North Cyprus

North Cyprus has well over half the island's 240 miles of coastline, and overs a good mix of golden sand, secluded rocky coves and sheltered bays. The best North Cyprus beaches are to be found in the Gazimağusa (Famagusta) Bay area, where uninterrupted stretches of golden sand are gently lapped by the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean.

Kyrenia (Girne) offers plenty of great beaches too, so if it's sun, sea and sand you're after you will be spoilt for choice. Beach clubs dotted along this part of the coast offer sun beds, toilet and shower facilities, as well as the opportunity to try your hand at a range of water sports, including windsurfing and jet skiing. Open to the public, beach clubs in North Cyprus typically charge a daily entrance fee for use of the amenities on site.

If you prefer your beaches a little wilder, the Karpaz Peninsula National Park, or Cyprus's 'panhandle' as it is known, offers secluded coves backed by lush, rolling hills. Blissfully free from mass-market tourism and over-development, the Peninsula is home to a wealth of flora and fauna indigenous to the island; amongst the most famous residents are the endangered Green and Loggerhead turtles, and the wild donkeys, which roam the glorious countryside.

Bellapais Village is without doubt one of the unmissable attractions of a holiday in Kyrenia. Many choose to stay in Bellapais Village itself where there are a number of excellent hotels, or simply visit for a day or an evening. Every year in April and May, a music festival takes place here, with performances of classical music featuring internationally acclaimed musicians.

By night, Bellapais Abbey is spectacularly illuminated, making the restaurants in the village a top choice for a romantic dinner for two. The grounds of Bellapais Abbey are also a popular venue for those planning a wedding in North Cyprus. The unique setting guarantees unforgettable wedding photos!

Bellapais Village’s other claim to fame was that it was once home to the writer, Lawrence Durrell, who preserved its quirks and eccentricities in his book ‘Bitter Lemons of Cyprus’. It is well worth a read, as many of his observations still ring true today. His writing is beautifully evocative of life in a Cypriot village and also provides a fascinating insight into the politics during the period of the latter days of British rule in the 1950s.

One of the most memorable of Durrell’s descriptions is that of the Tree of Idleness. According to local legend, it causes anyone who sits beneath it to fall under its spell, becoming lethargic and indolent. Maybe it explains the refreshingly slow pace of life still enjoyed in the villages of North Cyprus today.