Cyprus walking vacation, North Cyprus

Description of Cyprus walking vacation, North Cyprus

Our vacation focuses on the most picturesque, peaceful and unspoilt areas of this lovely Mediterranean island. The walks include commentaries to educate and entertain, thereby ensuring you'll enjoy a deeper understanding of this fascinating region. Our guide, Christina Hessenberg, knows and loves the island and has a wealth of knowledge about its history, culture and flowers. She will bring the landscapes to life as you explore together the best that North Cyprus has to offer.


• Exploring spectacular crusader castles, ancient monasteries and byzantine churches
• Splendid ridge walks and stunning panoramic views to the distant Turkish coast in the north and the Troodos mountains in the south
• Countryside awash with wild flowers including 43 species of orchid
• Learning from knowledgeable guides something of the island's historical and cultural legacy
• Memorable visits, from authentic villages to the divided capital city of Nicosia
• Visiting Kyrenia's picturesque harbour and crusader castle
• Fine dining at the 4-star family-owned Bellapais Gardens hotel
• The warmth and hospitality of the Cypriot people
• Small groups (normally numbering 6-10 people), comprising a mix of singles, couples and friends

Spring is the best time to enjoy walking vacations on Cyprus, when days are warm and sunny and wild flowers abound. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers tempered by sea breezes. The average temperature in late March is 18 C with an average of 8 hours of sunshine daily; little rain is expected during the month, generally on no more than 5 days.

Grading of Walks:
The walks are graded 'easy' to ‘moderate’ and suitable for normally fit and active people who are able to walk for between 5 and 9 miles and between 3 and 6 hours daily. The routes are very flexible and, with the aid of our support vehicle, you can shorten or extend the walking to suit your individual requirements. The walks are not technically difficult, the only steep gradients being the ascents and descents to the crusader castles but these are always optional and undoubtedly worth the effort!

Our base:
We stay in Bellapais, just above Kyrenia and once Lawrence Durrell’s home and the setting for ‘Bitter Lemons’. The village’s main claim to fame is its enchanting 13th century Abbey, situated alongside our hotel.

A small award-winning boutique hotel renowned throughout Cyprus for its fine dining and outstanding service. The hotel is beautifully situated beside the 13th century Bellapais Abbey. Set in lush Cypriot gardens scented with jasmine and orangeblossom, bedecked with colourful Mediterranean flowers, the hotel is surrounded by 200-year-old palm trees.

Large comfortable en-suite double rooms with balconies or terraces with garden and distant sea views. (There are no single rooms, only large double studio rooms for single occupancy.)

