Visiting Kyrenia North Cyprus

Visiting Kyrenia North Cyprus

Visiting Kyrenia – the Other side of Cyprus

30

August, 2018

Travel

Off-the-beaten path

Budget

Hidden behind a rugged mountain range, is a small harbour town with narrow, meandering streets, honey-coloured houses slouched under the weight of time, and bobbing masts of traditional Turkish boats. Kyrenia – a town that politically does not exist.

Across the Border

Since 1974, Girne (otherwise known Kyrenia) is subject to the Turkish rule, together with the rest of the occupied territory of North Cyprus, unrecognized by the Cypriot government, or the United Nations. For some Cypriots, the North side is taboo. For others, it is a weekend getaway destination, just a few hours’ drive away.

We arrive at the Ayios Dhometios border crossing at around 7pm on a Friday, to find a huge queue of cars, and spend the next 40 minutes edging our way across it.  I watch in amazement – rental cars, cars with Cypriot license plates, young couples, families with children, foreigners, locals, workers, and delivery vans. For a state that doesn’t exist, it certainly attracts a lot of visitors.

Past the Green Line, we are in a different country. The landscape has changed; it is much more disperse. Turkish flags are flapping in the twilight. The straight, and surprisingly smooth, road is sprinkled with bill-boards that have long been banned in the EU. After navigating our way to Kyrenia old town through Friday night traffic, we park up and walk the rest of the way to find our hotel.

In Karmi, North Cyprus

Sofia Boutique Hotel

Sofia Boutique Hotel

Nestled in the maze of cobbled streets, Sofia Boutique Hotel maintains a yesteryear charm, with a touch of modernity and extravagance. There is a well-stocked, round-the clock lobby bar with swish leather stools. A saltwater pool in the inside courtyard, that sends twinkling turquoise reflections onto the surrounding walls. The hotel is boutique par excellence. With just nine rooms, it can host up to 20 people. Each room has its own character and is equipped with a mini-bar, air-conditioning and double-glazed windows.

“The hotel is boutique par excellence.”

Out in Kyrenia

After settling in, we head out to Set Fish for dinner. It is an ambient seafood restaurant perched on the side of the harbor with direct views of the Kyrenia castle and the bustling walkway below. We enjoy some garlic-marinated grilled prawns, a few traditional dips, a huge salad, and a perfectly cooked grouper. We pair it with a bottle of crisp white wine. To our disbelief, this feast comes up to a little over fifty euros. A comparable meal in Limassol would cost well over a hundred.

The next morning begins with breakfast at the poolside – a choice between continental, English and Russian breakfast made to order. We sip strong coffee and fresh juice, sheltered by the courtyard from the intensifying sun. Then a lazy swim in the pool. The space is so comfortable, that it takes resolve to leave it and explore beyond.

Street in old town Kyrenia

Lunch in Karmi

With hunger being an undisputable motivator, we drive up for lunch at Levant. It is a charming restaurant with an outdoor patio, located in Karmi, a mountain village, some twenty minutes’ drive from Kyrenia. To our dismay, the lunch menu is a very limited. Seeing our disappointment at the prospect of having a sandwich, the waitress offers us their marinated sea-bream (off the menu and probably in preparation for dinner). We gladly accept and enjoy our lunch amidst the greenery, looking out onto Kyrenia beneath and the glistening blue beyond.

Back in town, we spend the afternoon exploring the shops on Ziya Rizki road that offer everything from chique summer dresses to gold and high-end knock-offs. The shopkeepers offer us coffee, we browse and haggle, and eventually, defeated by the heat, head back to the hotel.

As I lay on the sunbed in the undisturbed peace of the afternoon, I thought about the line of cars we saw at the border. Politics aside, Kyrenia is a great place for a holiday. Its affordable hotels and restaurants, obliging service, shopping, casinos and stunning beaches will set ticks on many a traveler’s list. While there is obviously progress, the pace is slow. And perhaps this is what many seek when they come up here – an old Cyprus – the quiet, languid island, steeped in Mediterranean sun.

5 Ways Caprice Lounge Brings You Hygge this Winter

5 Ways Caprice Lounge Brings You Hygge this Winter

Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is the Scandinavian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. As the days get shorter and colder, we all need a cosy place to go and lift our spirits. I found my Hygge at Caprice Lounge at the Londa Hotel in Limassol this winter, and here’s why.

