Explore the hidden gems of North Cyprus with our comprehensive guide to the best places to visit.
If you’re looking for a hidden gem, North Cyprus might be your perfect destination! It has a rich history, diverse culture, and stunning natural scenery. We’ll guide you through the best places in North Cyprus, from its fascinating cities and towns to its must-see historical sites. Let’s start with a brief introduction to this unique destination.
A Brief Introduction to North Cyprus
North Cyprus is a self-declared state which is internationally recognised only by Turkey. The region is situated on the northern third of the island of Cyprus, bordering the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Troodos Mountains to the south. North Cyprus is known for its warm climate and relaxed way of life, making it a popular destination for beachgoers and history enthusiasts. With its mix of Turkish, Greek, and Middle Eastern influences, North Cyprus offers a unique travel experience that is to be noticed.
History and Culture of North Cyprus
The history of North Cyprus dates back to ancient times, with evidence of human settlement dating back to the Neolithic period. Various civilisations have inhabited North Cyprus, including the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans. Today, the region’s culture blends Turkish and Greek influences. Visitors can experience this rich history through North Cyprus’s cuisine, music, and wedding ceremonies.
One of the fascinating aspects of North Cyprus’s history is the presence of ancient ruins scattered throughout the region. These ruins offer a glimpse into the past and give visitors a sense of the region’s rich cultural heritage. Some of the most notable ruins in North Cyprus include the ancient city of Salamis, the Bellapais Abbey, and the St. Hilarion Castle.
The Unique Geography of North Cyprus
North Cyprus’s geography is unique, with rugged mountain ranges, rolling hills, and a beautiful coastline. The coastline is stunning, with crystal clear waters and small coves and bays perfect for swimming and sunbathing. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll be pleased to know that North Cyprus is home to various wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, and a wide range of bird species.
The interior of North Cyprus is also worth exploring. The region is home to numerous trails for hiking, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. One of the most popular hiking trails in North Cyprus is the Besparmak Trail, which takes hikers through the Besparmak Mountains and offers breathtaking views of the coastline.
Travel Tips and Essentials for North Cyprus
You’ll need a valid passport to enter North Cyprus. The local language is Turkish, although English is widely spoken in tourist areas. Finally, the currency is the Turkish Lira.
When it comes to getting around North Cyprus, several options are available. The most popular way to explore the region is by car, which allows you to travel at your own pace and explore the region’s more remote areas. If you prefer to avoid driving, buses and taxis are also available.
It’s also worth noting that North Cyprus is relatively safe, with a low crime rate and friendly locals who welcome visitors. However, taking precautions when travelling is always a good idea, such as keeping your valuables safe and being aware of your surroundings.
With these tips in mind, let’s explore the top cities and towns of North Cyprus.
Top Cities and Towns to Explore
Cyprus is a beautiful island nation located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and it is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and rich history. Here are some of the top cities and towns to explore during your visit:
Nicosia: The Divided Capital
Nicosia is the capital city of Cyprus and is unique in that it is divided between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. The town boasts an impressive, largely intact medieval wall and provides a fascinating glimpse into the area’s turbulent history. Visitors can explore the old town’s narrow streets, visit ancient churches and mosques, and browse the city’s lively markets.
One of the must-see attractions in Nicosia is the Cyprus Museum, which houses an impressive collection of artefacts from the island’s rich history. The museum’s exhibits span from the Neolithic period to today and include pottery, statues, and other treasures.
Nicosia also has a vibrant arts and culture scene, with numerous galleries, theatres, and festivals throughout the year. Visitors can catch a performance at the historic Municipal Theater or attend the annual Nicosia International Festival, which features music, dance, and theatre worldwide.
Kyrenia: The Harbour City
Kyrenia is a historic port city located on the north coast of Cyprus. It is famous for its picturesque harbour and an impressive castle, which dates back to the 7th century. Visitors can explore the winding streets of the old town, take a boat tour of the harbour, or simply relax at one of the city’s many beaches.
One of the most popular attractions in Kyrenia is the Shipwreck Museum, which showcases artefacts from a 10th-century BCE Greek shipwreck discovered off the city’s coast. The museum’s exhibits include pottery, jewellery, and other items that offer a fascinating glimpse into ancient Mediterranean trade.
