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7 Enticing Reasons Why It’s Worth Visiting North Cyprus

By Greig Santos-Buch
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7 Enticing Reasons Why It's Worth Visiting North Cyprus

Editor’s Note: From kite surfing on the waves to wine tasting in historic cities, this up-and-coming Mediterranean island (specifically the Northern half) has something for everybody. Not only is North Cyprus a top summer spot to visit, but it is also a brilliant place to live due to its proximity to Africa, Asia, and Europe, low cost of living, warm climate, and warmer people.

When asked about summer vacation spots, where does your mind wander first? Is it Hawaii? Ibiza? Thailand? As great as those locations are, it is hard to beat North Cyprus. Historically occupied by multiple empires as a beautiful and strategic location, this island has been prized as one of the most desirable islands in the Mediterranean for millennia. Now, with its fantastic weather, an abundance of things to do, and jaw-dropping affordability, it continues to reign as one of the top must-see destinations on the planet.

Quick Tips for Visiting North Cyprus

Stay at the Upscale Landmark Nicosia Hotel for a Home Base
Book an ALL-IN-ONE Private Day Trip from Nicosia with Sidetur Travel Agency
Take Walking City Tour of Nicosia with FSA Travel
Go on a Vineyard & Wine Tasting Tour with Cyprus Active
Browse & Book the Best Flights into Cyprus with Kayak

Unique Places At Your Fingertips! 

They say that it’s not about the destination but the journey. Unfortunately, that quote does not always ring true. Sometimes the journey consists of long flights with screaming babies and leg-numbingly long drives. However, North Cyprus is conveniently located between Europe, Africa, and Asia, making it among the most accessible islands in the world. Combine that with its short travel times due to its miniature size, and you’ll be able to spend less time traveling and more time having fun.

Make a Stop in Nicosia

Nicosia in North Cyprus
Nicosia in North Cyprus. Image courtesy Trabantos / Getty.

The capital of North Cyprus, Nicosia, is shared with the island’s South side and is divided more or less across the middle by the UN buffer zone. Many local businesses thrive in the streets of the capital as large brands usually avoid the North. The contrast is very noticeable when crossing the border from the highly-westernized South. However, with beautiful scents of Mediterranean food and sounds of laughter and celebration coming from these local restaurants and bars, many enjoy this unique and refreshing charm.

While exploring the divided capital, indulge in an exceptional dining experience at Piatsa Gourounaki, where the fusion of local and international flavors meets sophisticated ambiance. After a day of navigating through the city’s rich history and vibrant streets, retreat to The Landmark Nicosia. This upscale hotel not only promises luxury and comfort but also places you within reach of Nicosia’s most intriguing attractions, offering a serene oasis amidst the bustling city life.

Visit Kyrenia

Kyrenia Mountain Range & Saint Hilarian Castle Ruins / Getty.

Another favorite city / locale in North Cyprus is Kyrenia. Kyrenia is known as one of the tourist hotspots on the island. The city itself features countless bars, restaurants, hotels, resorts, casinos, clubs, and more! The experience is different for everyone. Exploring tucked-away bars and restaurants on narrow cobbled streets on the waterfront and going on brilliant boat trips along the coast are some of the favorite activities to do here. If you prefer a more lively atmosphere, visit the wild clubs open three nights per week for most of the year. These clubs usually feature energetic techno music by famous DJs, excellent choreographic performances onstage, and affordable cocktails. For outdoor enthusiasts, opportunities to hike the Kyrenia Mountain Range and visit historic castle ruins are hard to go wrong with.

For those seeking an elevated stay, Bellapais Monastery Village provides an unparalleled blend of luxury and history, nestled against the backdrop of the majestic Bellapais Abbey. Culinary adventurers should not miss the opportunity to dine at Archway Restaurant, where the art of cuisine is celebrated with a menu that perfectly balances local delicacies with international sophistication, all set within the charming cobbled lanes of Kyrenia.

Experience Historic Famagusta

Famagusta, Cyprus
Famagusta, Cyprus / Getty.

As previously mentioned, Cyprus has had its fair share of empires that have come and gone. The city where this is most evident is Famagusta on the island’s East coast. Examples of historical sites to visit include the ruins of the 3000-year-old ancient city of Salamis, a 13th-century gothic cathedral converted into the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, a 16th-century Venetian governor’s palace, and the 70s tourist city of Varosha turned into a ghost town. Even if history is not your thing, the beaches here are beautiful and worth visiting.

If you’re looking for ideal accommodation here, luxury finds its place at the Arkin Palm Beach Hotel. Here, you’ll be treated to sumptuous accommodations with direct views of the Mediterranean, making it a perfect base for exploring the ancient city or simply unwinding by the sea. For a touch of excitement, Salamis Bay Conti Resort & Casino combines the thrill of gaming with the comfort of luxury accommodations, set against the backdrop of Famagusta’s rich historical landscape.

Scenic Beaches in Karpaz

Golden Beach, Karpaz Peninsula, North Cyprus
Golden Beach, Karpaz Peninsula, North Cyprus. Image courtesy Dmitry Pichugin.

If you want to experience the raw beauty of the beaches on this island in its most unspoiled state, look no further than Karpaz. Located among the long peninsula reaching out from the North Eastern side of the island, you will find among the most stunning beaches in the world. Most notably, Golden Beach, which is located slightly south of the very tip of the peninsula. Before you go, remember to bring some raw carrots and apples! When the Greek Cypriots left the North side, they left behind their donkeys. Generations later, these wild donkeys roam freely in Karpaz and love approaching people for snacks.

