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Discussions regarding holidays in Cyprus
Hi Mike

Thanks for that, I'm getting the impression that its best to go out and shop around before bringing any goods in. I did try the Kyrenia map route for street maps of Alsancak/Lapta but there were'nt any. Perhaps thats something I could have a go at when I come out in 2006. By the way, any thoughts on the Court of Human rights judgement on TMD land in TRNC, have you heard anything from local expats who have bought properties on that type of land. I understand 85% of the TRNC is classified as such.

Best Regards
Arrived home from our week in Kyrenia yesterday. I've made a photo album of the places we visited here and will write a report in a day or two. In the meantime, could I ask for the Dome Hotel in Kyrenia to be added to the Hotel Review section please.
request forwarded

Apologies for the length of this report - and there's more under the Hotel and Resort report sections! Advance apologies also, if it turns out that the caps go missing. I typed this up in Word first and that's what happened the last time I copied and pasted a trip report in HT. Not sure why it happened and hopefully it may not happen this time.

Firstly I'd like to say that it took quite a bit of soul-searching before we finally decided to visit Northern Cyprus. As regular visitors to Greece, the current political situation made us feel as though it would somehow be disloyal to our Greek friends to go there. However, we finally decided to put aside our prejudices and principles and go there before over-development turns it into a carbon copy of the southern part of the island. I think we only just made it in time!

Getting there is a trial in itself since neither the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, nor its main airport at Ercan are officially recognised under international law. This means that direct flights are only possible from Turkey and our plane had to land in Antalya for an hour or so, before taking off again for the remaining 40 minute "domestic" flight. For some reason (possibly prevailing winds) the flight home takes about an hour longer than the outbound flight and this made for a total return journey time of around 10 hours from Kyrenia to our home near Manchester Airport, so it's not exactly a short hop!

Getting around:
We hired a car from Sun RentaCar and were very impressed, since it was a virtually new Fiat Panda with only about 11,000km on the clock. The driving is reasonably easy, with most of the roads well signposted and tarmacced, but it can get a little hairy up in the mountains with the hairpin bends and the odd development work where the road seems to be being widened and the tarmac suddenly disappears. We managed to get lost a couple of times - once near the village of Degirmenlik where we missed a right turn and ended up at the gates of a military establishment, with two armed soldiers guarding the entrance. They seemed quite friendly though and directed us back to the correct road! The other time was when what appeared to be a road on the map suddenly turned into what seemed to be an army tank track and concerns for the underside of our car and its tyres persuaded us to turn around and try another way. Maybe if we'd hired a 4x4 we may have been a bit more adventurous!

Kyrenia (Girne) Castle:
The castle dominates the eastern end of Kyrenia harbour and possibly dates back to the 7th century BC, although no definitive date has yet been determined for its original construction. It was captured by Richard the Lionheart during the Crusades and has been enlarged and extended several times throughout history and details of these changes are well illustrated within the Castle's introductory room. The structure is well-preserved and it offers wonderful views of Kyrenia harbour and the surrounding district from the upper walls. If you visit the Castle, do look out for the lovely beige one-eyed cat, which seems to befriend each new visitor as they enter the castle grounds. It took a distinct liking to my husband's jacket when he put it down on the wall and quite a bit of gentle persuasion was needed to stop it using it as a bed!

Inside the castle is the Shipwreck Museum which contains the remains of the oldest shipwreck ever discovered, dating back to 300 BC. There are several other displays within the castle, including the rather gruesome torture chamber and a model of a Bronze Age tomb discovered near to Kyrenia, along with artefacts which were recovered from inside it (following a raid on a local tomb-raider's home!) There is also an exhibition hall containing pictures donated by William Dreghorn, but unfortunately this was closed during our visit.

Bellapais Abbey and Village
A short drive southeast of Kyrenia, the Abbey dates back to around 1200 AD and was given to the Greek Orthodox church following the Ottoman conquest. It contains one of the few Orthodox churches which has been preserved in Northern Cyprus since 1974 and the icons, architecture and furniture are well worth seeing.

The original village of Bellapais, immediately surrounding the monastery is still very pretty and the Tree of Idleness Restaurant makes a pleasant stop for a coffee following a visit to the abbey. In front of the restaurant is an old tree which, it is claimed, is the "tree of idleness" referred to by Lawrence Durrell in his book Bitter Lemons of Cyprus. The village, however, has been much extended since Durrell's time and away from the Abbey it has the same sprawling modern villas as can be seen in much of the Kyrenia district. We were totally gobsmacked as we sat in the idyllic, peaceful setting of the village centre when some tourists approached the restaurant and the lead male was heard to say to his wife in a very loud middle-class British accent "Have you asked how much the coffee is here? I'm certainly not paying more than a pound for a cup of coffee". Just goes to prove the old saying that some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing!

