This blog post is to help those who are planning on flying into Ercan airport and trying to reach Ayia Napa. If you’re here you probably already know that Cyprus is divided into a Turkish side and a Greek side. Ercan airport (ECN) is located on the northern side of Cyprus. Many of the popular tourist destinations such as Ayia Napa, Limassol and Paphos are located on the Greek side.
So here’s how I did it:
SAW > ECN
Kibhas Bus from ECN > Lefkosa bus station
Taxi from Lefkosa bus station > Ledras street border crossing
Walked across border
Taxi from border > hostel
Stay in Nicosia one night
Hostel > Solomos Square bus station
Solomos Square bus station > Ayia Napa bus station
Ayia Napa bus station > Airbnb
The parts in grey are the optional parts. I highly recommend staying in Nicosia a day or two so you get a break between your journey.
Below is a more detailed account of the journey
Istanbul to Northern Cyprus
Flights from Sabiha Gokcen airport on the Asian side of Turkey to Ercan airport was way cheaper than any other option. I took the Havabus from Taksim square to Sabiha Gokcen airport for 18 Lira. I had booked a Pegasus flight that got to Ercan in the afternoon so I had enough time to figure out my way to Nicosia.
Northern Cyprus to Lefkosa Bus Station
From ECN you’ll need to take a bus to Nicosia to cross the border. The Kibhas bus station is located right outside the airport. I believe it was a left once you exit.
You’re going to be looking for buses to Lefkosa but you can just ask the staff at the desk there and buy your ticket. I had to wait about 45 minutes for the next bus. Listen for Lefkosa (pronounced Lef-ko-sha). The bus ticket cost 15 Lira.
Lefkosa Bus Station to Ledras Street Border Crossing
Once i got to Lefkosa Bus Station I was dissapointed to find that there were no buses going to Ledras street. In fact, the bus station didn’t even seem like an active one – just one where all the buses terminate but not one where they depart from.
I asked around and found out that a taxi would cost me about 25 lira to the border and that was thankfully exactly the amount of cash I had – no more, no less! If you walk to the street you’ll find a taxi booth and a few taxis parked on the street (usually Mercedes sedans). The taxi drivers spoke English but they wanted to charge me 30 Liras to the border. I tried to negotiate down for 25 as that was all I had but they did not agree. I was walking towards the ATM to withdraw some more lira but they assumed i was walking away and called me back to agree to 25 lira. Love when I leave a country without any extra currency!
Side note: talked to the taxi driver on the way to the border and learnt some more about the tensions. He told me that he was a Turkish cypriot with a home in Limassol but was not allowed to stay on that side after the conflict in 1973.
He dropped me off close to the border (about a 5 minute walk)
I took the opportunity to explore the Turkish side, walk around the Ledras street Bazaar and get a bite to eat at a cafe before crossing the border.
Border crossing from Turkish to Greek side
The border crossing was way easier than I thought it would be. First you walk through the Turkish booth where they look at your passport then walk through the neutral zone towards the Greek border where they do the same. I did not get a stamp nor was questioned at these borders. From what I understand, this is a crossing that people do everyday to get to their jobs and back.
Ledras street border to Hostel or Solomos Square
I walked through Ledras street – a big shopping street that felt very similar to many old towns in Europe until I reached the end and hailed a taxi. I am sure there was a better way to do this and a closer spot to hail a taxi but I didn’t mind walking through the street and getting a feel of Nicosia.
If you’re going to Ayia Napa / Limassol or Paphos from here, you can catch a bus from Solomos Square bus station. The Intercity website is a good resource to check the bus timings. You’re going to be wanting to look at “Nicosia – Agia Napa”.
I paid 7 Euros to my hostel and about 5 Euros to Solomos Square. Make sure the meter is on and the cab driver doesn’t charge you extra for baggage (I was charged 2.50 extra apparently because I had bags and when I asked him about it and complained, he gave me a 1 euro “discount”).
I stayed over night at a hostel called Nex Hostel for a night, did a free walking tour the next day and then caught a bus in the afternoon to Ayia Napa.
Solomos Square to Ayia Napa
The bus to Ayia Napa cost 5 euros and I paid this on the bus. The bus driver wouldn’t let me take my smaller backpack in which was annoying so I had to move a few things like my laptop and passport to my day bag before I boarded the bus.
The bus was comfortable (unlike the bus to Lefkosa). The bus journey took about 2 hours.
Sim Cards bought on the Turkish side do not work on the Greek side and vice versa (or so I was told). So i waited until I got to Nicosia to purchase a sim card.