extremely enthusiastic about what they do and you will also find yourself hopelessly infected by their enthusiasm!  They have their own website www.ecotourismcyprus.com where you can find out more about what’s on offer as well as details about accommodation available.

A well known English couple in North Cyprus, Maureen and Tony Hutchinson, who have lived on the island for many years, run a similar type of operation from their base in Hasirköy to the west of the island.  Sadly Maureen passed away in 2011 but Tony is hopefully set to continue offering accommodation – although it’s limited to one cottage – but will also offer walking tours including orchid hunting, and promote traditional methods by offering demonstrations on local cooking methods for example.  They can be found at www.walksnorchidsnorthcyprus.com and in our walking groups article for more information.

There are certainly other establishments which can fit into the wider Eco-Tourism bracket, such as old buildings which have been restored using traditional techniques to bring them to life again, to be used as pensions and guesthouses which have proved very popular with the alternative holiday seeker.  A very good example are the Arch Houses in the village of Dipkarpaz which are 12 traditionally restored houses offering bed & breakfast accommodation, and whilst they feature modern facilities such as air-conditioning, they still give guests a feeling of times past and of traditional living.  If you want something even more basic, then there are plenty of small pensions located on the beach areas of the Karpaz too, so if you fancy sleeping in a wooden beach hut close to the lapping seashore then you are well catered for!

Villages in the surrounds of the Lefke region to the west of the island are also set to be part of a government initiative which will include the setting up of pensions and guesthouses in the future; the application process for funds started in late 2008.  With the Troodos mountain range, as well as the ruins of Vouni and Soli not a million miles away, this is definitely something which should help to promote the area and the start up of smaller establishments which can be run by local people.  Old buildings are to be restored along with new construction offering accommodation of no more than five bedrooms, ensuring the environment is considered throughout the initiative.

Besides the accommodation sector, there are also plenty of tour companies which offer itineraries for a more nature and environmental type of holiday, offering bird watching, walking and cycling options whilst also incorporating some of the other sightseeing activities such as the Crusader castles, museums and the like.  Please check our more in-depth article on tour companies to find out more about what’s on offer.

Whilst North Cyprus can’t claim to be a totally eco-friendly island incorporating initiatives rife with environmentally friendly schemes (yet!), there are steps being taken to ensure that at least there is the option available for the growing number of people who respect the need for environmental protection for many years to come, and that is only to be commended.

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!