Renting a car and exploring Northern Cyprus is the best way to get around and to see all hidden and mysterious places. Car hire is quite cheap in North Cyprus so why not get off the beaten track.
300 days of sunshine a year
Any time is a good time to visit Northern Cyprus. Pack your suitcase, take a flight and enjo yourself.
We decided to stay in a very nice and fancy Hotel called Ada Hotel in Girne/Kyrenia. It is a quiet expensive hotel but it has a lot to offer: a pool, direct access to the sea and a private beach, the food is good, and the staff is friendly. The wifi does not work in the rooms close to the beach, but in the main building the wifi does work perfectly. This hotel has especially many British guests which makes it fun and lively.
Karpas is a long, finger-like peninsula that is one of the most prominent geographical features of the island of Cyprus. Home to a national park packed with rare flora it also features miles of lonely beach and dunes. It is fun to spend time with donkeys approaching your car as soon as you enter that area.
Most of the activities in the Karpass Peninsula are related to agriculture, fishing, and hunting. Local farmers take advantage of this natural environment to grow different fruits and vegetables. The region is mostly known for its “Karpuz” (“Watermelon”). Several tourist businesses can be found in the town of Rizokarpaso.
Due to its geographical position, the Karpas is for a big part protected from human interference. This makes it a pristine natural environment, home to many inland and marine species.
Eat Fish in Girne/Kyrenia
Only minutes away from the waxwork castle are many fish restaurants at the harbour, which line the quayside underneath the Venetian warehouse at the spot where the fishing boats unload their catch. Stick to the castle end of the harbour if you like very fresh fish and chilled white wine.
Climb up a mountain by car along the narrow road over the Kyrenia mountains following “the Tank route”. This route leads you through some very spectacular scenery until you come across the remains of a Greek tank. That tank got knocked out by 2 Turkish anti tank units during the war in August 1974. The tank is concreted into the mountain side where it was halted.
Varosha- Ghost Town
This is the most interesting “thing” I have seen on the whole island.
Varosha in Turkish: Maraş or Kapalı Maras, is an abandoned southern quarter of the Cypriot city of Famagusta. Prior to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, it was the modern tourist area of the city, and one of the most important tourist destinations in the world. Its inhabitants fled during the invasion, when it came under Turkish control, and it has remained abandoned and under the occupation of the Turkish Armed Forces ever since. As of 2016, the quarter continues to be uninhabited and is described as a ghost town. Entry is forbidden to the public, but it is possible to see through the barriers.
After decades of neglect, high-rise hotels and apartments, restaurants and residences are crumbling, and the land has been reclaimed by overgrown vegetation. It is still possible to go to the untouched beaches and crystal-clear water in front of this ghost town, turn around and look into all those broken windows of the hotels which line the beach. Signs forbid photographs and videosand Turkish soldiers stand guard and make sure the rules are being followed.
The 1974 war divided the island and peace between Cyprus’ Greek and Turkish communities. Today both sides are expressing a desire to return Varosha to its former glory. There have been proposals to rebuild the ghost town and reopen it to the world, but no work has begun yet.
Museum of Barbarism (Nicosia)
I am not a fan of any kind of museum, however, this museum of barbarism was one went to even though I normally refuse to go to musea related to war and violence. As expected it was extremely disturbing. It triggered a lot of emotions. I needed hours to proccess what I had seen. Most people seem to forget that for a number of years, there was a civil war in Cyprus. In the early 1960s there was effectively ethnic cleansing of the Turkish Cypriots who were “encouraged” to move into their own areas. Sporadic violence by one faction against another was rife, but came to a head over Christmas 1963. It comes as a surprise that the division of Nicosia into Greek and Turkish areas predates 1974 by many years.
On the 24th December 1963, Greek Cypriot irregulars forcibly entered the house of Dr Ilhan, who was a Major in the Turkish army, and was on duty that night. The Doctor’s wife, three children and a neighbour were killed by machine gun fire, and 6 neighbours were seriously injured. The house remains almost as it was found that Christmas eve.
The inside of the bathroom where the murders took place was left intact, with captions explaining that the spots on the walls are the actual blood of the four victims. In the other rooms are photographs of other victims of ethnic violence over the years.
Mavi Köşk – Blue Summerhouse
The house has a chequered past and is most commonly known to have belonged to a gentleman by the name of Paulo Paolides (or sometimes Pavlides), a Greek of Italian extraction. He was a gun smuggler, lawyer to Archbishop Makarios, who was President in Cyprus after Britain signed away Cyprus in 1960, and also an ex
-landlord. His alleged criminal activities also apparently involved relations with the Mafia as well as large weapons dealings with the Middle East. It is said that members of the Mafia often visited Mavi Köşk and held meetings in its once sumptuous dining hall.