As an island country shining from the golden rays of the sun in the blue waters of the Mediterranean, Cyprus with its attractive climate is an ideal holiday destination for long holidays and weekend getaways at any time of the year.
It is a point of attraction not only with its bright sea and magnificent beaches, but also with its cultural and historical riches and its entertaining nightlife.
Way back time – and long before it became the world’s last divided capital – Nicosia started off as a settlement known as Surlariçi. Make sure you add it to your Must See list, and discover its multicultural past of civilization upon civilization as you stroll its narrow streets.
Nestled in the heart of the district of Surlariçi, Büyükhan is one of Lefkoşa’s oldest and – still – most caravansaries. Not only is it a feast for the eye, but it’s also the perfect place to take a breather, sip on coffee, and buy souvenirs.
Historically known as the Cathedral of Saint Sophia, Selmiye is a former Christian church that built during Lusignian rule in Cyprus. It was later converted into a mosque and re-named by the Ottomans. Located in the district of Surlariçi, it’s an absolute must see for architecture and history lovers alike!
St. Hilarion Castle lies on the Kyrenia mountain range, roughly 732 metres above sea level. Built in the Middle Ages, it has stood the test of time and is a true architectural wonder – in fact, the stuff of fairy tales! Rumour has it that it even inspired many of both Umberto Eco and Walt Disney’s works.
Located in the small village of Bellapais right at the foot of the Kyrenia mountain range, this most extravagant of Gothic abbey’s – and one of the best examples of its kind in the world – overlooks the entire city of Kyrenia, not to mention bedazzles visitors with breathtaking scenic and seaviews. In addition to being a popular tourist destination, it’s also where history and art come together – as it plays host to many a classical music concert!
Built by the Byzantines in the 7th Century AD, Kyrenia Castle is a true open-air museum. A stunning marvel of architecture, history, and culture, it has witnessed many a civilization come and go, and lived to tell the tale to all who pay a visit!
Kyrenia Marina is the ideal spot to put your feet up, nurse a Turkish coffee, grab a bite to eat, gaze at the setting sun, and watch history live and breathe before your very eyes. Accompanied by ribbon of boutiques and a seawall both overlooking a stupendous view to boot, you’ll definitely want to go shopping and for a light stroll afterwards as well!
Featuring both a war grave alongside the tanks used during Turkey’s Cyprus Peace Operation, Karaoğlanoğlu is an open-air museum commemorating all those who bravely gave their lives trying to defend [Northern] Cyprus.
Mavi Köşk (lit: The Blue House) is a museum shrouded in myth. It was originally built by Paulo Paolides, a lawyer of Greek Cypriot and Italian extraction. Rumour has it that he also happened to be mafia gun-runner! Over the years, it has hosted many a famous guest – including Sophia Loren (or so they say)! Designed with high security in mind, every corner of this bright blue-décored delight is steeped in spine chilling surprizes and tail spinning stories... You don’t want to miss out!
This exquisite piece of Byzantine architecture was built in honour of – you guessed it! – St. Mamas. Centuries later, it still remains an active church – placing it among just a handful of its kind on the entire island of Cyprus.
Located next to the St. Mamas Church, the Güzelyurt Natural & Archaeology Museum – also known as the “Museum of Icons” – contains two floors showcasing local taxidermy animals and archaeological finds. If nature and ancient history are your thing, then you’ll want to drop by!
Also known as Varosha in English, Kapalı Maraş is an abandoned “ghost” district located at the edge of the city of Famagusa. Originally a major vacation hot spot before the war, it invites visitors to look at history from a very different angle. Moreover, those who drift through it claim they feel as though they’re standing on a movie set!
Namık Kemal Square is popular among locals and tourists alike. Mr. Kemal penned two well-loved plays here, “Gülnihal” and “Akif Bey.” With lots of restaurants and cafés to snack at, and lots of history to soak in, including the Namık Kemal Museum and Namık Kemal Dungeon, it’s impossible not to find something to do – especially if you’re a literary nerd and/or are looking for a place to pause and unwind!
Originally the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, this church-turned-mosque is the largest and most opulent example of Gothic architecture in all of Famagusa. Erected during the reign of the French Lusignian dynasty, not only has it bared witness to the coronations of many a king and queen over its lifetime, it’s also home to a seven century-old sycamore tree at the centre of its courtyard. If grandiose architecture and history are your thing, then Lala Mustafa is just your cup of tea!
Constructed in 477 A.D., St. Barnabas Abbey holds a special place in the hearts of Orthodox Christians; both in terms of history as well as in terms of the rich – and very old – collection of icons it happens to be home to. If you’re into history, then you’ll want to pay a visit.
The ruins of the ancient Greek city-state of Salamis offers you a unique window into antiquity. Built around 1100 B.C. towards the end of the Bronze Age, historians A forum, Roman-esque gymnasium, theatre, marketplace, alter for the God Zeus, and a gravesite for Salamis’s many kings constitute just some of the many architectural and archaeological marvels awaiting visitors!
Literally meaning “Golden Sand” in English, Altınkum is an ultra remote beach positioned along the edge of the Karpass Peninsula. Its shimmering seashore and pristine Cerulean blue waters make it a great spot to take a quiet vacation away from civilization! It also happens to be where (a.k.a. Caretta caretta) call home.
Apostolos Andreas Monastery was built in honour of Saint Andrew – loving referred to by many as the “Maker of Miracles,” the “Lord of the Wind,” and the “Patron Saint/Guardian of Travellers.” Located on Zafer Burunu, its architecture is a feast for the soul that invites visitors on a most divine and mystical of journeys bound to inspire!