The top things to do in North Cyprus
North Cyprus is a traveler’s dream if they want to venture off the main path. North Cyprus, a lesser-known neighbor of the Republic of Cyprus, is an island country supported politically and financially by the Turkish government across the sea, but it also has some of the best beaches and untamed scenery in the Mediterranean.
North Cyprus has some spectacular scenery. It is wild and unspoiled. There are few visitors compared to the popular southern half of the island due to its isolation following the Turkish invasion and split of the island in 1974. There are towering mountains crowned by crumbling Crusader castles, an entire peninsular overrun by wild donkeys, and, of course, a few war-torn and abandoned vacation spots.
This is where Turkish and Greek cultures clash, and it is a country where you can truly travel off the main path and explore a lesser-known corner of the globe.
Keep reading to learn about the best things to do in North Cyprus…
Stroll through Nicosia’s Ledra Street Border Crossing!
You will probably be strolling into North Cyprus from the south unless you make a ludicrous overland route through Turkey and then take the long, horribly slow ferry across the Mediterranean Sea. But don’t worry; it is simple nowadays. For years, the UN has kept the Turkish and Greek sides separate, but relations have improved to the point that easy crossings between the two parts of the island are now possible. From the south, you can walk along Ledra Street, the main shopping promenade, present your passport, and you are in the north of Nicosia, the world’s last split capital city. Take Turkish Lira, for example, and be prepared for a culture shock after you cross the city’s dividing line.
Take a road trip!
The best way to see the island once you have crossed the bridge is to get behind the wheel of an automobile! There is a Turkish dolmus, or minibus, system of public transportation in operation, but you will need your own transportation to truly explore because the buses only go so far. So rent a car or a bike and get out there!
See wild donkeys on the Karpaz peninsula!
The Karpaz peninsula is Northern Cyprus’ most remote, yet most beautiful, region. It is rocky and wild, and only a few people live there in addition to the wild donkeys that were liberated during the Turkish invasion of 1974. Donkeys can be seen everywhere on the highways, and on the beaches. Aside from donkeys, the Karpaz peninsula offers some of the most beautiful coastline and golden beaches. The best thing is that you will be sharing it solely with the donkeys.
The Girne Harbour is a great place to hang out and drink!
Girne, sometimes known as Kyrenia, is a laid-back beach resort town. If you are bold enough, you can take a ferry to Turkey from Girne. If not, you can relax and enjoy the nice sea views from the tiny harbor. If you are thirsty, there is no shortage of places to quench your thirst. On every corner, there are taverns and English-style pubs. By the harbor, there is also a little castle.
St Hilarion castle
If the Girne harbor castle wasn’t enough to satisfy your castle cravings, visit St Hilarion in the highlands just beyond the city. The fortress was built as a monastery in the 10th century before the Byzantines realized they could defend the position. What is left is still awe-inspiring. And the vistas from the vantage point are arguably even more impressive than the ruins.
You will the Crusader castles in the mountains!
If St Hilarion hasn’t satiated your castle desire, the Kantara Castle sits atop the Kyrenia mountain range. The route to the top is lengthy and twisting, but if you dare to climb to the top, the remnants of the Crusader stronghold of Kantara give spectacular views from one coast of Cyprus to the other.
Famagusta ghost town!
Famagusta, or Gazimagusa as it is commonly known, was formerly Cyprus’ busiest and most popular tourist destination. The Greeks who ran the resorts fled south when the Turkish army arrived, and the military has kept the resorts vacant and abandoned ever since. They may be seen from the city’s beach. It’s a creepy situation, and you shouldn’t try to swim to the old hotels since you might get shot at.
You can read from our previous blog spot to know more about how you can visit the Varosh (Maraş) ghost town!
Famagusta ancient city
If you have had your feel of Famagusta’s beach, the ancient town is a fascinating treasure just waiting to be explored. This was once a Greek city, which is evident when you visit the old cathedrals that have been converted into mosques. Othello Castle, which is part of the city fortifications, can also be seen. This stronghold is thought to be the site where the events in Shakespeare’s renowned play took place.
The Salamis Ruins!
The ancient ruins of Salamis are a short drive down the shore from Famagusta. The ruins of this city, which was once a prosperous Greek and Roman community, have been largely excavated, leaving temples, theaters, and great marble columns for visitors to roam around and be transported back thousands of years.
Look for a secluded beach!
It is time to relax on a deserted beach once you have had your feel of ruins and castles. You may find a deserted beach almost anywhere along the coast if you drive in any direction. The vast and deserted Golden Beach on the Karpaz Peninsular and the popular Long Beach on the İskele coastline would be among your personal favorites. You won’t find a more pristine shoreline anywhere else on the planet.
Take a look at the front lines!
You can drive along the border and across the UN buffer zone that divides the north and south of Cyprus. In the military zones, there are abandoned settlements and war-torn structures close to the checkpoints. These are the starkest and most evident reminders of the effects and costs that the conflict continues to have on the island of Cyprus, years after the war and the division.
There is more to explore from the hidden beauty of North Cyprus!