Kyrenia is a staggering beautiful town on the North Coast of Cyprus. It also a more Mediterranian feel than any other part of the island. Kyrenia is decidely quaint, and has none of the hustle and bustle or larger towns or cities. You won't find a traffic-jam here!
The attached picture shows me standing on top of Kyrenia Castle with the classic view down into the harbour. The harbour makes for a great walk around, smelling the fresh food being prepared and looking in at the little souvenir shops. At the far end of the harbour you often find fishermen trying their luck. The pace of life here is really slow and it is a very relaxing place to visit.
Kyrenia is also the home to one of the oldest known shipwrecks in the world. This shipwreck is preserved within the castle and can be visited for a charge.
As most people know, Cyprus is a divided island. The Turks live in the North, the Greeks live in the South, and the UN peacekeepers live inbetween them in an area known as the Green Line. The South is also known as the Republic of Cyprus, and is recognised around the world. The North is also known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), and is only recognised by Turkey.
Not only is Cyprus a divided country, but the capital city is also divided between North and South. For foreigners it can get confusing as one place can have several different names, as Greeks Turks and the British have all given the same place (Britain did at one point have sovereign territory over Cyprus). The capital city is a fine example of this. The Greeks call it Lefkosia, The Turks call it Lefkosa, and the British call it Nicosia.
Bellapais is a charming little village on the edge of a mountain, that is built around what is now a ruined abbey. This village was made famous by lawrence Durrell (brother of the more famous Gerald Durrell) who lived here in the 1950's when Cyprus was experiencing a lot of internal turmoil as relationships between the Greeks/Turks/British boiled up. A lot of British were assassinated during the troubles, but Durrell semed to be perceived as a neutral as he lived with the locals away from the British and taught in a school where he was friendly with the local kids.
These days of Course, Lawrence Durrell is long gone (and long dead), but some of his legacy lives on. He famously describes in his book about a large tree (that was appropriately nicknamed the "Tree of Idleness") which all of the villagers used to lounge around under in its shade and drink all day. Although there is some debate as to where this tree is today (or whether the original still actually exists).
The Abbey is definitely worth visiting and is very close to Kyrenia. It is also possible to walk up the hill and see the outside of Durrells old house (although whn I visited it, it belonged to a German couple!). There is a commemorative plate up on the house, although you will probably need to ask directions to find it!