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“Kyrenia/Girne, Northern Cyprus”
Review of Kyrenia

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Killyleagh, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
95 reviews
67 helpful votes
“Kyrenia/Girne, Northern Cyprus”
Reviewed 18 January 2010

People travelling to TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) have to be aware that there has been some international apathy towards the country since 1974, when there was a period of unrest between the greek south and the turkish northern parts of the island. This has been well written about elsewhere and I don't intend to add to the confusion!
As a visitor or holidaymaker, be assured all is well now, and, so long as you adopt the right attitude from the start, you WILL have a great visit.

The general feel is that the place is about thirty years behind mainstream holiday destinations in sophistication, appearance, and refinement. All the better, that adds to the charm. The people are delighted to see visitors, and are more interested in your friendship than your cash. It is a relatively poor country in need of support via tourism, and deserves much respect. As with anywhere, you get what you pay for, but more value here that anywhere else!

29 Thank Ken T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
35 helpful votes
“Thoughts on Northern Cyprus”
Reviewed 7 May 2009

We went with a totally open mind after having visiting Southern Cyprus quite a few times. Although it is one island, commercialism has not really reached this side of the island yet, although give it time. There is a huge amount of building work going on and villas are springing up everywhere, but the infrastructure around them is not there yet. Although there are loads of new garages around, when we tried to get fuel on a bank holiday there was none to be had - everyone was closed.

The prices are very good and extremely reasonable compared to the other side of the island as the currency is the turkish lira. Food is reasonable, if you eat away from the tourist traps. We can recommend Cafe Rouge in Kyrenia town - nice food and helpful, friendly staff.

There are places of interest to visit, but again not geared up for mass tourism - no guide books to sell and cheap admissions. Very interesting to see areas where you could not cross over to the Southern side of the island. Big turkish military presence, but none threatening and not problematic.

11 Thank hamish1carlisle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reading, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
85 reviews
178 helpful votes
“Recent trip to Kyrenia / North Cyprus”
Reviewed 2 January 2009

Recently got back from a week in North Cyprus, hope you may find this information useful. I have tried to add as many things in as I can.

7 day holiday start of December 2008
Booked with Anatolian Sky holiday via last minute.com
Flew with Pegasus Airways
Stayed at the High Life

Total cost of flight / accommodation and transfers £500 including £60 single supplement charge booked all last minute.com

In my opinion, this location is not for:

Beach lovers
Families with young kids who get bored outside of the beach
Twenty somethings
People with difficulty walking or getting about
People who don’t like / want to hire cars (there is zero public transport so getting from A to B needs a hire car)

In my opinion,this location is for:

People who enjoy history
Those who like walking
Families who want to learn about history and visit castles and culture who have kids that enjoy these places
Ancient sites

Good points

I felt safe walking around, never hassled
More people spoke English than expected so made it a bit easier for communication. Tried to learn a few words of Turkish….very difficult
People where friendly
Tourist attractions like the castles etc were super
Stunning scenery
Easy to drive around as not many main roads
Eating out
Sea fishing

Bad points

Litter – be prepared!

Price of clothing in the shops, expected it to be better priced and quite a bit was fake as well. Very disappointing. A number of items that I looked at where not priced, I did not buy a single
item of clothing, be warned, ask before you buy.

Smoking allowed in Restaurants, a real shock if you have not been in this environment for some time! Eat outside if you can.

Beaches – I am not a beach person but I did not see one nice beach between Kyrenia and Kantara. I think you have to go quite far north to get a sandy beach. Most of the area around North Cyprus is rocky this may be an issue if you are taking kids and expect a beach holiday.

If you have difficulty walking or have a disability (wheelchair bound) then you may find this difficult

Too pricey for a holiday

Would I go again?
I would no go back unless I went to do something like an expedition or dig as there are loads of ancient sites that have not been excavated. As a holiday, I have been once and would not want to go back; this is another location visited, not the best and not the worst. I made the holiday what I wanted it to be as I am young (ish), I can get about, love walking and visiting castles etc and not afraid about driving around. 7 days was enough time to see what I wanted to see. I can see why this location really gets very mixed reviews.

