North Cyprus has a rich and very interesting history. There are many historical and interesting places to visit, in Kyrenia, Famagusta, Nicosia and the Karpaz Peninsula, and guided tours are available for a more informative visit. Tourist information can be found in the following destinations;
Kyrenia – in the Old Harbour
Lefkosa – by Kyrenia Gate
Famagusta – the Land Gate (the main entrance to Famagusta old town)
Ercan Airport – located inside the airport
Kyrenia: Kyrenia is one of the most attractive cities in North Cyprus , major resorts of Kyrenia and Famagusta are the most popular and for the last thirty five years, have absorbed the largest share of tourism. However, there are the areas to the West, round Guzelyurt and Lefke, and to the East, there is Karpaz. Each of the four has something different to offer proving that no matter how choosy a tourist is, they will not be disappointed in the North. The Historical town and surrounding area of Kyrenia are abundantly rich. The Castle that guards Kyrenia harbour is “The Jewel in the Crown” of the Antiquities Department. It is a castle for exploring. There are passageways deep underground into the corner bastions where the defensive batteries were placed. There are many rooms inside the castle that are decorated with tableaux depicting life on the Island throughout the millennia since mankind first trod on Cyprus soil. There is the shipwreck museum that houses the oldest ship ever raised from the sea bed. The view from the Venetian tower across the harbour cannot be equalled. On the mountain top above the town, stands the imposing sentinel that is the castle of St. Hilarion. It still keeps watch over Kyrenia as it has done since its first construction as a minor fort during the Byzantine period. It is a wonderful castle for both adults and children to explore, but care needs to be taken as there are slippery steps during damp weather.
Famagusta: One of the main holiday destinations in North Cyprus, the partition of the island before 1974, Famagusta was one of the “hot” spots for tourism. The long sandy beach that stretches Southwards from the harbour all the way to Protaras and Cape Greco, was gradually, but inexorably, being developed with the construction of high-rise hotels and holiday apartment blocks. Much of that development now lies behind the barricade that surrounds the area of Famagusta called Marash/Varosha. It is a “No Man’s Land,” a bone of contention constantly chewed over in the talks about reunification. It remains empty, forlorn and ruined. Patrolled by the Turkish Army and the UN forces, it can only be viewed from a distance and cannot be visited. As a matter of historical fact, the walled city of Famagusta has been a Turkish city since it was conquered by the Ottoman forces in 1571 and through good times and the bad, it has remained so. The walled city has so much history to offer, it seeps atmosphere from every stone in its massive walls that have few rivals throughout Europe and certainly nothing compares to the bloody struggle when the Venetians fought so valiantly to hold on to their city in a siege that lasted for almost a year.
Nicosia: These are many places to see in the capital city of Cyprus. There are Mosques, Churches and museums. There are old houses, some in ruins as they await the renovations that are being carried out on both sides of the border, dusty streets, souvenir shops and welcoming cafes. There is evidence of more prosperity in the South, but this is all part of the Capital city in which Cypriots live, and where they work, just as they do in the North.
Guzelyurt & Lefke: Areas around Guzelyurt/Morphou and Lefke/Lefka have for many years been known as the fruit basket of Cyprus, and it is a predominantly agricultural area. This great, green fertile expanse of land produces an abundance of citrus in all its many varieties; as well as soft fruits such as peaches and nectarines, apricots, strawberries, melons and dates, there are nuts; walnuts, almonds and pecans, and vegetables; peas, green beans, aubergines, okra, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and of course potatoes for which Cyprus is famous. All these crops are irrigated by the mineral rich waters from the springs that rise in the Trodos Mountains.
Karpaz: No holiday to North Cyprus can be complete without a visit to the Karpaz Peninsula, this is the Cyprus of old, a land almost unspoilt by the savage hand of modern development, where Mother Nature still holds the reins of power; where donkeys, trees, flowers, and cereal crops dot the landscape as far as the eye can see, before tapering off into the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Donkeys and they will be seen wandering freely along the roads, tracks and among the juniper bushes. Please note they have the right of way.
North Cyprus Cuisine: Cyprus offers a large selection of good quality restaurants offering international cuisine to cater for everyones taste. The main cuisine served in Northern Cyprus is Turkish orientated Cypriot cuisines has been influenced by different cultures. Each dish has it own peculiar taste. A great variety of vegetable dishes, grills, pastry, fish, soups, kebabs, lahmacun, pides are to name but a few. A big list of mezes, sweets, cakes, eaten either as starters or as afters can be named. In addition to the local cuisine, Chinese, Italian, French and Indian foods are well represented in various restaurants.
Traditional “Kleftico” is lamb slowly cooked in a clay oven, when it is served, the meat just falls off the bone and is full of flavour as it has been cooked in its own juices, “Molehiya” is of Arab origin , it is a green leafy vegetable similar to mint, which grows only in Cyprus. It is exceptionally delicious and many more dishes like stuffed Pumpkin Flowers and Kolokas
Fresh fish restaurants are also extremely popular and most are located around the harbour of Kyrenia were you can watch the boats bring back the catch of the day.
