25 Things To Do In North Cyprus, A Mediterranean Gem

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Have you ever considered visiting North Cyprus? If you’ve never considered it before, it’s time to put it on your list. This is a stunningly beautiful cultural place to visit, with so much to see and do and, of course, a range of delicious foods to try.

Put simply, North Cyprus is a hidden gem that shouldn’t be missed.

But before we get to the travel guide…

Understanding the Geopolitical Context Before Your Visit To North Cyprus

When planning a visit to North Cyprus, it’s essential to understand the geopolitical background of the region. North Cyprus, also known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), is recognized only by Turkey.

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, following a period of conflict between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. The Republic of Cyprus controls the southern part of the island, while the northern part is administered by the TRNC. This division remains a sensitive issue, and it’s important for visitors to be respectful of the differing perspectives and the historical context.

Despite the political complexities, North Cyprus is a stunning destination, rich in culture, history, and natural beauty. By acknowledging the region’s unique history and current status, visitors can better appreciate the diverse influences that have shaped its identity.

About Northern Cyprus

Nestled in the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea, North Cyprus offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its captivating landscapes, ancient ruins, and welcoming atmosphere, this Turkish region is a hidden gem awaiting discovery.

North Cyprus has a rich and complex history that is important to acknowledge.

The Turkish influence in North Cyprus dates back to the 16th century when the Ottoman Empire expanded its territories to include Cyprus.

The conquest of Cyprus granted the empire control over the island, leading to the gradual introduction of Turkish culture and the assimilation of Turkish settlers. This cultural fusion laid the foundation for a unique identity for Northern Cyprus, differentiating it from the predominantly Greek-speaking South.

Today, Mediterranean and Turkish influences are everywhere in the area, and the result is a beautiful blend that is as captivating as the nature surrounding it.

What truly sets North Cyprus apart is its unique blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty. The region boasts stunning beaches framed by clear turquoise waters, enticing adventurers and sun-seekers alike. The Karpaz Peninsula, in particular, offers unspoiled sandy beaches, jaw-dropping cliffs, and an opportunity to glimpse rare sea turtles in their natural habitat.

Moreover, North Cyprus is a paradise for history enthusiasts, with a wealth of archaeological sites and ancient ruins. From the ancient Roman city of Salamis to the enchanting St. Hilarion Castle, the region carries the weight of centuries, keeping alive the tales of its past civilizations.

Top Things To Do In North Cyprus

Whether you’re an adventurous explorer or a culture seeker, there is something for everyone here. Let’s dive into 25 must-do activities that will make your visit to North Cyprus genuinely unforgettable.

1. Explore Kyrenia Castle & Harbour

A historic fortress in North Cyprus looms over a calm marina with numerous small boats docked, all under a clear blue sky. To enhance your visit, explore the list of 25 Things To Do nearby.

Wander along the picturesque harbor, lined with charming cafes, bars, and seafood restaurants. Make sure you don’t miss the iconic Kyrenia Castle, which houses a fascinating shipwreck museum.

2. Visit St. Hilarion Castle

Ready for a breathtaking adventure? Enjoy the stunning view of North Cyprus' coastal city from the vantage point next to ancient stone ruins, with a clear blue sea in the background and lush green vegetation in the foreground. Discover endless things to do in this picturesque paradise.

Embark on a journey up the mountains to this ancient castle, which offers panoramic views of Kyrenia and the coast—Marvel at its stunning ruins and impressive architecture.

3. Wander Through Bellapais Village

A stone medieval building with arched columns and a partly open roof stands under a bright blue sky surrounded by cypress trees. The structure features intricate stonework and a cobblestone pathway, making it one of the captivating North Cyprus attractions you shouldn't miss.

Discover the tranquil ambiance of Bellapais Abbey, an exquisite 13th-century monastery. Explore the charming village, with its narrow streets, quaint coffee shops, and local craft stores.

4. Delve Into History At Salamis Ruins

The ruins at ancient Salamis in Northern Cyprus, with a blue sky overhead

Step back in time as you explore the ancient Roman city of Salamis. Admire the well-preserved Roman theatre and gymnasium, and unearth remarkable archaeological treasures.

5. Relax At Golden Beach

Bask in the sun on the golden sands of this pristine beach, known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and stunning mountain backdrop. Enjoy water sports or unwind in paradise.

6. Discover The Beauty Of The Karpaz Peninsula

Explore this untouched paradise, home to unspoiled beaches, olive groves, and the famous Apostolos Andreas Monastery. Spot wild donkeys and turtles in their natural habitat.

