The island of Cyprus located in directly south of Turkey has a complicated political structure. Internationally when people refer to Cyprus they are typically talking about the entire island which has been split since 1974. Since a Greek-backed coup the island has been divided although only Turkey recognizes the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Politics aside, its important for travelers to know the distinction to find out what it means to your trip planning. First of all the south (Greek) part of the island is a member of the European Union (EU) where as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) relies heavily on trade with Turkey. Since the TRNC is not recognized internationally there is limited trade with it limiting its economy. This fact does make the TRNC considerably cheaper and less crowded than the south.
Tourists visiting (south) Cyprus are under that same restrictions they would be entering most other EU member states. For most visitors this is a 90-day tourist visa and the north has similar requirements as well. You can visit the TRNC from the south or visa-versa through the capital of the island, Nicosia (in Turkish Lefkosa) usually for one day. You’ll be required to show your passport and get a stamp so don’t show up empty-handed or you’ll be forced to come back another day. If you’re focusing your travels on only the TRNC you’ll need to take a flight or ferry over from Turkey. Since the north is not recognized internationally and only by Turkey, you must go through the country to get there.
Cyprus is a tropical island with hot summers, and cooler, rainy winters. The northern edges and higher elevations have been known to get the occasional flurry but don’t be fooled. The early spring and late fall months are the best times weather-wise to visit as the humidity and heat dissipates leaving crisp mild air for your to enjoy, with many fewer tourists as well. The waters are typically fairly calm with mild waves which makes many of Cyrus beaches some of the most popular for European vacationers.
One of the most beautiful beaches on the north part of the island is Girne. It also happens to be a major port for the TRNC and where many of the ferries from Turkey come to dock. The ferries come and go every 2 hours or so and leave run throughout the day. Staying in Girne also known by its Greek name, Kyrene, will not only save you money but introduce you to many sights and sounds most tourists havent experienced. You can visit the 500 year old Kyrenia Venetian Castle or visit the local shipwreck museum there. Its a fun and interesting place to visit for all ages since many of the wrecks are hundreds if not thousands of years old. Cyprus location in the middle of one of historys biggest shipping lanes means many ships sailed and sank off of its coasts.
In and around Girne is also St. Andrews Church with tombs more than 1,000 years old. Its a short bus ride from town and doesn’t cost much to get there or visit. Hiking is also popular in Cyprus in the small mountain range that makes its way across the island.