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
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.
The town of Varosha was conquered but not invaded and still
today is a ghost town.
Cyprus map, click
on to enlarge
8 days ,
Kind of travel:
Me and my wife Elisa with our 2 year old daughter INES in an
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 seat 6€/day!)
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.
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 part.
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,
) : 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
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
city center suite
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 crowdy.
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.