7. Marvel At The Ancient City Of Famagusta

St. Nicholas Cathedral | Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Famagusta, North Cyprus. Famagusta, Cyprus.

Immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere of Famagusta, home to the impressive walled city, Othello’s Tower, and the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque.

8. Dive Into The Blue Hole

Explore the mesmerizing underwater world of the Blue Hole, a natural sinkhole located near the village of Akdeniz. Discover vibrant marine life and be captivated by the beauty of this unique diving spot.

9. Hike Up St. Hilarion Mountain

Lace up your hiking boots and conquer the trails leading to the peak of St. Hilarion Mountain. Enjoy panoramic views of the island and embrace nature’s beauty.

10. Indulge In Delicious Cuisine

Savor traditional flavors such as meze, halloumi cheese, stuffed vine leaves, and mouth-watering sweet pastries. The island’s cuisine is a true delight for the taste buds.

11. Visit The Icon Museum

Delve into the world of Byzantine art at the Icon Museum in Nicosia. Admire a vast collection of religious icons representing centuries of history and heritage.

12. Explore The Ghost Town of Varosha

Witness the eerie ghost town of Varosha, frozen in time since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Take a guided tour to understand its historical significance.

13. Unwind In A Traditional Hammam

Turkish Hammam - What you need to know

Treat yourself to a rejuvenating experience in a Turkish bathhouse. Let the steam cleanse your body and relax your mind while you immerse yourself in centuries-old rituals.

14. Go Off-Road In The Five Finger Mountains

Embark on an adrenaline-fueled excursion through the rugged terrain of the Five Finger Mountains—Traverse winding trails, encountering hidden villages and breathtaking vistas.

15. Take A Boat Trip On The Karpaz Coast

Embark on a boat trip that will take you along the stunning Karpaz Peninsula coastline. Swim in pristine waters, spot dolphins, and savor the serenity of this untouched paradise.

16. Visit The Ancient City Of Soli

Explore the archaeological site of Soli, which dates back to the 6th century BC. Discover ancient amphitheaters, Roman villas, and beautiful mosaics.

17. Take A Wine Tasting Tour

SJ leaning against a wall drink wine

Head to one of North Cyprus’ many vineyards—sample local wines produced from indigenous grape varieties.

18. Explore Kantara Castle

Immerse yourself in history at Kantara Castle, perched atop the Besparmak Mountains—Behold panoramic views of both the north and south coasts of Cyprus from its strategic location.

19. Embark On A Scuba Diving Adventure

Scuba diving - man under water

Dive into the crystal-clear waters of North Cyprus, renowned for its vibrant marine life and numerous dive spots. Explore sunken wrecks, underwater caves, and more.

20. Attend A Traditional Folklore Night

Immerse yourself in the local culture at a traditional folklore night. Enjoy live music and dance performances and indulge in local delicacies. Your hotel may hold a regular cultural night, so be sure to check.

21. Relax In The Buffer Zone

Visit the Buffer Zone in Nicosia, the last divided capital in the world. Walk through Ledra Street, cross the checkpoint, and experience a unique blend of history, culture, and unity.

22. Visit The Cyprus Museum

Step into the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia and explore its extensive collection of artifacts dating back to Neolithic times. Learn about the island’s rich history and cultural heritage.

23. Shop At The Local Markets

A bustling outdoor market in North Cyprus with people walking between stalls selling various goods under awnings and umbrellas on a sunny day—a must-see spot featured in every travel guide for its vibrant atmosphere and local charm, adding to the list of things to do while visiting.

Visit local markets such as the Kyrenia Stalls or Nicosia’s Laiki Geitonia for a vibrant and authentic shopping experience. Discover traditional crafts, handmade souvenirs, and local produce.

24. Catch A Stunning Sunset

Don’t miss the opportunity to witness a sunset over the Mediterranean Sea. Whether it’s from a rooftop terrace, a beachfront restaurant, or a picturesque viewpoint, the stunning North Cyprus sunset is the perfect finale for your memorable trip.

25. Take A Nicosia Food Tour

Foodies will enjoy taking a food tour around the capital city and enjoying the street food and delicacies on offer. The advantage here is the presence of a knowledgeable guide who will be able to tell you about what you’re eating and the history of what you’re seeing, and they’re available to answer any questions you have.

