8 days from Kyrenia to Famagusta
The beauty of the land and hospitality of people in Northern Cyprus is undeniable and is a largely untouched gem of the Mediterranean. On your eight-day adventure, hunt for castles and monasteries, swim off the shimmering coastline, explore one of Europe’s last divided capitals and tuck into traditional fare in small villages. Despite the country remaining divided after a military coup in 1974, this Northern Cyprus adventure offers plenty of unique experiences and unforgettable memories to boot.
7 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Hotel (5 nt), Guest House (2 nt)
8 Day Escorted Tour
Welcome to Kyrenia, also known as Girne in Turkish – a beautiful town that boasts an average of 320 sunny days per year. At 6 pm, begin your travels with a welcome meeting at your hotel to meet your group leader and fellow travellers. In ages past, Kyrenia’s horseshoe harbour played home to carob warehouses, one of the region’s former major exports. These days, it’s lined with lively bars and shops underneath the nearby Venetian Castle that creates an interesting contrast between old and new. Considered to be the cultural and economic center of Northern Cyprus, there’s no better place to begin your adventures on the island. After your important meeting, why not get a group of you together to explore the harbour, and to find a place for dinner.
Embark on a walking tour of Kyrenia’s Old Town in the morning. The winding alleyways reveal a quaint mix of old stone buildings with colourfully restored architecture, along with the spectacular remains of the abandoned 16th-century Chrysopolitissa Church. Take a visit to the Venetian Castle that guards the city, taking in the magnificent sea vistas from the top of the fortifications. This afternoon, you’ll have free time to explore. You may choose to partake in a sunset cruise on the water floating around the shores of Kyrenia, considered one of the best ways to experience Northern Cyprus. Watch as the rolling hillsides and towns on the coast slowly roll by while you take in the sunshine on the deck.
The beautiful untouched beauty of the west of Northern Cyprus is your background today for a journey through its history. In the morning, visit Bellapais to explore its monastery, one of the few and fantastic Gothic architectural masterpieces of Cyprus, made famous by Lawrence Durrell’s book Bitter Lemons of Cyprus. Afterwards, head east towards the Five Finger Mountains, a mountain range stretching over 250 km along the northern shore of the island. You’ll have the option of joining a light hike (4 km, 1 hour) on the slopes leading to the Antiphonitis Monastery, a well-preserved byzantine church with frescoes from the 12th and 15th centuries. It is a unique location to explore the evolution of the fresco painting art through the centuries and the Latin influence on the orthodox tradition, but also the scars of art dealing on the black market. In the afternoon, you’ll have the chance for go for a dip at Alagadi Beach, a renowned spot for turtle nesting, followed by some free time in the old town of Kyrenia.
In the morning, travel to the picturesque St Hilarion Castle. With walls and towers that sprout out of the rocks almost randomly, it’s rumoured that Walt Disney used the castle as inspiration for The Queen’s Castle in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The highest point stands at a towering 730 metres (2395 feet) above sea level, offering a marvellous view of the land below. Then, travel onwards to Nicosia. Known as Lefkosia to the Turks and Nicosia to the Greeks, the city is full of surprises thanks to a mix of cultures and architecture. The Selimiye Mosque is one of the Turkish side’s highlights, previously known as the Cathedral of Saint Sophia before the Ottomans added minarets in 1571. Marvel upon the interior’s whitewashed walls and examine traces of Gothic architecture lying in the architecture despite the Islamic refurbishment of the building. Afterwards, take a walking tour passing through both sides of the country’s green line. Your passport will be required for the checkpoints at the border and the intriguing contrasts between the divided city will become apparent as you enter the Greek side of the island. Later in the afternoon, loop back into the Turkish side with a trip to Kormacit village, one of the last inhabited villages of Maronites, a catholic community originally from Lebanon, which settled in Cyprus with the Crusaders.
Start your morning in Kormacit with a tour of the village. Visit the 14th-century St George Chapel, the 19th-century St George Cathedral as well as the ethnographic museum. The Maronites speak a dialect of Old Arabic, very similar to the Syriac dialect that Jesus Christ is said to have spoken. From Kormacit, explore Morphou, Soli and Lefke, discovering Roman mosaics in Christian basilicas, Gothic architecture in Orthodox churches and fine examples of Armenian and Christian traditional homes with ornate balconies. Back in Kormacit, enjoy a traditional dinner in the backyard of Ema, one of the village’s few remaining Maronites, and taste Maronite specialties (rabbit, bulguri, Anari cheese, etc.) and even get involved in the dinner prep.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
This morning, head off to Komi Kebir (Buyukkonuk), a traditional Cyprus village where residents have been working together to preserve local culture and heritage. Meet with your hosts Lois and Ismail before joining in some traditional bread and cheese making and with a sneaky tasting afterwards. Then perhaps take a wander through the local fields to the remains of the Auxendios church. The Karpaz Peninsula is dotted with abandoned churches, many of which have been left for years and have since been re-purposed as shelters for farm animals or simply left to fall in favour of new mosques. Enjoy a traditional village vegetarian meal for lunch, using local produce such as carob pekmez and zivania – a local firewater made from grape skins. Tonight, you’ll spend the night in a local guesthouse.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
This morning, travel towards Famagusta, first stopping for a tour of the ancient city of Salamis. Once a thriving port city, Salamis served many dominant groups over the course of history including the Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians and Romans. Continue on to St Barnabas’ monastery, dedicated to St Paul’s good Cypriot friend Varnavas (Barnabas) who carried out missionary work on the island. Our next stop is Varosha, the ghost town trapped in the buffer zone. You’ll have free time this afternoon. Ask your leader for some insider tips on where to go for a swim, or enjoy some time in the Old Town of Famagusta. In the evening, be sure to get together with your group for dinner to share your Northern Cyprus stories.
Your trip comes to an end today after breakfast. As there are no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time.
Starting at $1,770
Highlights of Northern Cyprus
Valid Departure Dates:
- September 16, 2023 – September 23, 2023: $1,770
- October 14, 2023 – October 21, 2023: $1,770
- May 18, 2024 – May 25, 2024: $1,890
- June 8, 2024 – June 15, 2024: $1,890
*Pricing and availability subject to change until booked. Pricing, unless noted otherwise, is based on double occupancy. Restrictions may apply.
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