The coastline of Northern Cyprus offers some of the finest and safest bathing in the Mediterranean. Although most holiday establishments have modern pools, the crystal clear waters of the eastern Mediterranean are wonderful for swimming, snorkelling, sailing and skiing.
Most of the holiday complexes are situated near the picturesque ancient port of Girne on the north coast, or Gazimagosa in the east. The narrow fertile northern coastal strip is backed by the spectacular Besparmak mountains - also known as the Girne range, studded with its medieval castles and fortresses. The rugged slopes are covered with Aleppo pines, olives and carob trees, with small villages nestling in the hillsides. Nearer the coast, most activity is concentrated along the coast road. A legacy from the British colonial days means that traffic flows on the left lane and since most hotels can assist in car hire, travelling around is no problem.
The unique climate of Cyprus offers year-round opportunities for a perfect holiday. Rainfall is concentrated in December and January,and the average sea temperature is above 20 C for more than half the year. Cyprus is renowned for its wild flowers which carpet the island in spring (there are more than 38 species of orchid alone) and scent of orange, lemon and grapefruit blossom fills the air.
Inland, behind the rocky Girne range and the imposing Five Finger Mountain, stretches the huge fertile Mesaoria plain, Ercan airport and the island`s capital, Lefkosa. Along the east coast lies the ancient fortified city of Gazimagosa and the nearby ruins of Salamis. To the north east, the landscape becomes more broken and open fields give way to small pastures enclosed by stone walls and interspersed with olive trees and rocky outcrops.
The exotic cuisine of Cyprus reflects its history and maritime associations. Turkish Cypriot cuisine is a fascinating blend of East and West. Breakfast consists of luscious fruits, especially locally grown melons, various local breads with cheese or jams and a selection of eggs and local sausage. Traditionally, home-made yoghurt is served with delicious local honey and if you want coffee, then remember to ask for "Nescafe" - the local term for western coffee with milk."Kahve" means Turkish coffee: thimblefuls of that wonderfully powerful brew that is a speciality of the Near East. Evening meals being with a sumptuous "meze" - hors d`oeuvres consisting of as a many as 20 small dishes -before the main course. Raki, aniseed spirit diluted with water is the traditional local accompaniment, but wine and beer are also readily available with excellent value and quality. Turkish Cankaya white wine is particularly recommended.
Information on touristic sites and accommodation facilities to be found in ensuing sections are organized under three district regions: Girne, the area of northern coast between the sea and Besparmak mountains, where the majority of holiday complexes are found; Gazimagosa, the ancient port with its long open beaches; and finally, Lefkosa and Guzelyurt: the capital city and the western coast famous for its citrus groves. Flights arrive at Ercan airport from which most hotels have transport services.
The Turkish Cypriot people are renowned for their generous hospitality. During shopping or enjoyining a meal, you are made to feel particularly welcome.
The beaches here are a blend of rock pools and sheltered sandy bays.