1/ Scandi Interiors

 

By mixing geometry and natural materials, so popular in Scandinavian interior design, the designers of Londa hotel have created a space that is clean and inviting at the same time. While in summer it gives you a sense of openness and lightness, in winter, the Caprice lounge brings Hygge to life, with plush blankets, cushions and a fireplace creating a super cosy atmosphere, that makes you want to stay all day.

 

2/ Sharing delicious food and drinks

 

A key part of Hygge is the act of sharing of food and delicious drinks between family and friends. I often come to Londa to share a cup of coffee with my partner. It’s also one of my favourite places to meet my girlfriends for drinks in the evening; cosying up by the fireplace with a glass of wine or one of their delicious cocktails.

3/ Enjoying the View

 

One of the major parts of Hygge is the feeling of appreciation and happiness for the simple things. Spending time in and appreciating nature always brings a sense of peace and comfort. The Caprice lounge is set on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean sea, with unobstructed views onto the lapping waves and distant ships. It’s one of my favourite places to come to relax, enjoy the beautiful view and daydream.

4/ Sounds of live music

 

Good music is key to creating a relaxing atmosphere. Think lounge, classical pieces and jazz. On weekends and public holidays, the sounds of live piano stream through the lounge. What could be better during the winter months than snuggling up in a big cosy sofa with a hot cuppa, listening to live piano?

4/ A place to Linger

 

Spending quality time with friends and even yourself, is very Hygge. We are often so wrapped up in our schedules, always on the go, forgetting to linger and enjoy the moment. We finish our meals, get the bill and run off. Lingering is very important as it gives us time to relax and unwind, have deeper conversations and spend quality time with those who matter to us. What I really love about Caprice Lounge is that the staff is friendly, but not intruding. You can easily spend several hours there without anyone pressuring you to order another round or get the bill. Perfect for those long, winter evenings.

 

Whats your favourite place to linger and cosy up during the winter months?

Let me know in the comments!

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Have you seen these?

Visiting Kyrenia North Cyprus

Visiting Kyrenia - the Other side of Cyprus 30 August, 2018 Travel Off-the-beaten path Budget Hidden behind a rugged mountain range, is a small harbour town with narrow, meandering streets, honey-coloured houses slouched under the weight of time, and bobbing masts of...

read more

5 Ways Caprice Lounge Brings You Hygge this Winter

Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is the Scandinavian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. As the days get shorter and colder, we all need a cosy place to go and lift our spirits. I found my Hygge at Caprice...

read more

Why You Should Visit Akamas National Park In Cyprus

Visit Akamas National Park in 360° Akamas is famed for its breath-taking beauty and precious ecology. A favourite with hikers and nature enthusiasts, this park offers several nature trails amidst the numerous species indigenous to the region. There are three official...

read more
Why You Should Visit Akamas National Park In Cyprus

Why You Should Visit Akamas National Park In Cyprus

Visit Akamas National Park in 360°

Akamas is famed for its breath-taking beauty and precious ecology. A favourite with hikers and nature enthusiasts, this park offers several nature trails amidst the numerous species indigenous to the region. There are three official nature trails: the Adonis Trail, the Aphrodite Trail, and the Smigies Trail. We walked the Aphrodite trail in beginning of November, a time great time to visit. The summer heat has eased and the plants have had the chance to freshen up under the first few rains.

 

Steps up to the Aphrodite Nature Trail

Akamas National Park

 

The Akamas National Park lies on the west coast of Cyprus, a truly magnificent part of the island. It has an area coverage of 230 square kilometres containing valleys, gorges and wide sandy bays. The wildlife diversity is crucial for the ecology in the Mediterranean. In this spectacular environment there are 168 varieties of birds, 20 different reptiles, 16 species of butterfly and 12 different mammals not to mention its very rich variety of fauna.

Mountain-side paths

500 year old Oak

Taking in the views of the Polis Bay

Flower plains

Natural Spring

 

Hiking in Akamas National Park

 

There are various nature trails that you can explore this beautiful part of Cyprus by, varying in length, duration and difficulty. The Adonis Trail is the toughest. We took the Aphrodite Trail – 7.5 km long, medium difficulty and it took us around 3.5 hours. It starts at the Baths of Aphrodite and climbs into the hills. The scenery varies dramatically at the different sections of the trail. Green flats are replaced with vivid red-earth and intriguing limestone boulders, then switch to cooling pine forests and finally turn into dramatic cliffs overhanging the Blue Lagoon beneath. The nature trails offer stunning views of the valleys and the coastline, as well as the chance to see the iconic mountain goat in its natural element.

