Kyrenia (Girne) & the North
Castles cling to craggy hilltops. Lonely churches peek out amid wild-flowered slopes. Fields of gnarled olive trees march across the coastline where the harbour town of Kyrenia, backed by the imposing silhouette of jagged mountain ranges, looks out towards the sea. This bite-sized region combines the best of Cyprus’ natural charm with oodles of history.
Lemesos & the South
The south coast is Cyprus at its most diverse. Beaches hem the shore offering relaxed holiday fun. Impressive sites like Ancient Kourion showcase the island’s rich history. Travellers seeking vestiges of traditional rural life are charmed by the gentle pace of the hill villages scattered on the Troödos Mountains’ slopes. And centred around it all is cosmopolitan Lemesos.
Famagusta (Mağusa) & the Karpas (Kırpaşa) Peninsula
The thin finger of the Karpas (Kırpaşa) Peninsula is all rolling meadows, craggy cliffs and wild beaches with a handful of snoozy villages thrown in. It’s a taste of old-style Cyprus that can’t be beaten. Despite new roads and development efforts, it still feels like someone stopped the clocks here a few decades back.
Larnaka is a rugged, charming town, with a melancholy and seductive character. The main promenade, lined with tall palm trees, is full of cafés and bars; the old Turkish quarter is a maze of quiet streets, small whitewashed houses and ceramics studios; the streets around the old market area have shops with the oldest crafts in Cyprus.
North Nicosia (Lefkoşa)
The northern half of Cyprus’ capital, known as North Nicosia (Lefkoşa), is a dizzying labyrinth of narrow, old streets, punctuated by wonderful architecture. The Old City pulses with shoppers in the covered Belediye Pazarı market, and the Büyük Han (Great Inn), recently restored, is a busy centre for tourists and locals alike.
Home to Mt Olympus (1952m), the island’s highest peak, this stunning mountain range provides visitors with a forested flipside to the coastal resorts and big city clamour. Overlooking the valleys of Lemesos, Larnaka and the greater Mesaoria plain, this region covers over 90 sq km and is a protected natural park which safeguards its wildlife, ecology and geology.
As Northern Cyprus is being touted as ‘pure Mediterranean’ in tourist brochures, images of Kyrenia (Girne) harbour and castle are flooding the advertising spaces on Europe’s urban buses and billboards. So potent is the romantic appeal of Kyrenia’s harbour that it ranks as Cyprus’ most beautiful vista.
This part of western Cyprus, jutting almost defiantly into the Mediterranean, is one of the island’s last remaining wildernesses. Visitors can still traverse the Akamas as long as they’re prepared to walk, ride a trail bike or bump along in a sturdy 4WD. Those with less stamina can take tour boats that sail the Akamas coastline from Latsi, west of Polis.