In July it will be half a century since Turkey invaded Cyprus causing thousands to flee their homes north and south. Repeated talks have been held to bring long-term peace to the island, but to little effect (all the while both Turkey and Greece are NATO members!) Some parts of the island remain deserted to this day in a kind of no-man’s land.

Now possibly more than ever the island’s future has become part of a much wider dynamic. The discovery of oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean has entrenched divisions. Turkey is demanding recognition of Northern Cyprus before anything else. And does the EU really want a united Cyprus (and all the complications it might bring) in the EU? There appears to be renewed momentum towards another settlement but as ever –  it’s trickier than you might think!

This seven-day tour introduces us to the leaders and communities on both sides, visits the UN’s controlled buffer zone or green line, and gets the latest expertise on one of the most entrenched disputes of our time.

Our tour takes all of this in plus some excellent food and wine of course!


DATESSat 4 – Sat 11 May, 2024
DESTINATIONNicosia, Famagusta, Kyrenia, Bellapais
DURATION7 nights
All AccommodationMeals and Water
Local TransportationExpert Guide
COSTCost: £4950.00
Single supplement: £550.00

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The tour starts and ends in Nicosia.  The closest major international airport to Nicosia, is Larnaca International Airport.  It’s thirty minutes from Larnaca Airport to Nicosia by taxi.

NOTE: Enter and exit the Republic of Cyprus ONLY at Larnaca and Paphos airports and at the seaports of Limassol, Larnaca, and Paphos. The Republic of Cyprus does not consider entry at Ercan Airport in the north to be a “legal” entrance into Cyprus.

Cyprus  A Divided Island 

Dates: Saturday 4 – Saturday 11 May, 2024

7 nights- Nicosia (2), Famagusta (1), Bellapais (2), Nicosia (2)

Day 1

Sat 4 May: Nicosia/Lefkosia/Lefkos

The tour starts in the evening (7 pm) with a dinner. Our experts give us an introduction to the week ahead and a brief history of modern Cyprus prior to the invasion of 1974 – from Ottoman times to the British colony and the Cyprus Emergency. Overnight Nicosia
Day 2

Sun 5 May: Nicosia

On Sunday morning we hear from eyewitnesses about the Turkish invasion and meet with a Greek family that fled from the north.We then tour the Green Line which divides Nicosia – the only capital city in Europe that is divided. In the afternoon we get an overview of the various talks and plans that have so far ended in failure including the UN mediated discussion in 2021 and Crans-Montana in 2017. Before that in 2004 the Annan plan saw an island wide referendum in which Turkish Cypriots voted for unification and Greek Cypriots voted against.

Since 2021 Turkish and Greek naval vessels have clashed in the Med and more alarmingly Turkish Cypriot forces clashed with UN peace-keepers over the construction of a road that entered the UN buffer zone.   Overnight Nicosia

Day 3

Mon 6 May: Nicosia to Famagusta / Gazimağusa

We begin our broader tour of the Island with a focus on the north. Control of Cyprus lies in four parts: The Republic of Cyprus makes up 60% of the island, Turkish Republic Northern Cyprus (TRNC, recognised only by Turkey) in the north, the UN controlled buffer zone, and the British have two sovereign military bases on the island – Akrotiri and Dhekelia. Today we will travel through all four areas. We start by heading south east to Dhekelia – just next to Larnaca – and learn about the British presence and history here and their purpose on the Island. Currently the base is home to an infantry battalion and a signals intelligence operation that monitors the Middle East. The Republic of Cyprus has argued the bases are a vestige of colonialism and should go.  Lunch is at Lambros’s Fish and Chip Shop next to the base.

We leave the Overseas Territory for the UN buffer zone and then cross into Northern Cyprus. (Passports required at the checkpoints). We check into our hotel in Famagusta. We then tour the ghost town of Varosha, once one of Cyprus’s most popular holiday resorts, which has been partially fenced off by Turkish troops and deserted ever since the invasion. Dubbed a “a monument to diplomatic failure” it includes 45 former hotels, 3,000 commercial properties, 60 apartment hotels, 21 banks, 25 museums, 20 theatres and museums, and 99 entertainment venues. Cypriot Greek families have been pushing to get their property restored here and throughout the north for 5 decades.  TRNC developers have their eyes set on turning the area into a new resort including gambling and high-end hotels – a Las Vegas in the Med. The plans have been condemned by US and EU alike – but represent Turkey’s desire to make Cyprus’s division permanent – kicking into touch the Cypriot Greek claims on property. Overnight Famagusta

Day 4

Tues 7 May: Famagusta – Kyrenia / Girne

Famagusta was once Cyprus’s most important port (dating back to classical times). The TRNC has turned the dock into a Free Port – both international and Turkish shipping dock here.  We take a brief look at the port. Under the Annan plan there has been a proposal for Varosha be returned to it’s owners in return for allowing the TRNC to operate Famagusta as an internationally recognised Free Port.