Kyrenia is also home to several important cultural landmarks, including the Bellapais Abbey, a beautiful Gothic-style monastery that dates back to the 13th century. Visitors can explore the monastery’s stunning architecture and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
Famagusta: A Blend of Ancient and Modern
Famagusta is a city steeped in history, with ancient ruins, medieval buildings, and modern developments all coexisting within its walls. The town is famous for its impressive city walls dating back to the 14th century and its numerous churches, mosques, and other cultural landmarks. Visitors can also enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife and bustling waterfront.
One of the most fascinating attractions in Famagusta is the Othello Tower, a medieval fortress built by the Venetians in the 16th century. The tower is named after the famous Shakespearean play, set in the city, and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
Famagusta is also home to several beautiful beaches, including the popular Palm Beach, which boasts crystal-clear waters and soft white sand. Visitors can relax in the sun, swim in the sea, or try their hand at water sports like windsurfing and jet skiing.
Bellapais: The Village of Beauty and Serenity
Bellapais is a charming village located in the foothills of the Five Finger Mountains. It is famous for its impressive monastery, which dates back to the 13th century, and its stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. Visitors can explore the village’s winding streets, take a stroll through its beautiful gardens, or simply relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
One of the highlights of Bellapais is the Bellapais Abbey, a beautiful Gothic-style monastery that has been beautifully preserved over the centuries. The monastery’s stunning architecture and peaceful atmosphere make it a popular destination for visitors worldwide.
Bellapais is also home to several excellent restaurants and cafes, where visitors can sample traditional Cypriot cuisine and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The village’s quiet streets and beautiful gardens make it the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Must-Visit Historical Sites
Saint Hilarion Castle: A Fairy Tale Fortress
Saint Hilarion Castle is a stunning medieval fortress located in the Kyrenia Mountains. The castle is famous for its spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and its fascinating history, which dates back to the 10th century. Visitors can explore the castle’s twisting staircases, secret passages, and medieval walls and imagine what life must have been like for the soldiers who once defended it.
Salamis: Ancient Ruins by the Sea
Salamis is an ancient city located on the east coast of Cyprus. The town was once a thriving port and cultural centre with a rich history dating back to the 1,150 BC. Visitors can explore the city’s impressive ruins, including its ancient amphitheatre, basilicas, and Roman baths, and imagine what life must have been like for the ancient Greeks and Romans who once lived there.
Soli: The Mosaic City
Soli is a stunning ancient city located on the northwest coast of Cyprus. The town is famous for its impressive mosaic floors, which date back to the 4th and 5th centuries AD. Visitors can explore the ancient theatre, public baths, and early Christian basilicas and marvel at the intricate designs of the city’s many mosaics.
The Monastery of Apostolos Andreas: A Sacred Pilgrimage Site
The Monastery of Apostolos Andreas is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Cyprus. Located on the Karpaz Peninsula, the monastery is dedicated to Saint Andrew and dates back to the 12th century. Visitors can explore the impressive church and monastery complex, known for its intricate carvings and stunning frescoes, and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of its natural surroundings.
Natural Wonders of North Cyprus
Karpaz Peninsula: The Wild and Untouched Region
The Karpaz Peninsula is a stunning natural wonder located on the east coast of Cyprus. It is famous for its unspoiled beaches, rugged hills, and unique wildlife, including wild donkeys and turtles. Visitors can explore the many trails that wind through the peninsula and take in the stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Alagadi Turtle Beach: A Sanctuary for Sea Turtles
Alagadi Turtle Beach is a pristine stretch of sand located on the north coast of Cyprus. It is famous for its resident population of sea turtles, which visit the beach yearly to lay their eggs. Visitors can take a guided tour of the coast, learn about the area’s conservation efforts, and even see the baby turtles hatching in the summer months.
Cape Apostolos Andreas: The Easternmost Point
Cape Apostolos Andreas is the easternmost point of Cyprus and is famous for its stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. Visitors can explore the cape’s rugged coastline, hike the many trails that wind through the hills, and even dip in the sea’s clear blue waters.
The Five Finger Mountains: Hiking and Panoramic Views
The Five Finger Mountains are a stunning range located in the centre of Cyprus. The mountains are famous for their panoramic views of the countryside and many hiking trails that wind through the hills. Visitors can explore the area’s rugged beauty, spot rare birds and wildlife, and even visit ancient ruins and monasteries.
North Cyprus is a unique and fascinating destination for every traveller. Whether interested in history, culture, or natural beauty, you’ll find plenty to explore and discover in the region’s cities, towns, and natural wonders. We hope this guide has inspired you to plan your trip to North Cyprus and discover its many treasures.