Inside Kyrenia

WITH ITS fabulous climate, picturesque harbour and panoramic views, Kyrenia has been a favoured holiday spot for Nicosian families and foreign travellers for well over a century.

Today, Kyrenia is undeniably the tourist hub of North Cyprus and notwithstanding its increasing popularity and prosperity, high-rise hotels and high-street chains still have no place here. On the contrary, it is the historic character of this ancient harbour town that keeps Kyrenia firmly on the tourist map. With so much charm to offer its visitors, we take a peek at some of the main attractions inside this popular and picturesque resort…

KYRENIA HARBOUR:- Once a thriving ancient maritime port, sailing yachts and colourful fishing boats now dock in this stunning horseshoe harbour. Somewhat sleepy by day, by night the old export warehouses transform into bars and bistros that buzz with excitement as the harbour comes to life. Their lights illuminate the Mediterranean shore, bringing with them the promise of a lively evening and warm North Cypriot hospitality.

KYRENIA CASTLE:- Situated at the eastern end of the old harbour, it is impossible to ignore this imposing castle that once played a pivotal role in the island’s history, protecting this important maritime region from land and sea raids. Dating back to around the 7th century, the castle came under siege multiple times, and has been extensively modified throughout the ages with added towers and fortified walls. From the Byzantines to the British, the castle has housed Lusignan rulers, Venetian royalty, Ottoman armies, prisoners of all kinds and even a school. Today, home to an ancient shipwreck museum, you can explore the castle’s towers, dungeons and a 12th century chapel.

KYRENIA SHIPWRECK MUSEUM:- Kyrenia’s ancient maritime activity is still miraculously evident today in the well-preserved ruins of a salvaged merchant shipwreck over 2000 years old. Dating back to the 4th century BC, the ship sank in open waters less than a mile from the anchorage at Kyrenia. Here, she and her cargo mysteriously lay for several centuries. Accidentally discovered by a local sponge diver in 1965, the vessel was recovered from the sea and is now housed in the magnificent Kyrenia Castle. Visitors to the Ancient Shipwreck Museum will find a range of fascinating cargo exhibits to explore, including jars of thousands of perfectly preserved almonds, as well as the vessel itself. This is the oldest trading shipwreck ever to be discovered.

KYRENIA MOUNTAINS:- The Kyrenian five-finger mountain range is the magnificent backdrop to the town, named as such because of its five finger-like peaks, with a massive 120km waiting to be explored. With walking trails, mountain biking, jeep safari, horse-riding and paragliding, there is a level of activity for every visitor. For a truly magical trip, brave the hike to the fairytale castle of St Hilarion, rumoured to be the original inspiration for Walt Disney’s castle in ‘Sleeping Beauty’. From here, you will be rewarded with stunning views over Kyrenia.

KYRENIA CASINOS & SPAS:- Kyrenia is home to many five-star hotels which not only boast luxury accommodation and dining excellence, but deluxe spa packages and state-of-the-art casinos. Guests can indulge in some R&R by day and some decadent fun by night.  The Dome Hotel is the oldest and one of the most popular hotels in town, having undergone a facelift in recent years and boasting a stunning harbour-side location. The Rocks Hotel and the Savoy Ottoman Hotel are alternative deluxe options.

KYRENIA SHOPPING:- Every Wednesday from 8am to 8pm, Kyrenia open market is where you will buy colourful and local fresh produce, handmade and household goods, rugs, linen and clothing. For those of you who want even more retail therapy, the main shopping area in Kyrenia is just behind the old harbour. A series of narrow, twisting cobbled streets with well-stocked whitewashed buildings will keep you busy for hours. There are clothing boutiques and souvenir shops galore.

Of course, we’ve not even got to the beaches – check out our article on The Beaches of North Cyprus.