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Northern Cyprus

A land of fairy tale castles, rugged mountains and caravanserai

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Unspoilt Cyprus

Less commercialised than its more southerly neighbour, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus boasts arguably the better scenery. Many visitors head for Girne, (Kyrenia) a delightful old port where there are plenty of hotels and restaurants. Just south of Girne is the charming little town of Ballapais. Traditionally a Greek Cypriot village until the Turkish invasion of 1974, Bellapais has a beautiful medieval Abbey adorned by the Gothic lancet arches of its former cloisters.

Most Turkish Cypriots live in Lefkosa (North Nicosia). A visit here is a must in order to experience the delights of this Ottoman city.  The landmark Selimiye Mosque, converted from the Cathedral of St Sophia, and the medieval caravanserai of Buyuk Han are spectacular. However, if you wish to visit the Greek part of the city then take your passport!


Fairytale castle and Greek ruins

Disney fans should visit St Hilarion Castle perched high up in the Kyrenian Mountains. Why? It’s rumoured that this fortress inspired Walt’s animation Snow White. Make time for a trip to Gazimagusa, or Famagusta, with its medieval churches and the nearby wonderful archaeological site at Salamis on the east coast. At Salamis discover the enormous 15,000 seater amphitheatre and the marble columns of the Palestra where athletes and wresters used to practice.

Also well worth travelling to is the Karpaz Peninsula in the north east, often called ‘the Panhandle’. Above all, an unspoilt place of outstanding beauty with great beaches, an ancient monastery, wild donkeys and turtles. What more could you want? Plan your journey carefully though as it’s further than you think and there are only a few basic hotels.

To learn more about Northern Cyprus check out the website… And until we find the perfect destination specialist (if that’s you please contact us), we’re endeavouring to source a good itinerary from North Cyprus Tourism.

Kyrenia Habour, Northern Cyprus, Photo by Erol Pohlreich


When To Go

Cyprus is a year round destination as it never really gets cold even in January and February but the best months, in terms of warmth and lack of rainfall, are from April to November.

High and Low Season

High season is, as with most European destinations, July and August although June and September can be quite busy in the main resorts. Low season is January and February when the temperatures are at their lowest and the precipitation at its highest.

Weather and Climate

Local Events include: 
May/June – Bellapaís Music Festival (Northern Cyprus)
June (2nd half of month) – Famagusta Art and Culture Festival (Northern Cyprus)
September/October – Northern Cyprus Music Festival (Keryneia Castle, Bellapais and Salamis)

Cypriot Holidays include:

January 1st New Year’s Day (All of Cyprus)
April 23rd Day of the Child (Northern Cyprus)
May 19th Day of Youth and Sports (Northern Cyprus)
July 20th Day of Turkish Intervention (Northern Cyprus)
August Seker Bayrami (End of Ramadan) 3 days – timing varies. (Northern Cyprus)
August 30th Victory Day (Northern Cyprus)
October 25th-28th Kurban Bayrami – Sacrifice day (Northern Cyprus)
October 29th Foundation of the Turkish Republic (Northern Cyprus)
November 15th Proclamation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Consult: http://www.feiertagskalender.ch/

Time Zone

Cyprus is located in the Eastern European TimeZone  (EET)

Daylight Saving Time (DST) happens in the Spring (last Sunday in March at 1AM) when clocks are advanced one hour. In the Autumn (last Sunday in October at 1AM), clocks shift back one hour to standard time to give more daylight in the morning.

What it Costs

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus uses the Turkish Lira as it’s main currency. In the main centres you may find that Euros, British Pounds and US Dollars are accepted.

Northern Cyprus is not expensive – expect to pay much the same as, or even less, than you would elsewhere. Admission to sites of interest is often surprisingly cheap and eating out, while not exactly inexpensive, is normally very reasonably priced.

Of course the larger cities can be a little more pricey but, if you are prepared to shop around a little, you’ll find something to suit your pocket.

What you can expect is value for money wherever you go. For food shopping try the nearest outdoor market. This will not necessarily be cheaper than the shops but the produce is guaranteed to be local and fresh.

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.

Price ranges are quoted in €.

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
Free
€ => Tickets less than €15 per person
€€ => Tickets €15- €30 per person
€€€ => Tickets €30 per person

Sleep — Out of town/rural
€ => Rooms less than €60 for a double
€€ => Rooms €60 – €100 for a double
€€€ => Rooms €100 for a double

Sleep — Large Cities

€ => Rooms less than €100 for a double
€€ => Rooms €100 – €150 for a double
€€€ => Rooms €150 for a double

Eat
€=> €5- €10 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
€€ => €10 – €25 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
€€€ => €25 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)

Shop
N/A => Not applicable

Tours
€ => Tickets less than €25 per person
€€ => Tickets €25 – €50 per person
€€€ => Tickets €50 per person

Airfare and Car Rental Prices

Fly the Friendly Skies

Airfares are a fickle thing. When you need it to be low, it’s high. And when prices dip, what happens? You can’t get off work to travel. Sigh. 

But you can get notifications from companies like Kayak, which will email you when airfares drop. Type your destination and the dates you are watching and boom, when there’s a deal, you’ll hear about it immediately via your inbox. 

Sites like Momondo also display prices for multiple airlines, so you can compare rates without visiting individual airline sites. 

