Ilgaz is a small village of 45 houses set on the slopes of the Besparmak mountains with panoramic views of mountains and the sea. It is 3kms up the mountain from the main Kyrenia to Alsancak road. The village is a mixture of old and new properties inhabited by a mix of Turkish Cypriot, Turkish and British residents. It is a quiet and friendly village. Within the village is a Turkish cafe, Ilgaz Koy Firin Cafe where they bake their own bread in traditional style bread ovens and provide a generous Turkish breakfast along with lunch or supper by arrangement. On the edge of the village is Etel Winery with its vineyards. Gillham Vineyard Hotel is a small hotel which has and excellent restaurant and a Wine Bar with stunning views across the vineyards where you can sit and drink from their selection of delicious wines including wines from grapes grown in Ilgaz. There is a tapas menu at the Wine Bar. Also in Ilgaz village is Hoots Bar Restaurant.
Ilgaz is about twenty minutes drive West of Kyrenia. Kyrenia has a charming horseshoe shaped harbour reputed to be one of the most beautiful harbours in the Mediterranean. The harbour carob warehouses dating back to Venetian times many of which have been converted into bars and restaurants. At the eastern end of the harbours is the imposing Kyrenia Castle. The castle dates back to Byzantine times. Within the walls are a 12th Century church and the Shipwreck Museum. Inside the Shipwreck museum is an ancient shipwreck said to date back to the 4th Century BC. At the western end of the harbour entrance is a Venetian tower. Kyrenia is home to many ancient buildings including mosques and churches, including the Aga Cafer Pasa Mosque said to have been built after the Ottoman conquest of 1580.
Karmi is the next village along the Besparmak mountains. It is about 40 minutes walk across the mountains from Ilgaz. The village was abandoned by its Greek Cypriot residents during the war of 1974. The village became derelict but has been renovated using traditional construction techniques and materials. The village has 150 renovated houses along with a pub and a couple of restaurants. The beautiful, quiet peaceful streets lined with charming, carefully restored traditional Cypriot houses are cool in the heat of the summer.
Bellapais Abbey is about 20 minutes' drive from Ilgaz. Bellapais village has a number of cafes, restaurants, tourist shops and charming old buildings. Bellapais Abbey, "The Abbey of Peace" from the french "Abbaye de la belle Paix, was built in the thirteenth century by French Augustinian monks and is a dramatic ruin with stunning views down to Kyrenia and the sea. Lawrence Durrell lived in Bellapais for some years and wrote his book "Bitter Lemons" about life in Cyprus. He writes about passing the time drinking coffee under the Tree of Idleness.
Lefkosa / Nicosia is the capital and the largest city in the TRNC. It is currently the only divided capital in the world. The northern (Turkish) and Southern (Greek) parts are divided by the "green line", a demilitarised zone maintained by the United Nation. There are now border crossings between the two sides. Within the Venetian walls of the Old City are a plethora of ancient buildings, mosques, churches and narrow streets are lined with colonial-era buildings. The Buyuk Han is the largest caravanserai in Cyprus and is considered to be one of the finest buildings of the island.
THE CRUSADER CASTLES; ST HILARION, BUFFAVENTO AND KANTARA
There are three Crusader castles in North Cyprus, St Hilarion Castle, Buffavento Castle and Kantara Castle, all within two hours' drive from Ilgaz. The castles are thought to have been constructed by the Byzantines following Arab raids on the island. St Hilarion Castle is about twenty minutes from Ilgaz, Buffavento about forty minutes and Kantara Castle about one and a half hours from Ilgaz.
The ancient ruins of Salamis, near Famagusta, include a massive amphitheatre which would have seated 15000, large arched tombs dating back to the 7th and 8th century BC along with the remains of marble statues. Salamis was founded around 1100BC and was the island's most important port city. In Roman times it was the largest city on the island. According to the Homeric epics, Salamis was founded after the Trojan War by the legendary archer Teucer, said to be one of the men who invaded Troy in the Trojan Horse.