Advantages of Holidaying in Northern Cyprus

Advantages of Holidaying in Northern Cyprus

Kyrenia In 2002

The self-declared Turkish Federative State of Cyprus, commonly known as northern Cyprus, is only recognised by Turkey as having any legitimacy, although this inconvenient fact doesn’t deter a discerning band of travellers from arriving every summer. Nor should it, as there are many advantages to holidaying in Northern Cyprus.

Three of Cyprus’s most famous towns and their surroundings are now located in Northern Cyprus – Famagusta, Kyrenia and Nicosia. Also in the Turkish region are the glorious Karpaz Peninsula and three of the island’s most famous castles, Buffavento, St Hilarion and Bellapais. All three castles are linked with the medieval Crusades, with St Hilarion especially known for its connection with Richard the Lionheart.

One of the major advantages of a holiday in the northern sector of the island is that the best beaches are located right here. Karpas Golden Beach, with its nesting turtles, lies in an unspoilt area of Famagusta which boasts white sands and just a few wooden bungalows backing its idyllic strands. The Golden Beach, set along the Apostoles Andreas road, is another undeveloped sea, sun and sand paradise.

Kyrenia is the administrative hub of Northern Cyprus and is set within easy travelling distance of Bellapais and St Hilarion castles. Impressively dating back to the end of the Trojan War, it received many migrants from Mycenaean Greece in the 15th century BC and the 12th century Kyrenia Castle was overrun by Ottoman armies in 1571. Remnant of the district’s long history and a 4th century BC shipwrecked Greek merchant vessel make for great explorations.

Nicosia itself is a divided city, set on the border between North and South Cyprus. It’s the island’s largest city, rich in culture and history, and boasting all the modern amenities of a 21st century administrative hub, a service it provides to both halves of the island. Historic sights spanning over 1,000 years are found in both sectors.

If you’re planning a holiday in Cyprus, the two main advantages of basing yourself in the Turkish north are its relatively unspoilt ambience compared with the southern resorts and the exchange rate of its currency, an important consideration in these cash-strapped times. The Turkish lira is the official currency, giving more purchasing power to the pound sterling than the euro in the southern region.

Arriving in Northern Cyprus by air involves transiting in Turkey but, as it’s normally only an hour’s wait for a connecting flight, changing planes gives a good chance to stretch your legs! Other options include a ferry or sea-bus trip from Mersin or Tasucu on the southeastern Turkish coastline, a delightful experience in its own right. Flying to Larnarca in the South of the island and transiting overland to the north is another popular option. Airlines like Monarch, British Airways and Easyjet all provide regular flights to Cyprus from UK airports.

Once on the island, you’ll find the north far less crowded, less noisy and less disruptive than the southern holiday areas, as well as less expensive. Northern Cyprus isn’t as yet on the main Mediterranean tourist trail, resulting in a more peaceful, traditional ambience. Even so, there’s plenty to do here apart from lazing on the beach, from golf to water sports, trekking, fishing and even paragliding.

Traditional Turkish cuisine merges with Greek dishes and international eateries all across Northern Cyprus in a variety of venues, from tavernas to bars and upscale restaurants. Prices, as with every other purchase in the north of the island, are affordable even for travellers on a tight budget, although in the more remote districts, cash may be the only way to pay.

Varied accommodation options can also be sourced, with car rental here cheaper than in the south. It’s possible to stay in the cooling air of the hills and still be just a short drive from an almost deserted beach, and the many historic sights all over the region can be explored within a day or two.

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