7 days in North Cyprus
Now that the days are longer and the weather is warmer
the time is right to have a holiday of a life time.
Come to Cyprus and enjoy fantastic a week in the sun!
Keep your magazine with you for it will provide you with a guide for a one week tour of Cyprus
As your plane descends from the skies to land in Cyprus, you may be able to see the beautiful North Coast of Cyprus and the ancient city of Kyrenia. If you look more carefully you may even see Kyrenia Castle and the ancient harbour. If you have a seat in the aisle or if you are too afraid to look down from the plane, never mind, as our tour is centered mainly in and around Kyrenia. Kyrenia, which is approximately 45 minutes drive from Ercan Airport, is the tourism center of Cyprus. It has a wide selection of good hotels, ranging from the very modest to the height of luxury. As soon as you check into your hotel, you can swim in the warm blue waters of the mediterranean. Kyrenia has number of magnificent beaches, which offer a range of amenities such as restaurants, sun loungers, sunshades and various water sports.
After cooling off in the sea you may wish to visit Kyrenia castle. It was built by the Byzantines as a protection against Arab pirate raids. The castle gates are as solid today as they were 400 years ago. The castle is now a museum that gives the visitor an idea of what life was like in this part of the Mediterranean almost 1000 years ago.
In the old parts of Kyrenia you can see the Venetian influence (narrow streets, etc.). In the harbour there are usually a number of boats of various shapes and sizes. Many of these boats take tourists on a day trips along the coastline. You will at a reasonable cost, be provided with a Turkish Cypriot lunch and given a number of opportunities to swim in secluded romantic bays.
Many restaurants and cafes are located near the harbour .You may sit by the sea, sip a glass of cold bear and taste chips made from famous Cyprus potatoes. As the first day of tour should not be too exhaustive, we would now suggest that you return to your hotel.
Kyrenia was established by the Achaeans in the 10th century BC. It has a long and interesting history. Cyprus’s rich cultural heritage can be observed wherever you go. Possibly the most well known historical site is Bellapais Abbey, which is located on the heights of one of the Five Finger mountains near Kyrenia. The abbey is gothic in style, with pointed vaults that seem to reach to the heavens. The effect is further enhanced by the positioning of the abbey on the mountain side. The refectory is the least damaged building of the abbey and today serves as a concert hall. Bellapais is also the name for the little village that over the years has built up around the abbey. This village is famous for the ‘air of idleness’ that dominates and takes hold of every new visitor. British writer Lawrence Durrell lived in this very village and wrote about it in his book ‘’Bitter Lemons’’.
Departing from Belapais Abbey, we head towards St. Hilarion castle, which is located on the highest point in the mountain range and lies to the rear of Kyrenia. Following a short but interesting climb by car, we are welcomed by the fantastic view of the castle built by Byzantines. Originally built as a look out point to give early warning of Arab pirate raids, the castle now provides a journey into the depths of time. It was later used by the Crusaders as a defensive position. Its’ walls are steeped in history having witnessed many an intrigue or power struggle. The castle presents a wonderful view (from the Queen’s window) of the northern shores and on a clear day mainland Turkey (The Toros mountain range) can be seen. Walt Disney based the castle in the film ‘Fantasia’, on St Hilarion castle.
You can now leave St. Hillarion castle and head for the mountain road. This road provides an alternative means of getting from one end of the mountain range to the other. The coastal road is faster but the mountain road is in parts very exciting (Not for the feint hearted). It winds its way through authentic Cypriot villages and forests, and provides opportunities to see some breath taking views of the Cyprus countryside and the Mediterranean sea. With the coming of the evening, it is now time to return to the coast. There are a number of beaches on the way back to the Hotel, but Camelot and MareMonte are exceptionally beautiful. Many people like to swim in the faint sunlight, as the sun is less intense. There are restaurants at both locations but you may wish to sample one of the many establishments located on the coastal road.