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Towns And Cities To Visit In North Cyprus


As the capital and largest city of North Cyprus, Nicosia showcases a harmonious blend of Eastern and Western influences. Divided by the Green Line, with the southern part administered by the Republic of Cyprus, this city represents a remarkable symbiosis of old and new.

The historic city center, surrounded by medieval walls, provides a glimpse into the past with its elaborate architecture, narrow streets, and traditional hammams. Meanwhile, the modern section boasts bustling streets, trendy cafes, and contemporary shopping centers.


Situated on the northern coast, Kyrenia is renowned for its picturesque harbor and Venetian castle. This charming town, with its cobbled streets and quaint atmosphere, exudes a Mediterranean allure.

The castle, dating back to the 7th century, offers panoramic views of the surrounding sea and mountains. Visitors can also stroll along the waterfront promenade, lined with vibrant cafes and restaurants, and explore the charming old town with its boutique shops and citrus-scented streets.


This coastal city, steeped in history, presents a fascinating mix of ancient ruins and modern living.

Within the ancient city walls, visitors can explore iconic landmarks such as the Othello Castle or take a leisurely walk along Palm Tree Promenade.

Famagusta is also home to the intriguing Ghost Town of Varosha, frozen in time since 1974, serving as a poignant reminder of the island’s complex history.


Situated in the Kyrenia Mountains, Bellapais is a quaint village famous for its historic abbey.

The Bellapais Abbey, dating back to the 13th century, is a captivating example of Gothic architecture. Perched on a hilltop, it offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and unrivaled tranquillity.

The village itself consists of narrow streets, traditional stone houses, and charming cafes, making it a haven for artists and a perfect spot for a peaceful retreat.

How To Get There

By Air

The most convenient and common way to reach North Cyprus is by air. Ercan International Airport, located near the capital city of Nicosia, is the main gateway for international travelers.

Many major airlines offer direct flights to Ercan from various European countries, making it easily accessible for visitors. Upon arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted by the island’s friendly atmosphere. Of course, there are also regular flights from Istanbul.

By Sea

If you enjoy sea travel, several ferry services operate between Turkey and North Cyprus. You can sail from various ports in Turkey, such as Alanya, Antalya, and Mersin, to reach the ports of Girne (Kyrenia) or Gazimağusa (Famagusta) in North Cyprus.

These journeys offer a unique experience, allowing you to catch panoramic views of the coastline.

Once you have arrived in North Cyprus, various transportation options are available to help you navigate this part of the island. Car rental services are widely available and provide the flexibility to explore at your own pace. Taxis and local buses are also readily available, offering reliable alternatives for getting around.

Foods To Try

If you’re a foodie, you’re in for a treat. The food in North Cyprus is a delightful fusion of Turkish and Cypriot flavors that will tantalize your taste buds.

Let’s dive into some of the must-try dishes:


Meze - Sultan palace cafe restaurantSultan palace cafe restaurant

Start your gastronomic journey with meze, an assortment of small dishes that showcase the best of Cypriot and Turkish cuisine. From hummus, tabbouleh, and dolma (stuffed vine leaves) to haydari/tzatziki, taramasalata, and freshly baked bread, meze is perfect for sharing and exploring a wide range of flavors.


One of North Cyprus’s signature dishes, kleftiko, is slow-cooked lamb marinated in a blend of aromatic herbs and spices. The meat becomes tender and juicy, beautifully infused with flavors that dance on your palate. It’s a truly satisfying experience for meat lovers.

Hellim (Halloumi)

North Cyprus boasts some of the best halloumi cheese in the world, and trying it here is a must! Grilled or fried, the result is a deliciously salty and squeaky cheese with a slightly crispy exterior. Pair it with watermelon for a refreshing combination that locals adore.


Turkish Food - Turkish Sausage (sucuk) and egg

This spicy, savory sausage is a beloved staple in Cypriot and Turkish cuisine. Made with minced meat, garlic, and a blend of paprika and other spices, sucuk is often grilled or pan-fried and served with eggs for a hearty breakfast or as a topping on flatbread.


A traditional dish, pilavuna is a pastry filled with a mixture of spiced rice, minced meat, onions, and herbs. It’s usually baked until golden brown, resulting in a crispy exterior that holds a flavourful surprise inside.


A close-up of a tray with slices of cheesy beef and vegetable pide, with a plate of garlic bread in the background, showcasing local cuisine from Avanos Cappadocia, Turkey.

Similar to pizza but with unique flavors, pide is a boat-shaped bread filled with various ingredients such as cheese, meat, vegetables, and herbs. It’s baked in a hot oven, giving the bread a perfect crispness while the filling melds beautifully together.

