The Ultimate Guide to North Cyprus

Cyprus is a stunningly beautiful island lying in the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It is situated about 200 Km West of Syria and just 80 Km South of Turkey. However, its history sees the island divided into two distinct areas. North Cyprus is under Turkish administration, and South Cyprus is under Greek. This guide will concentrate on the north of the island and all it has to offer.

History of North Cyprus

The island of Cyprus has seen a turbulent history. Formed in 1960 by the London and Zurich agreements, Greek and Turkish Cypriots were the founding communities of the newly formed Republic of Cyprus. It was an uncomfortable alliance that didn't last long. Constitutional changes were proposed by Archbishop Makarios and immediately rejected by the Turkish Cypriots. Violence ensued, resulting in the Turkish Cypriots retreating into enclaves.

On July 15th, 1974, a coup d’état was sponsored by the Greek Army, based on the island, the Cypriot National Guard, and the Greek Military Junta. The junta removed the standing President Makarios and placed Nikos Sampson in charge. This prompted an invasion by Turkish forces and the eviction of most of the Greek Cypriot population. 

North Cyprus vs. South Cyprus

The island was partitioned, and in 1983, The Turks declared Independence of the North. However, it was never internationally accepted, and as a result, the Northern part of the island has remained heavily dependent on Turkey. The country provides political, economic, and military support.

Many unsuccessful attempts have been made to reconcile the two sides. As a result, the North Cyprus Turkish Republic is officially titled The Republic of Northern Cyprus and the South, The Republic of Cyprus.

map of northern cyprus

The infrastructure of Turkish Cyprus

Northern Cyprus is a democratic Republic, semi-presidential in nature, and with an economy that is mainly dependent upon the service industries. With a population of some 350,000 Turkish speakers, its capital city is Lefkosia, the Turkish half of North Nicosia.

For people wishing to visit Northern Cyprus, it is served by the International airport of Ercan in Tymbou, just 13 Km to the east of Nicosia. The airport saw substantial renovations from 2010 onwards, resulting in increased passenger traffic. All International flights have to go through Turkey, but destinations include London, Manchester, and Berlin. Direct flights are still restricted as part of the international embargo. The same can be said for trade going through Northern Cyprus ports. 

No rail network exists, so the highways are used for all transport between the major cities. Most of these arterial routes are now dual-carriageways. Northern Cyprus has about 7,000 Km of roads though about 2,000 Km are unsealed. The Northern Coast Highway was recently constructed and is seen as a major economic development incentive. 

Economy

The legal currency here is the Turkish Lira. However, since The Republic of Cyprus joined the EU, the Euro has become widely accepted and made movement between the two halves of the island more accessible. 

Roughly 70% of the economy is dominated by the service industries, tourism, trade, and education. Light manufacturing makes up about 22% and agriculture 9%. The country's economic development is still adversely affected by the international embargo. UN countries do not recognize the ports and airports, and as a result, they are heavily dependent on Turkey. North Cyprus received both economic support and monetary transfers from the Turkish government.

coins of turkish lira, the currency in northern cyprus

Real estate

Many foreigners see the occupied north of Cyprus as a great opportunity for real estate investments. However, many neglect possible issues that could harm the investment since the ownership of real estate in North Cyprus is unclear.

Moreover, as the Covid-19 pandemic eased, construction picked back up. As a result, land prices have risen significantly, and property prices have followed suit. 

Land is available for purchase, and many people sell new build properties before construction is even completed. At the same time, favorable exchange rates between the Turkish Lira and the Dollar, Euro, and Sterling are worth noting. 

At last, North Cyprus tourism is opening up, with many new hotels and an increased capacity at the airport. It is becoming an excellent place to live, invest and visit, whether in Nicosia, North Cyprus, or a more rural area. While confidence elsewhere retracts, it is genuinely booming in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Company formation

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) offers new opportunities for foreign investors within its constantly developing economic environment. Investors can establish businesses in their name as a legal corporate body here. The legal status of enterprises is determined by Northern Cyprus laws.

