Kyrenia – West

Most of the development in tourism that took place in North Cyprus was west of the town along the coastal strip that takes in the towns of Karaoğlanoğlu, Alsasancak, Lapta and Karşıyaka. Here the Kyrenia mountain range peters out into a coastal plain as the road turns inland into the pine forests around Çamlıbel. The coastal strip itself that hugs the main highway is something of a sprawl of often quite careless development. Large hotels vie with smaller establishments and a bewildering number of mid-range eateries. At Karaoğlanoğlu about 8km from Kyrenia is the monument and museum commemorating the Turkish intervention that split the island into its southern and northern components. It’s a modest affair consisting of an outdoor array of military vehicles and an indoor display in the “Peace and Freedom Museum” which shows the personalities and events of July and August 1974.

Many of the hillside villages here are extremely pleasant places to visit as they retain more traditional Mediterranean charm than the larger towns. Set, as they are, on the slopes of the Northern Range, their streets are winding, often cobbled, and they tend to be bedecked with bougainvillea, jasmine and citrus.

A good time to visit would be during the annual local fairs many of these villages hold where usually the most famed local crop is promoted. Zeytinlik, the ancient crusader village of Temblos -three km from Kyrenia – holds its very popular Olive Festival. Lapta, famous for its lemons, holds the Tourism Festival, while a few kilometres further along the coast, Karşıyaka hosts the ‘Ahlat’ or Wild Pear Festival. Alsancak, meanwhile, celebrates its relationship with the sea in its annual ‘Deniz’ festival. These fairs are an excellent opportunity to see the greatest concentration of traditional and local products and customs. Folk musicians and dancers are always in attendance and a bewildering variety of stalls jostle to serve the visitors with local delicacies.