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North Cyprus Family Holidays & Breaks

View from St Hilarion  View from St Hilarion © Aksoys | stockfreeimages.com & dreamstime.com
Bellapais AbbeyBellapais Abbey© Aksoys | stockfreeimages.com & dreamstime.com
Capital City Nicosia
Carbon Footprint 2.65 CO2
Timezone GMT +2
Currency Turkish Lira

Today

Overview

North Cyprus is a fantastic place for family holidays, combining beaches and pools with amazing, little-visited castles and ancient monasteries and other ruins. This is one part of the Mediterranean that has missed out on the mass tourism boom of the last 30 years, so the much-pictured harbour of Kyrenia really is as sleepy as it looks, and the beaches at Famagusta are genuinely uncrowded. 

Things to do with kids in North Cyprus

With younger kids, hit the beaches in and to the north of Famagusta (Gazimagusa), which are are some of the best on the island. The town itself has a lot of culture and history to keep everyone happy – settled for more than 2,000 years, it's known as an 'outdoor museum', with 7.5m-thick Venetian walls surrounding the many ancient sites.

The harbour town of Kyrenia (Girne) is great if you prefer boats, and also has plenty of history on offer, including its Venetian castle. This was the showpiece of Cyprus long before the island was divided, and it’s worth strolling around the harbour and having a meal there, and also wandering the winding back-streets behind the harbour. Kyrenia Castlebuilt on an old Roman fort, has been occupied by Byzantines, Lusignans, Venetians, Ottomans and Brits among others. Within its walls is a shipwreck museum with the hull of the oldest ship ever recovered from the seabed – it sank in around 300BC and you can view its cargo of well-preserved almonds.

Due to numerous invasions, North Cyprus boasts an impressive array of monasteries and castles, but do note that the safety measures at many castles are completely inadequate, so you must keep a close watch on your kids. Salamis ruins are amazing for their scale and the insight they provide into life here a couple of thousand years ago. If they were located almost anywhere in Europe they would be overwhelmed by tourists, but you're highly unlikely to encounter a swarm of fellow sightseers, which makes Salamis an even more magical place. 

The lovely ruins of Bellapais Abbey, 'abbey of peace', dating back to the 13th century, occupy a sleepy village in the hills above Kyrenia. Also overlooking Kyrenia, the amazing St Hilarion Castle, parts of which date back to the 7th century, was built into the hillside 730m above sea level.

Other great activities for family holidays in North Cyprus are horse-riding near Bellapais, tandem paragliding from the mountains behind Kyrenia, watching sea turtles nesting and hatching between June and September, and taking boat trips.

Eat

Food in North Cyprus is predominately Turkish, which means great fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. Everyone will be able – and will probably want to – eat everything, making for stress-free family holidays. And food is excellent value as North Cyprus is outside the Eurozone.

If you're based in or near Kyrenia, there are some good restaurants on the harbour but you will pay a premium for location. 

When to go to North Cyprus

Average temperatures in North Cyprus range from about 20°C in April and Oct to the upper 20°Cs in July/Aug, which may be too hot for younger kids.

How to get to North Cyprus

Flights from UK airports to North Cyprus have to touch down in Turkey before reaching the island, which isn't ideal with younger kids, but you could fly to Larnaca in Greek Cyprus and cross the border by hire-car.

Cost

Expect 2wk holidays for four to start at around £1,750, depending on season and standard of accommodation. 

Related features

North Cyprus: Snow White's St Hilarion Castle
North Cyprus: Snow White's St Hilarion Castle
Nicole and family find their mountain legs at a North Cyprus ruin.

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Poll

What do you remember most clearly about your childhood holidays?

Long days on the beach
38%
Long journeys by car or plane
22%
Making new friends
17%
Spending more time with parents
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