The following types of companies can be established in Northern Cyprus:

  • Sole Traders
  • Partnerships
  • Local Limited Liability Companies
  • Branches of Foreign Limited Companies
  • Free Zone Companies
  • International Business Companies

Anyone opening a business here must abide by the following conditions. In addition, all companies must have the following:

  • At least two shareholders.
  • At least one director.
  • One company secretary, who is the person who submits official documents of the company.
  • A registered address in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Tourism in Northern Cyprus

Northern Cyprus resorts include Lefkosia, Famagusta, Kyrenia, Iskele, and Morphou. These provide many jobs and investment opportunities. 

The area has a wonderfully mild climate and some glorious beaches. In addition, the historical architecture offers another dimension to the vibrant tourism industry. 

The Ministry of Tourism, Cyprus, has ensured that in recent years ecotourism has been well developed. Cycling, walking, and viewing the exceptional flora and fauna are very popular with those visiting Northern Cyprus. The Karpass Peninsula is a very popular area with great beaches and luxury hotels. 

Due to gambling casinos being illegal in the South of the country, those in the North have flourished. First opened in the 1990s, they have grown steadily. 

castle and port of girne / kyrenia

Your North Cyprus travel guide

Climate

As one would expect from a Mediterranean island, Cyprus has a subtropical climate. The climate is warm all year round, with plenty of sunshine. Temperatures average 17ºC with a range of between 16ºC and 20ºC. It is hot and dry from mid-May to mid-October, and from November to mid-March, it is mild, rainy, and rather changeable. In between, there are two very short seasons of Spring and Autumn. 

Getting around

With no rail network and no internal waterways, the highways are used for all transport between the major cities. Most of these arterial routes are now dual-carriageways. Northern Cyprus has about 7,000 Km of roads though about 2,000 Km are unsealed. The Northern Coast Highway was recently constructed and is seen as a major economic development incentive.

Cost

The average cost of living in Cyprus is 33% less expensive than in the United Kingdom and 22.9% lower than in the United States. North Cyprus, for example, offers moderate living expenses. On the other hand, living expenses for international students are an estimated average of 350-600 USD per month. Kyrenia, for example, is in the world's top third least expensive cities.

Property rental and purchase, council tax, car rental, locally produced food, and eating out are all far more affordable than in other Mediterranean destinations. It is much cheaper to live here than in other European countries, including Southern Cyprus. On average, the cost of living in the north of the island is around 25% lower than in the south.

Currency

The currency is the Turkish Lira. However, in recent years, since The Republic of Cyprus joined the EU, the Euro has become widely accepted.

Lifestyle

North Cyprus, generally, has a small-town lifestyle. Things move at a slower pace here than in big cities. Turkish people like to take their time, drink Turkish coffee first, then talk.

Older people spend their time enjoying conversations with family and friends. The country has a hard-working culture, but they love having fun and will always try to accommodate both. Taking a stroll along the seafront and enjoying an evening meal in one of the many wonderful restaurants is the norm.

Culture

Like anywhere else, the prevalence of TV and radio is substantial. There are 14 TV stations and many radio stations. A few Turkish Cypriot television channels are aligned with political parties; their programs and reports represent their ideology rather than economic interests. 

There are five sports stadia in Northern Cyprus, with capacities ranging from 7,000 to 30,000. The most popular sport here is football. However, tae kwon do, karate, aikido, kurash, and shooting are also popular. Basketball, Handball, and Tabletennis are also played. While on the water, sports such as windsurfing, jet skiing, waterskiing, and sailing are everyday activities.

Northern Cyprus has a rich and varied culture. Music is very popular here, and Turkish Cypriot cities and towns often run festivals, including performances of local and international artists. Turkish Cypriot folk music offers a wide variety of local tunes. Many are influenced by mainland Turkish wedding music.