Getting there
North Cyprus is isolated from the political world and the airport in Ercan is not recognised as an international airport, so flights have to go via Turkey. As an option, you may be able to fly into Southern Cyprus and hire a car cheaper than flying into the North, I never looked into this but thought about it as I flew home.

Note that North Cyprus is a Muslim country; however, they seem to be much more laid back on religion than other countries.

If you do decide to visit a mosque (would recommend the one in Famagusta in the main square) and you are a non Muslim, please remember to remove your shoes before entry. This is the same for any religious place for example Hazreti Omer Turbesi. If in doubt, please ask before entry.

Flew from Stansted about 12:45pm on a week day, plane 30 mins late.
The flight to North Cyrpus via Turkey is quite long, around 6 ¾ hrs with a 45 min stop over in Turkey. The flight was terrible (Pegasus), the plane was hot and stuffy and the service was woeful. Be warned that you have to pay for all your own drinks and food, even water so make sure you take enough if you don’t want to buy. You can pay both sterling and Lira on the plane.
Landed at Ercan on time, made up the 30 mins.

Small airport went through passport control very quickly and got my bags within about 10 mins of getting off the plane. There is a small tourist info office at the airport with an English speaking chap. He did not know much about opening times of places but grabbed some maps etc.

I was met by a driver from Anatolian, I was the only one so had the taxi to myself. He spoke quite good English so bombarded him with questions. The journey from Ercan to Girnie (Kyrenia) took about 35 mins. You drive over the fiver finger mountains, it was dark so could not see.

The driver took me straight to the front door of my room (The High Life) and let me in, straight in a straight to bed.

Tax tip
You can claim for tax back at the airport. I saved all my receipts but got it all wrong a the airport. The tax office is before you go through to the ‘other side’ and you will see it. Once you have gone through to the departure lounge then you have missed your chance. I don’t know how it really works or what you can claim, but save your receipts and give it a go.

Duty Free
For the smokers amongst you, I had to get the usually fag run for others. The large supermarket sold 200 Marlboro lights for 50 Lira (December rate 2.30 = £1) Remember that North Cyrprus is not in the EU Zone so check what you can bring in and out.

The High Life

I was the only guest at the hotel for the entire time, very strange. Room quite large, there is a kettle, TV with a few English channels via satellite including National Geographic, a fridge / freezer, plenty of space to hang and put away clothes, hair dryer, two plastic chairs and plastic table to take outside on the patio area. Beds very comfy with extra bedding if cold. There is also an aircon unit. There was also two chairs that looked like something from your nan’s front living room, but after a hard days walking, quite relaxing to sit in.

Bathroom was a little dated, now I know where we shipped all those avocado green bath units!! Anyway the room has its own emersion heater for hot water and the water was very hot and the shower was very good. Note that the heater is on the wall outside the bathroom.

One point here is that the shower was inside the bath so you stood in the bath, the bath was very deep so anyone with a disability may have trouble getting in.

You are charged for using the tea bags and coffee in the room, first night is free but a fee for the rest of the time, therefore take your own.

There is a pool which is a good size, but water cool and did not swim. Plenty of seating round the outside and sat a few times in the sun.

Breakfast was taken either in or outside, it was quite nice, cereal, toast, fruit, omelette with an option for a fry up at an extra £3 which I did not have so can’t tell you what it was like.
Note the coffee is Turkish coffee but has been put in a coffee pot so not as strong. If you have never had it before is has a bitter taste and not too everyone’s liking. Note that this is not a proper Turkish coffee.

I was told not to drink the water, but I was also told that the water comes from the mountains and is very pure, it ran clear from the taps, I did drink it and was fine, but you might want to play safe.
Service was always very good and my room was cleaned every day in the afternoon.

