Getting to the North is as easy as 1,2,3 (bir, iki, üç)

Getting to the North is as easy as 1,2,3 (bir, iki,üç)

Getting to the North is as easy as 1,2,3. DON’T WORRY, you don’t need to learn any Turkish to get to the North of Cyprus, or for that matter to get yourself understood. Whilst Turkish is the official language on the Northern side of the island many locals speak English (not surprising given that the island was occupied by the British until 1960).  What’s more EU citizens don’t need a visa (just a passport); you can drive on the left (using just a British or international driving licence); the local currency is Turkish Lira but many places take pound sterling (plus major credit cards of course); and you won’t even need a plug adaptor (the plugs are the UK square three-pin type).

But just how easy is it to get there? If you’ve already googled flights you will have worked out that it is currently not possible to fly direct to North Cyprus. Even though the North has its own international airport (Ercan airport is just east of the island’s capital, Nicosia), a European Union ruling means all flights must go via Turkey. But rather than bore you with the politics, here are some practical suggestions about getting to the North…

If flying is your preferred way to travel, don’t be deterred by the idea of an indirect flight via Turkey. You probably won’t even disembark from the plane, just a brief courtesy touchdown on Turkish soil. This option offers minimal interruption to your schedule and the total flight time can be as little as 5½ hours (London to Ercan). And on arrival expect a transfer time to Kyrenia of just 40 minutes, the tourist hub of the North. Regular scheduled and charter flights operate from various UK airports through Pegasus, Turkish Airlines, Atlas Jet and Onurair.

Getting to the North is as easy as 1,2,3 (bir, iki,üç)

If you prefer direct flights, you can opt to fly to Larnaca in the South in just 4½ hours (from London). There are a number of airlines that fly from various UK airports, the most popular being BA, Easyjet, Monarch and Cyprus Airways, offering competitively priced flights. You can then hop north of the border via hire car or taxi with a transfer time to Kyrenia of 1½ hours. Car rental is relatively inexpensive and is widely available through tour operators, hotels and car hire companies. Taxis are available directly from the airport.

And flying isn’t the only option. From Turkey, you can get to North Cyprus via a daily express ferryboat or slower car ferry between the main ports of Tasucu and Kyrenia, or Mersin to Famagusta. This is also a perfect way for holidaymakers in the North to enjoy some of Turkeys hot spots (additional ferries run in the summer to Alanya, Antalya, and Anamur).

Getting to the North is as easy as 1,2,3 (bir, iki,üç)

If you are arriving independently to North Cyprus taxis are the most convenient way to travel. Taxis are widely available in the towns and operate both meters and fixed rate fares. It is always sensible to agree to a price in advance. Many North Cyprus taxi firms take internet bookings allowing you to book ahead. It is also possible to telephone for a taxi or flag one down in the road. In rural areas, you will need to find a taxi stand.

An inexpensive network of buses and minibusses operate between all the main towns in the North. There are no formal timetables in operation but the services are frequent. There is also a dolmus (shared taxi) service operating on the same routes.

So all very straightforward, and once you get to the North the benefits will far outweigh any minor hassles along the way. And like learning to count in a new language, even Turkish, these things generally prove much easier than you think. Seriously, bir, (the Turkish for number 1), is pronounced BEER! And sooner than you can say bir, iki, üç, the flight is forgotten and you’ll be enjoying a cold Turkish beer, the sun warming your brow, looking out onto the beautiful Kyrenia harbour.