Discover both sides of this tiny, divided island and learn the ancient and contemporary history that has shaped its villages and cities.. Explore the abandoned churches of the Karpass Peninsula, then spend an afternoon making bread and cheese with some local friends of Peregrine.. Devour a feast of local specialties like Anari cheese, bulguri (wheat-based cereal) and rabbit during dinner in a Maronite village called Kormakitis.. Venture into the Troodos Mountains to explore an 11th-century monastery and spend the evening in a village home converted into boutique lodging.
Discover the wonders of North and South Cyprus on this 13-day tour of the Mediterranean’s best-kept secret. Travel from Famagusta in Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus to Nicosia, a lively city that is Europe’s last divided capital. Explore ancient ruins, cathedrals converted to mosques, untouched coast and rugged mountains on this immersive adventure. Along the way, be humbled by Cypriot hospitality, stunned by charming villages and satisfied by hearty meals of fresh produce and regional delicacies.
Breakfast Included: 12 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 3
Merhaba! Welcome to Northern Cyprus. Enjoy an included transfer from the airport to the accommodation at any time today. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive with time to spare before the meeting, perhaps explore a little on your own. If you’d prefer to ease into your tour, perhaps avail yourself of the resort’s private beach.
Begin your day with a morning visit to the ancient city of Salamis. Once a thriving port city, Salamis served many dominant groups over the course of history including the Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians and Romans. Continue on to St Barnabas’ Monastery, dedicated to St Paul’s good Cypriot friend Varnavas (Barnabas) who carried out missionary work on the island. Return to your accommodation for a short time before venturing out in the late afternoon to the old walled part of Famagusta. Take a guided walking tour of the city, beginning with the Lala Mustafa Pasa Mosque, a 14th-century structure originally constructed as a cathedral. Converted to a mosque after the fall of the city to the Ottoman Empire in 1571, it makes a fascinating and appropriate place to begin our tour. Explore the antiquates of this colourful city and learn both its medieval and Silk Road history as well as events around the 1974 coup that split the island in half. Following the tour, you may either return to your accommodation or choose to stay in town for an optional dinner at a local eatery.
Famagusta – Karpass – Famagusta
Rise and shine for a journey to the tip of the island, the rugged Karpass Peninsula. Covered with abandoned churches, many of which have been repurposed as barns, Karpass is both beautiful and another place where the region’s political land religious struggles are visible in the ruins. Visit the Apostolos Andreas Monastery, which is believed to have stood since Byzantine times and according to legend was founded by a shipwrecked Saint Andrew. Continue to Buyukkonuk, a traditional Cypriot village where residents have been working together to preserve local culture and heritage. Meet with some local friends of Peregrine to learn some traditional bread and cheese making skills, including a cheeky tasting afterwards. Stay for dinner at a local tavern, where meals are prepared using fresh produce like carob pekmez and zivania – a local firewater made from grape skins. If you have the energy, talk to your leader about an optional sunset hike, arguably the best way to see the peninsula is on foot. Return to Famagusta.
Enjoy a leisurely start to you day, with a mid-morning departure for Kyrenia. On the way, stop for a short hike and picnic lunch at the 12-century Church of Christ Antiphonitis. After a short walk through a wooded mountain area, arrive at a picturesque spot and enjoy a meal with a view over the harbour. Continue and arrive in Kyrenia in the afternoon. Check into your hotel and then enjoy an evening at your leisure. If you’d like to sea the city from the water, ask you leader about an optional sunset cruise. Or maybe settle in at a taverna for a seafood dinner and a snifter of Cypriot brandy.
Hit the streets on a walking tour of Kyrenia’s Old Town this morning. The winding alleyways reveal a quaint mix of old stone buildings with colourfully restored architecture along with the spectacular remains of the abandoned 16th-century Chrysopolitissa Church. Take a visit to the Venetian Castle that guards the city, taking in the sea views from the top of the fortifications.