Northern Cyprus sees regular performances of Western and Ottoman classical music styles. In addition, northern Nicosia is home to the Lefkoşa Municipal Orchestra. It performs in parks and squares. There is also the annual Walled City Jazz Festival.

There is a big tradition of dance in Northern Cyprus. Turkish Cypriot folk dances have a variety of styles in different regions. They can be exclusively for men, women, or for mixed groups. Since the 1980s, the area has seen a revival of traditional folk dances due in no small part to folk dance groups established by the Ministry of Education and various other associations.

There is a strong history of literature, with poetry holding a special place for many locals. In addition, there is a strong tradition of oral literature here, with mani (a form of Turkish folk song in four-line stanzas) being especially liked.

The area is famous for lace making. Lefkara lace is a form of embroidery in Northern Cyprus found throughout the island. Lapta lace, or "hesap işi'' as it is known locally, is a handicraft exclusive to Northern Cyprus. It is made mainly by Turkish Cypriots in and around Lapithos. Its unique patterns come from the 19th century.

Cuisine

As one would expect of a Mediterranean country, the traditional cuisine is superb, highly varied, and very healthy. A huge variety of fish, vegetable dishes, grills, pastries, soups, and kebabs are available everywhere. The famous Turkish hors-d'oeuvre mezes are eaten as starters and sweets and cakes as desserts. 

Meals are accompanied by local wine, brandy sours, and beer. These are light, fruity, and very palatable. They offer the perfect accompaniment to local food. There are also, of course, the favorite traditional, non-alcoholic drinks; Ayran and Turkish coffee.

In addition to local cuisine Chinese, Italian, French and Indian foods are well-represented in various restaurants.

Flora and Fauna

The 1994 "An Illustrated Flora of North Cyprus" proved to be a terrific guide to anyone interested in the varied flora of the area. More than a hundred species are endemic to the island of Cyprus and nineteen to the North Cyprus area. The best time of the year to see Northern Cyprus in bloom is from February to the end of April. However, many will remain in bloom until the end of June.

There is a limited variety of wildlife to see. However, hares and foxes playing in the evening are a common sight. The Cyprus hedgehog, with its unusually long ears, was probably introduced from South Africa. Donkeys live in the wild in North Cyprus; they can be found in the Karpaz National Park. While offshore, you can spot Turtles.

For ornithologists, there is a more interesting wealth of birdlife. You can see 347 different species of bird on the island. Of these, 46 are native, and 7 of these are endemic subspecies. As with most Mediterranean countries, you'll see snakes, though only in wild areas, lizards, and plenty of insect life. The Blunt-Nosed Viper is highly venomous, though its numbers have been well controlled by the introduction of the Black Snake, which is harmless to humans. The cicadas provide a noisy backdrop on many evenings.

Hospitals

There are many excellent hospitals and medical facilities in Northern Cyprus. Always ensure that you have adequate medical insurance. Here is a list with contact numbers: 

  • Kyrenia General Hospital - Phone: +90 392 8152266
  • Nicosia General Hospital - Phone: +90 392 228 5441 / +90 392 608 5441
  • Famagusta General Hospital - Phone: +90 392 630 8900-29
  • Lefke State Hospital - Phone: +90 392 8152266
  • Near East University Hospital, Nicosia - Phone: +90 392 444 0 535
  • Cyprus Life Hospital - Phone: +90 392 225 55 70
  • Kolan British Hospital - Phone: +90 392 680 80 80
  • Özel Baskent Hospital (Private Capital Hospital) - Phone: +90 392 223 66 95 / +90 0542 861 8888
  • Kamiloglu Hospital (Kyrenia Medical Centre) - Phone: +90 392 815 1498
  • Medical Port Hospital - Phone: +90 (392) 8150800-01-03-04-05
  • University of Kyrenia Hospital - Phone: +90 392 444 99 39
  • Magusa Tip Merkezi Hospital (Cyprus Central Hospital or Famagusta Medical Hospital) - Phone: +90 392 366 5085
  • Famagusta Life Hospital  - Phone: +90 3924441133 / +90 39236686 01 to 04

