Cyprus is an island of two halves, the northern part being the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, having been occupied since their invasion in 1974. The southern half of the island is under Greek control and to pass between both parts of the island visitors are required to pass through a border crossing point, just as they would between any two countries. Cyprus is filled with attractions both ancient and contemporary and makes for a fabulous holiday destination.
As previously stated this part of the island is under Turkish control and as such can only be accessed by flights from Turkey direct into Ercan airport, other options are to fly into Paphos or Larnaca in the south and then make your way across the border into the north. This is information that not all of the travel companies will tell you, however transit from the south into the north is a lot easier than it used to be, but one thing to bear in mind is that if you arrive in the south of the island and hire a car you will probably not be allowed to take it across the border.
Places to Visit in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
There are some places that you really must see while you are in the north of the island; these are some of the best attractions that you should include on your itinerary.
St Hilarion Castle: This castle towers above the surrounding countryside around Kyrenia. If you take the option of climbing the 700m to the top of the castle you will be rewarded by some incredible views right across the island.
Bellapais Abbey: During the 1950’s this was the home of Lawrence Durrell (Novelist & Dramatist) His home is only a short five minute walk from what remains of the Great Abbey. Tip: Don’t feel obliged to pay the expensive admission charges to the abbey as most of what is there is visible the outside of the area.
Kyrenia Harbour: Although quite pricey this beautiful harbour is the perfect place for a quite waterside drink, and is loaded with photo opportunities.
The southern half of Cyprus is very much Greek in every way, tourists regularly arrive at Larnaca and Paphos and head to the many resorts that are dotted around the coast. However, outside of the resorts there are some unusual things to see and experience.
The Venetian Bridges: Often hidden in the vegetation these days there are a number of old Venetian bridges that date back to the time when the Venetians controlled the island (1489-1571). They marked the route of the old camel trade route used for ferrying goods from the island to the ports. A good example of one, Roudias Bridge, can be found close to the village of Vretsia
Perfume: It is believed that the use of perfumes originated in Cyprus as traces of 4000 year old perfume have been discovered by archaeologists in Pyrgos. A mixture of aromatic herbs including rosemary, lavender, coriander and bay were found in preserved alabaster bottles in what appears to be a cavern based manufacturing area beneath the town.
Fragrant Forests: The forests on the island offer a scented, tranquil haven from the glare of the summer sun, but without the input of Sir Winston Churchill there would be very little here in the way of trees at all. It was by his order that the island was reforested back in the early 1900’s as the existing woodlands had been destroyed over centuries and the wood used for ship building and to provide fuel. Make a point of spending time in the forests and enjoy the aromas of the cedars, eucalyptus and pine trees.
Mansoura Bay: Perhaps it is its location close to the border that keeps it free from the majority of tourists, or the fact that it is a little hidden away that keeps it a secret, but whatever it is this hidden bay offers the perfect location to get away from it all in a secluded and tranquil bay complete with a little local tavern that offers incredible home cooked food. It is worth searching out and spending at least a day here as it may be the best spot on the island for ultimate relaxation.
Flights to Cyprus with Jet2.com are available from a number of UK airports so book your flights and head out to see these amazing sites for yourself.