Further north, coastal development is developing apace.  Adverts pitched at Russian and Iranians can be seen alongside new condo complexes – there’s money to be made in this grey-zone. We visit one site with a Turkish Cypriot property developer – all part of the islands drive to boost its economy.

We then drive west to Kyrenia – on the north coast. After a walk around the port and castle we check in our hotel in nearby Bellapais – home of the famous Abbey and made famous by Lawrence Durrell’s book, Bitter Lemons. His house is in the village.   Overnight Bellapais.

Day 5

Wed 8 May: Bellapais/Bellabayis, Kyrenia & North Coast

We have the morning to explore Bellapais Abbey (and even swim). We then meet a local Turkish family – their history tells a story of the island since 1974. What would unification bring to them and do they want it? After lunch we head to the nearby Gecitkoy Dam where water brought in via an undersea pipeline from Turkey is stored. This has both political and environmental implications… while the island is increasingly short of water it increases its dependence on Turkey. Visit with a local NGO; Environmentalists groups (opposed to the dam) see this as the latest threat to the islands biodiversity (plus wildfires and flooding) and form a powerful group that unites people on both sides of the Green Line.    Overnight Bellapais
Day 6+7

Thurs 9 & Fri 10 May: Nicosia

For the last two days we return to Nicosia (north and south). We get the latest analysis on the talks. Meet with local journalists – Greek and Turkish- and leading politicians in the opposition and government in the Republic of Cyprus as well as in the north. We also look at the island’s economy beyond tourism. Banking has frequently got Cyprus into hot water.

Crucially we look at the international implications of any settlement. Who are the key players and what are their positions? Much is changing. Turkey’s involvement is obviously considerable – and the UN, US and EU have key roles too. But standing in the wings there is Russia and even Iran. The problem is far from being two dimensional. On Friday night we have our farewell dinner and review the week.   Overnight Nicosia (2)

Day 8

Sat 11 May: Tour ends

Farewell over breakfast & departures to airport.


Entry to the territory of the Republic of Cyprus via any other port or airport in the area of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic does not exercise effective control (Turkish occupied area) is illegal.

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Legal Entry

The legal points of entry to the Republic of Cyprus are the international airports of Larnaca and Paphos and the ports of Larnaca, Limassol, Latsi and Paphos, which are situated in the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

Entry to the territory of the Republic of Cyprus via any other port or airport in the area of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic does not exercise effective control (Turkish occupied area) is illegal.

The tour starts and ends in Nicosia.

2 nights Nicosia, 1 night Famagusta, 2 nights Bellapais (near Kyrenia), 2 nights Nicosia.

Getting to Nicosia

The closest major international airport to Nicosia, is Larnaca International Airport (IATA code: LCA). Larnaca Airport is located in the southern part of Cyprus. The drive from Larnaca Airport to Nicosia is about 50 kilometers (about 31 miles), and you can easily reach Nicosia from Larnaca Airport by taxi.

NOTE:  The Republic of Cyprus does not consider entry at Ercan Airport in the north to be a “legal” entrance into Cyprus.

Place names

Most places have both Greek and Turkish names, and some have English. Nicosia/Lefkosa, Kyrenia/Girne and Famagusta/Gazimagusa are used interchangeably by locals and visitors alike, but all other places are usually known by their Turkish names.

What’s Included

All of your accommodation is included, as well as local transport (except during your free time).

Flights are not included in the price and need to be arranged by customers themselves or with an agent.

Following the news

Like all our tours the itinerary is focused on current affairs. Events on the ground may change and the final schedule may be adjusted accordingly.

COVID-19: We won’t go to a country unless it is safe to do so- we remain guided by the UK Foreign Office travel advice.  For this reason some dates may change depending on the situation on the ground.

Group size

For your bespoke tour-  groups range from individuals to families, as well as small groups of friends. The tour is tailor made for you and your group.

On any of our expert-led tours the groups are deliberately small and will not exceed 14 people. Frequently we travel with 10-12 people. Limited spaces are available.

