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The Sunday Times Travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers.

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North Cyprus

Mark and David's verdict:

If you believe much of the Med has been ruined by high-rise hotels, head to North Cyprus. Although the main tourist hub of Kyrenia – with its perfect Venetian harbour – fairly bustles, surrounding villages appear stuck in a time warp. Explore hilltop castles, ruined abbeys and the remote beaches of the Karpas Peninsula, amongst the wildest and most beautiful in Europe.

Recommended tour operator: The Discovery Collection

Explore the ruinsBellapais Monastery VillageNorth CyprusBellapais Gardens, North Cyprus

The Discovery Collection says

Despite its promise of year-round sunshine, North Cyprus is much more than simply somewhere to lie on a beach. It’s a fascinating destination rich in culture and history. Its people are friendly and proud of their Turkish heritage, and the food is amongst the finest in the Mediterranean.

  • Great value destination
  • History and culture
  • Year-round sun

To really appreciate North Cyprus you need to explore, either by organised tour or hire car. You’ll find ancient cities, castles, historic abbeys, palaces, churches and mosques set against a backdrop of mountains, fertile valleys and traditional villages.

Arguably the best base is Kyrenia, a well-preserved port that really comes alive in the evenings. Dine at one of the many harbourfront restaurants and watch the world go by.

Our hotels in and around Kyrenia range from five star luxury to family-run boutique gems. For beach addicts, the Denizkizi Royal Hotel is a good option.

One of our most popular hotels is the Pia Bella, a charming luxury hotel set in fragrant gardens, a 20-minute walk from Kyrenia’s harbour. We include tours of Nicosia and Kyrenia in the price.

Bellapais, made famous by Lawrence Durrell in Bitter Lemons, is a peaceful village with narrow sleepy streets and the atmospheric ruins of Bellapais Abbey. The Bellapais Monastery Village is especially popular with honeymooners.

Over in the east is the historic coastal town of Famagusta. Stay bang on the beach at the Arkin Palm Beach, a stylishly-renovated resort within walking distance of the old walled city of Famagusta, combined with a week in Kyrenia on this popular two-centre holiday.

With its year-round sunshine, North Cyprus is perfect for a walking holiday, especially in the winter months. Other options include our escorted cookery and culture tour and guided Wildflowers of North Cyprus holiday.

Find out more about our holidays in North Cyprus.

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