North Cyprus useful information for holiday makers
If calling a local number using a UK mobile telephone, you will normally need to add the full international prefix, followed by the local number. The full prefix is 0090 plus 392 for landline numbers, or either 542 or 533 for mobiles (most people will give you the full number so you should already know which one to use). If you use a local landline telephone (in your hotel room, for example) just dial the normal local number. Calling the UK from a landline phone in Northern Cyprus, use the international code 0044 followed by the number, omitting the first zero in the main number.
IMPORTANT TELEPHONE NUMBERS
Kyrenia hospital 815 2266 / 815 2254
Nicosia hospital 228 5441
Famagusta hospital 366 2876
Guzelyurt hospital 714 2124
Forest fire 177
Dentist 815 3282 / mobile 533 877 5011
Doctor 815 3528
British High Commission 288 3861
Emergency pastoral care
Anglican 815 4329
Jewish 815 7541
Free Church 815 4774
The currency in North Cyprus is the Turkish Lira. As with other currencies, the exchange rate fluctuates daily though it has remained comparatively stable for a number of years and the rate is favourable for British visitors. There are plenty of money exchange bureaus in all of the main cities and most offer advantageous rates. You can also withdraw Turkish Lira from the numerous ATMs. Most hotels and larger restaurants and shops will now accept payment using major debit or credit cards, however, the transaction may incur a handling charge. Also, bear in mind that the exchange rate will be calculated by your card issuer and is unlikely to be particularly good. If you are likely to use credit or debit cards abroad, you should inform your card issuer prior to travel, as some may block overseas transactions unless they have been notified in advance. Traveller’s cheques and Scottish banknotes are not widely accepted and can be difficult to exchange. Most restaurants and shops will accept Sterling, Euros and US dollar notes at normal exchange rates and any change will be given in Turkish Lira.
The voltage supply is 220/240 volts AC. UK-style three-pin plugs and sockets are used in most places and you will normally not need an adapter. In the peak summer months, power cuts are not uncommon and if the power does cut out, you should unplug any chargers, laptop power supplies and similar as there may be a voltage ‘surge’ when power is re-instated. Many larger hotel complexes have their own generators so are not affected by power fluctuations.
Driving is on the left-hand side, the same as in the UK, and road signs and laws are almost identical though speed limits are shown in kilometres per hour. To hire a car you will need your driving licence (both the card and paper parts) and passport and must be over the age of 25 for most hire companies and vehicles. For the majority of hire companies, there is no upper age limit. You will need to carry your car hire agreement form with you when driving, together with your driving licence. Dangerous driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, will not be tolerated and you will receive a very heavy fine at best if you are stopped by the police, or at worst a night in the cells to sober up. You cannot park where you see double yellow lines or black and white kerb stones. The wearing of seatbelts is compulsory and using a mobile phone when driving is against the law. There are now quite a large number of speed cameras around the island, so stick to the speed limits!
PASSPORTS AND VISAS
Holders of EU passports and US citizens, among others, do not need to make prior arrangements for travel. A temporary visa is issued on arrival, either as a passport stamp or on a separate visa form (if you get the latter, be careful not to lose it as you may have problems when you leave). Citizens of other countries should check with one of the country’s Representatives Office. The one in the UK is based in Bedford Square, London.
There is a system of ‘Dolmus’ (shared transport) buses, but these operate erratically and most do not run after 6 pm. They are, however, an extremely cheap form of transport. Taxis are readily available and reasonably priced, though not cheap compared with other forms of transport here. If you are planning on getting to see as much of the island as possible, car hire will easily offset the cost of taxis. Many hotels and restaurants run shuttle services, which are an excellent idea if you are planning on a few glasses of wine over dinner!
Northern Cyprus is currently not a member of the EU, so it is absolutely essential to take out suitable insurance cover before you travel, as medical costs can be high. The vast majority of travel insurance companies treat Northern Cyprus as identical to Turkey in terms of cover, and prices are extremely reasonable. The EU ‘health insurance card’ is not valid in North Cyprus.
Tap water is variable in quality, particularly in the summer season when fresh resources can be unavailable and water is brought in by tankers. We would recommend only drinking bottled water, which is readily available and good value.
LAW, RELIGION AND CUSTOMS
Although the primary religion is Muslim, North Cyprus is generally very secular and tolerant and the people are friendly and easy going. The majority of inhabitants do not actively practice strict religion; most consume alcohol and very few women wear headscarves or veils. The ‘call to prayer’ is still broadcast in most places, however, and anti-religious statements go against the open and tolerant nature of the country. There are some rules in place when visiting Mosques, where shoes must be removed and headscarves worn. The country is generally considered extremely ‘safe’ for tourists and although it can happen, even petty crime is extremely rare. People here are relaxed and enjoy life to the full, though drunken behaviour and public disorder are not tolerated. The country has a pleasant ‘old-fashioned’ feel to it and the police are friendly and helpful. Although many will want to discuss the ‘north and south’ question and other matters, political and religious discussion is best avoided unless between friends.
Gambling is legal in North Cyprus and many of the major hotels have casinos attached. It is best to stick to these, rather than any independent establishments. Generally there are few, if any, table or game limits and alcohol is freely available. If you fancy a flutter, it is therefore highly advisable to take a limited amount of money and leave the rest, and your cards, in the hotel safe!
North Cyprus is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. British summertime operates exactly as it does in the UK, with clocks moving forward one hour in March and back one hour in October.
The main language spoken in North Cyprus is Turkish. However, English is also widely spoken. Most hotel and restaurant staff will speak some English and are always happy to learn more. They will also be pleased to hear you try a little Turkish and will consider this a real compliment.
Thank you: Tesekkur ederiz (a ‘soft S’, so pronounced ‘teshekur’)
The bill please: hesap lutfen
One: Bir (beer)
Two: Iki (icky)
Three: Üç (ooch)
Four: Dört (dirt)
Five: Beş (besh)
Six: Altı (al-ter)
Seven: Yedi (yah-dee)
Eight: Sekiz (sekeez)
Nine: Dokuz (dockooz)
Ten: On (on)