Driving Tour: Combing the North-Eastern Ridge & Coast
- Start Ozanköy (Kazafani)
- End Bellapais (Beylerbeyi)
- Length 95km; six to eight hours
Barely 4km east of Kyrenia, pretty Ozanköy is noted for its olive oil and carob pekmez (molasses). Cypriots swear a tablespoon of pekmez every day wards off illness so don’t forget to pick up a bottle. After taking a look at the medieval church, head east on the coast road (signed ‘Uğur Mumcu Bulvarı’) to Çatalköy (Agios Epiktitos). Its caves provided sanctuary to the hermit Epiktitos in the 13th century. Another 10km east and you arrive at Alagadı Beach, great for a sandy stroll. Continue along the coast for another 10km to the turn-off for Bahçeli (Kalograia) and head inland to the Byzantine Antifonitis Church.
After visiting the church take the scenic ridge road for 17km west, parallel to the mountains, until you come to Alevkaya (Halevga) Forest Station where nature-lovers can check out the Alevkaya Herbarium. Continuing 2.5km to the west (on the main road), you’ll see the battered ruins of the 11th-century Coptic Armenian Sourp Magar Monastery nestled in pine trees below. The road to the monastery isn't open to cars, so park at the picnic site and follow the forestry track that winds down to the monastery on foot.
Backtrack onto the main road and head west for 9km onto the Beşparmak (Five Fingers) Pass until you get to the Buffavento Restaurant. Turn left here and take the winding road for 6km up to Buffavento Castle for some of the best views in Northern Cyprus. When you’ve finished scrambling around the ruins, exit the castle car park and continue along the tarmac road for 3km until you see the domed roof of the lonely Byzantine Panagia Absinthiotissa Monastery below. Take the left-hand turn-off to the picnic ground to arrive at the monastery.
From here drive down into the tidy village of Taşkent (Vouno), taking the second left-hand turn on the ridge road above the village and continuing on this road as it heads northwest out of the village. From here it’s 10km onto Bellapais (Beylerbeyi) and the beautiful Gothic architecture of Bellapais Abbey.