Akamas Beaches

 

Another iconic part of this peninsula is its beaches. You can get some fantastic views of the Blue Lagoon from the Aphrodite nature trail. Here is in fact, the last large unspoiled coastal area remaining in Cyprus. Probably because it is so hard to get to (typically the only way is by sea). It is also one of the very few important sea turtle nesting areas in the Mediterranean.

Both the Loggerhead Turtle and the rarer Green Turtle nest here. Sadly, the latter depends on the Akamas beaches for its very survival in this region. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) lists Loggerheads as “vulnerable” and Green Turtles as an “endangered species”.  That’s why it’s so important that if you are lucky to see them out on the beach or in the water, do not touch or disturb them, and definitely don’t try to catch them!

Views of the coastline from the hills

 The Blue Lagoon

 

The European Council has included it in its Mediterranean Protection Programme. The Cyprus Government has yet to fully declare it as a National Park, although Friends of the Earth and Green Peace are lobbying hard for it.

Aphrodite’s Bath

 

Aphrodite’s Baths are a natural cavern with a shallow pool hidden among ferns and large trees. A natural spring supplies the water to the pool. According to legend, after swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the bay, Aphrodite used to bathe in this pond, hidden in the cooling shade of the foliage and fig trees.

Way to Aphrodite’s Bath

It is here that she met her beloved Adonis for the first time. Adonis was hunting in the Akamas forest when he took a break by the spring to quench his thirst. He was struck by the sight of the naked goddess bathing in the pool. Aphrodite and Adonis fell in love, bewitched by each other’s extraordinary beauty. The waters here are said to hold special rejuvenating powers. Probably because of how cold they are!

Getting there

 

By car about 50 mins to 1 hour drive from Paphos, or 20 mins form Polis. There is a car park near the site of the Aphrodite Baths as well as amenities such as food drink and bathroom. I recommend staying overnight in Polis or one of the mountain villages such as Droushia if you’re coming in the spring or summer.

 

Book your stay in Cyprus

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Have you seen these?

5 Ways this Hotel is the Perfect Romantic Getaway

5 Ways this Hotel is the Perfect Romantic Getaway

Romantic getaways come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, I recommend checking out the Kyrenia Palace Boutique Hotel in the Northern Cyprus. It’s within easy reach across the border in Nicosia, or with a flight to Ercan International Airport which connects to most European cities. The hotel is in a great location to explore Kyrenia and beyond, and provides great value for a boutique stay.

1/ The design

 

What happens when an antiques collector decides he wants to open a boutique hotel? Magic. Kyrenia Palace Boutique Hotel is a whimsical collection of antique furniture, paintings and artifacts from around the world. There are wooden chairs, or rather thrones, from India. A huge L-shaped Dorchester couch sits in one corner of the reception, and a Baroque sitting area from France gleams in another. Each room is unique by design and name. We stayed in Jasmine – a suite on the upper floor, overlooking the stunning hotel courtyard. It has a very sultry and regal feel to it, with all the beautifully carved furniture, large windows and heavy drapery to block out the bright sunshine. It’s the perfect place to find yourself if you’re looking for inspiration or privacy.

2/ The Service

 

Kyrenia Palace Boutique Hotel is run by a small team, hand-picked by the owner. This allows the hotel to maintain a sense of familiarity and ease. The team is very friendly and helpful around the clock. Even when they are busy, they find the time to chat to guests, making sure you’re not wanting anything and provide you with recommendations on where to visit, eat and relax. It almost feels like you are staying at a friend’s house, instead of a hotel, adding to the feel of intimacy and comfort of the stay.

 

3/ The Location

 

The location of Kyrenia Palace Hotel couldn’t be more perfect. It’s right by the Kyrenia Harbour, about a 2 minute walk, but secluded enough to be quiet and peaceful at night. It’s perfect if you want to explore the town by foot. All the bars and restaurants around the harbour are within 5 minutes reach and in the opposite direction, you have the town centre with its bustling shops and markets. The Kyrenia Castle is within walking distance, as is the oldest mosque in Cyprus that neighbours with the hotel. Note the mosque still operates, so you will be getting a free wake-up call with the morning call to prayer just before dawn.