Şeftali Kebabı

A mouth-watering specialty you need to taste is şeftali kebabı, also known as “peach kebab.” This delicious kebab is made from seasoned minced meat wrapped around a skewer and cooked over a charcoal fire. Served with fresh herbs, grilled vegetables, and flatbread, this kebab is a true delight.


Lokmasi Street Food Istanbul Port-2

Treat your sweet tooth with lokma, a delightful, deep-fried dough soaked in a sweet syrup. These bite-sized balls are incredibly addictive and perfect to munch on after a satisfying meal. Don’t forget to have a cup of Turkish tea alongside to complete the experience!

Can You Cross The Border To South Cyprus From North Cyprus

The answer is yes, it is indeed possible!

Before diving into the details, let’s recap the background. Cyprus is divided into two parts: the Republic of Cyprus in the south and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the north. The division dates back to 1974, and as a result, there are some restrictions on crossing between the two regions.

Crossing Points

Currently, there are seven official crossing points (also known as “border checkpoints”) where you can enter South Cyprus from North Cyprus. These crossings are active and open for both locals and tourists, allowing for easy passage between the two regions.


To ensure a hassle-free crossing, there are a few essential documents you should have on hand:

  • Passport or Identity Card: Carry a valid passport or government-issued identity card. Ensure that your travel documents have at least six months of validity remaining from the date of your entry.
  • Visa: Depending on your nationality, you may require a visa to enter Cyprus. It’s crucial to check the visa requirements specific to your country of origin. Citizens of many countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and the European Union, enjoy visa-free entry for tourism purposes.
  • Entry Stamp: Upon entering North Cyprus, you will receive an entry stamp on your passport. Ensure you keep this stamp intact, as it will be required when exiting from South Cyprus.
  • Car Insurance: If you plan to drive your vehicle from the north to the south of the island, ensure you have valid car insurance coverage that extends to both regions.
  • Additional Documentation: You may also be asked to provide proof of accommodation, a return ticket, and sufficient funds to cover your stay. We recommend having these documents readily available in case they are requested at the border crossing.

Crossing Procedures

When you arrive at the border crossing point, look for signs indicating the procedures. Follow the directions provided and be prepared for a routine customs and security check. Note that specific rules regarding crossing points and procedures may vary, so it’s advisable to do some research or consult local authorities for the most up-to-date information.

North Cyprus FAQs


Where is North Cyprus?

North Cyprus, officially known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), is a state located in the north-eastern part of the island of Cyprus.

Is North Cyprus safe to visit?

North Cyprus is considered a safe destination for tourism. The region enjoys a low crime rate and is known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Like any other place, it is important to exercise usual precautions and follow local regulations.

How can I travel to North Cyprus?

Most international travelers reach North Cyprus by flying into Ercan International Airport. There are also ferry services available from Turkey, which is the primary access point for many visitors.

Do I need a visa to visit North Cyprus?

Citizens of many countries, including most EU nations, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days in North Cyprus. However, it is always advisable to check visa requirements before your travel.

What currency is used in North Cyprus?

North Cyprus uses the Turkish Lira (TRY) as its official currency. However, some businesses may also accept euros. For smaller establishments, it is recommended to carry some local currency.

What language is spoken in North Cyprus?

The official language of North Cyprus is Turkish. However, English is widely spoken, particularly in tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants. You should have no problem communicating in English during your visit.

What are the major attractions in North Cyprus?

North Cyprus offers a variety of attractions for visitors. Some notable attractions include the ancient city of Salamis, St. Hilarion Castle, Kyrenia Harbour and Castle, Bellapais Abbey, and the divided capital city of Nicosia. The region also boasts beautiful beaches and stunning natural scenery.

Can I use my mobile phone in North Cyprus?

Most international mobile networks provide coverage in North Cyprus. However, it is recommended that you check with your service provider regarding roaming charges and coverage availability. Alternatively, you can purchase a local SIM card upon arrival for a more cost-effective option.

Is the tap water safe to drink in North Cyprus?

The tap water in most cities and towns of North Cyprus is considered safe to drink. However, if you have any concerns, bottled water is readily available and is commonly used by locals.

What is the best time to visit North Cyprus?

North Cyprus enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. The peak tourist season generally falls between May and October when temperatures are warm and rainfall is minimal. However, spring and autumn can also be pleasant times to visit, with mild weather and fewer crowds.

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