In the afternoon, visit St Hilarion Castle, where crumbling remains of towers rise from rough rock. Exlore the castle and then continue to Bellapais to explore its beautiful Gothic monastery. Bellapais and its monastery gained some international renown after Lawrence Durrell published his memoir Bitter Lemons about his time there. Mentioned frequently in this memoir is the Tree of Idleness, where locals gather to sip coffee and chat. Two local trees vie for this title and the true location of the tree is unknown.
Enjoy some free time this morning to explore or relax at your own pace. Please note you must comply with hotel check out times, so perhaps check out and then grab lunch before taking your private transfer to Kormakitis at 2 pm. Arrive in Kormakitis (Turkish name Kormacit), where locals speak Greek and Aramaic, and most belong to the Catholic Maronite Church. Begin exploring with a visit to St George Cathedral Church and a small ethnographic museum to get a better understanding of the village and its sui iuris church. Check into your charming local guesthouse and spend a few hours at your leisure. As night falls, come together with the local community for a dinner of soft Anari cheese, bulguri (wheat-based cereal) and rabbit.
Get ready for an entire day of guided exploration around the wild west of Cyprus. Begin with the 18th-century Church of St Mamas and its attached archaeological and icon museums. Visit the ancient Greek city of Soli, which dates back to the 11th century. Explore the amphitheatre and gaze at the remarkable mosaics that remain in the Basilica of Saint Auxibius. After working up an appetite today with all the rambling through ruins, enjoy dinner in Baglikoy eco village. Feast on Cypriot classics in this charming village, then return to Kormakitis for the evening.
Make sure you have your passport ready for the border crossing today to the south of the island. Cross the Astromeritis checkpoint and continue into the Troodos Mountains, the largest range in Cyprus. Stop for a strong coffee and a stroll in the village of Kakopetria then continue to the elaborate Kykkos Monastery. Spend some time exploring the grounds of the monastery, which was founded at the end of the 11th century by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos. In the late afternoon, arrive at your feature stay in Lofou, which will be in old houses converted to boutique lodgings. On arrival your afternoon and evening are free, so perhaps head out to explore the tranquil cobblestone streets.
Spend a relaxing day exploring the mountain villages of the Troodos. Though the exact schedule will vary today, expect to taste local produce and wine, visit markets and enjoy a picnic lunch. Explore the adorable village of Omodos, a beautiful place to while away a few hours by wandering winding alleyways and shop for traditional arts and crafts in converted rural homes. Return to Lofou for an evening at your leisure.
Journey from mountains to Paphos, a city on the southwest coast. Inhabited for more than 10,000 years, Paphos is home to an impressive array of ruins. Waste no time and begin exploring with a visit to the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, where relics dating from the Middle Ages stand in among incredible scenery. See the remarkably well-preserved murals of the House of Dionysos, the tall columns of the House of Theseus and a crumbling fourth-century BC theatre. Spend some time exploring, then check in to your hotel. The rest of your afternoon and evening are as clear as a Cypriot summer sky. If the season is right, maybe ask your leader about an optional turtle watching tour.
Make the 30-minute drive to Polis, a historic town where legend say Aphrodite enjoyed rendezvous with her lover Adonis. Visit the natural grotto of the Baths of Aphrodite, and its botanical garden, shaded by an old fig tree, amidst lush greenery, legend tells that the Ancient Greek Goddess Aphrodite used to bathe in the waters. Return to Paphos and enjoy a free afternoon and evening. Perhaps use the rest of the daylight hours to visit the Tombs of the King, a nearby ancient necropolis used by local nobility that you can explore for a tiny fee. Ask your leader about how best to spend your time this afternoon and evening.
Travel to Nicosia, the last divided capital city in Europe. Known as Lefkosa to the Turkish locals and Nicosia to the Greek locals, the city is a fascinating mixture of cultures and architectural styles. Visit the Selimiye Mosque, another former cathedral converted with the addition of minarets after the Ottoman takeover. Marvel upon the interior’s whitewashed walls and examine traces of Gothic architecture that remain among the Ottoman-style refurbishment. Enjoy a tasting of zivania, a traditional pomace brandy. This evening maybe gather your group and head out for a dinner of succulent souvlaki or sheftalia (lamb and pork sausages).