Kyrenia, known as the "jewel of Cyprus", straddles the northern coast of the island. It's a town that's abundant in history, good food and lovely beaches and is the ideal destination for a family seaside holiday. Whether you're touring ancient monasteries in the foothills behind Kyrenia, watching turtles at Alagadi Beach or sipping on a cocktail on the promenade of its legendary harbour, you will fall in love with this peaceful, vibrant place. Our collections of the best places to stay in Kyrenia range from smart adult-only boutiques to friendly rural houses.
Kyrenia, like the rest of Cyprus, has an infinitely eclectic history. Originally founded by the Mycenaeans in the 10th century BCE, it has changed hands to a considerable degree: by the 7th century, Arab raids forced the Byzantine occupiers to build a castle by the harbour, which was later redeveloped by the Venetians and eventually captured by the Ottomans. It was eventually placed under British colonial rule and suffered a flood of British expats, many of whom fled during the Turkish invasion.
The architecture and artefacts of Kyrenia stand as testaments to this past. The Shipwreck Museum, for instance, holds the world's oldest shipwreck - a wreck from the 3rd century BCE - and the oldest to have been raised from the seabed. Protestant churches can be found in the same vicinity as 16th-century mosques, and Byzantine castles like that of St. Hilarion in the mountains above the town all attest to this mixed cultural baggage. A short drive east you can find the Abbey of Bellapais, in the foothills behind the town, an incredibly well-preserved Gothic monastery built in the 12th-century, and a must-see on any tourists' list of things-to-do.
The harbour is known as "the jewel of Cyprus" and for good reason: with sparkling azure waters, colourful fishing trawlers floating alongside magnificent superyachts, all in the shadow of the Castle, it makes for a spellbinding day-out to explore. If you venture to the western side of the harbour, you will find the Venetian tower, inside is a market - more a bazaar - selling everything from Persian carpets to good-luck charms. Strewn along the promenade are delightful gourmet restaurants, specialising in Turkish-Cypriot cuisine with a great emphasis on fresh seafood. As for beaches, you are really spoilt for choice. Alagadi Beach is famous for its abundance of turtles that inhabit the shoreline while Escape Beach is great for lounging about in the sun, playing volleyball or beach cricket.
What not to miss
Head to the Shipwreck Museum and see the world's oldest shipwreck ever successfully raised from the seabed, dating from the 3rd-century BCE.
Venture into the foothills behind the town and explore the gorgeous Abbey of Bellapais, a marvellous example of 12th-century Gothic architecture.
Lounge about with a cocktail in one of the many bars and restaurants strewn along the world-famous harbour.
Go turtle-spotting at Alagadi Beach, a popular pastime amongst locals and photographers.
Check out the Castle that looms over the harbour, a wonderful fortification that's ideal for lengthy exploring. There are underground passageways and the rooms depict Kyrenia through the ages.
As for museums, be sure to get yourself to the Folk Art Museum or the Icon Museum.
With so much to offer it's not surprising that this is a popular spot, so to ensure a room at one of the best places to stay in Kyrenia be sure to book well in advance.
THE BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KYRENIA
Kemerli Konak Boutique Hotel: a traditional Cypriot hotel with beautifully furnished rooms, complete with exposed stone walls and wooden beams. Enjoy sumptuous regional cuisine at the restaurant or take in the breath taking views on the sundeck.
Gillham Vineyard Hotel: a charming adults-only boutique hotel and winery on the outskirts of town, offering bright and contemporary suites ideally-suited to couples on a romantic getaway. There's a spoiling spa, delightful restaurant, bar and an outdoor swimming pool. Terrific value for money
Apartments and Villas
Ercan Airport is the nearest airport to Kyrenia. Remember that all flights to Northern Cyprus must first fly to Turkey.
If you want to rent a car we recommend you contact Master Travel and Events
To miss the throngs of summer crowds and the unbearable heat, go during the autumn months, when the temperature ranges between 14 and 27 degrees.