Cyprus Survival guide
Saturday 25 May 1996
Throughout these pages, we use the term Republic of Cyprus to refer to the area controlled by the official government of the island. North Cyprus, or simply "the north", refers to the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised by no country other than Turkey.
Nicosia is regarded by both sides as the capital, and is named Lefkosia in the Republic and Lefkosa in the north. Famagusta has been renamed Ammochostos by the south and Gazimagusa in North Cyprus. Kyrenia is called, respectively, Keryneia and Girne. Limassol has become Lemesos. We have retained the more familiar original names.
Nicosia airport has been closed since 1974. At present, all flights to the island use Larnaca and Paphos in the south and Ercan in the north; note that this is regarded by the authorities in the south as an illegal point of entry to Cyprus (see below).
Republic of Cyprus: Three scheduled airlines fly to the south of Cyprus: Air 2000 (0161-745 4644), British Airways (0345 222111) and Cyprus Airways (0171-388 5411). Fares are around pounds 250 return from London, Birmingham or Manchester. Numerous operators offer holidays to the Republic.
North Cyprus: Relatively few companies offer holidays in North Cyprus. The main operators include Anatolian Sky (0121-633 4013), CTA Holidays (0171-930 4851) and President Holidays (0181-688 7555). Cyprus Turkish Airlines (0171-930 4851) and Istanbul Airlines (0181-759 1818) operate flights from London and Manchester to Ercan airport in North Cyprus. All services touch down in Turkey en route.
Boats depart from Mersin, Tasucu and (in summer) Antalya, subject to Turkish government action. Note that the internationally recognised government of the Republic of Cyprus has declared all the arrival ports in the north to be prohibited points of entry and exit. Prospective travellers to Greece or the Republic of Cyprus whose passports show evidence of a visit to North Cyprus may be refused entry. Accordingly, immigration officials in the north will use a loose sheet of paper for entry and exit stamps rather than marking your passport with incriminating evidence.
Republic of Cyprus: The Cyprus pound, as Martin Scudamore indicates, is one of the few currencies whose unitary value is higher than sterling. The present rate is pounds 1.40. The limit on the amount of Cypriot currency you could import or export has been abolished.
North Cyprus: In contrast, there are an astonishing number of Turkish lire to the pound: 111,000 at the last count, meaning you can become a millionaire for pounds 9. You are advised to take low-denomination sterling notes and to change only a little at a time, since the lira depreciates rapidly.
Public transport on both sides of the line is excellent, comprising collective taxis (cheap and crowded) and buses (cheaper and more crowded). Car hire is around pounds 25 per day.
Crossing the line
The Green Line between the Republic and the North can be crossed at the Ledra Palace checkpoint in Nicosia. You are permitted to make a day trip from south to north between 9am and 6pm. You are obliged to register at the Republic's frontier control on the way across, and pay CYpounds 1 to the officials on the Turkish side.
Travellers originating in the north are not allowed to cross to the south.
Cyprus Tourism Organisation, 213 Regent Street, London W1R 8DA (0171- 734 9822). Tourist offices in the Republic are excellent, especially the one at Larnaca airport which seems to be open all around the clock.
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Information Office, 28 Cockspur Street, London SW1 (0171-839 4577). The only tourist office is miles from the centre of Nicosia around the back of the Tourism Ministry and not worth the hassle.
The Travel Show on 30 May (BBC-2, 9pm) will include a report on North Cyprus
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