Language

The official languages of Northern Cyprus are Turkish and English. However, only about 20% of the local population can speak English. Cypriot Turkish is a dialect of Turkish influenced by Cypriot Greek. Most words are similar to those in Modern Standard Turkish; however, some words have been borrowed from Greek. In addition, you will occasionally hear Russian being spoken due to the growth of tourism in Cyprus.

Nightlife

There is a chic, vibrant nightlife scene in the north of the island. Two of the most well-known clubs in Europe are situated here. Come in the summer, and open-air clubs in Kyrenia are the thing. Thousands flock to these venues every night. Nightly events include large parties with stage performances, light shows, and firework displays.

Enjoy top-quality cocktails in the warm evening air. Venues employ a strong security presence. Anti-social behavior receives zero tolerance. Northern Cyprus prefers a calm and cool atmosphere. Single Women, generally, will not feel antagonized by their surroundings. Dress code is important, and smart casual is a must for men. Most venues do not admit groups of men.

They have a saying here, "if you prefer style and lavish head to the North, if you prefer chavish go to Ayia Napa!"

Visas

Cyprus welcomes people wishing to holiday or relocate here. As a member of the EU, European citizens do not need a visa. Citizens of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway are also visa exempt. In addition, British citizens can travel for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies to tourism, visiting family or friends, attending business meetings, cultural or sports events, and even short-term studies or training.

You can apply for long-term work visas if you have a Cyprus work permit. However, you will also require; A certificate of medical clearance, a police clearance certificate, proof of financial means, travel health insurance, and a work contract with the Department of Labour seal.

Non-EU citizens may stay for one year on a long-stay visa. At the end of the year, they need to apply for a residency permit issued by the Ministry of the Interior at €60. 

Places to visit

Tourism in Northern Cyprus has a lot to offer. Here are a few of the main tourist spots:

Lefkosia

Lefkosia, North Cyprus, also known as Nicosia, is the divided capital city of Cyprus. Walk through the back streets of the Old City, and you'll be transported into an earlier era. When coming into the northern sector from the South, there are taxis that you can rent by the hour or by the day. 

Famagusta

Famagusta, on the east coast, is known for its 15th and 16th-century Venetian walls. These are surrounded by a now waterless moat. The vast, well-loved Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque was previously a Gothic cathedral dating from the 14th century. Famagusta was the island's most important port during the Middle Ages.

Kyrenia

On the northern coast, Kyrenia is well-known for its historic harbor and Byzantine castle. The beautiful waterfront offers a bustling nightlife with restaurants serving delicious local cuisine.

Iskele

Iskele is a vibrant tourist center with hospitable locals who are very interested in culture and the arts. Locals and tourists stay up all night singing and enjoying the warm night air in the municipal park. A famous annual festival is held during the first two weeks of July.

Morphou

Morphou is found in the northwest of the island, some 30 miles from Nicosia. The town is famous for its fruit growing. Oranges, apples, grapefruit, melons, and some vegetables are abundant here. The annual Morphou Orange Festival has been organized here since 1977.

Things to do 

There is an abundance of things to do in the Turkish side of Cyprus. On land, there are guided tours around the amazing cities, fabulous beaches, wine tasting, and outstanding local cuisine to sample. Plus, the many festivals that happen around the year. However, being an island, there is plenty to occupy yourself with on the water. Great water sports like scuba diving, paragliding, and boat trips for fishing or turtle-watching.

Northern Cyprus offers a wonderful mix of gentle seaside life, country walks, and vibrant, exciting nightlife. 

