Hiking Adventure to the Top Castles in Northern Cyprus!

Hiking Adventure to the Top Castles in Northern Cyprus!

During your stay in Northern Cyprus, ensure you do not miss the chance to appreciate the awe-inspiring views and delve into the history of the island by exploring its ancient castles. Remember to wear comfortable footwear as you embark on these hikes.

Prepare yourself for an exciting expedition by packing your backpack, donning comfortable footwear, and getting set to embark on an adventure.

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St.Hilarion Castle

Once upon a time, Walt Disney’s imagination was sparked by the stunning St. Hilarion castle, inspiring his beloved “Sleeping Beauty” fairytale. And who wouldn’t be enchanted by this fortress perched high on a mountaintop offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and beyond?

Located in the Besparmak Mountains, just west of the main Girne Lofkosa road, lies the renowned St. Hilarion Castle, a must-visit destination for tourists.

Today, visitors can explore its many parts, from the Byzantine-built outer walls and gate to the royal palace in the main courtyard, the chapel, the Gothic-windowed Queen’s Gallery, Prince John’s Tower, and countless other nooks and crannies just waiting to be discovered.

Working Hours & Entrance Fee: Summer 9.00 – 18.00, last entry: 17.00 and Winter 9.00 – 16.30, last entry: 15.30. The entrance fee is around 2.5 EUR. A leaflet map is included in the fee.

How to reach: Get a taxi or rent a car. If you are coming from the Lefkosha, you can take a bus. A charming and challenging at the same time hiking trail is from Karaman ( Karmi) to the St. Hilarion Castle.

Infrastructure: The castle is equipped with informative signs, a washroom, and a small café next to the gate entrance.

Kantara Castle

Nestled in the Famagusta district, this captivating heritage site rests atop a rocky hill near the quaint Kantara village. Although the exact date of construction remains a mystery, the castle was built during the Byzantine era and is mentioned in records dating back to the 12th century, during Richard the Lionheart’s reign. The Lusignans later gave the castle a prominent role, and it has since changed hands numerous times before being declared a heritage site in 1905 by French archaeologist Camille Enlart.

Perched 650-700 meters above sea level, the castle acted as a protective axis for the Kyrenia mountain range. Its primary function was to serve as a defensive garrison and relay defensive signals to Buffavento and St. Hilarion Castles.

Working Hours & Entrance Fee: The castle is open from 10:00 to 17:00 during summer and 9:00 to 15:00 during winter, with an entrance fee of around €3.

How to reach: To reach the closest road leading to the hilltop, you will need to rent a car. However, several hiking paths are available, including the Kyrenia Mountain Trail, which stretches from Cape Kormakitis (Korukam) in the west to Cape Zafer on the tip of Karpaz Peninsula. So, pack your backpack and prepare for a breathtaking journey!

Infrastructure: While there are a few washrooms available, there are no restaurants or cafes on-site ( only inside of village itself).

Buffavento Castle

Standing between St. Hilarion and Kantara castles, Buffavento reigns supreme as the highest protective fortress. It’s perched about 10 miles east of Kyrenia, next to Arapkoy village. The journey uphill is a steep, adventurous, and challenging climb, but once you reach the top, the views are simply jaw-dropping!

The exact construction date of this Byzantine beauty is a mystery, but the Lusignan kings made use of it as a political prison, aka the infamous “Chateau du Lion.” But wait, there’s more!

Buffavento is also associated with a mysterious queen. Legend has it that during the Knights Templars era, Queen Helena lived a solitary life in the castle, with just her dog. Sadly, both Helena and her dog were struck with leprosy.

One day, while following her pup, she discovered a magical spring, where her dog was taking a dip. Following suit, she too was cured of the disease. In gratitude, she founded the Ayios Ioannis Chrysostomos monastery near the water source.

The castle itself is split into two levels. The lower level store rooms, dorms, and a water cistern, while the upper level boasts the remains of a chapel and other buildings.

Working Hours & Entrance Fee: It is open for visiting anytime and is free of charge.

How to reach: rent a car, take a taxi, or choose the most comfortable and scenic hiking path. Check out this 1.9-km out-and-back trail near Karmi, Kyrenia. This route is generally regarded as moderately challenging, taking an average of 55 minutes to complete.

Infrastructure: no washrooms, or cafes.

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