One bad point about the High Life was the amount of cats, I counted about 16. If you fuss them or give them attention then they are friends for life. I left the windows open each day and came back twice to find a sandy ginger sleeping on those granny chairs (told you they were comfy) point of note for anyone with a reaction to cats.

High Life location

This is 390 mtrs off the main road so very quite at night; there was no noise at all. It takes about 45mins to walk into the centre of Kyrenia, so beware if you have trouble walking. About 15 mins of that walk has no pavement and you are walking along the side of the road which was not lit.

The High Life was a very good location for going to all attractions and is close to Bellapais (10 mins drive), Buffavento (15 mins drive), St Hillarion (20 mins drive)

There are a number of restaurants near by but not very busy at this time of year.

There is a large supermarket near by, turn right from the High Life and about 1 mile on the left hand side.

Car Hire and driving

I hired my car from the owner at the High Life, he charged me £20 per day for 4 days hire, and I paid him in sterling and was happy with that. I had a Vauxhall corsa, 1.4ltr, petrol.
The roads in and out of Kyrenia get very busy so note this if you hire a car near the centre for pick up or drop off. I would not recommend driving into the town centre during 10.00 to 6.00pm.

There are no self service petrol stations in North Cyprus, pull in and someone will fill the car for you. Tell them how much you want and go and pay in the shop. They are open 7 days a week from 06:00 through to midnight. Note that on public holidays they are shut.

There are a large amount of speed cameras all over the place, stick to the limit which is in kilometres.

Once you get your bearings, then it is easy to drive around North Cyprus. One main point though, if you go off the beaten track then some places are not signposted, so if you are a little on the adventurous side, take a compass and get a descent map!

The Weather and sun down

It was around 20-25 degrees each day, it only rained at night and I was able to eat out at night. I could also wear shorts at night (the locals wearing their coats thought I was mad) but if the wind picks up it can get a bit nippy, so take a light jacket in case.

The sun started to set about 4:30pm at the start of December and dark about 5:00pm ish, so make sure you take this into account if you go off walking or driving in the mountains.


There are lots of walks around North Cyprus, I found some signposted well and others not. Couple of things to look out for.
There are a lot of military areas and what might start off as a good walk might end quite suddenly if you come across a military area. Do not enter if you do come across one

There are snakes in North Cyprus, I came across two, one viper and one non poisonous, the vipers are small but are around, so wear thick socks if getting out and about in the wilderness.

Hunting is only permitted on Sundays, so don’t go out and about on this day, They are supposed to wear florescent jackets and erect signs warning people, but given the amount of shotgun cartridges I came across…don’t walk on a Sunday.

Currency and cash machines

Sterling, Turkish Lira and Euro are all accepted for payment into castles, car hire etc. There are a large number of ATM’s around the big towns but once outside these then they are very hard to find. Payment can be made credit / debit in restaurants etc.

Kyrenia / North Cyprus overview

There were very few tourists around so not too busy. I think the reviews of Kyrenia are a little over generous, I was disappointed in one respect but pleased in another.
One point to note is that North Cyprus is in general a very poor country and there is a divide between the richer areas like Kyrenia and outside in the smaller villages.

There was a building boom some years back, but as the crunch has halted so have the projects with a number of half built apartments around the island.

One of the very negative points about North Cyprus is the amount of litter around. There are no recycling facilities that I came across so everything goes in the bin. Every where I went, there were large amounts of glass, plastic bottles and tins on the floo. It really hits home very how mankind is destructing the planet, I visited a turtle nesting beach to find it covered in litter.

The issue is that North Cyprus has no funding from anyone outside of Turkey therefore they do not have the facilities to cope with the refuse that is created.

Eating out / drink

I get a bit bored of eating out and prefer self catering but the High Life was not really set up. I never had a bad meal during my stay, a meal always comes with breads to start with dips. Couple of places below I visited.

