Established 34 years ago, this is a self-proclaimed republic on the northern and eastern side of the island of Cyprus. It’s only officially recognised by two other nations but it’s a place where time stands still and where idyllic scenery includes slow-paced villages, uncrowded beaches, majestic Crusader castles and panoramic mountain views. It also has the added bonus of being outside the expensive Eurozone, here’s what you should include on your unspoilt Northern Cyprus holiday itinerary…
The picturesque historic town of Kyrenia located on the Northern coast is often known as the ‘Jewel of Cyprus.’ It maybe small but it’s perfectly formed and has its own Venetian built, 16th-century castle and very pretty harbour. Kyrenia harbour is where small local fishing boats bob alongside large shiny yachts and even the cafés ooze history – the buildings they are housed once functioned as old carob storage warehouses. A great place to grab a cooling drink or a traditional Turkish coffee and take in the beautiful views of the Mediterranean sea.
This is a sparsely settled area of outstanding natural beauty located in the NorthEast which is famous for its wild donkeys and unspoilt landscapes. The 70km stretch of land is filled with pristine beaches, fields of flowers and agricultural land, timeworn churches, rural villages where residents still pursue a very traditional way and of course the wild donkeys (which should be approached with a little caution)! Road improvements have made the beaches a little more accessible if you’re planning to explore by car and accommodation isn’t too hard to find either.
This is located on the Karpas Peninsula but deserves a mention of its own. Arguably the most beautiful unspoilt beach in Nothern Cyprus, the beach offers miles of mostly deserted golden sand backed with sand dunes where crystal clear water laps the shore in gentle waves. Wild and untouched it’s also home to breeding endangered sea turtles.
Saint Hilarion Castle
The 143-mile trail through the Kyrenia mountains of North Cyprus is one of the Med’s best-kept secrets. A treat for both wildlife spotters and hikers, if you’re exploring the area make sure you stop by Saint Hillarion castle. Originally a monastery dating from the 10th century, it’s an impressive sight and sits dramatically on a rocky crag with elegantly ruined turrets, towers and windows. It even inspired both the fairy-tale castles of King Ludwig in Bavaria and Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
The small town of Lefke is located in a remote green a mountainous region which is home to gorgeous sea views, lush citrus groves, beautiful date trees and is the only place in Cyprus where the Yafa oranges are grown. It’s a historic place where you’ll find beautiful examples of traditional architecture including a historical mosque. The locals will tell you their citrus fruits are the tastiest and the juiciest on the island, due to the rich soil and plentiful supply of reservoir water.
Morphou is a small town in the north-western part of Cyprus. Surrounded by citrus trees it’s most famous for its fruit production and its two week-long annual Orange Festival. It’s a traditional town with a nostalgic centre where you can see well-preserved architecture, including a beautiful church and a slice of traditional Cypriot life. It’s also the gateway to the greenest area of Northern Cyprus and makes a great base for exploring the rest of the area.
This little village is located on a hill and is surrounded by the olive groves, lush pine forests and the mountain slopes of the Kyrenia Range. The ancient commune is one the few villages which hasn’t been renovated so still has a very traditional feel. As well as a few restaurants and shops also expect to see an old Christian church which is now used for the local mosque. The views are pretty spectacular too!