How to spend holidays here in North Cyprus - a sample14 day itinerary
Arrive in North Cyprus, unpack and settle in at your lovely resort accommodation - Riviera Beach Bungalows & Studios. Relax around the pool, check out the facilities and local area. You may need to acclimatize, the temperature can reach 30°C in the summer. Don't forget to put on your sun protection!
Why not head for a stroll in the picturesque Kyrenia Harbour in the evening? Soak up the atmosphere, the tranquil harbour houses plenty of bars and restaurants which are open late 7 days a week. Don't miss out on this experience. The Time Out Cyprus Visitor's Guide describes the harbour as "still being the most idyllic spot on the whole island of Cyprus, with intoxicatingly serene atmosphere!".
Why not spend the day on the beach? Kyrenia has some excellent coastline, which is both clean and uncrowded. You may wish to use the facilities local to your accommodation, or why not visit one of the more exclusive Beach Club's, such as the Escape Beach Club or Camelot Beach Club? The Escape Beach Club is situated on what is known locally as the "Landing beach", the spot where many thousands of Turkish Troops entered Cyprus during the Peace Operation in 1974. This area is now landscaped with grass, flowers and fauna. The bar/restaurant serves delicious refreshments, and these can all be served while you relax without leaving your sun-bed. Relax and enjoy the sun & the sea.
In the evening, why not sample one of the local restaurants? Alternatively, why not spend the evening in one of the 5 star Hotel resorts? Most also house casinos where you can have a flutter, unsurprising since North Cyprus is known as the Monte Carlo of the eastern Mediterranean. The concentration of hotels & casinos in the Lapta area have earnt it the name of "Little Vegas" amongst the local ex-pat community.
A visit to Saint Hilarion Castle in the Five Finger Mountains is a must. Not only does the castle provide breath taking views of the island, the mystical remains and hidden rooms and tunnels are yours to explore. The castle was rumoured to be the inspiration for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle, so why not take a bottle of water with you and say you've seen the original! The castle is open in the morning until 1pm in the summer months, so be sure to get there early.
In the afternoon, you could return for relaxation around the pool. Or you could visit Kyrenia Castle, which guards the entrance to the old harbour. This Venetian structure houses the Chapel of St. George, and a Lusignan dungeon. The shipwreck museum is also housed in the castle, where you can view the oldest shipwreck ever recovered in the world.
The castle also hosts many events, during your stay you may get to experience a concert or play. From Turkish Pop Concerts, to Shakesphere's Othello. Even the Bolshoi Ballet have performed here in the past!
After the sightseeing yesterday, a day of fun in the sun. Find your own beach, ask your accommodation reception what they recommend. Or why not visit the Acapulco Holiday resort, east of Kyrenia past Catalkoy? Entry into the complex costs 15YTL, and provides non-residential guests of the hotel use of the large outdoor swimming pool, several waterslides, a long sandy beach and the use of the indoor gym, Jacuzzi and sauna. There a various sporting activities outdoors in the summer months, including beach volley, tennis and basketball.
In the evening, why not take a drive and discover your own restaurant? Find a restaurant that is busy with locals. The popularity of a restaurant amongst locals is the best recommendation and review you can get! Alternatively, if you've had enough activity for the day why not book a table at Niazi's Restaurant in the old harbour opposite the Dome hotel?
The gothic abbey at Bellapais dates back to 1198, and is a must see landmark during your visit to North Cyprus. As well as the history of the Abbey itself, the area is also famous for past residents, which include Laurence Durrell who lived in the village during the 1950s. The idyllic days he described in his book "Bitter Lemons of Cyprus" may be long gone, but the "Tree of Idleness" remains. Like the castle in Kyrenia, the Abbey at Bellapais has also hosted world famous performers such as The Three Tenors, and hosts the annual North Cyprus Music Festival.
You may wish to continue your site seeing, by continuing to Buffavento Castle which lies near the village of Arapkoy. It is the least well preserved of the three castles in Kyrenia, but is the highest at 940m above sea level and therefore provides impressive views of the island.
Spend the day relaxing around the pool, maybe taking some time out to visit Design 74 the pottery factory along the Kyrenia Coastal road in Karaoglanoglu. Here you'll find many hand made souvenirs to take back home to your friends and family, or to keep as a momento of your time in North Cyprus.
If you are more energetic, maybe you'll try fishing, diving, kayaking or even quad biking. Maybe a stroll is more your style? Be sure to ask your fellow guests or hotel reception for recommendations.
In the evening, why not visit one of the jazz clubs located in the larger hotels? Most hotels hold regular Cyprus Nights too, where you can sample local food and experience the islands folklore dancers, and maybe even a belly dancer. For those seeking livelier nightlife, they should head to the open air night club at the Escape Beach Club, where in the summer DJs are flown in from London to provide the latest in dance floor music.
