Here you will find some of the most striking places that you can visit in North Cyprus. Furthermore, we provide higlights of the things that you can do on the island.
The Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (St. Nicholas Cathedral) and Monumental Tree
The building which was built in the Lusignan era between 1298-1312 is one of the most flamboyant examples of gothic architecture throughout the whole Mediterranean. The Lusignan Kings were initially crowned as the Kings of Cyprus in Lefkoşa’s St. Sophia’s Cathedral and then they were crowned in Gazimağusa’s St. Nicholas Cathedral as the Kings of Jerusalem. The building was converted into a mosque and opened to worship by the Ottomans in 1571 with the addition of a minaret. The monumental East African Fig Tree (Ficus Sycomorus), which is located at the entrance of the cathedral, is the island’s oldest tree. The tree was planted when the building of the cathedral began in 1298 and is now 15 meters in height and 5 meters in width.
The Kyrenia Harbour
The horseshoe shaped historical Girne Harbour, which was built at the centre of the city, is most definitely one of the first places to visit in Girne. The colourful fishing boats and yachts anchored at the harbour make the Girne Harbour a favourite attraction for locals as well tourists to visit. Up until recently the harbour was used as a centre of commerce.
The Great Khan
It is not only Lefkoşa’s, but one of the Island’s most important Ottoman works of architecture. It was built between 1572-1579 as a two storied, square planned building with Bursa’s Koza Khan taken as an example. The Khan consists of a total of 68 rooms, where the rooms on the ground floor were used as shops of commerce and the rooms on the top floor were used as hotel rooms. The building is now used as an entertainment and travelling centre where handcrafts and souvenirs are sold.
The Kantara Castle
The Kantara Castle is the easternmost of the castles situated on the Girne Mountains, at a height of 700 meters from sea level; the castle has a strategic advantage, as it overlooks the northern shoreline, the Mesarya Plains and the Karpaz Peninsula. The castle was believed to have been built by the Byzantines, however, it was first mentioned in written records, when Richard the Lionheart captured Cyprus in 1191.
The Kyrenia Castle and the Shipwreck Museum
The Kyrenia Castle which is one of Cyprus’ most astonishing historical buildings stands proudly as Kyrenia’s symbol. The almost square planned structure has undergone many changes through the years up until it reached its present view. The ship believed to have been made in 3rd century BC, which is being exhibited at the Castle’s Museum is thought to be the oldest commercial ship ever to be recovered from the bottom of the sea.
The Ancient City of Salamis
The ancient city of Salamis was founded by Tefkros in the Bronze Age located to the north of Gazimağusa. The earliest findings at the ancient city date back to 11th century BC. The Salamis Ancient City was discovered with excavations carried out between 1952-1974 and is one of North Cyprus’ most important sites to visit. The ruins of the gymnasium, the baths, the forum and the agora which one can see whilst visiting the ancient city are all from the Roman Period.
Golden Beach in Karpaz
The wonderful Golden Beach is one of the Mediterranean Sea’s virgin beaches; it stretches 2 km along the Karpaz Peninsula with its clear blue water and golden sandy shoreline. All along Golden Beach you will have the captivating opportunity of walking bare footed for kilometres and refreshing yourself by taking a dive into the cool blue waters.
St. Hilarion Castle
St. Hilarion Castle is one of the three castles set upon the Beşparmak (Five Finger) Mountains and is located towards the west of the mountains at a height of 700 meters from sea level. In the 10th century a monastery and a church were added to the castle, which was named after a saint who migrated from Jerusalem to Cyprus and spent the last years of his life praying there. It is said that, the famous Walt Disney was also inspired by the St. Hilarion Castle and that the location of the renowned cartoon “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was based in this Castle.
For those who enjoy scuba diving, North Cyprus is an excellent choice, boasting warm waters, excellent visibility, as well as numerous fascinating dive sites to explore. Crystal-clear, unpolluted waters mean visibility extends as far as 30 metres. The waters are warm enough too to be suitable for diving all year round. Whether you are a complete beginner or an expert when it comes to scuba diving, North Cyprus boasts sites to suit all levels of experience. North Cyprus's scuba diving site highlights include the 'Antique Shop' a cove littered with the remains of ancient amphora; and Zeyko, a 14-metre underwater mountain.
Due to its mild climate, Cyprus is a suitable site for the sport of golf to be played all year round. Top quality facilities which have recently been built increase the attraction to the sport on the island. Especially, the Korineum Golf & Country Club has been the Med’s natural golf paradise since the Grand Opening in April 2007. The 18 hole championship golf course is a dynamic 6,232 metres, 72 par gem designed for golfers of all standards and ages. The unique design enables the golfers to enjoy mountain and seas view from each hole making it a breathtaking experience and also a golfing challenge that golfers want to experience over and over again.
The Bellapais Abbey
The Medieval Bellapais Abbey is located at the foot of the Beşparmak (Five Finger) Mountains to the east of Girne where it fascinates visiting tourists from all over the world with its unique gothic styled architecture and astonishing scenery. The world famous English author Lawrence Durell, who wrote his book the “Bitter Lemons” whilst living in Bellapais Village between 1953-1956, constantly mentioned his admiration for the abbey. The house in which he lived in next to the abbey, also attracts many visitors.
The Vouni Palace
The Vouni Palace, which was built in about 500 BC in order to maintain control over the city of Soli, was inhabited by the people of Soli until it was destroyed by a fire in 380 BC when it was deserted. The Palace Complex, which consists of a total of 137 rooms lining three sides of the central courtyard, is located on a high hilltop to the east of the Ancient City of Soli.
The unspoilt landscape and location along a prime migratory route make North Cyprus the ideal destination for enthusiasts wishing to observe rare birds in their natural habitat. In North Cyprus, birdwatching is becoming a popular pastime. The eastern Mediterranean has long been known as a crossroads for species of bird on their long-distance travels. Relatively isolated and less developed than many of its counterparts, North Cyprus attracts considerable numbers of passing migratory birds and the largely unspoilt Karpaz Peninsula, a national park, is prime twitcher territory. Species commonly spotted include the endemic Cyprus Pied Wheatear and Cyprus Warbler. You will typically come across a wide array of birds, both migrant and resident.
Cyprus’ unique and mild climate provides the possibility for trekking all throughout the year. Whilst trekking along the many paths prepared along the Beşparmak (Five Finger) Mountains you will enjoy the beautiful scenery and nature as well as stumbling upon historical treasures such as St. Hilarion Castle which pop out of the natural environment as if they spring out of story books.