St Hilarion Castle
Another short drive from Kyrenia in a southwesterly direction took us to St Hilarion Castle. This is the main castle of Northern Cyprus and its fairytale appearance is said to be the inspiration behind Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle. It is situated on one of the highest peaks of the Kyrenia mountain range and can be seen for miles around. This means that the drive up to it is quite scarey - partly because of the steep winding road and partly because the majority of the road is controlled by the Turkish military - so there's no stopping and no photography allowed until you get to the Castle car park. The mountainside appears to be an army training camp and is guarded by gun-toting soldiers as you pull off the main road to start the climb.

Once you've braved the hairpin bends and the armed guards, the Castle itself is on 3 levels and involves a lot of steep climbing to see all of them, so it's not for anyone with walking difficulties and I should imagine it's quite strenuous in the mid-summer heat. However, if you can manage it, both the Castle itself and the breath-taking views over Kyrenia and the surrounding coast are well worth it.

East of Kyrenia:
As you leave the main town area, the road is some distance from the shore and for several miles all you see is villa developments, the majority of which were either unfinished or uninhabited at the time we visited. It gives the impression that virtually every patch of spare land is being built on and it seems a shame that the developers appear to be determined to transform the main reason for most people visiting Northern Cyprus (i.e. its rugged, unspoilt beauty) into just another Mediterranean sprawl.

However, carry on a little further and about 30km from Kyrenia, around the village of Esentepe, the building sites have disappeared (for now) and there are some spectacular views of the coast and the surrounding mountains. There is a small natural harbour here which, although totally undeveloped, is used as a mooring by the local fishermen and goats wander freely across the cliffs and down to the beach.

The road from here on is pretty much undeveloped, apart from a few small hamlets and the odd restaurant which were all closed when we visited in December, until you reach the small village of Kaplica. At the moment this village is still a pretty little, mostly undeveloped, harbour with the unspoilt main village of Kaplica a kilometre or so up the hill. I understand that there are plans for its further development which are supposed to retain the original character of the village and I hope that this will be the case. From here we carried on up the hill towards the village of Kantara and its castle.

Kantara Castle is situated about 55km east of Kyrenia. It dates back to the 10th century, but the majority of the remaining parts belong to the reign of James 1 of Cyprus who re-fortified the castle during his reign from 1382-1398. Much of the castle is now in ruins, but the outer walls still stand and, as it's 600m above sea level, a visit there is worthwhile for the spectacular views of the northern coast.

West of Kyrenia:
Once again, the drive out of Kyrenia heading west offers many more villa developments and I'm really not sure how they expect to sell all of these. Northern Cyprus currently only receives around half a million visitors a year, the majority of whom come from Turkey and it seems unlikely that Turkish people would want to buy holiday homes so close to their own homes.

Anyway, the development mostly runs out by the time you reach the villages of Alsancak and Lapta and more wonderful coastline views can be seen. The road starts to get a little rougher from Kayaler onwards and, rather than continue on to the cape at Korucam we turned off at Sadrazamkoy and followed the road south east along the other side of the Kyrenia mountains. The contrast on this side of the mountains is amazing, with rugged mountain views turning to lush green plains and at times we found it difficult to remember that we were still in a Mediterranean country - the landscapes were more reminiscent of the British countryside, until we caught sight of a small olive grove or citrus fruit orchard, which reminded us where we were!

South to Salamis and Gazimagusa (Famagusta):
10km north of Gazimagusa, the ancient city of Salamis is said to have been founded by the Greek hero Teucer, following the Trojan war. The Romans and Byzantines extended it further and many of its remains can be seen with archeological work still ongoing to discover further remains. Don't be fooled by the marble columns in the Gymnasium, which were actually erected during restoration work in the 1950's!

