Recent Day out in North Cyprus
I have just returned from a lovely holiday in North Cyprus It was recommended to me by some friends, and what a beautiful part of the island it is.
I went on a couple of tours, but my favourite day out was in the Kyrenia area. We started our day with a few hours of free time to do shopping, visit the castle etc. I of course started with a little shopping for souvenirs and ‘original’ fakes such as bags, clothes, watches. I then went to Kyrenia Castle, which unlike most castles is within the town centre, at one end of the harbour. The castle was built in the 16th century by the Venetians and also houses the Shipwreck Museum. This exhibits one of the oldest recovered vessels and its cargo, a Greek merchant ship from the 4th century BC. There is plenty to see in the castle and can take you as little time or as long to look around as you have. The views from up there are lovely, as you are overlooking the harbour. The harbour itself is picturesque with quaint little gifts shops, restaurants, daily tour boats and of course local fisherman boats. The tour group then met and had lunch in one of the restaurants around the harbour. Knowing that we were eating out for dinner tonight, the tour group arranged a selection of ‘Turkish Meze’ for us. The meze is a selection of small dishes normally as a starter. With the great selection of different dishes, together with homemade bread, this was more than enough to satisfy our stomachs until later.
After lunch we made our way to St Hilarian Castle. I wasn’t worried about seeing two castles in one day, as they are totally different to walk around. St Hilarian is built on top of the Kyrenia Mountain Range. Even from the bottom of the castle grounds the view is amazing. It is one of three former strongholds in the Kyrenia Mountains. To see the whole of the castle, and reach the top, there are quite a few steps. So make sure you wear suitable shoes and take a drink with you. Having said this, the pathway is good with handrails in some places. As long as you take your time you will not have a problem reaching the top. Once there, you will be pleased that you made the effort, as the view from the top is stunning.
From St Hilarian we went just 15 minutes away to the village of Bellapais. Again with free time to do your own thing, we wandered around this quiet little village looking in the gifts shops and buying a few handmade presents to take home. There is an abbey in the village which you can look around, but as we had already done the castles, we gave this a miss. We were told that they hold music concerts in the abbey in the summer and I can imagine this would be lovely to hear. The village is set in the mountain range, so again the views from up there are lovely. We had a look in a couple of the boutique hotels in the village, with a view to staying here on our next visit. We then relaxed and had a drink next to the abbey, overlooking Kyrenia and harbour.
Our day ended with dinner in one of the Bellapais restaurants. Lovely food with a stunning view of the abbey. A great day out, which you can make as busy or as relaxing as you like with your free time. Who would have thought there was so much to see within such a short distance from each other! I will certainly be recommending North Cyprus to other people.