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North Cyprus

North Cyprus travel guide

Quiet beaches, Crusader castles and nesting turtles: Cyprus' less-visited half deserves greater recognition – in every sense

North Cyprus packs a real punch for a country that doesn’t exist. Not recognised by the United Nations, the Turkish-ruled half of the isle of Cyprus sits swathed in eastern Mediterranean sunshine and diplomatic uncertainty, divided into Greek southern Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus since 1973.

To the passing traveller, this political intrigue adds further interest to an already fascinating island. North Cyprus is littered with ancient ruins – sprawling Salamis is the main site, but you’ll discover smaller remains all over the place. The beaches on North Cyprus are some of the least developed in the Med, and frequented by nesting turtles in summer. Inland in North Cyprus there are mountains to climb, some topped by Crusader castles, while the untouched Karpaz Peninsula is like a step back in time, the place to forget politics and instead make cheese, play backgammon and drink thick black coffee with the welcoming locals.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Learn to make local crafts and food at North Cyprus’s first eco-village, Büyükkonuk
  2. Walk through the no man’s land between the Greek and Turkish halves of Nicosia/Lefkosa, Cyprus’s divided capital
  3. Sit in a taverna looking out over the pretty harbour at Kyrenia (Girne)
  4. Stroll the undeveloped, 5km sweep of Golden Sands beach, on the Karpaz Peninsula
  5. Explore the loftily perched Crusader castles in the Kyrenia range – St Hilarion Castle, Buffavento Castle and Kantara Castle
  6. Wander amid the extensive 3,000-year-old seaside Roman ruins at Salamis

Wanderlust tips

  1. Get off the beaten track – some areas of North Cyprus are being developed apace but it’s still possible to find wonderful pockets of authentic Cypriot culture
  2. Be careful when talking politics to the locals – the subject of Turkish/Greek conflict is still too raw for some
  3. Pick up a copy of local guide Walks in North Cyprus, which has route maps for many lovely local hikes
  4. Do visit North Cyprus’s turtle beaches, but tread carefully and do not interfere with the animals.

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