The untouched beauty of the Karpaz Peninsula is best enjoyed with a stay at Karpaz Gate Marina & Beach Club, where exclusivity meets the raw, natural allure of North Cyprus. This upscale destination offers guests a private beach experience, sophisticated dining, and the tranquility of the peninsula’s pristine environment, making it an ideal retreat for those seeking peace and luxury in equal measure.

Beautiful Weather! 

When coming to North Cyprus during the summer, stockpile some sun lotion and invest in some good sunglasses because the sun is ever-present here. North Cyprus has a warm Mediterranean climate that comfortably sits at a toasty 30+ degrees celsius during the day from May to September. Late summer tends to be the high season for tourism, so expect it to be busy in bars, restaurants, and during events. 

Even though the summer tends to be the busiest time of the year in North Cyprus, the weather during the rest of the year is also good. Some people prefer the spring and autumn seasons because the sun is less intense, and the temperature sits comfortably in the mid to high 20s. The weather during spring and autumn could be described as very similar to summer in Europe.  

The winter season is pretty mild compared to European countries. You might occasionally see snow on the mountaintops, but it is common to celebrate Christmas and New Year on a pleasant and sunny day in North Cyprus. 

Best Things to Do in North Cyprus

This island has many things to do because of the pleasant weather, diverse terrain, and environment. A great zero-cost example would be trekking through the beautiful nature that North Cyprus has to offer. This would be a good time to channel your inner photographer and capture the breathtaking views, animals, and plants. 

For those that like a tablespoon of adrenaline with their adventures, activities such as kite surfing, shipwreck diving, and paragliding are available to do if you dare. 

Lastly, the TRNC is well known for being a relaxed island to go to on summer holidays, so you will never run short of casual bars, restaurants, hotels, and casinos. The summer brings a more lively atmosphere with more people and seasonal activities such as wild club nights around Kyrenia, festivals such as the Guzelyurt Orange festival, and multiple other themed festivals revolving around culture, art, and music. 

Sightseeing & Wine Tasting in North Cyprus

When planning for vacations, people sometimes have trouble picking a destination. Maybe you are a beach and palm trees type of person while your spouse is more into mountains and pine trees. That’s no problem in North Cyprus because the Northern coast offers both. It is very easy for visitors to go for a hike up the mountains amongst beautiful flowers and the smell of pine and then end up tanning with cocktails on beautiful beaches directly afterwards.  

Local farmers also grow grapes in vineyards on the hills of the Five Finger Mountains, making wineries prominent in the outskirts of Kyrenia. After a long day on the beach and up the mountains, go on a wine tasting journey in Alsancak and Lapta and enjoy tasting wine that was bottled just a stone’s throw away! 

Etalon Winery near Kyrenia offers an exquisite wine tasting journey through the island’s viniculture, set amidst the scenic beauty of the Five Finger Mountains. Companies like Cyprus Active offer private and customizable wine tours from Kyrenia, making for a stress-free day of indulgence without having to worry about driving or planning.

For a different perspective, embark on a luxury yacht tour from Kyrenia Harbour, where the azure waters of the Mediterranean can be enjoyed in unparalleled elegance and comfort.

Wildlife 

Inhabiting this island alongside humans are a large variety of animals. If you were to observe the sky while relaxing outside, you might notice the variety of birds that come by. Small birds like finches and nightingales and larger birds such as falcons and eagles call this island home. Some are migratory and enjoy using Cyprus as a pitstop between the three surrounding continents.  

On land, you can bring some carrots and apples to feed the wild donkeys on your way to the beautiful beaches of Karpaz.  

If you’re fortunate enough to be around during July and August, you should visit the Alagadi beaches near Esentepe, where Loggerhead and Green turtles hatch. The turtles are heavily protected as they are an endangered species, so you will be guided and informed by members of the local conservation groups. 

People and Food 

North Cyprus is about as relaxed as you would expect a Mediterranean island to be. The local Turkish population is friendly, warm, and welcoming, and this country is safer than most European countries. Even though learning a little Turkish is encouraged for basic etiquette, don’t be worried if you are not good with languages, as English is widely spoken here. The cuisine generally consists of Turkish and Mediterranean foods with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and seafood year-round. You will also frequently see mezzes, salads, hummus, kebabs, and many more. If you are not a Turkish or Mediterranean cuisine fan, a variety of international options are also available. With a culture that loves getting together to eat and a country where restaurant prices are fair, it is highly recommended to go out for dinner regularly with friends and family to socialize and have fun.  

Accessibility and Affordability

The low cost of living in North Cyprus makes the properties here highly valuable for their price. Property values are slowly rising due to foreigners’ newfound interest in this small country, and long-term property rentals are in high demand, so there are a lot of business opportunities with real estate. You might also be happy to hear that taxes, medical care, and education are very cheap here. Many find that they like North Cyprus because this country is not part of the EU, resulting in more relaxed rules, quicker governmental processes, and a less commercialized feel to the country as a whole. Even though the currency in this country is the Turkish Lira (TL), many things are bought with the British Pound Sterling (GBP) for better economic stability.

Those seeking to move to North Cyprus should be assured that acquiring a visa and citizenship is not overly complicated as it is in many countries. One of the most popular methods is to invest in a local bank and buy property. After a few years, you will be eligible for citizenship. If you love it so much you want to move here, it’s worth considering! 

Take The Trip to North Cyprus!

Overall, North Cyprus offers many opportunities to live life to the fullest. Fantastic weather for most of the year, many things to do, unique nature, amazing cities, delicious cuisine, and warm people make the country very difficult to leave. So be very careful the next time you plan a summer vacation because if you choose North Cyprus, there’s a great chance that you will want to stay!

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