4/ The Food

 

The Kyrenia Palace restaurant is set in the stunning stone courtyard and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is included and goes on until 11 in the morning. The spread comprises of local and imported cheeses and meats, fresh fruits and vegetables and daily specials of eggs and freshly baked pastries. It’s all super fresh and delicious. For lunch and dinner, you can order à la carte and there is a good choice of local delicacies, fresh seafood and grilled meats. The restaurant is very popular in the evening, with hotel guests and visitors from outside, so it’s worth asking the front desk to save you a spot.

5/ The Value

 

Kyrenia Palace Hotel provides excellent value for the location, service and the overall experience of the stay. There are many big hotels in Kyrenia, around the same price point, but in my humble opinion, they are too big to offer the intimate and indulging experience of Kyrenia Palace Boutique. I always preferred the quirky and unique over the standard global chain. If you’re looking for a memorable getaway in the North of Cyprus, this is a gem!


Kyrenia Palace Boutique Hotel room with breakfast starting at 100 EUR per night.

For reservations, contact Murad on +90 533 875 7000 or visit their website.


Visit Kyrenia in the north of Cyprus in 360°

Have you seen these?

Visiting Kyrenia North Cyprus

Visiting Kyrenia - the Other side of Cyprus 30 August, 2018 Travel Off-the-beaten path Budget Hidden behind a rugged mountain range, is a small harbour town with narrow, meandering streets, honey-coloured houses slouched under the weight of time, and bobbing masts of...

read more

5 Ways Caprice Lounge Brings You Hygge this Winter

Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is the Scandinavian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. As the days get shorter and colder, we all need a cosy place to go and lift our spirits. I found my Hygge at Caprice...

read more

Nature Healing at Ayii Anargyri

Nature Healing at Ayii Anargyri

Waking up in Ayii Anargyri

 

I awake as the sun rays peak in through the balcony doors. Crisp morning air fills the room. I can smell the mountains. The riverbed. The orange groves in the valley. It’s 7 in the morning. Other than the chirping of birds in the trees outside, I can hear no sound. It’s a beautiful morning at Ayii Anargyri, and it’s time for breakfast.

The Food

I wander to the restaurant, past the stone cottages and the pool, past the olive and the orange trees. The restaurant is empty and the buffet is overflowing with a Mediterranean take on the Continental – fresh dates, yoghurt, a honey comb, grilled vegetables, halloumi cheese, cold cuts, village bread and a selection of freshly squeezed juices. The Ayii Anargyri resort promises to offer locally sourced produce to reveal the best of traditional Cypriot cuisine – and it delivers!
After a three course breakfast – indeed, it was three courses, and delicious – we went for a long walk in the nearby forest. After walking off the feast, we headed to the spa.

Ancient Place of Healing

 

The Ayii Anargyri Spa, which is based on an ancient sulfur spring, was first formally opened in 1649 by two brothers, Cosmas and Damianos. Their generosity in offering treatment often without thought of reward gave rise to the name Ayii Anargyri – Silverless Saints. There is a church on the premises of the resort that holds an ancient icon of the healers.

Modern Spa

Today the spa is equipped with modern technology and three treatment pools – for kinesiotherapy, rheumatology and phlevology. Ayii Anargyri has come a long way from the penniless healers of 17th century. But their legacy remains and the resort stays true to the promise of natural healing, allowing for an all-round immersion and offering a sense of profound calm.

 

Complete Relaxation

Lying in the relaxation room, sipping a cocktail of rosemary and lavender teas brewed from herbs grown at the property, I watch the early afternoon sun pour over the hills across the valley. My mind drifts away and I lose sense of time and space. I feel completely relaxed, almost sleepy, and grateful for the sense of peace.

Verdict

This boutique hotel in the midst of the Paphos mountain range is a unique getaway, and a beautiful place to unwind and restore your health and sense of balance.
Here’s a link to a special offer for your stay at Ayii Anargyri. For stays from Sunday to Monday, you will get the full breakfast, complimentary access to the spa and a three-course dinner at the cellar restaurant included in the price of the room!
A very generous gift, not unlike that of the founding Ayii Anargyri brothers!
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