Are you looking for information on how to cross the Famagusta border crossing ahead of your trip to Northern Cyprus? Or planning a visit to the ghost town of Varosha? This guide will tell you everything you need to know before you travel, including considerations for Cyprus border crossings and how to get into the ghost town itself.

Aerial drone shot of Famagusta beach with wide sand and turquoise blue sea
Famagusta beach

I crossed the border into Northern Cyprus in October 2022, and I visited Salamis, Famagusta and Varosha. This guide will help you to understand all of the requirements of the Famagusta border crossing and the ghost town of Varosha.

This article has been updated to keep it relevant for 2024, but the photographs are all from 2022.

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This article is about crossing the border into North Cyprus at the Eastern Base crossing near Famagusta. There are other crossings you can use, and these are detailed below. This article also covers the ghost town of Varosha and general traveller information about Northern Cyprus.

Introduction to Famagusta.

Famagusta is an historic city located in the eastern part of Cyprus. It is an important city-state and was once the seat of the powerful Lusignan dynasty, which controlled much of the island from 1192–1489.

The old town of Famagusta houses some impressive fortifications and fascinating medieval architecture, plus it also boasts one of Europe’s most beautiful natural harbours.

Famagusta Border Crossing.

The city of Famagusta is located in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, which means that if you’re coming from South Cyprus, you’ll need to cross the Turkish border. There is a high military presence here, and you’ll need to know what to expect from both sides.

Below I have listed the most commonly searched questions on Google in 2024, relating to the Famagusta border crossing and the Varosha ghost town of Northern Cyprus.

I have split these questions into five categories:

  1. FAQs about Famagusta’s history
  2. FAQs about the Famagusta border crossing (including map)
  3. FAQs about the ghost town of Varosha
  4. FAQs about what Famagusta is like today
  5. FAQs about Famagusta general tourist information

1. FAQs about Famagusta’s history.

Q: What happened at Famagusta?

A: In 1974, Turkish troops invaded and occupied Northern Cyprus. This resulted in the displacement of tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots, who were forced to flee their homes. Hundreds of people were killed, including tourists. The resort town of Varosha became a ghost town overnight. The buildings were left abandoned and fell into disrepair. In recent years, the UN has negotiated with Turkey, and the town is now open to visitors.

Q: How important did Famagusta used to be?

A: Famagusta is a city with a long and rich history. The city was once an important trading hub, and you can still see evidence of this in the city’s architecture. It has the deepest harbour in Cyprus and used to be the main trading route with the merchants of the Silk Road. However, because of its location in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, Famagusta has been somewhat cut off from the rest of the world. This isolation has led to a decline in tourism, which has in turn led to a decline in the city’s infrastructure.

Q: What is Famagusta like today?

A: I found the main part of the city to be very quiet. It does feel different to the cities in South Cyprus, because it is Turkish, but I did not feel any tension when I was walking around. It is important to remember it is not the people who went to war; it was their governments. The Turkish people are just living and working here in a normal manner.

I took these pictures below in the city of Famagusta in October 2022. This is not the ghost town (the ghost town is Varosha – more on that below).

2. FAQs about the Famagusta Border Crossing.

Q: Where is the Famagusta border crossing?

A: This political map shows where the border runs across Northern Cyprus, and sovereign base areas. The purple area is the UN buffer zone, and this is the area you must cross if you want to visit Famagusta from south of the border. Famugusta is on the right, just above the purple border.

political map of Cyprus, showing the UN buffer zone
Political map of Cyprus, showing the UN buffer zone

Q: Do you need a passport for the Famagusta border crossing?

A: Yes, you’ll need a valid passport in order to cross the border into Northern Cyprus. The military officers will check your passport upon entry, so make sure it’s in good condition and that you have all the necessary visas.

Q: Do you need a visa for the Famagusta border crossing?

A: Citizens of the European Union do not need a visa to enter Northern Cyprus. For nationalities outside of the EU, you will need to check with the Turkish consulate in your home country for visa requirements and how to visit Famagusta.

Q: Where is the Famagusta border crossing point?

A: The crossing I used was the Akyar crossing (also called Strovilia or Azios Nikolaos) in the British Eastern Sovereign Base Area in Famagusta. This is on the Larnaca-Famagusta road, and can be used by pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists.

Q: What other border crossing points are there?

A: Below are some of the other border crossing points. They are a little confusing, as they all have several names (Turkish and Greek Cypriot names). You can walk or cycle over all of them, but driving is restricted to diplomatic vehicles only at Ledra Street.

