Definitely the least touristy area in the mediteranean, Northern Cyprus has many hidden gems. As a defacto state, which side – Turkey or mainland Cyprus, North Cyprus belongs to depends on who you ask. The Turkish recognize everything north of the 1974 “Green Line”, to be the Republic of North Cyprus, while the rest of the world recognizes everything south to be a part of the Cyprus mainland, the Greek side. Certain areas of the border were opened up in 2003, allowing for tourism to flow through both sides. The mix of all these cultures which have stepped foot into, taken over, and generally inhabited this part of the island have lead to unique foodie experiences and architecture which ranges across history, not to mention the natural beauty found all over. We hope you enjoy your travels!
TOP Places To Visit in Northern Cyprus
It makes sense of course to start with the cyprian capital, Nicosia. One of the last remaining divided European cities, with barbed-wire running right through the middle of it, one could completely visit Northern Cyprus and not be bound to this city at all, however we think the mosques, narrow little streets, and bazaars are definitely worth it. While under-developed compared to the it’s Greek side (which you can totally cross over into, only on foot and in the city itself) there are lovely nooks and spots all along these streets to discover. On your architectural journey, start with the Buyuk Han, built by the Ottomans in 1572, the year after the Venetians took Cyprus. Make your way to the Selimiye mosque (initially the Cathedral of Saint Sophia) and as a last highlight put Hamam Omerye to experience traditional turkish baths.
A long and narrow extension of Northern Cyprus, this peninsula is home to Golden Beach & Agios Filon Beach. The latter’s picturesque sand dunes and miles of beach, this hidden gem is also a national park as it is breeding grounds for sea turtles, who’s little ones hatch around September. Along the peninsula, have lunch at Oasis or Alevkayalı Restaurant for delicious, freshly caught fish! In terms of sightseeing, the gothic Kantara Castle has beautiful views, we love the mosaic flooring of what’s left of the Basilica of Agia Triada, and the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas should do the trick! If you’re looking for posh cocktails, the Karpaz Gate Marina has a lovely beach club frequented by private yacht owners who dock in the marina. Before you wrap up your Karpass itinerary, the Kumyali Beach is a must for a last swim! Our favourite aspect? The very inquisitive wild donkeys that inhabit the peninsula, grazing on the hills and around the many churches and abandoned monasteries.
If you love stepping back in time, then this walled city is the spot. Considered a ghost town, the preserved 15th century Venetian walls are surrounded by moats. Smelling of jasmine and winding along various architectural sights, you’ll find lovely ruins and views from various castles, such as Othello Castle. Other sights to take in are Sinan Pasha Mosque, the Royal Palace, and the Porta del Mare gates. We recommend having lunch right by the Bogaz harbour, where you’ll find quite a few restaurants serving up fresh seafood to choose from.
Picture a coastline of olive trees, mountain ranges, and left-behind churches right out of a John Fowles novel in one of the oldest cities in Cyprus. Kyrenia is also the home of Bellapais Abbey, well-preserved and in a lovely area with two restaurants to choose from – one pricier and one with a historic mill. Kyrenia is also a nature-enthusiasts paradise. From various hiking and walking trails, to special orchids and turtles to be spotted, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy.