This slow travel guide will show you exactly how to travel on the ferry from Turkey to Northern Cyprus and back again!
What a journey the ferry from Turkey to Northern Cyprus is! It’s slow travel at its best! To take the ferry from Turkey to Northern Cyprus you need time, patience and a thirst for adventure. Or maybe just a fear of flying.
I travelled by ferry from Tasucu in Turkey to Girne (also known as Kyrenia) in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It’s not the simplest method of transport, but it is a lot of fun and a real way to travel, meet locals and to learn more about the destinations you’re visiting.
I’ve put this guide together to detail how I made the trip, and to make things easier for you! Here’s everything you need to know about taking the ferry from Turkey to Northern Cyprus.
Table of Contents
The ferry from Turkey to Northern Cyprus
Unfortunately, taking the ferry from Turkey to Northern Cyprus is never as simple as it could be. That’s largely because the ferry routes themselves are quite unpredictable; and that’s before you even start looking at a timetable!
The only solid, year-round option is the route from Tasucu [pronounced Tash-U-Du] in Turkey to Girne (also named Kyrenia) in Northern Cyprus, and vice versa.
There are also ferries from Mersin in Turkey to Girne in Northern Cyprus, however, these are not as regular. That means you can get caught outside of Mersin port for days before a spot opens up for unloading.
The best option is to use the Tasucu port.
The port of Tasucu however, is not exactly near to any other destinations you might well be visiting in Turkey. I took an overnight bus from Fethiye, a journey of about 10 hours. There was one direct bus option. The other option if heading from the south is to travel from Antalya to Tasucu, a route that has many more connections. There’s no bus station in Tasacu, I was just dumped on the side of the road in the early hours of the morning, but at least the bus conductor woke me up!
You can check the available bus times at Obilet.com. This is an excellent search engine for Turkish bus routes.
The map below shows the route on the ferry line. There is potentially a service from Alanya to Girne as well, but this may only run in high season. Interestingly, and for the really intrepid traveller, you can also catch a ferry to Lebanon from Tasucu.
* * UPDATE: Since I travelled this route back in 2016, it looks as if new routes have opened up from Turkey to Northern Cyprus. As well as the Tasacu-Girne route and MErsin-Girne, there now appears to be a ferry that travels via Famagusta in Northern Cyprus, as well, from both ports. If anyone’s taken this route, please comment below to verify its existence! **
Ferry schedules from Turkey to Cyprus
Generally, both companies operate on alternate days, so there is usually one departure per day. However, this is dependent on the weather! The ferries can be outright cancelled. This happened to me, and I had to wait 24 hours to catch one with the other company. When you’re planning your trip, you really do need to be flexible!
When they do leave, they generally depart Tasacu or Mersin at 23.59 p.m. Midnight. Arriving into Girne the following morning around 7 a.m. or 8am, maybe even 9am or 10am, depending on how the crossing goes.
On the return journey from Girne to Tasucu, it is a similar situation. The ferries are scheduled to depart around midnight, and again generally leave on alternative days.
You can check the schedules online (click the links below and go through as if buying a ticket online to check), however, this can be subject to change, as I found out the hard way. You just won’t know until you get there.
Read more: Places to Visit in Turkey!
How do I buy tickets for the Turkey to Cyprus ferries?
You can buy tickets online using the above links. You can also get more accurate information on the daily schedules for each company, and their destinations. There are a plethora of different tickets available, ranging from foot passengers and vehicles to military and resident discounts. They also offer discounts and freebies online, so check for the best deals.
If you’re flexible, I would recommend buying in person from the ferry ticket offices in case one company cancels their ferry that day. Both have ticket sellers in Tasucu. They are a few doors down from each other on the street by the harbour [See Map Below] so it’s easy to check both companies before buying. Presumably though, if you did buy online and the ferry was cancelled, you could ask for a refund at the office or wait for the next one.
Both companies tend to have the same rates, although as I said, there are various tickets and promos to look out for. When I travelled back in 2016, a one-way ticket was just 90 TL per person for a foot passenger, including taxes. However, since then the Turkish Lira has had a seriously rough time (90 TL today is just £2.50). Having researched the latest prices on the ferry companies’ websites, you can expect to pay around 1600 TL per person, for foot passengers, each way. This works out at about £50, but given the Lira’s fluctuations, this could easily change overnight.
You can buy a return ticket to save money, however, there isn’t much of a saving. As you never know exactly which ferry will be leaving that day, I would recommend buying a one-way each time, rather than having to wait around for your particular company to leave. If you do buy a return ticket, it will be open for a certain number of months, and you will still have to pay additional port taxes on the fare price when you use the return leg.
