Varosha (Turkish Maraş) is a fascinating ghost town on the outskirts of Famagusta. Before the Turkish invasion, Varosha was a popular tourist spot and was also known as the Côte d’Azur of Cyprus. Today, the ghost town of Varosha is under the control of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The abandoned buildings and streets are a fascinating backdrop for exploration and photography and attract thousands of tourists every year to explore the abandoned streets and buildings. There are three ways to visit Varosha: As part of a guided tour, by public transport or by rental car.

Guided tours to Varosha

An exciting excursion to the ghost town of Varosha is offered on TripAdvisor. Participants are picked up directly from their hotel in Agia Napa or Protaras and taken to the destination in a small minibus with a maximum of seven people. The tour includes a visit to the viewpoint, which offers a breathtaking view of the abandoned city. It then continues to the ghost town itself, where participants have the opportunity to explore the abandoned streets and buildings.

The (English-speaking) guided tour of Varosha lasts about an hour and gives visitors a glimpse into the history and decline of the town. The abandoned hotels and stores tell of a prosperous past that ended abruptly. Participants can experience the atmosphere of this unique place first hand and feel transported to another time.

After visiting Varosha, the tour continues to the old town of Famagusta, a historic city with a rich past. Here, participants will have the opportunity to explore the narrow streets and the impressive city walls. The entire tour takes about four hours, including the driving time. Participants will have enough time to explore the ghost town of Varosha and enjoy the fascinating atmosphere.

Explore the ghost town of Varosha on your own

The ghost town of Varosha is not only accessible with guided tours, but can also be explored on your own. For travelers who want to be independent, there is the option of using public transportation to get to the border and from there reach the ghost town.

Bus connection from Agia Napa to Derynia
Bus connection from Agia Napa to Derynia (Check point Northern Cyprus)

One option is bus line 501, which runs from Agia Napa to the Deryneia border crossing. The correct bus stop is called Deryneia (Green Line). Buses run approximately every hour and provide a convenient and inexpensive way to get to the border. On your return, you can take bus line 502, which also serves several stops in Agia Napa. The exact schedules can be downloaded from the website of the bus company OSEA. The times indicated are the departure times at the Deryneia (Green Line) start stop.

Busfahrplan Linie 501 nach Deryneia
Busfahrplan Linie 502 nach Deryneia

Bus tickets can be purchased from the bus driver for cash (Euro). However, card payments are not possible. If you have already bought a day ticket for bus lines 101 and 102, it is also valid for bus lines 501 and 502. Otherwise, a day ticket for 5.00 € or two separate tickets for the outward and return journey for 1.50 € each is a good option.

Passport control takes place at the border. For the border crossing one needs a passport or an identity card of an EU state. A visa is not required. The controls take place on the Greek Cypriot side as well as on the side of Northern Cyprus. From the border to Varosha it is about 6 km and unfortunately there is no direct bus connection. One can walk the distance or ask the border official to call a taxi to get to the ghost town. The cab from the border crossing to Famagusta/Varosha costs about 10 €.

To ghost town Varosha by rental car

For those who prefer to drive, it is important to note that most car rental companies in (South) Cyprus do not allow driving to North Cyprus. Also, at the border you have to buy a separate car insurance for Northern Cyprus for 25 €, which is hardly worth it for the short driving distance.

The entrance to the ghost town of Varosha is located in the street Kemal Server Cd. After passing the entrance, on the left side you will find the possibility to rent bicycles to explore the ghost town. Alternatively, you can also explore the ghost town on foot.

Historical background

The history of Varosha dates back to the 1970s, when the island of Cyprus was involved in a conflict between the Turkish and Greek populations. After an attempted coup and the subsequent Turkish invasion, Varosha was occupied and sealed off by Turkish forces. Residents were forced to leave their homes and businesses, and the town became a ghost town. The city has only been open to visitors again since 2020.

Upon entering Varosha, one immediately feels transported to another time. The abandoned hotels and stores tell of a prosperous past that ended abruptly. The streets are overgrown with weeds, the windows of the buildings are broken and the walls are covered with graffiti. Many buildings are dilapidated and in danger of collapse. It is a place of decay and silence, but one that exudes a mysterious beauty. On Youtube there is a film from 1974 that shows Varosha before it became a ghost town.

Varosha is not only a place of decay, but also a symbol of hope. Many people hope for a reunification of Cyprus and a revival of the town. There are plans and discussions about the possible return of Varosha to its original inhabitants, which could lead to a new beginning and a revival of tourism.