  • Metehan (also called Agios Dometios or Kermiya) in the west of Nicosia.
  • Ledra Palace/Ledra Street in central Nicosia (only diplomatic vehicles allowed).
  • Dhekelia (also known as Beyarmudu, Pergamos or Pile).
  • Yesilirmak (also known as Limnitis) near Guzelyurt (Morpho).

Q: Can I drive a South Cyprus hire car over the Famagusta border crossing?

A: Some South Cyprus hire car companies will allow their cars to be taken over the border for an extra insurance fee. You will need to discuss this with the car company (I recommend Discover Cars). Some companies do not allow cars over the border so you will need to check first. You’ll need to have both Turkish lira and euros with you in order to pay for things like fuel and tolls.

You can also take a bus or drive your own car (make sure to check your car insurance first).

Q: Can I drive a North Cyprus hire car over the Famagusta border ?

A: It is not advised to cross the border in a North Cyprus hire car at this time. Most North Cyprus car companies will not allow their cars to be taken to the south. It is common for North Cyprus car companies to be stopped at the crossing by the military, even when the company allows it, so I wouldn’t risk it.

Q: Are the Cyprus border crossings well-signed?

A: The south-to-north border crossings in Cyprus are well-signed, but the north-to-south boundaries are not well-signed at all. Additionally the signs in North Cyprus are in Turkish, with different names for the towns and cities, so it can get very confusing. You can pick up a Turkish map at most of the border crossings.

Q: What do I have to do at the Famagusta border crossing into Northern Cyprus?

A: At the Famagusta border crossing, you’ll need to present your passport and fill out a customs declaration form. They stamp the form, and you keep the form together with your passport for your return journey. You’ll also need car insurance documents if you are driving (or purchase your insurance at the border).

Q: Who controls the Famagusta border crossing at South Cyprus?

A: The Turkish government controls the Famagusta border crossing. It is a military checkpoint. There is also a presence from the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and the British Military as well.

Towns in visit in Cyprus: Famagusta town with mosque and blue sea.
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque and Famagusta town. Famagusta, Cyprus.

Q: Who controls the Famagusta border crossing at North Cyprus?

A: The border crossing back into South Cyprus is controlled by the Cyprus police and the British military. On the way back, your passport and VISA documentation will be checked by the Cyprus police and also the British military. They will also look to see what you have purchased and what you are bringing back to Cyprus with you.

Q: What does the UN do at the border crossing?

A: The UN monitors the Famagusta border crossing to ensure that people are following the rules and regulations. There is a large UN camp near the border crossing, and you may see UN vehicles driving around the city.

Q: Why are the British military at the Famagusta border crossing?

A: The British military has three base areas in Cyprus, from which it helps to maintain the peace and also leverage its relations across the rest of Europe.

According to the SBAA, the “Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, usually referred to as Western Sovereign Base Area (WSBA) and Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA), are those parts of the island which remained under British jurisdiction on the creation of an independent Republic of Cyprus in 1960”.

a large cathedral with a clock tower on the front of it, past the Famagusta border crossing in North Cyprus.

Q: What do the British do at the Famagusta border crossing?

A: The British military officers check passports when you are coming back over the North Cyprus border, and they also help to enforce the rules and regulations. I found them pleasant to deal with, and had no problems. However, do be aware that all of the military personnel carry big guns – this can be a little shocking if you do not often see guns in your home country.

Q: Can I bring purchases back into South Cyprus from North Cyprus?

A: You can bring some purchases back into Cyprus from Famagusta. Cigarettes and liquor are restricted. I was advised by locals to remove the labels from clothing and actually wear it, rather than try to take it through in a carrier bag. I did not try this, so I cannot comment further.

Q: What products can I bring with me from North Cyprus into South Cyprus?

A: Due to customs and excise regulations, there are limits on how much tobacco or spirits can be transported from the north to south across the border. The legal amount permitted per individual is outlined below for your reference.

  • 0.5 Litre of Spirits
  • Two Packets of cigarettes
  • 1 bottle of wine

If you recently purchased or are currently in the process of finalising a property purchase, it’s important you do not bring any documents related to your real estate with you when travelling through the checkpoints.

Q: Are the Cyprus border crossings open 24 hours per day?

A: All crossings are available 24/7, but if you are driving and you need car insurance for Northern Cyprus then you should go through the Agios Dometios (Metehan) crossing point, located in Nicosia (Lefkosa). This entryway offers round-the-clock car insurance services. Other borders only offer car insurance during office hours.