You can buy basic foot passenger tickets, or upgrade to one of the cabins or VIP lounges for not much more!
In Girne, there are ticket offices by the harbour. They are in the big building opposite the departures and arrivals terminal. Just walk across the car park.
I also found an Akgunler Office in the town of Girne itself:
Read more: Turkey Off the Beaten Track
Where does the ferry depart in Tasucu?
In Tasucu, where you actually depart and arrive depends on which company you are travelling with.
There are two harbours in Tasucu, just to complicate matters. In Turkish, the harbour is Limani.
Filo ferries depart from and arrive at the small harbour in front of the ticket offices in the town.
Akgunler ferries depart from and arrive at the harbour just out of town. There is a free shuttle service to the ferry from the ticket office for departures, however, there wasn’t one on the return leg from Girne! It’s otherwise a half-hour walk to Tasucu town or a quick taxi ride.
You will most likely see your boat there in the morning at the appropriate harbour so don’t worry too much.
There are immigration points at both harbours, and you will be stamped in and out as you are leaving Turkey. It’s useful to have a copy of your visa if it’s electronic.
The ferries won’t leave on time. I can guarantee that, so don’t get there too early.
Where does the ferry depart in Girne?
Both ferries arrive and depart at the large Girne harbour, which is outside of the town centre. It’s around 30 minutes of brisk walking, but easy to find, or there are taxis and a few minibuses heading there, although not regularly.
At the harbour, it’s a short walk to the terminal. Northern Cyprus immigration will stamp you in. Easy.
On the return leg, it’s the same situation.
Be warned though, depending on the weather and the container traffic, you could end up being taken to Mersin instead of Tasacu on the return leg. Again, you need to be flexible!
What’s the journey from Turkey to Northern Cyprus like?
The quality of your journey depends on your boat…
The ferry won’t leave on time, and you can expect to arrive the following morning. It’s at least a 7-hour crossing. Anything that can go wrong, probably will go wrong, but that’s all part of the fun.
Filo is the most passenger-friendly company, so I would recommend travelling with these guys if you can. You get a seat. This will be your bed too. There’s a basic cafeteria and basic toilets. You can get food and chai, but bring beer and wine.
Akgunler ferries seem to vary. They are much bigger than Filo’s, and some do have proper passenger decks, although again just seats and basic facilities. The one I returned on from Girne however, was just a cargo ship with no catering facilities. There was a small, cramped room on one deck for passengers. There were a bunch of Kurdish guys in the same room sharing whiskey and cheese and filling the room with cigarette smoke. I ended up pretty wasted because of those guys. It might not be for everyone, but it’s certainly an experience. Clearing immigration the following morning, however, was not so much fun.
Can I travel onward from Northern Cyprus to the Republic of Cyprus?
From Girne you can travel onwards to the Greek side of Cyprus, however, you must first take a minibus to Nicosia (known as Lefkosa in Turkish) and then walk across the border crossing at Ledra Street in the divided capital.
In Girne, the minibus departure point isn’t really obvious. Different maps have it in different places, even Google Maps isn’t really correct. I’ve labelled the point below where they depart from:
And they arrive at this point in Lefkosa, from where you head straight down the road towards the city gates and to the border crossing:
I am a British citizen and contrary to what you might hear online, it is absolutely no problem to travel between both states in Cyprus. Especially if you are just going on foot. I travelled back and forward several times during my stay. Non-EU nationalities, and anyone who needs an official visa for the Republic of Cyprus, may have a more difficult experience though.
Read more: The Ledra Street Border Crossing in Cyprus
What happens if I get stuck in Tasacu?
There isn’t much going on in Tasucu but it is a rather pleasant seaside town. You will probably have to spend some time here. There are a few cheap restaurants by the harbour and a nice beachfront to hang out at.
There’s not that many hotels, especially budget ones. I found the cheapest place was Hotel Fatih, which is on the street behind the Filo Shipping Office. A basic room with a balcony and sea views was 60 TL in 2016 (now expect to pay hundreds of TL thanks to inflation). They have no website so you just have to walk in.
What happens if I get stuck in Girne?
There are plenty of bars and restaurants to hang out at in Girne and a nice harbour and castle to explore too.
If you need budget accommodation, you are again limited!
There are a few dorms in the old town, near the castle. Walk through the maze of streets while trying not to get lost and ask a few places for their best price!
If you need any more advice (if this isn’t detailed enough!), then please email me directly and I’ll be happy to help!