FCO Website – Travel Advice

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes regularly updated travel information on its website which you are recommended to consult before booking and in good time before departure. Where it considers it appropriate to do so, the FCO may advise against all travel or all but essential travel to particular countries or parts of particular countries. Similarly, the FCO may withdraw any such previously given advice. Where the FCO issues such advice, we may as a result cancel your tour or make changes so as to avoid the area concerned (see clause 10). Alternatively, we may ask you to sign a form confirming you wish to proceed with the tour notwithstanding the FCO advice. It is in the nature of the itineraries we offer that the FCO may have issued such advice in relation to the country or parts of the country we are intending to visit prior to confirmation of your booking. In this case, you will be asked to sign the above form before we confirm your booking.

Medical Requirements

Advice on health requirements may be obtained from your GP, or alternatively from the Department of Health leaflet Advice on Health for Travelers, or the Department of Health in the UK. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit


The Euro is the currency in southern Cyprus.  Turkish Lira is the currency of Northern Cyprus- however most shops will accept Euros and give change in Liras. ATM’s are readily accessible, and cards can be used for payments in a wide variety of places.


The average daily temperatures in Cyprus in May range from 18°C (64°F) to 26°C (79°F), gradually increasing throughout the month. During the day, temperatures are usually pleasant. 

What to wear

Dress is casual and  comfortable. Shoes suitable for walking over cobbles are recommended.  Layers are recommended as it is cooler in the evenings.

Some of the hotels have swimming pools.  You may want to pack a swimming costume.

Men: Will need a jacket and tie for some of the meetings.

Women: You will need smarter dress for one or two meetings.


British/UK G type 3 square pin plug, standard 230v, 50Hz.

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Prof. James Ker-Lindsay

James Ker-Lindsay is Visiting Professor at LSEE. His research focuses on conflict, peace and security in South East Europe (Western Balkans, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus), European Union enlargement, and secession and recognition in international politics.

He has an extensive list of publications, including over a dozen authored or edited books and more than 70 articles and book chapters. His main publications include The Foreign Policy of Counter Secession: Preventing the Recognition of Contested States (Oxford University Press, 2012); The Cyprus Problem: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2011); Kosovo: The Path to Contested Statehood in the Balkans (I.B.Tauris,2009), Crisis and Conciliation: A Year of Rapprochement between Greece and Turkey (I.B.Tauris, 2007), and EU Accession and UN Peacemaking in Cyprus (Palgrave Macmillan 2005). He has also published a number of edited volumes, including Resolving Cyprus: New Approaches to Conflict Resolution (2015); Civil Society and Transitions in the Western Balkans (2013, with Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic and Denisa Kostovicova); An Island in Europe: The EU and the Transformation of Cyprus (2011, with Hubert Faustmann and Fiona Mullen); New Perspectives on Yugoslavia: Key Issues and Controversies (2010, with Dejan Djokic), The Government and Politics of Cyprus (2009, with Hubert Faustmann), and The Work of the United Nations in Cyprus (2001, with Oliver Richmond). He is currently completing an introduction to secession and state creation for Oxford University Press and a co-edited volume of Kosovo’s external relations with EU member states.

He has played an active role in the development of South East European Studies, both in Britain and internationally. He is a former coordinator of the BISA Working Group on the region and is on the editorial boards of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, the Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, and Ethnopolitics.

As well as his academic work, Prof Ker-Lindsay maintains a strong record of policy engagement and consultancy. He has worked at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the world’s oldest independent security and defence studies think tank, and at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He has also served as an advisor to a number of governments and international organisations, including the United Nations and the Council of Europe. He appears regularly in the media and has been interviewed by many leading international news organisations, such as the BBC, CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, The Economist, The Guardian, The New York Times, Radio Free Europe, SKY News, The Times and the Wall Street Journal.

He has a BSc(Econ) from the University of London and an MA and PhD in International Conflict Analysis from the University of Kent. He has held visiting posts at the University of Pristina, the University of Saints Cyril and Methodius, and the University of Nicosia and is a Research Associate at the Centre for International Studies, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford.

On all of our tours you are accompanied by a leading political journalist or academic. Together with your tour expert you will meet a range of speakers, analysts and ordinary people with a huge range of views and experiences.

The overall aim is to give you a nuanced and comprehensive overview of the country you are in, and an exceptional one at that.