Q: Are there any North Cyprus airports I can use, to avoid making the crossing?

A: Technically you are only allowed to enter and exit the Republic of Cyprus at the Larnaca and Paphos airports. You can also enter and exit at the seaports of Limassol, Larnaca, and Paphos. You will then need to cross the North Cyprus border.

The Republic of Cyprus does not consider entry at Ercan Airport in the north to be a ‘legal’ entrance into Cyprus, however some people do this at their own risk. Always check your government’s travel advisory page for further information.

3. FAQs about the ghost town of Varosha

Q: Is Famagusta still a ghost town?

A: Please note Famagusta is not ‘the ghost town’ you may have heard about. The ‘ghost town’ is the smaller resort-town of Varosha.

The ghost town of Varosha still remains untouched. It was once an upscale resort town with many 5 star hotels, but has been abandoned since the Turkish invasion in 1974. Nature has taken over the area, and it’s eerily beautiful in a sad sort of way.

Whilst Varosha is open to the public, getting there is not easy and it’s best to go with a guide.

Q: Can you walk around the ghost town in Famagusta?

A: Yes, you can walk around the ghost town in Famagusta, this is the town of Varosha mentioned above. However, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and not to touch any of the buildings. The structures are dangerous and could collapse at any time. This area was opened to the public in 2010, and it is still considered to be a dangerous place. The buildings are derelict and there are a number of collapsed roofs.

Q: Are there tours of the Varosha ghost town?

A: Yes there are tours of the ghost town, and these are the best ones available on Viator:

Q: Is visiting Varosha emotional?

A: Yes, visiting Varosha can be emotional. The town is a reminder of the violence of the Turkish Invasion and the suffering of the people who were forced to flee their homes. It is also a reminder of how quickly things can change. Varosha was once a thriving tourist destination, and now it is a ghost town. If you go on a tour, your tour guide will likely be of Cypriot origin who will understandably feel strongly about the situation, as they would have been personally affected.

4. FAQs about what Famagusta is like today.

Q: Is Famagusta open to the public?

A: Yes, Famagusta is open to the public. However, because of its location in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, some areas of the city may be off-limits to tourists. You will need the necessary documentation to pass through the military checkpoints.

Q: Is Famagusta Turkish or Greek?

A: Famagusta is Turkish. It is occupied by Turkish troops and the currency used is the Turkish lira. The previous Cypriot residents no longer live here because they were forced to flee to South Cyprus when the Turkish troops invaded in 1974.

Q: What is the food like in Famagusta?

A: The food in Famagusta is a mix of Turkish and Cypriot cuisine. You can find a variety of traditional dishes, as well as more modern fare. I ate in a Turkish restaurant and I found it very pleasant. As a solo traveller with limited Turkish and Greek language skills, I was able to communicate without any problems and I found the people very pleasant. The locals recommended I try the Turkish chicken shish kebab (see below) and it was very good.

Q: Is it safe in Famagusta?

A: You should always check government travel advice in your home country before you book your trip.

You will see military personnel carrying guns throughout Northern Cyprus, but they generally don’t bother tourists and there haven’t been any major incidents in recent years. However, it’s always a good idea to stay aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings safe. Also be aware of the buildings in Varosha which could be dangerous if you go too close.

For safety and peace of mind, you may like to consider the following safety recommendations (all products from Amazon):

Q: What is there to do in Famagusta?

A; There are a number of things to do in Famagusta. The city is home to a number of historical sites, as well as shops and restaurants. The ancient ruins of the city of Salamis are nearby. You can also visit the abandoned city of Varosha, which was once a thriving tourist destination before it was abandoned during the Turkish Invasion.

Q: Is there a beach in Famagusta?

A: Yes, there is a beach in Famagusta. However, because of its location in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, the beach may not be as well-maintained as other beaches in Cyprus. The derelict buildings remain empty on the promenade and there may be a lack of public facilities.

How to visit Famagusta: the beach at Famagusta which is now open to the public
The beach at Famagusta

Q: What is the water like at Famagusta beach?

A: The water at the Famagusta beach is clean and clear, and usually warm. However, because of its location in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, the beach is not as well-maintained as other beaches in Cyprus, and there may be a lack of facilities.

If you are going to the beach, I recommend this beach towel which repels sand and dries almost instantly.

5. General FAQs & tourist information on Famagusta.

Q: What is the currency in Famagusta?

A: The currency in Famagusta is the Turkish lira. However, because of its location in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, euros are also accepted. Most of the shops and restaurants will accept euros as it is in their best interests; however some of the more traditional Turkish places may only accept Turkish lira.

