The town Girne/Kyrenia (in Turkish Girne, in Greek Kyrenia) is the touristic centre of Northern Cyprus. Relaxing in the medieval harbour, strolling through the narrow streets of the Old Town, visiting the cultural highlights (Bellapais, St Hilarion, the Castle, etc), shopping in the little stores on the side streets, visiting Girne is a ‘’must’’ for every guest on the island. Tours to Kyrenia from Kormacit can also be combined with a visit to Nicosia.
(Historical) sightseeing requiring entrance fees:
St. Hilarion castle (only by full day tours possible) 2h
At a height of 730 m St Hilarion castle is the westernmost and best preserved of the three redoubts built by the Byzantines and Crusaders.
With walls and towers that appear to sprout out of the rocks almost randomly, it is a fairly-tale sight living up to Rose Macaulay’s much-quoted description ”a picture-book castle for elf-kings” and the rumour that Walt Disney used it as a model for the castle in Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. The legend that was spread locally says that St Hilarion housed 101 rooms, of which 100 could easily be found; the last, an enchanted garden with a magnificent treasure belonging to an elusive “queen” of Cypriot folklore, most probably a holdover of Aphrodite worship.
Bellapais Monastery 1,5h
Located in the majestic Five Finger Mountains in Kyrenia, the Bellapais Monastery is a fine example of Gothic architecture, and is thought to have been started between 1198 and 1205, with more sections being added after 1267 and after 1324.
Do not miss the refectory where you can admire a nice sample of Gothic art. Explore the priests’ rooms that are located to the east of the courtyard. You will find the dormitories and chamber of accounts on the upper level. Explore the marble tombs in the courtyard, and take in the insignias of the Jerusalem, Lusignans, and the Cyprus Kingdoms, which can be found on the door behind the tombs.
In addition to enjoying the historical value and architectural beauty of the Bellapais Monastery, you can also enjoy spending time in a beautiful part of Kyrenia, and enjoying stunning views and surroundings.
Kyrenia Castle 1h
Kyrenia castle lies to the north east of Kyrenia town and stands at the entrance to the harbour at Kyrenia. The original castle which is thought to have been built in the 7th century A.D. by the Byzantines for the purpose of defending Kyrenia against Arab raiders and pirates in the early 7th century. The castle has had various additions made to it during the reign of the Lusignans and was given its present form by the Venetians.
The castle also houses a Shipwreck Museum, which displays the remains of a 2,300 year old Greek ship and its cargo, recovered from the sea bed in the 1960s. The sailors apparently lived on almonds: thousands of them were recovered from the wreck.
Folk Arts museum at the harbour 1h
The Folk Arts Museum is a truly fascinating historical attraction, where you can spend time exploring fascinating architecture, textiles, and more. You will find traditional Cypriot buildings when you come to the Folk Arts Museum, and there is plenty to explore here.
You can enjoy taking in the traditional Cypriot houses that can be found here, and you will find a wide range of Cypriot items within the house on both the lower and upper levels. The houses are two level properties, and are an example of pre XVII architecture. The museum itself opened up in 1974.
Antiphonitis Church with short walking tour (only by full day tours) 3h
The Antiphonitis Church is a beautiful and unusual structure about 20 km away from Kyrenia. This church formed part of the old monastery, and many of the frescoes as well as the entrance date back to the 12th – 15th Century. We combine the visit with a light, about 4 km long walking tour in the spring, where we can observe orchids, rockrose and other botanical items of the Mediterranean Maquis.
Sightseeing without entrance fees:
Weekly Wednesday market 1h
A visit to this market gives you the opportunity to test and buy diverse culinary specialities of the island like traditional bread, Halloumi cheese, Olives, Olive oil, Turkish delights, etc.
Old Town / Harbour 1,5h
Enjoy a relaxing free time at one of the most romantic harbours of the Mediterranean Sea.
Bittaci Bakery 1h
Learn how to bake Zeytinli and Helimli: two typical Cypriot bread sorts filled with olives and Halloumi and topped with sesame seeds.