Bring out the culturati in you!
Northern Cyprus is an adventure all on its own, the Turkish side is filled with hamams, mosques, shops and casinos! The struggle between the North and South sides of Cyprus has been well documented, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t venture to the north for a trip that may bring you back memories from Istanbul.
SEE: Kyrenia Castle & Shipwreck Museum
We’re going to start our journey in the Northern, aka: Turkey side of Cyprus. The 16th century Kyrenia Castle sits on water, it was built by the Venetians. Inside, there’s a Shipwreck Museum which is awesome! Inside the plated glass, there’s a massive remains of a Greek merchant ship. It’s often referred to as one of the oldest vessels to be restored, because the ship was from 4th century BC. A Greek-Cypriot diver, discovered the ship in 1965.
DO: Sip on Turkish tea on the Kyrenia Harbour.
Once you exit the castle, try to walk along the gorgeous harbour right below. It’s full of cafes, and restaurants where you should pause and play with kitty cats
Kybele Restaurant has smokes fuming on the patio, tables set up along the edges overlooking the view of Northern Cyprus.Make sure to order the kebabs, they’re slightly charred yet juicy. Truly delightful. Turn around and you’re inches away from the romantic arches of Bellapais Monastery.
SEE: Bellapais Abbey.
Grandiose, yet peaceful, the Bellapais Abbey is also known as: “Abbey of Beautiful Place.” The 13th century ruin of a monastery sits at an altitude of 220 meters above the sea.
DO: Old Town.
Walking around the Turkish side of Nicosia is an experience all on its own. It’s a complete throwback to Istanbul and it requires your wanderlust spirit to shine.
SEE: Bedesten & Selimiye Mosque.
Back in 1570, many changes were made during the Ottoman siege amid Venetian rule. Originally built as a church during the Byzantine period, Bedesten became a covered market during the Ottoman period. Turn around and you’ll see the Selimiye Mosque that was previously the Cathedral of Saint Sophia. Cyprus is so fascinating because you’ll see incredible contrasts such as this, the Selimiye Mosque is the largest and the oldest Gothic church in Cyprus.
EAT: Büyük Han (the Old Inn).
Büyük Han is an old roadside inn, built by the Ottomans when it seized Cyprus from the Venetians in 1572. In the middle of the courtyard, there’s a small mosque with a fountain used for pre-prayer. Later, Büyük Han became the city’s first prison when the British ruled Cyprus. Grab a coffee or chai tea here is the best!
DO: Cross the United Nations Buffer Zone, aka: Green Line.
Going between the North and South sides, or the Turkish and Greek sides of Cyprus requires you to cross the Buffer Zone, established by the United Nations peacekeeping force after Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. This border crossing is in Nicosia’s Ledra Street, where you’ll need to bring your passport or European ID. You’ll go from using Turkish Lira to Euros!