Northern Cyprus on the world map is like the Flying Dutchman in the vast ocean, and the legitimacy of the state is only recognized by Turkey.
The war of 1974 split the island into two parts, leaving painful memories for Cypriots on both sides of the border.
However sad the event was however, it does not take away the merits of the area; there are a significant number of attractions and beautiful beaches, which is why many visitors to Cyprus try to spend at least a few days on the northern side.
How to get to the north: the peculiarities of the visa regime
If you are in the south of the island there is no problem crossing the border and returning. There are four crossings (one car and one pedestrian crossing point are in Nicosia).
There is no special visa for northern Cyprus as there is no embassy. At the border crossing you will be given a visa form which will be stamped. On the return journey this form must be presented to passport control.
Previously you had to fill in a visa form which was then stamped and shown again to passport control on your return trip. Now all you have to do is to show your passport and your details will then be entered into the system.
Northern Cyprus hotels
There is currently active development of the hospitality industry, including the construction of new hotels on the north of the island. It should be noted that the level of hotels in this area is relatively high, and prices are slightly lower than in the Republic of Cyprus and Greece.
Most hotels offer services and entertainment: a variety of water parks, huge swimming pools and golf courses. Some tourists are attracted by the casinos which are legal on this side of the island.
Cities of northern Cyprus
The centre is Nicosia, which we have already talked about in detail in one of our other articles.
One of the most popular resorts in the north is Kyrenia, or Girne. It has a population of about 70,000 and is considered to be one of the most picturesque on the island.
The earliest settlements appeared here in the Neolithic era, about 5,800 BC. In the 10th century BC the Phoenicians called their town, Aphrodite the Splendid – Kyriniana. Now the city and its surroundings are one of the most popular tourist centres on island.
Colourful restaurants and small hotels are near the picturesque harbour, which is surrounded by old stone houses built during the reign of the Venetians and the Ottomans. One of the most impressive structures is Kyrenia Castle, which lends a special charm to the harbour. There is also the Museum of Shipwrecks, where the Kyrenia ship found its last resting place.
In addition to the castle, it’s worth visiting the museum of icons next to the ruins of the Church of Archangel Michael of the 4th century, as well as the Gothic Abbey, Bellapais.
Also on the north of the island there is beautiful Famagusta, or Gazi Magosa. The modern city has a population of more than 90,000 people. Famagusta was formed on the site of the ancient settlement of Arsine, which was founded in the 3rd century BC during the reign of the Ptolemies.
Whilst here it’s worth visiting the fortress city which you can enter through the gates constructed during the Ottoman Empire. You will not regret this excursion into the old town with its unique flavour. The Orange capital is a small town called Guzelyurt, or Omorfo. Here there are the largest citrus plantations of the north. This area is farming land, with its pristine beauty and interesting archaeological sites. You should also check out the palace of Vouni, the first Cypriot King, as well as the mosaics of the Soli church.
Beaches of the North
Here there are both public and private beaches. The fee for using the equipped beaches is €3. There are also free beaches, such as the turtle beach, Alagadi, where huge sea turtles come in the summer to lay their eggs.
Most of the beaches are sandy although there are a few pebbly ones. Most of the beaches offer a variety of water sports (diving or windsurfing), water skiing, or you can use the services of the entertainment clubs. The ideal beaches for families with children are Acapulco, Camelot and Deniz Kizi. Escape beach is known for its open air discos.
Northern Cyprus restaurants
Kyrenia restaurants are very varied in the historical area, especially in the old port, and you should have dinner here and take in the amazing view.
One of the most famous institutions is Kyrenia’s first restaurant, Niazi, which was founded in 1949 in Limassol and moved to Kyrenia in 1974. Here they have ‘meze with kebab’ or full kebab, traditional Cypriot food.
Seafood lovers should visit the Lagoon restaurant, located directly opposite Niazis and belonging to the same organization. It’s worth trying the fresh fish and mussels in white wine!
One of the most popular places is Petek’s Patisserie, which offers a wide selection of cakes and soft drinks. It also serves Cypriot and Turkish cuisine. Right in the centre of the hall is a fountain and pool with beautiful goldfish, and the upper terraces offer magnificent views of Famagusta.
In the Guzelyurta region it’s worth visiting one of the inexpensive, cosy restaurants by the sea. The owners of these establishments know how to perfectly prepare the fish.
A lunch or dinner in a northern Cyprus restaurant will cost about €30 – €40 for two people, including wine or beer.
Northern Cyprus combines Greek traditions, culture and Turkish Cypriot roots. Many tourists are attracted here by the beautiful beaches, ancient heritage and excellent cuisine, but its natural beauty and low crime rate are also an added bonus.
There are no embassies or consulates on the northern side, only those of Turkey, so there’s no way to solve any problems you may have.
A visit to the occupied areas (especially if it’s for any length of time) always carries a certain risk, but the decision, of course, is yours.