A short drive south from Salamis takes you to the walled city of Gazimagusa. Unfortunately, due to limited daylight hours in December, we were only able to spend a short time here, but I think it certainly warrants a longer visit and the ancient churches and city walls were very impressive - particularly the quirky Lala Mustafa Pasa mosque, which was originally a Latin cathedral, but which was coverted to a mosque by the addition of a single minaret some 400-odd years ago.
Looks like I managed to retain the caps this time :D
Thanks Xenos great information! :tup
Kath HT Admin
:lol: Anyone visiting north cyprus and needing car hire one of the cheapest is in Kyrenia we have used it quite a few times now
You can expect to pay £12 a day all inclusive in Jan, and it is costing us £15 a day in May, this is a great price compared to the rest of the car hire firms in the north
It will cost us £168 for 13 days next week which is great.
thought you may like to know. The prices on the web page dont tally with what I have put, just e-mail the firm and ask for a quote.
Mike T :lol:
I'm staying in Northern Cyprus in the summer but am interested in going to Cairo on a 2 day cruise....Is it possible from the North?...Is it possible to travel down to Limassol and take a boat from there?...Are there any tour companies in Girne who run any trips to Cairo(or anywhere else away from the Island)cheers.......DT
Hi Dean. Only ferries from Kyrenia (Girne) sail to Turkey, as far as I am aware. Don't see why you shouldn't head to Cairo via Limassol. No problems now getting over the border, and in the summer there is a good service there to Egypt.
North Cyprus with direct flights and local departures too!

With regards to all your debates.. there is a company called Direct Traveller - i saw them in the Mail on Sunday.. They offer Kyrenia or Famagusta with direct flights through Larnaca.

I spoke to them over the phone, the helpful chap called Ram' - he said they have been offering their direct flight services siince May 2004.

Well i've booked my trip this year with them.. a god send as i can also fly from direct from Bristol airport!
try them out
tel: 0845 123 5383
Well, I'm trying something new, too, next month, flying out on the maiden Atlas Jet flight from Stansted to Ercan on the 22nd. After sampling Turkish Airways and Cyprus Turkish Air in recent years, the promise of a "smiling crew, champagne cocktails after take-off, complimentary bar, and 34-inch seat pitch" was too great to resist.
Mind you, like Turkish Airways, there is a stop at Istanbul (this time only 20 minutes), but Jewels of the World, who I have booked through, assure me I do not have to get off the plane before it heads off again to Ercan. All sound good to me. Await progress reports...
it will be interesting to hear the feedback on atlasjet - in Turkey they actually offer budget internal flights from domestic locations.. i hop ethis doesnt reflect on their service to the uk..

i know i mentioned it before but if you are looking for added service you can fly with british Airways through from Heathrow. im honsetly convinced with this as yo umay have noticed.. the flights is 4.5hrs.. and a private car transfer too..

anyway i hope new airlines start cropping up! - maybe overall service will improve.

I'm not sure exactly what debate you are talking about, but Direct Traveller have actually been mentioned on this thread many times before as offering a direct service to Larnaca. I too phoned them up before we booked to go to N Cyprus but unfortunately they didn't have any flights available from Manchester for Christmas week. I think the post below from Bazjea was one of the first to highlight their service. It's handy to have their details in a recent post though, to save having to trawl through the 22 pages of this thread. Isn't it about time that Northern Cyprus had a forum of its own?

Posted: Mon 26 Jul, 2004 2:45 pm Post subject: direct flights


Have just received details of package Holidays to Kyrenia in October.
Travelling direct to Larnaca. Transfer to Kyrenia included in the package,
the company listed below is running the deal.They quote a transfer time of about an 1 hour 30mins.

sorry - i didnt look that far back.. i thought i was giving everyone some ground breaking news about
Direct Traveller!

i guess i just got excited with the service on offer.. as you said at least its closer on the message string.

A north Cyprus message forum would be good... im new to all this actually - would it be hard to set one up? but i guess this is good enough, getting a North Cyprus community together?

Isn't it about time that Northern Cyprus had a forum of its own?

I will bring it up at our next review :)
Kath HT Admin
Yes, Kath, considering the depth of North Cyprus information on this site (and the number of "visitors"), a dedicated TRNC section would be hugely appreciated.
*Edit have removed the original advert so have deleted these comments also - Glynis*

Thanks Glynis. I suppose I should have reported it instead of just commenting on it - Xenos
  • Edited by xenosuk 2006-03-13 22:06:10
We are finally returning to northern cyprus after almost 20 years and parents after 50 years and have enjoyed reading everyones experiences, good and bad. We are travelling with direct traveller on recommendation of a friend (who will be having their second holiday out there this month), great as a direct flight from local airport with no visit into turkey. we are interested in imformation on the salamis beach hotel. Decided to stay on the west side, as we know the kyrenia area and part of farmagusta but never visited the pan handle as we always had to get to the miltary side before a certain time and the travelling distance.

Can anyone help me with any information as in safty deposit boxes; what not to drink etc or anything that might interfer with a trip down memory lane.
Dave and Paula
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