Top 5 Things to Eat In Turkey

Turkish cuisine has influenced many of the countries that were part of the Ottoman Empire and reflects Turkey’s history and geography. The varied climate means that there is always an abundance of the freshest vegetables and fruits available to cook with. Turkish food is not overly spiced, apart from in the Southeast, typical seasonings are mint, dill, flat-leaf parsley, paprika, cumin and the lemony, dried and ground berries from an edible sumac shrub. Modern-day Turkish cuisine fuses Middle Eastern, North African and Central Asian cuisines and flavours.

Here are Direct Travellers 5 top delicious dishes for you must try whilst on holiday in Turkey.


These are the wonderful small dishes which are eaten before the main meal or can be a light meal in themselves and are tantalising morsels to entice the appetite. Meze is always to be shared with friends and is intended to accompany drink, scenery or conversation. You can explore bite-size different flavours, textures and aromas between Raki, Turkey's aniseed - flavoured national drink distilled from grapes. Hot dishes follow cold dishes and include borek, cacik, octopus, dolma, fava, hummus and kofte. In Turkish, Dolma means “to be stuffed” and one the most popular Dolma is “stuffed vine leaves” or Yaprak Dolmasi. Dolmas generally use: tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage leaves and eggplants. In addition to rice the stuffing contains, nuts and raisins, but it varies from region to region. Dolmas made without meat are served cold; while dolmas made with meat are served warm. -YUMMY!


Turkey is famous for its kebabs the world over and there is no better place to eat them than in the country itself. The word Kebab (Kabob) literally means any kind of grilled meat served alongside vegetables. Turks don’t eat pork due to their Muslim religion so the most popular meat used is succulent lamb, but beef and chicken are also used. The Shish kebab is traditionally grilled meat served on a skewer with vegetable pieces such as onion, zucchini, tomato placed in between. The equally well known Doner Kebab is made from meat grilled on a large vertical skewer. Turks don’t eat pork, because of the religion. But you can find beef, lamb, fish and poultry in the dishes, although the vegetarian specialties are also incredible. The Adana Kebab is a spicier option of grilled ground meat. The aromas of kebabs cooking are evocative of Turkey wherever you are in the world.


Being surrounded on three sides by sea means that Turkey has always been a place to eat the freshest sea- food. Fried mussels are a perennial favourite in the seafood category, and are especially tasty with a ground nut sauce containing garlic and vinegar or lemon juice. Hamsi (Anchovy) is Turkey’s most popular fish, is known as the prince of all fish and cooked in a variety of ways such as steaming and frying. The most delicious way to eat fish is by grilling it over charcoal which envelopes the fish in smoke thereby bringing out the delicate flavours. Along the Aegean, octopus and calamari are popular meze dishes.


Baklava is the most famous Turkish dessert with delicate layers of filo pastry spread with melted butter, pistachios or walnuts and drizzled with honey. As the pastry bakes the Baklava is soaked through with the sweet liquid. When speaking of baklava, the first place that comes to mind is Gaziantep, from where baklava masters have spread all over Turkey. It is believed that the rolling pin should be made of wood from the pear tree. In addition to the traditional baklava filled with pistachio and walnut, it is possible to find light, diabetic and aloe vera baklava.


Throughout the centuries Lokum (Turkish delight) has been an essential part of traditional cuisine in the Ottoman Palaces. In Europe it became popular during the 18th Century when it was brought back to the UK and given the name by which we all know it today; Turkish Delight. It is a light, sugary gel sweet generally flavoured with rosewater, mastic, Bergamot orange, or lemon. It is traditionally cut into small cubes of different colours and can make a lovely gift to take home for presents.

Have you tried any of these delicious dishes while on holiday in Turkey? If so which was your favorite?

A Personal Q & A on Santorini Holidays

Have you been yearning to visit Santorini? Is it on your to-do list.. or do the views just amaze you enough to think of travelling there one day. 

We have asked our local Santorini office to give some personal recommendations for you to make the most of your Santorini holidays.. here are the results.

What do you like most about Santorini?

