Girne, North Cyprus

in Girne

Girne is a coastal town on the Mediterranean coast of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. That’s an important distinction to make on the island which has been split in two since 1974. Most people refer the entire island as simply ‘Cyprus’ when that’s really only the name of the southern, Greek side. Internationally though, the north isn’t recognized, so only the south of the island was granted entry into the European Union. What this means for tourists though is that you can enjoy the beauty of the island, where legends say Aphrodite lived, without the high prices of the Euro. By visiting the beautiful town of Girne, you also avoid many of the crowds and inflated prices of the south. The coastal areas of northern Cyprus are actually undergoing a rapid development, as the area has become popular with many UK residents. There is also a good sized British expat community in north Cyprus.

Getting To Girne

girne kaleThe Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus can however, only be reached by going through Turkey, so you’ll need to hop a flight or ferry from there to get to the island. This makes any trip to Girne a good excuse to add Antalya, Adana, or some other southern Turkish cities to your itinerary. The most popular ferries take off from Alanya and Tasucu in Turkey, cost about 15 Euro for a round-trip ticket, on a trip that takes around 2 hours. The ferries take off in the morning and the last to return are somewhere around 7 or 8pm in the evening. The times and costs are well posted on both the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot sides and purchasing a ticket is relatively effortless, even if you don’t speak Turkish. There is also a car ferry that shuttles between Turkey and north Cyprus which usually takes off sometime during midday. The cost is approximately 80 Euro for a round trip ticket but you can also park your car cheaply for a day in Turkey, hop the cheaper regular ferry, and pick up your car in the evening. Doing this will save you nearly 40 Euro.

Girne Information

Girne is also known by its Greek name, Kyrene. It’s a city that’s over 6,000 years old and home to one of the top beaches in Europe. It’s a fantastic place to relax, swim, and enjoy the eclectic local cuisine. Girne is also well known for its historical and archeological sites most of which are open to the public and are either free or only have a nominal charge.

Things To Do In Girne

Enjoy A Mediterranean Breakfast By The Beach – Cypriot food, particularly in the north, is a blend of Greek, Turkish, Cypriot, and Arabic influences giving it a unique flavor. Breakfast is traditionally one of the biggest, most important, and lavish meals of the day and best enjoyed by the sea during the cool morning hours. Cyprus is warm year round with only a few chilly (~15C) days in January so have breakfast or brunch during the winter months and eat a bit earlier in June, July, and August. A full traditional northern Cypriot breakfast can be purchased at one of the many cafes that line the coast. Take a look at 2-3 of them to get an idea of the prices and the offerings. Most will serve unlimited tea, a nice perk to have as you digest the meal.

girne from above girne streets girne harbor

Kyrenia Venetian Castle – One of the most popular destinations in Girne and northern Cyprus is general is this 500 year old castle that was originally built by the Byzantines to protect against the growing Arab navy at the time. The castle has seen been taken over by a few invading armies of the British, Ottoman, and Roman forces. The site is one that you should certainly add to your Girne itinerary. Inside lies the tomb of the Ottoman admiral Sadik Pasha who captured the city around the year 1570. You can also walk around the outside courtyard as well as the next site below.

Ship Wreck Museum – For thousands of years Cyprus has been at the crossroads of one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. With all of those ships going back and forth, some of them were bound to go down in bad weather, during war, and due to bad luck. The Ship Wreck Museum houses one of the oldest ships ever recovered from the bottom of the ocean, a 4th century (BC) Greek shipping vessel. It seems this ship sank due to bad weather as it tried to make its way back into the harbor. It’s an unfortunate incident but the boat is estimated to have been sailing for at least 75 years before then, not a bad run considering the times it was sailing in. The Ship Wreck museum also has many artifacts recovered from the Greek vessel as well as the remains of several other ships that didn’t make it back to shore in one piece.

Church of St. Andrews – You’ll find lots of history at this church that’s open all year round and easily accessible from within Girne by the local bus system. Behind the church itself are stone tombs that are over 1,000 years old.

St. Hilarion Castle – Located atop the Kyrenia mountain range, there is the St. Hilarion Castle. It’s a great place to see the rest of Girne from since it’s so much higher than the surrounding areas. Originally a monastery, later converted to a castle, St. Hilarion was famously conquered by Richard the Lion Heart on his was to fighting one of the Crusades.

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