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Historic Bellapais Abbey in Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus
24 January, 20222 minute read

Experiencing Northern Cyprus

Northern Cyprus is a beautiful area, unspoiled by major modern development and home to many ancient ruins and sites that have shaped the area’s history. The scenery is dramatic and the Five Finger mountains form a majestic backdrop to many of our daily routes. There is so much to see and do on our North Cyprus holidays and some of my favourites include:

St Hilarion Castle

Watching over the town is the St Hilarion Castle – a relic from the crusades and perched on the rocky hillside. I’m glad I put the effort into the last few steps for the amazing views from its narrow arrow-slit windows and stone-clad terraces. This is one of my highlights of a Northern Cyprus holiday.

Medieval ruins of  St. Hilarion Castle offering an amazing view over the landscape of  Kyrenia and Mediterranean

Bellapais Abbey

Bellapais is a rather wonderful place to visit and remarkably well-preserved. Walk through the pretty gardens and enjoy, too its traditional location – a small pretty town with a cobbled main road lined with shops selling the most delicious Turkish delight, local nuts and spices, and candied fruits.

Saint Barnabas Monastery

I have always been interested in the crusade history and the regions King John and Richard the Lionheart travelled through. Northern Cyprus features in their journey across many different lands and you’ll learn many fascinating facts. The St Barnabas monastery, dedicated to the island’s patron saint, is one such place and here you’ll find Cypriot artifacts dating back to the 7th century. It’s an interesting stop and one where you’ll learn about many of North Cyprus’ traditions.


A visit to the capital, Nicosia is a must. I really enjoyed the spice markets and stalls selling beautiful scarves and leather goods, as I’m sure you will, too. The historic 16th century Great Inn or Büyük Han is also fascinating. Restored over 10 years, you’ll get an insight into what life was like 400 years ago when weary travellers would stop here and exchange goods.  Plus, there’s always time to sip iced coffee topped with whipped cream and sticky pastries, fresh from the oven.

Aerial view over old town of Nicosia, Northern Cyprus in evening sunset

Where we stay

Our hotel The Oscar, is set just outside the coastal town of Kyrenia with its picturesque harbour lined with bars and restaurants for leisurely people watching and a castle to explore. It’s perfect for a sunset drink or a decadent cream topped iced coffee during the day.

It has lovely outdoor areas with large swimming pools and areas for relaxing in or out of the sun. Drinks and typical holiday snacks are served throughout the day. This was my favourite spot as the weather is warm and it's so relaxing to sit by the pool and soak up the sun at the end of the day.

The Oscar is a traditional hotel with pleasant public areas and a helpful reception team. I was impressed with the small army of local ladies who kept it spotless and were always on hand with a smile. Meanwhile, the restaurant is open plan and offers a good choice of international and local options on its buffets.

I liked the cooking stations for breakfast with lots of local choices of fresh bread and meats and cheeses as well as more typical hot options.

If you'd like to learn more about our North Cyprus holidays get in touch with one of our expert travel advisors.

Image of blog author Alison Porter

Alison has worked in the travel business for more than 20 years. Her holiday highlights include a Kenyan safari, chatting with Barbadian cricket legend Sir Garfield Sobers at a match in Bridgetown, and watching baby black-tipped reef sharks chasing waves in the Maldives.

Alison | About the author

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