Q: What is the best time of year to visit Famagusta?

A: The best time to visit Famagusta is from April to October. The weather is warm and sunny during this time, making it ideal for exploring the city. I visited in October and it was quite warm, although there was also a storm with light rainfall. I recommend taking a packable rain jacket like this one.

Q: What language is spoken in Famagusta?

A: The official language in Famagusta is Turkish. However, because of its location in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, Greek is also spoken. I did also find some English spoken in the main restaurants and shops too. It is a good idea to take a translation app with you on your phone, or a Turkish phrase book, in case you need it.

Q: Are there ATMS in Famagusta?

A: There are a few ATMs in Famagusta, but they are not always reliable. It is best to bring enough cash with you to last your entire trip. Remember the currency is Turkish Lira and Euros. I did not need any Turkish Lira, as everywhere I went accepted Euros, but it probably depends on what you want to buy.

Q: How far is Famagusta from Nicosia?

A: Famagusta is 75 kilometres (47 miles) east of Nicosia, and easily accessible by car or public transport. It takes about 1.5 hours to get there. North Nicosia is under Turkish control, and the main street which links the two sides of Nicosia is called Ledra Street. Here you can see the famous Ledra Palace, on the UN buffer zone (or the ‘green line’). There is also a part of Agios Dometios which is under Turkish control too.

Q: Are there any luxury hotel options near Famagusta?

A: Yes, there are several luxury hotels located near the city, including the five star Salamis Bay Conti Hotel Resort & SPA & Casino, Palm Beach Hotel.

Other 5 star hotels in Northern Cyprus include the Concorde Tower Hotel & Casino in North Nicosia and the Savoy Hotel Spa & Casino in Kyrenia. These hotels offer excellent facilities and amenities for your stay.

You can view all hotels in Famagusta on, or use the interactive map below:

Q: Is there public transportation available in Famagusta?

A: Cyprus does not have a train or underground system. However there is a bus network called OSEL (Omni-Stop Express Line) that runs through most parts of the city. This service operates between 6:00am and 11:30pm daily, allowing you to get around the city with ease. The fare is €1.50 for a single ticket, or €2.40 for a return journey. Click here for timetables.

Q: Is Famagusta ok for beginner travellers?

A: Yes, Famagusta is ok for beginner travellers. However, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and not to touch any of the buildings at Varosha. The structures are dangerous and could collapse at any time. You also need to be aware of the military rules and do your research about how to visit Famagusta before your trip.

If you are nervous about the border crossings, I recommend using a local tour company who can sort the crossing conversations for you. This is especially important if you are not confident with your Turkish language skills. You could also consider purchasing a Turkish phrase book.

Q: Is Famagusta worth visiting?

A: You need to be prepared for a different type of travel. This isn’t the usual type of tourist activity, it is a military occupied zone and as such you are subject to their rules. Talking to the locals can be very sad as they tell you about their history and what happened here. It can be quite difficult to hear how people were personally affected by the conflict. However, if you are prepared for that, then I think it is worth visiting and actually very important. It is an eye-opening experience and it gives you a better understanding of the Cyprus conflict.

Famagusta border crossing: final questions.

Q: Is there anything else I should know about visiting Famagusta?

A: Firstly, because it is in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, the city does not have the same level of infrastructure as other cities in Cyprus. This means that things like public transportation and Internet access may be limited.

Secondly, Varosha (the ghost town) is a separate suburb; the rest of Famagusta operates in the usual manner for the Turkish people who work and live there. Varosha is difficult to get to and you are best going with a guide or on a guided tour.

Finally, because it is a border town, Famagusta can be a bit more expensive than other parts of Cyprus. Remember you may need two currencies.

Tours of Varosha and Famagusta.

Here are some of the top-rated tours of Varosha and Famagusta, from my preferred tour operator Viator (I also use Get Your Guide as well, but Viator is my go-to).

Travel advice for your trip to Cyprus.

Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate, with warm summers and mild winters. The best time to visit Paphos is from April to October, when the weather is most pleasant. See Cyprus Travel Guide for more information.

I recommend renting a car for your trip in the South of Cyprus (I use Discover Cars for Cyprus car hire).

The currency in Cyprus is the Euro (or Turkish Lira if you cross the Famagusta border crossing into Northern Cyprus).

Cyprus travel essentials.

More Cyprus posts.

Thank you for reading my FAQ post about the Famagusta border crossing and visiting Varosha. I hope it has helped you to plan your trip to Famagusta and Northern Cyprus.

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