Top tip
A selection of grilled vegetables usually means grilled aubergine and few other veg and grilled green chillies. I only found this out half way through one of the chillies and it blew my mouth away, so check before you chomp! I managed to do this twice and they are hot!

Stroll Inn about 5 mins walk from the High Life. Well priced, simple

Niazi’s – I ate here twice and had the special on both occasions; go for it if you have an appetite. Top tip, don’t order this though if they are not busy as the food keeps on coming out and it’s all a bit too much. When busier, there is a break in the courses. The special cost 26 Lira, about £11 (2.30 = £1)
Service was very good and I counted 12 staff on the first night I was there

Beer in a restaurant ranges from 4 to 6 Lira for 500ml, at 6 this is quite pricy.

A bottle in the supermarket cost 2 Lira. I never had any wine as Northern Cyprus red did not appeal.

You can buy red wine in the Supermarket but nothing took my fancy.

A Turkish coffee was 2 Lira, Espresso was the most expensive ranging from 4 to 7 Lira.

Open till about 8:00pm, there is very little price difference between the big supermarket and the corner supermarket which there are millions of, so if you only have access to a corner one, don’t despair.


Note that the castles are exactly as they should be, uneven paths, sheer drops, no hand rails. Be careful with children or if you are not strong footed. Wear trainers as the basic footwear. Some of these are nearly 3,000 feet in altitude! Always take plenty of water with you as well.

Top tip

Take a compass as the maps given at the tourist offices are not detailed. Also take a torch as well, some of the castles / sites have catacombs and underground chambers, adds a bit more fun.

Places to recommend

St Hillarion, Bellapais, Salamis Kantara and sites in Famagusta cost between 5 and 9 Lira for entrance fee for an adult.

This was my favourite castle and I went there three times on separate days, there is no entry charge. This is easy to get to. From the High Life, turn right, heading out of Kyrenia, keep straight on the road for about 15 mins, you start to climb, on the left hand side you will see a restaurant / shack (only one in the area) the turn to the castle is opposite on the right hand side. You have two options.

Option 1
There is a small car park as you turn in straight off the road. Park the car here and walk to the castle. It is 6km along the winding road to the main castle car park. It took me 3.5 hrs to walk from the first car park to the top of the castle and back again. I walk very fast, so allow 4 – 4 ½ hrs round trip. It is a little demanding especially if it is hot. There is not a lot to see along the winding road up to the castle accept you walk very close to a military firing range. It’s more of a challenge than anything else.

Option 2
Drive the 6km along the winding road to the main castle car park. You will need to drive slowly as the road drops off with some tight bends. You will need to toot your horn on some of the bends.

From the castle car park to the entry gates of the castle takes about 20-30 mins of walking up steep steps. The castle car park is about 600 mtrs above sea level and the top of the castle is about 970 mtrs, these steps zig zag up the mountain and some are very high between steps.

If you fancy a challenge like me, I ran from the main car park to the entrance gates (on my third trip) of the castle and this took me 9 mins and 50 seconds and I knew about it. There was another 200 steps from the castle gates to the top as well. If you feel very fit, give this a go!

Great 360 degree views once you reach the top.

St Hilarion

Takes about 20 mins from Kyrenia (you can see it on the hill side) When you turn off the main road to Lekkosa up the road to the castle, do not stop, do not get out of the car, lean out of the window, walk up the road or take photos. Do not stop at the first car park you come to, drive straight on and park at the bottom of the castle, the road runs out so you can’t go any further.
You drive through a military area including firing range; it is fine as long as you just drive along the main road. It adds a little bit of spice to the visit.

Do not take the coastal road from Kyrenia, as there is nothing to see along the coast and the road ends and you have to take a detour and travel along a road currently in the process of being built. You also drive the steep way to the castle. Take the main road to Famagusta from Kyrenia.

This is quite a remote location and you will need to make sure you have enough fuel in the car and enough water and food as well.
If you go on a clear day, you can see mountains of Syria.