Desserts: The local delicacies are “Lokma” (which is a type of doughnut covered in honey) “Ceviz Macunu” (green walnuts in syrup) and Baklava (filo pastry covered in syrup and pistachio) , Ekmek Kadayifi and Gatmer etc
Historical Places to visit in North Cyprus;
Kyrenia Harbour: The harbour is appreciated for its natural beauty.
The Buffavento Castle: The Buffavento Castle is one of the three castles constructed on the Kyrenia Range as a line of defence against the Arab attacks – the other being the St. Hilarion…
The St. Hilarion Castle: Like the Buffavento and the Kantara Castle, it was built so as to defend the island against the Arab raids. The castle gets its name from a Saint named Hilarion.
Shipwreck Museum: The ship exhibited in the shipwreck museum is the oldest ship recovered so far. It belongs to the period of the Hellenistic Kingdoms.
Kyrenia Castle: The castle is thought to have been constructed to protect the town against the Arab raids in the 7th century. Like the Kantara Castle, it played an important role in Cyprus.
The Bellapais Monastery: The monastery, one of the unparalleled samples of Gothic Art, is situated on the flanks of the Five-finger (kyrenia) Mountains. Its name today derives from the French.
The Hz. Omer Tomb Catalkoy/Girne: The tombs and the small Mosque were constructed by the Ottomans. The tombs belong to the commander Omer and his companions who died during the Arab raids in the 7th century during the reign of Muaviye – the Omayyad caliph.
Activities in North Cyprus
There is great selection of activities in North Cyprus, these including scuba diving, paragliding, boat trips, bird watching, turtle watching, sightseeing tours in North Cyprus. You can enjoy enjoy your holiday and spend some unforgettable sunny days on the island.
Bird Watching in North Cyprus
Migrating birds love North Cyprus, and stop here on both Northern and Southern migrations. Combine this influx of visitors with unique native species, and a bird watching holiday in North Cyprus becomes a must-do for any dedicated watcher.
Turtle Watching in North Cyprus
The beaches of North Cyprus are sandy, clean and quiet, just what a nesting turtle likes! You can see these remarkable and endangered creatures in North Cyprus, and even volunteer to look after them too!
Wild Donkeys of the Karpas Peninsula, North Cyprus
These wild donkeys live in a stunning, ragged landscape that is bordered by wonderful beaches. Irresistible for nature lovers, but don’t get too close to the donkeys; their bad temper is legendary!
Scuba Diving in North Cyprus
North Cyprus scuba diving is fantastic; whether you want to swim amongst ancient wrecks, modern maritime mistakes or outstanding natural features. You might even find a turtle swimming alongside you too.
Fishing in North Cyprus
You only need to gaze into the warm waters around North Cyprus to see that there are plenty of fish here just ready for the catching.
Golfing in North Cyprus
North Cyprus golf is the hottest sporting activity on the islands, thanks to the new 18 hole course opened in 2006.
North Cyprus Paragliding
Soar like a bird from the stunning Kyrenia Mountains down to the coast of North Cyprus. Paragliding in North Cyprus is the way all paragliding should be: exciting, uncrowded and remarkably affordable.
Wild Flowers in North Cyprus
In spring, the North Cyprus countryside explodes into a glorious riot of wild flowers, including some very unusual orchids. Take a gentle walk on the wild side in North Cyprus, and the butterflies will rise at your feet in clouds. Beautiful!
Walking/Hiking in North Cyprus, In Autumn, mountain walking/hiking. Unlike walking in Spring when the weather may carry the risk of rain, the end of Summer brings the cooler weather but still warm sunny days. The temperature is ideal for exploring the hillsides with little chance of a storm. There are many trails signposted throughout the Kyrenia Mountain range and maps are available from the Tourist Information Office. Situated along the main route of the ridge road from the Buffavento Besparmak (Five Fingers) turning there is a sign which points towards the East that states “Kyrenia Mountains Visitor Centre 9km.”.Buffavento/Besparmak crossroads has few walking. The castle of Buffavento is poised high on the mountain top at a height of 3,000 Ft with a good stepped path to the summit.
North Cyprus Useful Contacts
Police Emergency: 155
Fire Emergency: 199
Forest Fires Hotline: 177
Ambulance Emergencies: 112
Hospital Telephone numbers:
Kyrenia: 815 2266 / 815 2254
Nicosia: 228 5441
Famagusta: 366 2876 / 366 5328
Guzelyurt: 714 2125
Health Care Advice
There are good hospitals and medical facilities in North Cyprus. Visitors to Northern Cyprus do not require any medical treatment or vaccinations prior to entry.
The prices for medications can range from well below UK price to more than triple. The Central State Hospital is in Nicosia and there are other smaller hospitals in Kyrenia, Famagusta, Guzelyurt and Lefke.
There are many English-speaking doctors who have their own private clinics, but medical treatment is not cheap so holiday insurance may be necessary in this case.
Upset stomachs are popular and caused by a mixture of too much sun, alcohol an a change in the diet. Imodium quickly disposes of the problem. Some people have a nasty reaction to mosquito and sand fly bites. Try rubbing anti-histamine cream on the affected area.
A good sun block lotion should be used and direct sunlight on the head should be avoided. Take plenty of water throughout the day.
There is always a pharmacy on duty at nights and during holidays in every big city in North Cypurs.