WHY CYPRUS IS DIVIDED?
A past with a strong Greek influence and 300 years of Ottoman Empire
led than to have in 20th century 70% and 30% of the population Greeks
and Turks respectively. When the country got independency from the
British (1960) fighting immeditely started and a separation line (green
line) cutting Nicosia was defined.
Due to the threat of a potential unification with Greece, in 1974
the Turkish army invaded Cyprus. They conquered the northern half
of the country, kicking out the Greeks and setting up a 'No Man Land'
protected by two walls. Since then UN and British overview the situation
among the parties
Cyprus map, click on to
8 days , June'15
Kind of travel:
Me and my wife Elisa with our 2 year old daughter INES in an independent
30th May- 7th Jun'15
Do I need a visa:
Cyprus Greek: Need just your ID
Cyprus Turkish: bring your passport (no stamps on it)
How I moved:
Cyprus Greek: by a rented medium size car (prices 25€/day + baby
Cyprus Turkish: same car rented in the Greek Cyprus but you need to pay
a Turkish third party insurance (3 days: 20€, 7 days: 35€).
Note you cannot rent a car in the Turkish Cyprus crossing to the Greek
Cyprus is't a tiny island; overall we drove 1000km! We didn't take but
I saw a good bus network in the Greek Cyprus
Freezing or baking:
In first week of June weather is already hot (max 27-33C) but being windy
well bearable. You might need just a sweater in the evening (min: 17C),
but jackets can be left at home
Where I slept:
Plenty of opportunities in particular self catering apartments (even
for 1 night): average price for a triple apartment 50€/night. Distance
from the sea is the main price driver.
What I liked:
generally the uniqueness of a separated country with his complex recent
past and the authentic 'middle eastern' atmosphere of the occupied Turkish
In term of highlights: the charming city of Nicosia, the astonishing ghost
town of Varosha and the Saint Hilarious castle
What I disliked:
Limassol and Larnaca , since anonymous and touristy; the inland landscape
since monotonous and unimpressive
How much daily:
travelling with two adults and a toddler: accommodation 50€ per triple
per night , car 25€/day, food (in the evening always eating fish
in restaurants) 70€/day + others (petrol, sunbed,
) : the total
for the whole family will be 170€/day
I'd spend more time on the Turkish part (cheaper and more charming),
avoiding Limassol and Larnaca
IMPRESSIONS OF CYPRUS
I found in the Turkish part an authentic 'middle eastern' vibe (hoping
to not offend any Cypriot reader). While in the Greek one I felt tourism
overwhelmed the atmosphere dominated in particular by Brits and Russians.
Furthermore generally I was expecting more dramatic landscape, while
I didn't see anything remarkable.
Having said it, Nicosia, Varosha and Saint Hilarious Castle are worth
the trip, and if you are looking for a beach holiday to party with friends
or to enjoy your baby you won't be disappointed.
TRAVEL IN CYPRUS
Catalkoy beach, St Hilasrious castel
Garden Holiday Resort
bay + Pafhos
bay + Laneia
Unless you pass through Turkey, you'll have to land in the
Greek part of Cyprus and very likely at Larnaca airport (Cyprus main one).
There are flights landing also in Pafhos but quite sporadic, while nothing
flies directly to Nicosia.
In Larnaca we spent a night and we rented the car (30€/day with AVIS).
The town has a nice promenade by the sea side with a crowdy long sand
beach. You won't miss bars, restaurants, entertainments everything with
a British vibe; unless you want a beach holiday with a baby and you want
every service nearby, airport included, I think it's not worth to spend
time in Larnaca.
We drove on the way to Famagusta crossing the 'green line' (border with
the Turkish occupied part) in the Deryneia checkpoint. Here don't miss
the watchtower (lookout point) where you'll be provided with binoculars
to see the 'No Man Land' of the separation line; don't expect too much
but it's worth to pass by and have a look also to few documents about
the Turkish invasion. Deryneia is by far the most curious crossing point,
since it's where the UN headquarter (UN monitor the buffer zone, namely
the 'no man land' between the two walls) is based. So crossing here means
to exit the Greek part, then to enter the English zone, drive 300m and
then finally pulling into the Turkish area. If you have a car you'll be
asked to buy a new third party insurance since the one stipulated in the
Greek area is not valid in the Turkish one (20€ for 3 days, or 35€
for 7 days). Remember that renting a car directly on the Turkish area
won't allow you to enter the Greek one, while vice versa (as we did) is
Once entered we headed to the nearby Varosha; it has been the highlight
of our travel, despite for the 'Greeks' is still a bleeding wound. Before
the Turkish invasion (summer 1974) Varosha was the main resort of the
whole Cyprus, counting more than 40.000 inhabitant. Turkish army found
the city already abandoned, so they isolated it without settling down.
They counted to bargain it in the negotiation of the recognition of the
occupation with Greeks. So since 1974 the city is fenced with barbered
wire and watching towers and nobody is allowed to enter. Everything is
more or less as it was in 1974, left out lootings. You can peep inside
through the fence (the fence at the beach is the most popular spot) and
you'll see a real ghost town with huge building crumbling down. Searching
internet you can see car dealers shop with the 70s car still inside, the
airport with the rust aircraft on the run away
500 m north of Varosha lies Famagusta old city (1h drive
from Larnaca), a pleasant Turkish town with a unique mosque built on the
former Catholic Cathrdral (the minaret is built between the two steeples).
After 2h driving than we pulled in Nicosia; an charming city dense of
highlights, being also the only divided capital in the world. You'll fall
in love hanging around the cobblestone narrow streets then suddenly barred
by the 'green line (separation wall)'. You can cross on foot the separation
line in one checkpoint opened in 2003, showing your passport and being
quickly registered. We liked much more the Turkish part of Nicosia since
we found it more authentic and cheap vs the Greek, despite it's definitely
worth to visit both.
Then we dedicated a full day on the Cyprus Turkish part, in particular
spending few hours on the a beach near Kyrelia called Katalkoy (uncrowded
cheap place with good restaurants) and visiting Saint Hilarious castle.
Second only to Varosha and Nicosia in term of 'must-to-be-seen', it's
perched on the rocky cliff overlooking the coast. It's a 15min drive from
Kyrelia (30min from Nicosia) and from the parking lot you've to climb
up the three levels till the very top from where you can enjoy a breathtaking
view. Besides you'll get surprised to find a church and several rooms
in a place even a bird would hardy manage to set up a nest.
We turned than southward towards Limassol, stopping by the town of the
embroidery: Lefkara. Unless you are mad for knitting, I wouldn't recommend
also because I found it too touristic.
For the remaining 4 days we settled down in Limassol, (3h driving from
Nicosia) using it as base for daytrips. I found the town quite anonymous
since lacking of any Cypriot atmosphere. In fact given the number of Russians
living here (left alone the ones spending the holidays) it has been re-baptized
Limassolgrad. The seaside in Limassol as the one in Larnaca is convenient
in term of services but definitely not remarkable.
We visited Pafhos (1h driving) and the popular Coral beach (30min from
Pafhos), for sure much better than Larnaca or Limassol, but it's quite
While I found more windy but also more laid-back the Pissouru beach (40min
from Limassol).Unlike Coral beach there aren't many structures but the
fish dishes we enjoyed at the restaurant have been unforgettable.
We didn't miss also Laneia: a very photogenic village plunged in the Trodos
mountains characterized by flower filled cobblestone streets and limestone
buildings. As 'cherry on the cake' of the trip, here we tasted the best
Meze we had so far and enjoyed a typical Cypriot wedding.