Cyprus, the birthplace of Aphrodite, the enigmatic Goddess of Love, is a paradise of an island, where a continual show of nature is breathtaking in its beauty.
Located in the Mediterranean, just 40 miles off Turkey's south coast, the Cyprus’ strategic position has meant that it was the stepping stone between East and West - the historical crossroads of the ancient world.
There have been settlements in Cyprus for over 9000 years, from Palaeolithic and Neolithic times. Remnants of great civilizations and monuments to its long and chequered past can be seen in the ancient cities, palaces, castles, churches, mosques and abbeys which are scattered throughout this unique Mediterranean island. Its pristine beaches, beautiful mountain scenery, traditional villages and ancient cities are just waiting to be discovered.
Since 1974 the island has been divided, with the North home to the indigenous Turkish Cypriot population. You will find that North Cyprus is much less developed than the South. North Cyprus still keeps its charm and beauty and remains full of character - here you won’t find the streets dominated by international chains or fast-food restaurants.
The local language is Turkish and the currency is the Turkish lira, although many traces of the British remain, as many people speak good English and driving is still on the left-hand side of the road.
A warm welcome guaranteed
Hospitality is a way of life here, and the British in particular are treated as long-lost friends. Nicosia, or Lefkosa in Turkish, is the capital of both sides of the island, and the last divided city in the world. There is plenty of fascinating history to explore and the market is a great place to stock up on holiday souvenirs.
Outside the main towns, North Cyprus has some of the most stunning scenery in the Mediterranean. The sheer rugged beauty of the Karpaz peninsula, where you can drive for miles without passing another car, and come across completely deserted beaches, the nesting places of the rare loggerhead turtles, is absolutely breath-taking.
Kyrenia (Girne) and Famagusta (Gazi Magusa) are the two resorts which we feature. Famagusta is perhaps best known for its golden sandy beaches, and Kyrenia for its charming, picturesque harbour.
Wherever you choose to stay, it is well worth hiring a car and exploring the island. Prices for car hire are reasonable and driving is on the left as in the UK. Road conditions are generally good
and there is relatively little traffic.
The fertile area of Güzelyurt (which literally translates as ‘beautiful place’), home to citrus groves, is well worth a visit. Those interested in the island’s history should make sure to take in the Crusader castle of St. Hilarion, Kantara and Buffavento, as well as the ruined Persian palace of Vuni, and the ancient city of Soli.
North Cyprus enjoys the same relaxed, informal dining experience as Turkey. The Turkish cuisine is one of the best in the world and the delicious food will ensure that eating out is one of the main highlights of your holiday. Enjoy a traditional ‘meze’, lots of small plates of hot and cold starters, sample the catch of the day or feast on a Kebab. Finish your meal off with a choice of sweet syrupy desserts or fresh fruit and a fresh, strong Turkish coffee. Whatever your choice, a meal is a social event so you can relax and take your time over your food.
You will have to find extra room in your case to take home lovely samples of the many Turkish-Cypriot handicrafts including Lefkara lace work, embroidery, hand woven kilim rugs, hand painted pottery, Mediterranean-style village basketry, sheep skins rugs and a host of other wares including genuine leather, gold and silver jewellery.