The greenest region in Cyprus is without doubt Güzelyurt. The first stop on the journey to Güzelyurt is Cape koruçam. You need to follow the signs to Güzelyurt then take the road which is signposted to Sadrazamköy. Cape koruçam marks the Western most tip of the Northern coast. Do not stop where the asphalt road ends; but follow the gravel road until you can go no further. Cape koruçam offers great views of the Coast and the mountains. Having finished your visit to Cape koruçam, follow the road back to Sadrazamköy and the signs to koruçam (or Kormacit) village. This village is mainly inhabited by a sect of catholic Arabs call Maronites. They speak Arabic and Greek. There is a restaurant just across from the cathedral called Yorgo kasap, which offers a wide range of ‘Mezes’ from authentic Cypriot cuisine. Yorgo is also famous for its’ delicious kleftiko. If after lunch you have enough energy to go on, then you can head for Güzelyurt ‘the citrus garden of Cyprus ‘. Do not leave Güzelyurt without visiting St.Manas church and the museum. The museum has numerous items of archeological and historical interest. On the way from Güzelyurt to Lefke, we suggest you stop by the ruins of the ancient city of Soli, which was one of the nine kingdoms of Cyprus, Soli hosts one of the few Lica still observable today. It also boasts a marvelous view and a 4 thousand spectator capacity Roman theatre. Soli is not to be missed. Moving on we will son arrive at Yaşil Irmak. This tiny village houses the biggest vine tree in Cyprus. It has an 85 cm diameter and produces three tons of grapes each year. There is also a beautiful and inviting beach located directly in front of the vine. This is a perfect place to swim, sunbathe and generally relax.
On the fourth day we suggest you visit Nicosia, the very last divided capital in the world. It is the capital of both island communities (Turkish and Greek). Nicosia, which was founded in 300 BC., is famous for its star shape. It is called ‘the star –shaped city‘. Nicosia architecture reflects the fact that at one time or other it was ruled by the Venetians, Lusignans, Ottomans and British. Inside the walls the streets of Nicosia are very narrow and complex , like a huge labyrinth. The center of the ancient city is marked by the Arasta Bazaar. Situated beside the bazaar is the Büyük Han, the most striking Ottoman building in the town. Made from indigenous Cypriot stone, the building comprises 68 rooms. Today it houses an authentic Cypriot restaurant, numerous souvenir shops which feature samples of Cypriot handicrafts and a few modern style cafes. In the summer evening classical music concerts are held in the court yard of the Büyük Han. Just a few metres away from Büyük Han, is the Selimiye mosque, another monument which is over 800 years old. This building was originally built by the Lusignans as the St. Sophia cathedral. However, after the Ottoman invasion, the church was converted to a mosque without any changes being made to its gothic structure. Only items that were clearly christian, such as statues and reliefs of saints, were removed, whilst frescoes were covered over with white paint. As mentioned before, Nicosia is the only divided capital in the world. This division is most noticeable at the park situated on Yiğitler Burcu. Here you can see barbed wire barriers that mark the border between the two communities. On the street side of the park, you can see the Hotel Ledra Palace. This is considered to be the key symbol of country’s dividedness. Before 1974 it was a 5 Star hotel. However, it is now used by the UN peace keepers. All along the Green Line that divides Nicosia, there are lots of buildings which still display the marks of the past conflict.
One of the most important stops on our-week long tour of Cyprus is Famagusta. This ancient harbour city served as the last stop before Jerusalem during the Crusades. Famagusta is encircled by fascinating walls, which bear the fingerprints of Leonardo da Vici. The ancient city of Famagusta is home to many monuments. You may climb the ‘Othello Tower’ which is the exact location where Shakespeare’s famous tragedy ‘Othello’, takes place. You may also travel back in time by visiting the twin templer churches. Although little remains, the Venetian Palace also deserves a visit. Famagusta has numerous churches such as St. George of the Latins and St. Nicholas Cathedral. The minarets are carefully attached to the main building so as not to damage the French gothic character. Famagusta comprises many Ottoman buildings as well. Kertikli Baths comprises a number of cafes, restaurants and bars for those who wish to enjoy an authentic Cypriot atmosphere. If you pass under the remaining arches of the Venetian Palace, just across from the Cathedral/Mosque, you can see the dungeon where the Turkish poet Namık Kemal spent his last years. Departing from Famagusta city center and heading up the coast you quickly (8 km) arrive at the Salamis Ruins. Salamis ruins are a must (‘You can really touch History here’). You may also visit the Royal Tombs and the Monastery of St. Barnabas, once the center of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. The monastery of St. Barnabas is a museum with a rich collection of archeological artifacts (including religious icons) that have been gathered from across Cyprus.
