My Northern Cyprus Holidays
 
 
Northern Cyprus Holidays Blog

Kyrenia Harbour

The Northern Cyprus city of Kyrenia is a relatively unknown jewel which is on the brink of being discovered by the mass tourist market, and now is truly the best time of spending time there when you can enjoy its history and charm before the crowds appear.

There has been a settlement here since the 10th century BC, and has always had an important harbour for traders travelling from Europe, Africa and Asia. The harbour visitors see today, though, was mostly made by the Venetians when they gained control of Cyprus in 1489. At that time Kyrenia was the most important port on the northern Cyprus coastline, but was a little too close to the mainland for the Venetian’s and so they attempted to fortify the island against possible invasion by the Ottoman Empire. They built huge defences for the town, although when the Ottoman invasion finally came in 1571, the Venetians gave up without a fight.

The time-scarred Venetian castle of Kyrenia stands as a sentry, looking over the harbour, whilst the tower looms over the entrance to the peaceful harbour. The long, thin breakwater reaches out into the crystal clear, sparkling sea past the Marine Martyr’s Monument which stands opposite the harbour entrance.

Years ago, there was a gate which stretched across the harbour entrance from the domineering custom house to the tower, preventing enemy ships from infiltrating the harbour. Now, however, there is no place on earth which is more welcoming than the Kyrenia harbour. The waves lap gently and freely in and out of the horseshoe shaped harbour, reflecting on the thousands of happy holiday makers who have swum in its warm waters and watched spectacular sunsets over its horizons.

During the scorching summer, the harbour is the coolest place to sit and enjoy some down time – sea breezes and cool air from the nearby ‘fivefinger’ mountains, create the perfect place to escape from the heat in the middle of the day. The charming, compact harbour is packed full of yachts and fishing boats, and has a wonderfully serene atmosphere – and from here, you can take boat trips to sandy beaches just outside the city centre. Needless to say, the harbour is always busy in the summer, its cafés packed with visitors and locals enjoying the holiday atmosphere.

The harbour is also perfect for a night of good food and wine, lined with a wide variety of restaurants and bars, whose tables spill out onto the street, with waiters trying to attract your attention with friendly banter. Unlike many continental seaside resorts, these restaurants are not tourist traps, but places where locals like to eat too, serving quality food at reasonable prices.

The cafés themselves are as historic as the fortresses mentioned, housed in old carob storage warehouses. Products to be exported by the traders were stored in these buildings, and most of these have been turned into shops, charming cafes and bistros, and colourful markets.

Some of the most popular cafés include Carob, Café 34 and Café Harbour. The Niazis restaurant serves a large kebab which is cooked right in front of you so you can choose what ingredients to include and how well to cook them. The Green House restaurant is a trendy place where the young local crowd hang out and enjoy a pile of fajitas served on a hotplate. During the day, you can sample an ice cream and explore the harbour area – the Geye outlet is the only place where you can buy the famous Turkish ice cream.