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:We meet you at Larnaca airport at 1815 to transfer you by coach to Bellapais and your hotel (approximately 1.5 hours, estimated arrival time at the hotel 2030).
Day 2:The ‘Five Finger’ Mountain and its Monasteries: (8 miles, moderate) Following an introductory briefing, we travel via the Besparmak Pass for a first walk on the ‘Five Finger’ Mountain, traversing both the north and south sides of the Besparmak range. Lover’s Leap’ provides the ultimate panorama across the north coast while, to the south, the views over the Meseora Plain are equally impressive. Wandering through scented pine forests, a wealth of flowers at your feet, you’ll find the tiny pink Anatolian Orchid (Orchis anatolica) which abounds in these woods in March and April. The ruined monastery,Viran Kilisie (Panayia Plataniotissa), hidden deep in a south-facing valley, provides a superb setting for a picnic. Here, there’s an ancient spring head which once supplied Salamis via an aqueduct back in the 6th century AD. Finally, the gutted ruins and desolation of Sourp Magar, an early Christian monastery nestling in the beauty and silence of the mountains, unforgettably concludes this varied and beautiful walk. Time permitting, we will stop briefly at The North Cyprus Herbarium at Alevkaya, a mecca for botanists, an opportunity to identify interesting plants spotted on the walk.
Day 3:Buffavento & Kyrenia (5 or 9 miles, easy or moderate) We start the day with a visit to the ruined 10th century mountain monastery of Panayia Absinthiotissa, wonderfully situated on the southern flank of the Kyrenia range. This is the least visited of the mountain monasteries, being situated well off the beaten track at a height of 510 metres (1,700 ft). We continue to Buffavento, the highest of the island’s three Crusader fortresses, the most difficult to reach on its lofty perch. Its setting is unforgettable, the most dramatic of any ruin on the entire island. It dates back to at least 1191 and Richard the Lionheart. A wonderful ridge walk follows, the length adjustable through the use of our vehicle. We dip in and out of the forests of Calabrian Pine and Juniper before finally reaching the Buffavento Restaurant on the Besparmak Pass for a late lunch. Back to Kyrenia for a tour of the most beautiful port on the Mediterranean followed by an optional visit to the fine 9C Byzantine castle with its subsequent Lusignan and Venetian additions; also well worth visiting is the excellent Shipwreck Museum exhibiting a cargo ship wrecked in the 4C BC, complete with its cargo of almonds and wine amphorae.
Day 4:Kantara & Buyukkonuk (5 or 7 miles, easy or moderate) Today we journey to Kantara, gateway to the Karpaz peninsula, to enjoy a morning’s walking to a medieval mountain fortress. We walk along a panoramic ridge path to Kantara Castle, a bastion which appears to be growing out of the rock. the easternmost of the three mountain fortresses of Northern Cyprus. From the summit spectacular views extend westwards across serrated limestone mountain ranges while in the south the gulf of Farmagusta glistens. Rising up beyond the Mesarya Plain is the elongated mountain ridge of the Troodos in the centre of the island, and to the north views extend to the ‘panhandle’ and to the southern coast of Turkey, even to Lebanon on a clear day. We descend easily to Buyukkonuk nestling in the southern foothills of the Kyrenia range and a few kilometres from both the rocky northern shore and the southern sandy beaches. The countryside surrounding this authentic village benefits from fertile flat lands, rich in carob and olive trees, as well as mulberry, cypress, almonds and figs. Following a buffet lunch there at Buyukkonuk you'll be delighted with demonstrations of traditional crafts such as cheese-making and you may like to try your hand at bread-making.
Day 5:Nicosia Today we journey to the centre of the island for a guided tour of the capital city. Surrounded by a ring of Venetian defence walls Nicosia (or Lefkosa) is a fascinating city. Our walk from Kyrenia Gate will include the beautiful 16th century Buyuk Han, famous for its handicrafts, Selimiye Mosque and atmospheric bazaars. At the UN’s Ledra Palace Hotel checkpoint, we cross the ‘green line’ which divides the city to enter along once battle-torn streets the Greek Cypriot sector of Nicosia, remembering to bring passports and euros! Highlights include the Omeriye Mosque, The Archbishopric and Laiki Geitonia. If time permits, the Cyprus Museum houses the finest collection of Cypriot antiquities anywhere on the island, or indeed in the world. The tightly packed Old City of the south has an entirely different character from the brash new town on the far side of the walls. And crossing back to Kyrenia Gate, you will notice the contrast between the Turkish Cypriot north and the Greek Cypriot south.
Day 6:St Hilarion and Hisarkoy: (6 miles; easy) St Hilarion, our prelude to the day, is a real ‘fairytale’ castle, its jagged contours apparently inspiring Walt Disney’s ‘Snow White’. Here you can explore royal apartments, tunnels, towers and overgrown gardens. You can imagine yourself back in the days of bygone chivalry, watching from the battlements while knights engage in jousts and tournaments below. The views defy description; you can on a clear day even see the Taurus mountains of Turkey. Following your exertions, a snack bar beckons before we embark on a stunning walk along the ridge, sweeping panoramas opening up to the south. The length of the walk is up to you as our trusty support vehicle will pick you up when you're ready for a rest. You’ll journey to sleepy mountain villages nestling in the southern foothills, before stopping for lunch at a traditional Cypriot village. Here you'll explore orchid glades and an area of black tulips and other wild flowers. Our circular route includes a visit to a medieval Maronite Church, to an Ottoman Turkish bath and to a bronze age tomb. We travel back to Bellapais across the beautiful, unspoilt plains to the south of the mountains.
Day 7:Antiphonitis Monastery & Algardi Beach (5 or 9 miles, easy or moderate) Today we visit the beautiful Byzantine church of Antiphonitis, picturesquely and peacefully secreted amongst the folds of the mountains. It’s relatively well preserved, dating back to the 12th century and adorned with surviving frescoes. One of ‘Christ Pantokrator’ dominates, a regular feature of domed churches. Following our visit, the friendly custodian will sell us drinks and biscuits and point out the rarest orchids. Our walk, again offering both a short and longer version, takes us along delightful panoramic balcony paths as we snake around the contours, breathing pure forest air, admiring spectacular views and simply enjoying the tranquillity of it all. For budding botanists, there are lots of wild flowers on today’s route, including many species of orchid, ranunculus, heather and the endemic pink silene fraudatrix, ophrys kotschyi and ophrys anatolica. Then to the beach for lunch on a terrace gazing out to sea. If you have energy to spare an optional walk follows along unspoilt Alardi Beach, famed for its turtles between June and September. This protected beach is home to beach flora such as sand crocus and hyacinthella, tiny light blue orchids.
Day 8:Coach transfer to Larnaca Airport for departure at 1925 on British Airways Flight to London.

Check dates

For departure dates contact us on 917-512-2751

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Cyprus walking vacation, North Cyprus


Walking is the least carbon intensive way to travel, keeping the environmental impact of our groups to a minimum. Where it is necessary to travel by means other than on foot, we use public transport and use only local transport companies. We aim to balance the environmental impact of traveling with the benefits sustainable tourism can bring to local economies. We therefore focus the main part of our walks in Cyprus in areas that are as much as possible off the beaten track, providing our clients with authentic experiences removed from mass tourism. The small hotel we use in Bellapais has been in the ownership of the same family for generations and employs staff from the local community.

