Nature begins to stir during winter in North Cyprus, donning its most beautiful colours in spring to present a scene of unparalleled beauty. In high summer, we say farewell to the feast of colours as the Mediterranean sun begins its long reign. In autumn the island enters a period of calm and repose. The spiritual tranquillity and the real taste of life that we are all seeking is here in North Cyprus.
The dazzling natural fabric awaits you from Güzelyurt on the far west to Cape Zafer at the easternmost tips of the Karpas Peninsula. The fertile soils, covered in the Mediterranean flora, are as unspoiled as they were on the day they were created.
Basking and resting on the tranquil beaches to the sound of the cicadas and bathing in the cleanest waters of the Mediterranean are the most precious blessings that North Cyprus had to offer. Enjoying the sea on untouched beaches amounts to a holiday beyond compare. The green Gulf of Guzelyurt in the east awaits you, with the cultural heritage of Soli and Vouni looking on and you can sip your coffee under the shadow of venerable ancient olive trees.
Welcomed by the magic and mystery of Famagusta, you make for the untouched and undisccovered Karpas Peninsula, the virgin country of the island. The island donkeys of Karpas will greet your entry to this landscape, distinguished by its unique ornithology, the home of the Medos tulip.
Karpas Peninsula – Golden Beach & the Apostolos Andreas Monastery
Unmistakable on a map of North Cyprus, the Karpas, or Panhandle as it’s commonly known by, is the long finger of land pointing north-east towards the Turkish eastern mainland, located at the Eastern most tip of Cyprus, near Famagusta.
The peninsula thrusts out from just beyond wherever watchful Kantara castle sits at the end of the Kyrenia range of mountains; a windswept undulating land strip of around 75 km in length. Harboring some of the best beaches on the island, this remote terrain is a mecca for bird watchers. It’s also where to see the ubiquitous Cyprus donkeys, abandoned when the Greek’s left in 1974 and now roaming freely. Wild and almost derelict during the winter months, it becomes wild, in the human sense, when hordes of locals and holidaymakers arrive during the heat of summer to enjoy the beaches. Otherwise, this area attracts nature lovers and walkers who enjoy off season solitude. A scattering of small archaeological sites and early Christian churches lie in wait.
Here you will witness a tranquil and picturesque village where Turkish and Greek Cypriots live together harmoniously. This peninsula is undoubtedly the most beautiful and the least spoilt part of North Cyprus.
Güzelyurt – The beautiful land
Situated in the north-west of Cyprus Island, on the northern skirts of Troodos Mountains, to the east of the blue Mediterranean, on the greenest plateau in Cyprus, is the charming town of Güzelyurt (in Greek: Morphou). You can see the scenic harmony of all tones of green in Güzelyurt and its environment rich with citrus groves and subterranean sources.
Güzelyurt (meaning beautiful land in Turkish) is one of the richest agricultural areas in North Cyprus. Rich in underground water reserves, consequently the leading part of the TRNC in citrus farming, delicious oranges, lemons and limes of Cyprus. Among all the local festivities, Güzelyurt Orange Festival which is organized every year during May and June is the most sought after and mostly renowned one.
Güzelyurt, like other towns in North Cyprus, has been home to many great civilizations throughout history; visit the Soli Ruins (600 BC), ancient theatre, Vouni Palace (5th Century BC), Tumba Tou Skuru residential areas (dates to the early Bronze Period), St. Mamas Monastery and Icon Museum (a Byzantine building), and you will see.
North Cyprus Castles
Explore the ancient and picturesque castles of Northern Cyprus
Over the centuries, invaders have attacked Cyprus from virtually every direction. Its location in the Mediterranean Sea at the cross-roads of three continents has always made it a desirable acquisition. So there are castles, starting from Roman times, but their defensive role is finished. They have a new role now, tourism, so there is no need to breach the walls, the doors are wide open. The picturesque Kyrenia range of mountains hides three of the islands most spectacular castles, St Hilarion, Buffavento and Kantara. All Northern Cyprus castles are regarded as Crusader castles, but they were all built originally as Byzantine fortresses and later heavily fortified in the time of the Crusades. The first and easiest castle to explore is not one of the Crusader castles but the one in Kyrenia town guarding the harbor, Kyrenia castle.
St Hilarion Castle – Spectacularly located on a mountain peak at 732m
St Hilarion Castle is the most impressive of the three castles located in the Kyrenia Mountain Range. A paved road from the Girne to Lefkosa highway climbs all the way to the castle entrance and car park.
The best view of the castle is at the bottom of the hill on the final approach to the castle. From here the thick, castellate walls punctuated with solid square towers appear to cling to and wind the steep hillside right to the very peak. It is often likened to Walk Disney’s fairy tale castle in Snow White and believed it might even be the inspiration.
The accommodation within the castle is built on three distinct and self-contained levels. The lower level housed the horses, the soldiers and the weapons. Steps lead more steeply upwards to the third and final level for the Royal apartments and St John’s tower.
Kyrenia Castle – Built during Roman and Venetians time in Cyprus
Kyrenia Castle started life under the Romans and was further improved through the ages especially by the Lusignan’s, but there remains much to see in the castle, and finally by the Venetians. It was the Venetians who built the heavy defensive walls and the strong towers.
Entering the castle, you cross the moat, dry now but it was not always so. Inside there is much to admire including the cruciform church of St George. One of the rooms off the courtyard houses the Shipwreck Museum which displays a 4th century BC wreck of a Greek merchant ship with its cargo. Kyrenia castle is a must visit landmark in Cyprus.
Buffavento Castle – Located on the top of the Buffavento Pass
Occupying an impregnable position is Buffavento castle. Located east of St Hilarion, it is accessed from the top of the Buffavento Pass.
A narrow-paved road leads to the entrance. From here it is a 30 – 40-minute climb up steps to the peak of the mountain. Only a few rooms remain scattered between peaks but the view from this altitude, 945m, is truly worth the climb.
Kantara Castle – This heavily walled castle stands at around 600m
Kantara castle, further east still, is easily the most accessible. Again, a paved road leads to the entrance from Kantara village.
This heavily walled castle stands at around 600m. Here the buildings, including a large barracks, storerooms and water cisterns, are more complete and can be explored with barely any climbing.