Major attractions

Kyrenia Harbour

With a history that goes back 6,000 years, the city has a delightful harbor with a backdrop of the Besparmak Mountains. The harbor area boasts lovely seafront cafes, restaurants, and the famous Byzantine castle built in the 7th century.

Karpaz Peninsula

The Karpas Peninsula is also known as the Karpass, Karpaz, or Karpasia. It is a long, finger-like peninsula stretching out into North East Cyprus. It is known for its beautiful, rugged landscape, mixed wildlife & glorious golden-sand beaches.

Famagusta Walled City

Famagusta once rivaled Constantinople and Venice. Remarkably, the many layers of history visible in the city remains. Extensive conservation work and a successful stewardship plan allow locals and visitors alike to enjoy this marvelous place.

Salamis Ancient City

The Ancient Greek City-State of Salamis sits on the east coast of Cyprus, at the estuary of the river Pedieos, about 6 km north of Famagusta. It is an awe-inspiring place to visit and dates back to the 11th century.

Bellapais Abbey

At the foot of the Besparmak Mountains to the East of Kyrenia stands the unique Gothic Monastery of Bellapais. Its name is a distortion of the French name "Abbaye de la Paix," meaning "Convent of Peace." 

Buffavento Castle

The castle was built in the late 11th or early 12th century by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos. It sits high up on a rocky outcrop at 940 meters overlooking the Mesarya Plains. It formed a protective fortress for the Kyrenia Mountain Range. It affords the visitor magnificent views.

Selimiye Camii

This former Christian cathedral was converted into a mosque following the Ottoman siege in 1570 and is found in Nicosia. It holds services for up to 2,500 worshippers and is the largest surviving historical building in the city.

Relocating to Cyprus 

Moving to Cyprus is a relatively straightforward process whether you are coming for a job or buying your own business. Applying for a visa, organizing health insurance, opening a bank account, and renting or buying property are all easy processes if you get some legal advice.

[H2] Tips for opening a business

Seek out a good lawyer then it's simple. 

1: Carefully prepare your documentation.

2: Choose your company name.

3: Submit the documentation.

4: Pay the relevant fees and prepare to start work.

Overview of tax laws

There are five bands of Personal Income Tax in Cyprus:

  • 0 – 19,500 0% 
  • 19,501 – 28,000 20% 
  • 28,000 – 36,300 25%
  • 36,301 – 60,000: 30%
  • 60,000+ 35%

Corporation tax is 12.5%.

VAT is 19%.

Tips for buying property

Come out on holiday to get a feel of where you want to live. Obviously, if you are starting a business, that will decide the area in which you want to be. However, there are so many places from which to choose that you need to be here to make the right decision.

Compare like-for-like prices, carry out proper due diligence and choose a good lawyer. 

Now is a great time to buy.

Final thoughts 

North Cyprus has got so many things to offer. Beautiful beaches, amazing cities, stunning architecture, Mountains, and open countryside. The people are as warm as the climate, and the food is sensational. New businesses get plenty of assistance, and newcomers are always made very welcome. The economy is booming, and the property market is thriving. Now is an excellent time to think about relocating to this island paradise. 

FAQs

Is North Cyprus a good place?

Answer: It's a beautiful place. The climate and cuisine are very favorable. It's safe, with low crime rates and good-quality roads. The cost of living and lifestyle is excellent. Taxation is low, and earnings are good. 

Is North Cyprus a country?

Answer: The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a self-declared state. However, it is recognized as such only by Turkey. 

Is North Cyprus in Turkey?

Answer: No, however, the northern part of Cyprus is administered by Turkish Cypriots.

What is a North Cyprus holiday like?

Answer: The north of the island has everything anyone could need for a fantastic holiday. The beaches are lovely, with golden sand sweeping down to crystal clear seas. The cities are packed with culture and history, and the countryside is beautiful. Add to this the warmth of the people, and you have everything.

Can I hire a car in Northern Cyprus?

Answer: Yes, you must be 25 years old and carry a driving license or an International Driving Permit.

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