Are you looking for the best things to do in Kyrenia? Look no further, you are in the right place. Kyrenia, or Girne as locals call it, is a charming historical city, very popular in Northern Cyprus.
From fairy-tale castles to beach parties, Kyrenia has it all for a perfect weekend getaway. Keep reading to find out what are the best places to see in Kyrenia, the activities you’ll enjoy, and how to even get there from the airport.
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Things to Do in Kyrenia – Top 9 places to visit in Kyrenia
Cyprus has become a favourite beach destination for travellers. However, the island also has other beautiful historical and cultural sites worth exploring, and this city is full of them. Let’s go through the best things to do in Kyrenia on the following list.
1. The Old Harbour
Probably the most charming area of Kyrenia. The Old Harbour is the perfect place to relax, eat, and take in the view after a day of visiting the main attractions.
Walk along the cobblestone streets next to the numerous yachts and boats. The harbour is filled with beautiful restaurants, and the Kyrenia Castle dominates the landscape.
By the way, the seafood is as fresh as it gets! The fishermen catch it very close from there and take it almost directly to your plate.
2. Kyrenia Castle
The exact date of construction is unknown, but it’s believed it was around VII AD. It was probably built to defend against Arab attacks, along with other castles like St. Hilarion, Buffavento, and the Castle of Kantara. This was during the Lusignan reign, with some changes added by the Venetians.
The Kyrenia Castle is well preserved, and you can clearly see the fascinating influence of the Byzantine, Lusignan, and Venetian. Inside, you’ll also find the tomb of Admiral Sadik Pasha, who took over Kyrenia in 1570.
Get to the top of the castle for a fantastic view of the Old Harbour.
3. Chain Tower
Initially, I assumed this place was a lighthouse, which apparently is a common mistake. A local then explained to us that this tower was actually part of a fortification system.
The chain tower owes its name to how Venetians used it for defence. They raised a chain between the fortress and the tower when in danger to block hostile ships.
Walk along the chain tower so you can observe the yachts, the castle, and the Mediterranean Sea from a different viewpoint.
4. St. Hilarion Castle
The best preserved of Northern Cyprus’ castles, this fairytale castle is supposed to have been the inspiration for Disney’s production of Snow White.
It was built in the eleventh century (the exact date is unknown) and abandoned later. The castle is located above the town, so it has impressive views and lots to discover in terms of history.
Note that there is no public transportation, so if you are not renting a car, you’ll need to hire a car/taxi. The path to the castle from the main road passes through military terrain, and walking is not allowed.
The castle has an entrance fee of 7 TL (that’s less than 2 USD in 2018). You start from the bottom and then walk uphill. The view from the top shouldn’t be missed, but keep in mind it’s a steep climb to get there. Don’t miss it because it is one of the best things to do in Kyrenia.
5. Bellapais Monastery
Also known as Bellapais Abbey, it is located on the flanks of the Five-finger mountain in the village of Bellapais. It’s only 10 minutes by car from the centre of Kyrenia.
The most outstanding characteristic of the monastery is its beautiful gothic architecture. The biggest part of it is the Orthodox church with well-preserved frescoes. A cloister with 18 arches is also a common spot for pictures.
The entrance fee is only 9 TL (2 USD)
6. Buffavento Castle
Also built for defence purposes, Buffavento Castle is situated 950 m (3,100 ft) above sea level overlooking the bay.
Climb to the top for incredible views of Northern Cyprus, but remember to bring comfortable shoes to do so, as the path can be rough.
You’ll enjoy walking around the hallways and coming across big stone windows of 11th-century Byzantine architecture—one of the best places to visit in Kyrenia.
7. Mavi Köşk (Blue House)
The story behind the former owner of this house is full of mystery. The Blue House was built by Byron Pavlides, a Greek Cypriot. His family was dedicated to the motor trade, and he was the leading representative of General Motors, Vauxhall, and Opel in Cyprus during the 50s’ – 60s’. However, it is rumoured that he was also very involved in contraband and smuggling arms as a gun-runner for the EOKA.
Apparently, the Blue House was built in its unique location to have an ample view of the sea, where he could see the ships arriving with his weapons.
The house is now a museum, and the views from the upper rooms are fantastic! The museum provides guided tours in Turkish, but they also offer a translated brochure in English.
8. Enjoy the Nightlife
Kyrenia might not be a party destination as its neighbour Ayia Napa. But there are plenty of open-air bars along the harbour, beach parties (during summer), casinos, and restaurants.
While walking by the harbour at night, Ego Bar can be an excellent choice to enjoy the night. It has a relaxed environment with a unique interior design and live music. It can get a bit crowded, though.
For a night out on the town, Escape Beach Club is the place to be. The most sought-after venue in the area, it boasts a beautiful beach setting and regularly features performances by international DJs. It’s a hot spot for both tourists and locals alike.
I received many recommendations to go to the Casablanca Bar. It is close to the Harbour and has a chill, hippie environment, as far as I was told. Also, the drinks had a reasonable price, so it may be worth checking it out!
9. Get a Mediterranean Tan
If you go during summer, you will probably want to check out some of Kyrenia’s many beaches. One of the most fun things to do in Kyrenia is visiting the beaches, which have all facilities and restaurants/bars, so you don’t need to worry about carrying anything with you.
Acapulco Beach is popular among tourists and has sun beds for renting and a bar. Lots of people come here for windsurfing so you can find equipment.
Alagadi Turtle Beach is a great alternative to spend the day in a more ‘natural’ environment. It is a turtle-nesting beach, so there are no sunbeds available, but you can rent beach umbrellas. There is also a beach bar and toilets.
If you want more activities during the day, Escape Beach can be a good option for you. There are different water sports, including diving, jet ski rental, banana boats, canoeing, and others. You can find a beach club, a restaurant, and a bar.
Other good options are Kervansaray Beach, Mermaid Beach (or Deniz Kizi), and Green Coast Beach (or Güzelyali).
How to Get from Ercan Airport to Kyrenia
Most international flights land at Ercan International Airport in Nicosia.
The northern section of the island of Cyprus is a partially recognized state under Turkish control. The airport is part of Northern Cyprus, so your visa and entry requirements are the same as if you were going to Turkey.
When going through migration control, Turkish citizens frequently receive a paper instead of a stamp on their passports. This is to avoid possible problems when entering other countries.
In my case, they stamped my passport (I am Peruvian), and I’ve never had any issues at all.
After leaving the airport, you can rent a car, hire a private transfer, or go by bus to Kyrenia. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to get to Kyrenia.
Renting a car
If you are two or more people, renting a car can be the most convenient and affordable option. It will also allow you to move quickly to the main attractions in Kyrenia. There are several offices for car rental at the airport.
A private transfer can vary from 33 USD to 85 USD, depending on the size of the car. You can find some of them outside the airport, but it is safer to book one beforehand. A quick google search will show you tons of options.
If you prefer to take public transportation, the only option that takes you to Kyrenia is a company named Kibhas. You don’t need to make a reservation. You walk a few meters from the exit door of the airport to your left, and there it is. However, keep in mind there are no buses available after midnight.
Where to Stay in Kyrenia
Kyrenia centre is the most convenient area because there are more activities, sites, and people, but it can also be more pricey than other areas. You can also look around Karaoglanoglu and Karakum for more affordable hotels located 5 – 10 minutes from the centre.
Click “Search” on the map below to find the best hotel for you.
Do you have more recommendations? Let us know in the comments!
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