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The wooded Besparmak Mountains surround the 6,000 year old port of Kyrenia, the most frequently visited community in Turkish controlled North Cyprus. A shipwreck museum and 12th century chapel lie within the Byzantine Kyrenia Castle at the old port's east end. As there are no international direct flights to or from North Cyprus, foreign visitors must first fly to Ercan Airport, then drive nearly 35 kilometres to Kyrenia, whose only public transportation choices are taxis, buses with unreliable schedules, and Turkish shared taxis called dolmus. Therefore, car hire in Kyrenia is the most dependable way to travel around North Cyprus.
Who to Book With
Pacific Rent a Car is among the most reliable car rental sources in Kyrenia for visitors who decide not to secure their vehicles at Ercan Airport. This independently run company gives discounts of five percent to people who use the AAK-05 code to book online. Although there are a few more independent car rental companies in Kyrenia, familiar international chains are few and far between here.
Best Time to Go
Summer may be the top tourism season in Kyrenia and the rest of North Cyprus, but May and October are the most recommended months to come for first time visitors. The weather is not as unbearably hot as in summer, but still warm enough for outdoor swimming and sidewalk café dining. Winters are rainy, but short. Room and rental rates are also more affordable during these low seasons.
Need to Know Essentials
In order to collect your car hire, be sure to bring the following:
- A valid International Driving Permit or national license
- A passport or other proof of age over 25
- Printed rental confirmation, if possible
North Cyprus can be thoroughly explored in a single day by car hire in Kyrenia. Motorists who rent their vehicles in the south and wish to cross any of the eight border crossings into the north must first pay extra car insurance, costing about £25 for a three-day period or £29 for a month. Although crossing the Green Line between north and south Cyprus has been far easier since the island joined the European Union, some car hire companies in southern Cyprus still refuse to rent vehicles to motorists intending to drive north.
All Kyrenia visitors enter the town either by flying to Ercan Airport, a 35km drive away, or by a much slower ferry journey from Tasucu or Alanya. Car hire, however, is still the easiest way to explore Kyrenia, where buses without fixed schedules are the only public transportation aside from taxis. Taxi passengers can choose between conventional European taxis or the cheaper shared Turkish taxis known as dolmus.
There is no rail service in Kyrenia or the rest of North Cyprus.
Itimat operates many of the buses which regularly travel between Kyrenia and the rest of Cyprus. These buses depart about once every 20 to 30 minutes during the day, but evening service is much more sporadic, especially on weekends. As there is no consistent bus schedule, this is not a recommended way to travel for passengers on strict timetables.
Passengers can travel in style inside any of the four- and seven-seater vehicles belonging to Kyrenia Taxi Service, a family owned company whose drivers all speak English. One-way fares between Ercan Airport and Kyrenia are £25 for up to three passengers and £30 for between four and seven passengers. The even cheaper shared dolmus taxis travel throughout North Cyprus and are among the best ways for visitors to interact with locals.
Kyrenia's most dominant landmark is its namesake castle which has stood at the east end of its port since Byzantine times. After touring the 12th century chapel and shipwreck museum within Kyrenia Castle's walls, visitors can drive to many more castles and other historic landmarks throughout North Cyprus. The 13th century Bellapais Abbey is worth an especially close look. Acapulco, Escape, Alagadi, and Deniz Kizi are the nearest beaches for people who would like to do some sunbathing.
Lapithos - Miraculously, most of the ancient attractions in the community of Lapithos escaped the forest fire which destroyed the nearby Kyrenia Range escarpment in the 1990s. The Ayia Anastasia Resort is now located within the old monastery of this former city kingdom just over 9km west of Kyrenia. All of the community's six charming whitewashed churches were built prior to the 18th century.
Bellapais - This picturesque village, located 6km outside of Kyrenia, is most famous for its namesake 13th century abbey, which also includes a restaurant, museum, and breathtaking Mediterranean Sea view. The village's other well-known building is the hillside home of author Lawrence Durrell, whose Bitter Lemons book is a fascinating story about life in Cyprus.
Escape Beach - The appropriately named Escape Beach about 5km from Kyrenia is ranked among the loveliest beaches in all of North Cyprus for its bright golden sand. Pedal boating, canoeing and deep sea diving are among the plethora of water sports available in this beach's crystal clear waters.