Don’t just take our word for it …

“The main reason to travel really is the “being there” factor – the experience of seeing the reality for ourselves is what made the difference and gave us a context for the valuable inputs from the experts and propagandists we met. The tour’s openness to some unscheduled encounters with “ordinary” people on both sides provided further insight. I ended more sympathetic to them than I had been – and far less sympathetic to their leaderships.” AR

“The access you obtained was outstanding – really amazing.” AN

“It is a short but thorough exam of what makes a country tick – or not tick. An immersion class into the nuts and bolts of the area. I love it.” JG

“It sounds like a cliché, but the tours really take you beyond and behind the headlines, providing you with unexpectedly profound insights about the country.” EL

“To see so much and meet with so many people in so short a time, and to absorb so much information in depth, was very stimulating.” PF

In the Press:

“Who better to take people behind the headlines than the person who spent ten years writing them?” British Airways Highlife Magazine

“I had underestimated their high-mindedness… During the week-long tour there are talks and conversations with more then 20 guest speakers. The holiday makers are an equally impressive bunch.” The Financial Times, on a tour

“An eye-opening 10 days!” Sydney Morning Herald

Email us for more information on this tour:


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Highlights from previous tours ..

“There is no other organisation that I have come across who can offer the opportunity to be taken behind the scenes of a country, to see for ourselves the real-life challenges faced by a wide variety of sectors.”   RH, Iran

“The tour leaders & tour experts were excellent in every respect. The small size and composition of the group – all interesting and curious people – was perfect.”  BH, Russia 

“We obtained unfiltered information from varied sources.  Impressive.” JG, Lebanon

“Explanations of the various aspects of life in Iran were clear, concise and vivid, with never a risk of boredom or information overload. It transformed, but by no means simplified! my views on Iran and Iranians, and I found it fascinating throughout. They give you the kind of insight into a country that you would not get from a conventional tour, while not forgetting that you might like a comfortable bed and good meals as well.” SD, Iran

“As I hate vapid sightseeing, the ability to gain a deeper understanding of a country’s political, social and cultural fabric wrapped around visits to key places is a real winner from my perspective.” BH, Russia

“The main reason to travel really is the “being there” factor – the experience of seeing the reality for ourselves is what made the difference. The tour’s openness to some unscheduled encounters with “ordinary” people on both sides provided further insight.”  AR, Israel & Palestine

“The recommendation would go to people who are fairly experienced travelers who are genuinely curious about the world.” PL, Iran

“You understand the reality on the ground by hearing directly from people with many different points of view. We listened nonstop.” DM, Israel & Palestine

“It is a  short but thorough exam of what makes a country tick – or not tick.  A immersion class into the nuts and bolts of the area.  I love it.” JG, Lebanon

“It was nice to be surrounded by people who wanted to be “political nerds” rather than just do a holiday of beaches and bars. I liked the intimacy and diversity of the group and really felt that this also added tremendously to the tour.” EL, Cuba

“It sounds like a cliché, but the tours really take you beyond and behind the headlines, providing you with unexpectedly profound insights about the country.” EL, Cuba

“It’s often the outsiders that rock a settled boat, and I believe Political Tours has defined an utterly new and vibrant market niche that creates a new sector within adventure travel.”  Travel Pulse Magazine, USA

“I thought it was beyond excellent – an exceptional introduction to and portrait of a complex, multi-faceted country in just a week. I had high expectations of the tour, having been on a PT before, and there is always a consequent risk that the new tour will not be as good.  But it was… and possibly better.”  AN, Lebanon

“Close contact with this previously unknown environment allowed me to have a much more nuanced view than newspaper reports.” PL, Iran

“We also thoroughly enjoy travelling with you both because you are deadly serious except when you are deadly fun.”  AN, Lebanon  

“I enjoyed the breadth and depth of the speakers. I really felt like I was able to meet a cross-section of the population in a very authentic way.” EL, Cuba

“I would recommend you for the detailed organisation, and for the more adventurous, the exciting countries you visit with places not usually open to the general public.”  CB, US Elections

“My fellow travellers constituted one of the most rewarding aspects of the trip; from a range of backgrounds, all were knowledgeable, interested and, pretty important, pleasant – not something you can say of all group trips!”  EB, Bosnia

“Political Tours gets me into corners I wouldn’t otherwise find, be it Karadzic’s watering hole in Belgrade, a courtroom in Pristina to witness an appeal hearing, the lounge in the home of an Italian settler in the West Bank or, this time, coffee with Luis Clerge, a mate of Che’s.” GH, Cuba

“An eye-opening 10 days!”  Sydney Morning Herald



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