Bellapais Abbey

Very easy to get to, you can see it from the High Life resort at night. There are some nice restaurants in Bellapais.

Kyrenia Castle

I spent about 2hrs inside including the ship wreck museum. Nice views of the harbour. You can walk along the very top of the castle and it is lit up at night.
The ship wreck museum is inside the castle and part of the admission fee.

There are public toilets inside the castle which was clean and tidy inside.

Entrance fee for adults was 12 Lira or £5.50 if paying in sterling.


Not quite the site I thought it was going to be, you could probably do about 2hrs max although the site is located across 7 km2. It is worth going to see this site as this is one of ancient sites of the world. Be prepared to get amongst the ruins and sweep the sand away from the floors to reveal the original tiled floors.

Most of the main features are near the entrance. Note that there is zero shade here and prepare yourself on a hot day.

I have never seen some many ancient sites with in 1 km2. I think there are about 27 or so to see, some are in good condition and some are ruins, but amazing to see within the same walls. Salamis is about 20 mins drive from Famagusta so can be done in the same day.

The main square within the walls was nice. You can park next to the Museum and walk around. Allow for at least 4 hrs for a good look if not more.

Antiphontis Church

Don’t go from Kyrenia along the mountain road opposite Buffavento you get some great views but takes ages to get there and you will get lost. Take the road from Esentepe, it is about 8km from here and easy to find as it is signposted.
If you are trying to go to Sourpmagar Monastery as well as the Church, don’t bother (see below)

Don’t bother with:

Sourpmagar Monastery
Vandalised and you will get lost getting their.

Kharcha Ruins
Could not find them, not as it is described in the guide book, ruined by the building work for new apartments.

The costal road to Kantara
Nothing to see and a long way.

Alakati beach
Sand dunes?????

81 Thank ColumbusCompass
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Penrith, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
41 helpful votes
“Dual Pricing”
Reviewed 25 September 2008

I have just returned from a two week holiday in Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus and must say that the only thing that spoilt the holiday for me was the flagrant dual pricing system used in bars, supermarkets and restaurants.
In the supermarkets local's goods were added up on a calculator while my purchases were scanned. This made me suspicious so I gave one of the waiters from my hotel some money to buy me a packet of cigerettes at the store next door. I told him I wanted to pay "Turkish Price". He bought me 20 Marlboro Lights for 4.00 YTL. I went in the same store 5 minutes later and paid 5.00 YTL!!!
Talking to a waiter on the harbour front he confirmed that Turks paid far less for food and drink that the British tourists did. I asked him if he thought this was fair and he said it was because the British are richer than the Turks!!! I tried to explain how unfair this was but he just didn't get it. Howerver, I refused to enter his restaurant for the rest of the holiday unless I too paid Turkish prices. At first he refused but when I walked away her agreed. As an example I ordered a brandy sour which I had previously paid 7.00 YTL for and I paid 5YTL for it!!! The same thing happened with my meals. I asked for the Turkish price and instantly 25% and more was knocked off the menu price.
So there you have it, the Turks think it is acceptable to rip us off. They will have to change their ways if I am ever to go back there. As for them entering the EU, I think they can forget it unless they change their attitude toward tourists and start doing their buisness in an acceptable and moral manner.

24 Thank DBT66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Northern England
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
17 helpful votes
“Tranquil paradise”
Reviewed 28 November 2006

We have been travelling to Northern Cyprus for over 20 years and absolutely adore the place and the people. So much so, that we named our daughter Ayse, which is a popular Turkish name. We have made many friends in Kyrenia over the years and our favourite place is The Tree of Idleness in Bellapais. Great value for money, excellent setting and so so friendly staff and the owner Ercan runs the place perfectly. Never had a bad meal in all the many, many years we have eaten there. If you have never been, its well worth a visit. Of course changes have occured over time, property has been built and improvement made, but North Cyprus is still the best place to visit.

9 Thank FarAway802747
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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