During our week we enjoy five fascinating daywalks and one free day. The order of the days may vary; in North Cyprus we need to keep the programme flexible to adapt to any road closure or military training taking place somewhere we plan to go on a certain day. One of the days will include a visit of Bellapais Village and the beautiful, enchanting 14th century Abbey set in the mountains to the south, before heading to town for lunch. That afternoon we enjoy a tour of Kyrenia, a pretty harbour town and a great base from which to explore North Cyprus. Archaeological excavations show the area was first settled as far back as the 10th century BC, and today historic buildings and winding lanes offer a glimpse of the past, sitting side by side more modern additions. Our tour also takes in a visit to Kyrenia's Crusader Castle, which features in English history as far back as the third crusade, when it was taken by Richard the Lionheart. Since then the castle has been updated and used by civilizations as diverse as the Ottomans, the Venetians and the British. As well as glorious views and fascinating architecture, the castle also houses the Shipwreck Museum, home to a 4th century Greek merchant vessel and its cargo.
During our stay we will also walk around St Hilarion Castle, from where we enjoy fantastic views of Kyrenia.
The magnificent Buffavento Castle which, at 970m, is certainly a highlight of the week. It is the highest Crusader castle on the island. Buffavento was built in the 11th century as a part of the island's defences against the Arabs, and also controlled an important mountain pass. The steep climb to this dramatic location is well worth it, with glorious views over Kyrenia and the Five Finger Mountains themselves. Our walk will finish at the coffee shop of Bellapais Village, next to the abbey.
The Karpaz Peninsula (approx 3 hrs drive from Kyrenia) is a glorious, largely untouched area teeming with wildlife and flowers. Our day will include a walk along the golden sand beach, as well as a visit to the Apostolos Andreas Monastery and the Basilic at Sipahi boasting beautiful mosaics. This area is a real highlight, and often forgotten by visitors to North Cyprus and is the perfect to experience the isolated beauty and tranquility of the area.
Another daywalk will take us on a path up towards the Herbarium of Alevkaya, where we break for lunch and may have time to visit the butterfly museum. This is often followed by a walk to Sourp Magyar, the only Armenian Monastery in the mountains, and on to Kyrenia rock, an excellent photo opportunity.