The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly Kyrenia whose horseshoe-shaped bay and dramatic sunsets draw tourists like moths to a flame. Throw in a few crusader castles, a generous helping of crumbling classical architecture, the odd medieval walled town, and a dash Middle Eastern exoticism; leave to simmer in the warn Levantine sun and you’ve got a dish that’s irresistible to most. The last decade has seen a tenfold increase in visitors to this part of the island and with direct flights looking likely this seems set to increase; so get there before it’s gone.
Northern Cyprus owes much of its charm to the absence of concrete that has blighted great stretches of the south coast. Cyprus may be one island, but it is home to two nations. The Green Line that divides the Greek South from the Turkish North remains intact after three decades of communal confrontation and rancour and despite joining the EU this looks set to continue. The international community has refused to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a valid state and consequently the only way to get there is to fly via mainland Turkey. In the past this has hindered tourism and while the North languished in the touristic doldrums, the South flourished.
However, the irony is that the success of the South has ruined large areas of the island; turning once sleepy coastal villages into a garish neon wildernesses of cheap bars and tacky clubs. Lax construction laws spurred on a building frenzy and much of the original lure of the South was buried under a cloud of concrete dust. Although this has done little to dent Cyprus’ popularity as a package holiday destination; the South is no longer synonymous is either relaxation or culture. However, the North has been happy to take up the slack and has become increasingly popular with ‘those in the know’. However, with the ringing of cash registers now competing with the call to prayer, it’s unlikely that this gem will remain undiscovered for long.