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 Castle, built 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.