Our chosen hotels have a strong environmental ethos with low-profile design. Guests are encouraged to avoid changing towels unnecessarily.

We do not print brochures, keeping customers informed electronically via email, electronic newsletters and our website. We encourage clients to remit their payments electronically via PayPal or by bank transfer.


We support local projects, craftsmen and artisans; for example, a popular feature of our Cyprus walking vacations, is a visit to a small rural village to watch demonstrations of cheese-making, bread making and other traditional skills in which our walkers participate. They also have opportunities to buy locally-produced crafts, thus providing much-needed revenue to these small communities.

We use small privately-run hotels like the our Bellapais hotel which has been run by the same family for generations. They employ only local staff. We take our groups to local restaurants for dinners and lunches, establishments preparing their menus from locally grown produce purchased from local farming families who have worked the land for centuries. When packed lunches are required, we use local bakeries, delicatessens and fruiterers for our supplies.

We use local transport companies and their drivers for airport transfers. We liaise with local tourist offices and employ knowledgeable local guides to take our groups on excursions, for example to Nicosia, to ensure our clients benefit from specialist local knowledge. We believe that we have made valuable economic contributions to local rural businesses, bringing them repeat business, and it is our aim to continue to do so.

We enjoy good relationships with our hoteliers and other local suppliers, thus ensuring a warm welcome for our clients.


Commentaries are a major feature of our walking vacations, providing our guests with an insight into the history and culture of the island. We employ a local guide whose knowledge and deep understanding and personal experience of political events considerably contributes to visitors' understanding and appreciation. Our walks leader, Christina Hessenberg, is an acknowledged expert on the wealth of wild flowers to be found on Cyprus and she also loves to share her considerable knowledge of history.

Reviews of Cyprus walking vacation, North Cyprus

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 06 Apr 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

An unscheduled meeting with a large whip snake during one of our walks. 3m long and coming straight at us. We know now that they aren't poisonous, but it was a bit of shock. We've dined out on it since. North Cyprus is a beautiful country, outstanding scenery and friendly people everywhere.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

The walking terrain isn't difficult, but there are rocky / stony sections, so take a comfortable pair of boots / thick-soled walking shoes. If you use them, walking poles could be helpful for the mountain treks.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We stayed in a very comfortable hotel, but ate at local restaurants frequently. The food is excellent.
We visited during Easter 2016. It's a great time to visit the country - the temperature is pleasant and perfect for walking, particularly in the morning. We were welcomed where ever we went.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Outstanding. Lots to do and see, great walking, great food and a very nice hotel.

Reviewed on 17 Apr 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Difficult to pick out a single event.
The magnificent, tall, yellow wild fennel; the carpet of cyclemen; the single Sufi performing his "whirling dervish" trance; the view of sea and mountains from the terrace outside my room; the scent of orange blossom in the hotel gardens was intoxicating; our guide, Christina, was so enthusiastic, knowledgable and helpful. Her fluent Turkish was impressive and she certainly gave me an insight into the Greek/Turkish actions and their effects on Cypress over the last 50 years.
The walks took us into the mountains where it was so quiet, the air so clean and the views so good you wanted to just sit and stare.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

You get a lot of food, so don't go mad on the mezes.
The evening meals at the hotel were very good for set meals but it would be nice to have an option to have an a la carte meal on occassion to take full advantage of what's on offer. None of us asked but that does not mean we could not have done so.
The room was cold despite the heating and the fluffy, white dressing gowns provided. There was a cold wind in the evening so don't bother with sandals or summer dresses!
Don't put toilet paper down the loo in the hotel. There was no instruction to do this but when I asked, that is what I was advised to do.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. We had a series of wonderful meals in local restaurants and cafes in both town and countryside. These specialised in local produce and homemade cooking. As a group we were all conscientious about keeping to paths and taking rubbish away with us.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A lovely respite from the fast and furious life that is Hackney, London.

Popular similar vacations

North Cyprus walking vacation

North Cyprus walking vacation

Varied walks amid rugged scenery and superb archaeology

From US $895 - US $1125 8 days excluding flights

Cyprus inn to inn hiking vacation, self guided

Cyprus inn to inn hiking vacation, self guided

Cyprus long walks, Troodos to Akamas

From 570 - €900 7 days excluding flights

Self guided walking vacation, Cyprus

Self guided walking vacation, Cyprus

Discover Cyprus from Troodos to Akamas, short walks

From 450 - €700 7 days excluding flights

Northern Cyprus small group hiking vacation

Northern Cyprus small group hiking vacation

Discover North Cyprus beauty on foot

From 619 8 days excluding flights

Convert currencies