Things To Know About Attractions in North Cyprus
While each attraction in North Cyprus is different, we did find a few similarities that are worth knowing.
Entrance fees are nominal. In most cases, you’ll be very surprised as to how cheap it is to visit these incredible world-class sights. We’re talking 2-3 GBP/EUR/USD per person.
You’re free to roam
You won’t find many ropes or barriers at historic sights in North Cyprus. On the contrary, we were pretty surprised to be able to walk wherever we liked, even on top of precious roman mosaics.
While it seems there has been some investment in the upkeep and maintenance of the historic monuments and buildings themselves, the grounds surrounding them tend to have deteriorated a bit over time. Pathways and steps can often be cracked and crumbling and they therefore require a bit of extra care when navigating them.
No Official Websites
None of the attractions featured on this page have official websites representing them, therefore primary sources of information are scarce. With this in mind, we’ve tried our very best to ensure everything on this page is accurate.
If you see published opening times for an attraction you’re intending on visiting, view them more as a suggestion than a cast iron guarantee. Opening times depend on demand and staff availability and can change without notice. If you can, call ahead to check or have backup plans to avoid disappointment.
Where Is Everybody?
Thanks to the rather awkward and longstanding political situation, North Cyprus doesn’t enjoy the roaring tourism it deserves. You therefore might be slightly bewildered to find you have Roman amphitheatres and Venetian castles entirely to yourself. This is particularly the case in the low season (winter), when tourism dries up almost entirely. Enjoy the solitude while it lasts.
Many of the most incredible sights in North Cyprus are not near major towns and cities and are therefore not easily accessible by public transport. Whilst there is a bus network, the buses operate in a different fashion to what you might be used to and don’t go everywhere. That said, we did use the buses to get between our accommodation and Kyrenia and between Kyrenia and Lefkoşa/Nicosia and they did get us safely and swiftly to our destinations.
To take in all of the main sights on the Turkish side of the capital, simply follow the blue line. Local authorities have very helpfully painted a thick blue line on the ground which runs past points of interest throughout the city.
In some areas, road resurfacing has meant sections of the line have disappeared, so some creativity is required to find your way. With a bit of perseverance, we managed to stick to the route without too much fuss.
We picked up the blue line from the Ledra Palace crossing on Markou Drakou. Once you’ve crossed the UN Buffer Zone, take the first right onto Sarayönü Sk (with Khora Kitap Cafe across the road on your left) and turn right again. You should see the blue line start from here.
The scene at this spot is quite remarkable – a row of well-kept town houses face into a wide dugout, inside which you’ll see UN watch towers.
Girne/Kyrenia is a coastal city and, arguably, at the heart of the North Cyprus tourism industry. Photos of its harbour and castle are often used in tourism brochures. Both inside and outside the city limits area number of great hotels, making the city and area surrounding it a great base for exploring the rest of the island territory. Just to the east of Kyrenia Harbour is a 16th century Venetian castle. Kyrenia Castle (Turkish: Girne Kalesi) is in remarkable condition, particularly the exterior fortifications which look like they were constructed fairly recently. As with most of the attractions listed on this page, you’re free to roam pretty much wherever you like.
A walk along the exterior walls is good fun and offers some great views of the harbour and city centre below. Don’t forget to visit the Shipwreck Museum, exhibiting the remains of a Greek merchant ship and its cargo from the 4th century. Once you’re done exploring, there’s a charming little cafe inside the
courtyard which serves simple sandwiches, mezze and Turkish tea.
The ruins of a 13th century monastery can be explored in the village of Bellapais, around 5km to the southeast of Kyrenia. The setting, between mountains and the coastline is really lovely with palm trees planted amongst the ruins. Thanks to the site being situated 220 metres above sea level, there are fabulous views of the surrounding area and out across the sea towards Turkey to be enjoyed.