Anatolian Sky – Northern Cyprus Twin Centre – Part Two

The Ferrero Rocher and the Ruins

Our twin centred holiday continued in Famagusta (Gazimagusa) positioned on the south eastern coast. 

Arkin Palm BeachWhilst here we were based at Arkin Palm Beach Hotel, situated about 30 mins walk or a short taxi ride from the town centre and set on a lovely private golden beach.  Although a large and spacious hotel, it has a distinctly boutique feel to it.  We stayed in a king sized sea view room, which was well equipped, but its wow factor was the large tiled balcony featuring a table and two chairs plus an almost double sized day bed.

To read a more detailed description of this hotel click here.

You could, of course, just grab a lounger and read your book while the waves gently washed to shore.  Very relaxing but we didn’t want to miss some of the rich historical and cultural heritage close to hand.  To get our first helping of history we had to stroll no further than the end of the beach and view the ghost town that is Varosia (Maras).  Once the venue for the rich and famous it was abandoned during the 1974 conflict and has stood empty ever since.  Its dark eyed empty buildings are a stark contrast to the bright paint and glass of our own hotel.

City WallsTo give you a mental image of Famagusta, think Havana dropped into the middle of York!  York because it is a walled city that’s largely intact and Havana because newly built or restored buildings mingle with ruins (and I never spotted a McDonalds).  The Venetian city walls at their peak were 3Km in length and in some places 18m high and 9m thick.  We started our trip around the walls at the Rivettina Bastion or Land Gate and dropped into the North Cyprus Tourist Office to pick up some useful complimentary literature and a city map.  At this point we climbed to the top of the wall and here and at various points you gain impressive views of Famagusta but unless you’re a mountain goat, much of it needs to be explored from the ground, often more interesting anyway.  City from WallOthello’s Castle on the North East side is well worth lingering over, recently restored with the help of a little EU cash, it is said to get its name from Shakespeare’s play and used since the days of British Administration.  Don’t miss the lion plaque or statue along this section. 

In the centre of the city the Ottoman’s cannonballs laid waste to a multitude of churches and other buildings, so we let our imaginations run riot on what it must have looked like in its heyday.  We did find a pile of cannonballs, much to Linda’s disappointment, as they looked like a huge pile of Ferrero Rocher from a distance.  We were impressed by the stature of St Nicholas Cathedral, resembling the one we saw in Reims.  You can see how the Ottomans removed the twin towers and added a minaret, converting it into a mosque now known as Lala Mustafa Pasha.

Cathedral/MosqueThere are many cafes and restaurants in this area to relax and refresh and indulge in a little people watching. We also walked a little further up the road on the way out of Lands Gate to admire the amazing sculpture that sits in the middle of the roundabout opposite the Ottoman tombs.

A hard and interesting day’s historical encounter deserves a hearty meal and that’s exactly what we got at our hotel.  A feast of choices awaited us and indecisiveness as to which dish to choose from the buffet resulted in me having a delicious bit of many things.  The chocolate fountain accompanying the many deserts on offer went some way to negating Linda’s earlier Ferrero Rocher disappointment.

Thetare at SalamisA 15 minute taxi ride brought us to Ancient Salamis where the history dates back to 11 century BC and ranks as one of the island’s main archaeological sites.  We booked a return trip as there isn’t a taxi stand on site and a couple of hours saw us cover most of the 7Km of paths available to access the ruins.  Most of the more recognisable features, such as the gymnasium, baths and theatre (the most impressive) are relatively close to the car park and can be covered in about an hour if the walk out to the remoter (and less complete) ruins doesn’t suit.  The walk out does reveal some interesting wildlife though, such as the 5p sized white snails that climb up and smother so much of the grasses and smaller trees.  A climb to the top of the theatre also gives impressive views of the whole site and out to sea.

We left North Cyprus wondering why it’s taken us so long to discover its riches and when we can return to see the Karpas Peninsula and its wild donkeys, or North Nicosia and more.

Perhaps we’ll come in the spring for the riot of orchids and other wild flowers, or perhaps September to watch Turtle hatchlings released or perhaps both.

Related articles

253 people found this helpful

Share Article:

Steve Aldridge

Award-winning travel writer

Leave a comment


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Solo travel holidays isn’t confined to the young and restless; it’s a liberating experience that transcends generations….

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.