The attractive village of Karmi (Karaman) nestled in mountains, just off the Karaoglanoglu Road, is arguable one of the most attractive villages in North Cyprus. Also known as the English Village, Karmi is home to many non-cypriots. The church which is open on Sundays (10.30 a.m. - 1 p.m.) is worth viewing, and houses the icon collection collected by residents from abandoned churches in the area. The village provides excellent photo opportunities and the blue entrance doors to the church have become synonymous with North Cyprus. The views of the coast from the village are a must, as is a refreshing drink or snack in either Karmi or its neighbouring village Edremit.
The capital city of Nicosia is well connected to the coastal resort towns by dual carriageway. Taking the trip will provide both shopping opportunities, and also the opportunity to visit many places of historic interest, such as the Kyrenia Gate, Buyuk Hammam and Buyuk Han. Whilst in Nicosia, you will also see evidence of the continued division of Cyprus, as the border which separates the island crosses through the Capital.
Designer brands such as Karen Millen & Burberry are made in factories in North Cyprus. One factory outlet store, Nalken, stocks the latest high street branded goods for a fraction of the price you'd pay back in the U.K. Imitations are also available in the old town market stores.
The world famous "Buyuk Hammam", are the old Turkish baths which were used during the Ottoman era. The baths were regarded as a social activity, and the Hammam was the place where news would be exchanged and even marriages arranged. You can treat yourself to a massage, followed by a sauna and bath, where you can be scrubbed and washed down by a high-pressured jet. This practice is supposed to be good for the break up of cellulite and aids circulation.
Take a drive to Famagusta, to visit the ancient ruins of Salamis. This most important ancient city of Cyprus remains the island's most prominent archaeological site. There is much to see here including the mosaic paved gymnasium, fresco-adorned walls of the baths, amphitheatre and the Royal Tombs. Roman and Byzantine monuments decorate the site, which was the first place in Cyprus to mint coinage.
The coast around Famagusta provides some impressive sandy beaches. You would be advised to take a dip in the see at either Glapsides near Salamis, or further down towards Famagusta town at the Palm Beach Hotel. Here you will also be able to see the closed city of Varosha, where the many Hotel towers of this once prosperous holiday resort remain empty.
A drive along the Karpaz Peninsular takes a number of hours, but is a journey well worth it if you want a couple of kilometers of sandy beach to yourself! As well as the exclusivity, the quality of beach would put some in the Caribbean to shame. If you fancy driving to the tip of Cyprus, the much celebrated Monastery of Apostolos Andreas lies on the sea front at the North Eastern tip of the island. Well worth a visit if you are in the Karpaz area.
Stopping at Golden Beach in summer, will also offer the opportunity for you to witness the endangered and protected Caretta Caretta turtles laying their eggs in the beach. If you are really lucky, you may catch the moment when the baby turtles hatch from the carefully monitored eggs.
The peninsula is ideal for cyclists and lovers of wild flowers. Untouched by development, if raw beauty is what you are looking for this is the place for you.
A number of organized boat trips leave from Kyrenia old harbour, and provide the opportunity for you to view the island from the sea. These trips provide the opportunity to view the island coast, not possible by car alone. Ample opportunity is provided to swim in the depths of the Mediterranean, and taking a snorkel is advisable.. The world's oldest shipwreck was found off the shores of Cyprus. All day trips serve a BBQ fish lunch.
The old walled city of Famagusta, the inspiration for Shakespeare's Othello known as the Citadel still stands. During the 13th century, the city was the wealthiest on earth. Within the city walls lies the Lala Mustafa Pasa Camii, which was formally St Nicholas Cathedral. This is one of the most spectacular Lusignan monuments in the town. Now a thriving university town, there are many shops and restaurants in the area which serve a variety of goods that you will not find back at home.
The Glapsides beach, a 10 minute drive from the city is ideal for children & non swimmers. The sand is fine, and the crystal clear water calm and shallow for a considerable distance out. In the summer, Jet skis and pedaloes are also available for hire and the Glapsides bar hosts a disco each evening.
On your travels through North Cyprus, you have most probably seen a number of activities that may interest you. Why not spend the day Paragliding from St Hilarion? Or maybe Go-Karting at the rink? The 18 hole golf course at Esentepe is sure to keep you occupied for a number of hours. Paintballing, quad biking, clay shooting at Kyrenia Gun Club are all activities that you can try your hand at in North Cyprus. Why not try something different?
Relax around the pool or at the beach... Your 2 weeks holiday in North Cyprus is nearly over, and you will be returning home tomorrow. No doubt you too will return to North Cyprus like the many thousands of loyal followers have done over the years. Or may be you too have decided to buy a home in North Cyprus and return more frequently. You wouldn't be the first!