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Northern Cyprus has got the lot. Long summers drenched in sunshine? Yep. Wild, undeveloped beaches? Plenty. Atmospheric old towns, crumbling ancient ruins, a rambling rural hinterland? Tick, tick, and tick.
All this, and it doesn’t even exist – at least not officially, anyway. Recognised only by Turkey since the island split in 1974, a political question mark has long hung over Cyprus’ north. By and large, this uncertainty has left the region pretty much devoid of mass tourism and high-rise hotels. It means holidays to Cyprus’ north are very cheap in comparison to other similar destinations. It’s the Med, but not as you know it.
Kyrenia, at the centre of the northern coast, is the main holiday centre. Famed for its splendid Venetian castle, spectacular harbour and warren of an old town, Kyrenia (or Girne) is buffered on either side by long stretches of dreamy Mediterranean coastline. A medieval jumble of ancient churches, Ottoman flourishes, cafes, restaurants and museums, it is easily one of the prettiest towns on the island, and a must visit.
Over on the east coast sits Famagusta (or Gazimagusa), a handsome walled city of beautiful beaches and fascinating ruins. Nearby, the monastery of Apostolos Varnavas, a Greek Orthodox church constructed in 1756, and Salamis, a vast archaeological site dating back to 1075 BC, shed light on Cyprus’ ancient history.
For a true taste of the untouched, head to the Karpaz Peninsula. This long, sparsely populated strip of land is home to some of the island’s wildest beaches. Just sand, sea and the odd wild donkey, this is the Mediterranean as it was meant to be.
Northern Cyprus is considered quite safe as a holiday destination. Use common sense, as on any holiday, and check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office before booking for the most up-to-date travel advice.
No, travellers with a full British passport do not need a visa to go to Northern Cyprus.
There are no specific vaccinations needed for Northern Cyprus.
To get a good mix of city and beach, between five and seven days should do. However, if you want to the rural side of Cyprus’ north (or spend more time on the beach), you might want up to ten days.
Although not the strictest Muslim country, consider your dress when away from the beach. Talk of the political situation between the north and south of Cyprus is best avoided.
Car hire is the best way to get around in Cyprus’ north. Local buses are infrequent and unreliable.
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