That said, there is an advantage to visiting an individual airline’s site. Why? Because some of their really great deals don’t show up on the aggregator airfare sites. Most airlines share limited-time, super-specials via their Facebook pages or email blasts. So it pays to be their ‘friend’ or subscribe to their e-mailings. European operators such as easyJet, Ryanair, Air France-KLM, Jet2,  British Airways, flybe and Lufthansa offer an extensive range of routes in Europe.

Have Car, Will Travel

Like airlines, car rental rates are all over the map. Companies like Expedia and Hotwire offer comparison price shopping.

Insurance

Hopefully, your trip to (or within) Europe goes without a glitch. But what if an unexpected situation arises? Will you lose the money you invested in the trip? Will you need quick cash to cover sudden costs? 

Travel insurance policies are meant to cover these unexpected costs and assist you when problems arise. The fee is typically based on the cost of the trip and the age of the traveler.

Most travel insurance providers offer comprehensive coverage that usually includes protection for the following common events:

Trip Cancellation — About 40 percent of all claims fall in this category. 

Medical — Travellers within Europe from European Union member states should obtain an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) card which entitles them to healthcare on the same terms as citizens from the country they are visiting. This is a reciprocal agreement which means for example that EEA visitors to the UK will receive free care in NHS hospitals in the same way that UK residents do.  Some countries e.g. France make a charge known as a patient contribution for GP visits or stays in hospital for both their own citizens and visitors from the EEA. Even so, travellers are well advised to have additional medical insurance to cover for example the cost of repatriation, mountain rescue in ski resorts and other emergencies.

For travellers from outside the European Union the cost of health services in Europe, while not as high as in the US for example, can be relatively expensive for the uninsured. For this reason it is essential to consider purchasing medical insurance. If you have a Health Care Plan back home it may cover you for most situations which arise abroad but you need to check this out and in any case additional medical travel insurance will cover you for private health care or other expenses. 

Some countries outside the European Union have a reciprocal agreement for healthcare with certain European countries.  For example Switzerland has an agreement with all European Union countries and Australia has agreements with the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and others. It pays to check before leaving home.

Trip Interruption — For example, if you become ill during your trip or if someone at home gets sick, and you have to get off the cruise ship or abandon a tour. The insurer will often pay up to 150% of the cost of your trip to get you home.

Travel Delay — Insurance usually covers incidentals like meals and overnight lodging while you wait to travel home.

Baggage — Insurance will typically cover lost and mishandled baggage.

Some insurance companies allow you to purchase a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason. This may cost more (often 10% or more), but it is worthwhile for certain travellers.

Do I need travel insurance?

If your trip is expensive it’s essential and even if it isn’t it’s certainly a good idea. Your age and health are important factors. Your English or other European language skills are also crucial because insurance policies often include concierge services with 24-hour hotlines that can connect you quickly with someone who speaks your language. 

How do I choose an insurance provider?

Do your homework — check around.

The largest insurers in the U.S. include Travel Guard, Allianz and CSA Travel Protection. Smaller reputable companies include Berkley, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, Travel Insured International and Travelex. You may also find deals through aggregates like Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip. 

Many airlines and travel companies also offer travel insurance when you book your flight (often contracted with the above major players).

In Europe the largest insurers are Allianz, Axa and Zurich but there are many smaller providers such as insureandgo and Direct Line.

Pre-existing health conditions — Many policies have exclusion policies if you have a pre-existing medical condition or charge an additional premium related to the condition.  Some companies also offer waivers that overwrite the exclusion if you purchase the policy within a certain time frame of paying for your trip (e.g., within 24 hours of buying your cruise package). Again, it’s best to check the fine print.

Credit card insurance — If you buy your airfare or trip with a credit card, you may be partially covered by the credit card’s issuing bank. Check directly with the company to find out exactly what’s covered, as many have “stripped down” coverage and restrictions.

Exchange Rates and Currency

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus uses the Turkish Lira.

The Lira is available in the following denominations: TL1, TL5, TL10, TL20, TL50, TL100 and TL 200. The Lira is divided into 100 Kuros (pronounced kooroosh).

Many travellers like to have a small amount of local currency when they arrive in a country but this is becoming less and less important as ATMs and Bureaux de Change appear everywhere especially in transport terminals.

Tipping and Costs That Add Up

The good news for travellers in Europe is that you don’t need to get stressed about tipping – you don’t have to do it and when you do it really should reflect good or excellent service rather than be something you are expected to do. On the whole workers in tourism are reasonably well paid and don’t depend upon tips to make up their wages. In some cases over-tipping can be embarrassing for all concerned.

Restaurants

Many restaurants include a ‘service’ charge in the price so check and, if it isn’t mentioned, then a tip of between 5 – 10% is quite enough. Even where it is included but you feel that you’ve had really excellent service then the same amount is adequate but ensure that your server receives this by handing it directly to them. 

Other methods are to add a euro/pound for each member of the party or round up the bill to the nearest 5 or 10 euros.

Many restaurants add an ‘optional’ amount to the bill when you are paying with plastic, but in many cases the servers don’t receive any of this and it simply becomes an extra profit for the owner. The server won’t mind if you decline to do this!

Taxis
With taxis, just round up to the next euro or pound for a short journey or, for a long ride, to the nearest ten. Again 10% is the maximum you should consider unless of course the driver carries your bags into the hotel or airport when a little more will be appreciated.

Hotels
You may wish to give the porter a euro for each bag he carries but, while it will be appreciated, it is not normally expected. Similarly you may wish to leave a small tip for the housekeeping staff, especially if they have been particularly helpful, but this is completely up to you.

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