The suggested destination for the 6th day is the Karpas Peninsula. The Karpas deserves to be visited because of its historical importance and natural beauty. With its untouched and beautiful beaches, this peninsula has always been a favorite place for people who chose to remove themselves from the mad rush of the modern world. This tranquility is the main reason why it is the region in Cyprus with the most monasteries. We suggest stopping at one of these, Panaghia Kanakaria. After visiting this church, which is full of icons and mosaics, we head for Dipkarpaz over Yenierenköy. Basically we follow the signposts for the Tolos Andreas monastery. A breed of donkey lives wild in this untamed expanse of nature. Don’t be too be surprised if one suddenly approaches you. The road winds its way through this mainly deserted area and you can smell the fragrant herbs which the area is famous for. As we proceed the road becomes narrower and narrower. Finally, the road reaches the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas, one of the most important centers of pilgrimage for the Orthodox world, the monastery is considered holy by both the Turkish and Greek. Having drunk holy water from the Monastery, you should now continue on your way. A few kilometres later, the asphalt road comes to an end. You should, however continue on following the gravel path. This time we arrive at the Eastern most tip of the Northern coast. This location provides some fantastic views. Next you must leave the Zafer Cape and start your journey home. On the way you will see Golden beach. This long beach has golden sand and beautiful blue waters. Golden beach is the usual destination of the caretta sea turtles who lay their eggs in the fine sand in July and early August. Swimming in these waters is an exceptional delight. Take your time on this marvelous beach and make sure you fully enjoy all it has to offer. At an appropriate time you should start on your journey back to the hotel. Don’t forget it is about a 2 hour drive. There are some limited opportunities to stay overnight in the area.
This is the last day of your one week vacation. Today you will spend your time in the Besparmak mountain range. First you will stop at the Buffavento castle. Buffavento , which means ‘standing before the wind’, is built on a steep hill 950 m’s above sea level. You can see both Nicosia and Kyrenia from castle. After exploring the castle you should head for the Besparmak mountains. Besparmak means ‘’ Five Fingers ‘’and if you look carefully you will notice that this mountain is shaped like the first finger. The way that the wind blows amongst the pine trees that provide cool shelter from the heat of the sun, is memorable. At some point you will come across a picnic area situated on top of a hill that overlooks the Eastern shores of kyrenia. This area is is often very crowded with local people who come here for a picnic (a popular Turkish Cypriot past time). The road plunges its way into the forests winding ever downwards to the coast. If you follow this road you will arrive at and old Armenian Monastery ‘Sourp Mangar’, once a key place for the Armenian pilgrims to stop on their way to Jerusalem. The monastery still serves as a guesthouse today. On the way back you should return the way you came, i.e. via the mountain road. This mountain road will take you to Esentepe, a lovely Cypriot village, which is located at the foot on the mountains. Having left the village you will arrive at the coast road. It is now time sadly to return to the hotel so that you may pack in readiness to leave.
There is clearly a lot more to see and do on this beautiful island. We have just provided a hint of what is available. Don’t forget you could just sit by the beach or hotel pool, take in the sun and recharge your batteries, the choice is yours.
In Cyprus you will always be received in a warm and welcoming fashion. It’s the Turkish Cypriot way. Combine this with the fantastic beaches and climate, the amazing historical sites (“It’s one of the last places in the world where you can truly touch history” to quote a regular visitor from the UK) and the relaxed atmosphere, and you have the makings of a holiday of a life time.