I love the brightness of it all. The sea is so blue…azure, aquamarine and so clear and the sky is blue too. Then you have the dazzling white of the little circular houses with their bright blue roofs. It’s like a painting.

Santorini View

Which foods should I try when visiting Santorini?

You must try the seafood: shrimp, octopus, lobster and any freshly caught fish. Fish is sold by the kilo and you choose what you want from the display and they go off and cook it for you. In some restaurants they carry a tray with all the different choices of seafood, meat and fish which is like a walking menu for you to pick from.

Are there any restaurants in particular that you’d recommend?

The restaurants here are serve mainly seafood or Greek food. Enjoy the traditional atmosphere on the rooftop terrace at Camille Stefani which serves traditional Meze plates of stuffed vine leaves and saganaki cheese. At 1500bc, yes it is the name of a restaurant, you will not only have divine seafood like caramelised octopus or grilled lobster but also stunning views out to sea.

Santorini sunset

What are your favourite activities in Santorini?

My favourite thing is to take the walk from Fira to Oia to watch the sunset…it’s legendary and a truly romantic setting. I also spend days sunbathing on one of the gorgeous coloured beaches.

Where are the best beaches?

The black volcanic sands at Kamari and Perissa are an amazing spectacle as is The Red Beach which is probably the most famous. However, it’s a bit of a hike to get down to it and it can get very crowded but you must make sure you visit it once.

Santorini hotel

Do you have a favourite historical site?

For me it’s the hidden gem of the Monastery of Profitis Ilias even though it’s a long drive up a narrow road to reach it the spectacular views you get from the top make it well worth it. It is an oasis of calm and peace.

If you had to sum up Santorini in one word, what would it be?


Santorini pool

If you are interested in Santorini holidays, Direct Traveller currently has amazing itineraries of gulet cruises and tours that venture to this beautiful island. 

Have you visited Santorini? What did you think and how was your experience?

Turtle Hatching in North Cyprus

Are you fascinated by marine turtles? Or are your children's imagination buzzed with the arrival of the latest film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". Feed your curiosity or your children's imagination with an experience of real marine turtles.

These gorgeous creatures are very selective about their breeding ground. Guess what? North Cyprus is one of their preferred locations...

North Cyprus is an area now world famous as a destination to see Loggerhead and Green nesting and hatching. The turtles are a protected species and also increasingly important for the tourist industry. 

The Marine Turtle Conservation Project at Alagadi beach is in its third decade with an estimated 5000 visitors in recent years. The marine turtle is such an important creature to Cyprus that it has been used as the emblem of the North Cyprus tourism industry for many years. Nesting peaks in late June/early July, whilst the hatching season starts in mid- July. 

Turtle hatching

 The Marine Turtle Research Group, coordinated by Exeter University, carries out daily nest excavations, at dawn and at night and allows visitors to join night patrols when it is safe for the turtles. This is a chance for people like you and me to get up close and personal and watch these beautiful creatures.

Watching turtles under the supervision of the experts is the best way to see and help the turtles, as even visiting nesting beaches during the breeding season can seriously affect the turtles’ welfare. Some of the money provided by turtle tourism allows the research work and protection of the turtles’ environment to continue. The nesting beach at Alagadi is a specially protected area and closed to general public access between 22.00 and 08.00. Anyone who is there without permission will be escorted from the beach.

Marine Turtle swimming

If you are lucky enough to witness turtles hatching you will see hundreds of tiny baby turtles frantically dig their way out of their sandy nests and scuttle as fast as they can down to the open sea. Their first instinct is to head for the light and that used to only mean the moonlight on the sea, but over recent years the modern developments and their resulting light pollution have confused turtles causing them to go the wrong way, often ending in disaster for the turtles. 

Northern Cyprus has quieter bays which are safe breeding grounds for the 300 green and 1000 loggerhead turtles that inhabit the waters of the Med. Today turtles nest on the sandy beaches of Alagadi, Girne, the Karpaz peninsula and in Famagusta Bay.

Turtle Beach location

Seeing this amazing spectacle will be a memory for you to treasure. Remember you will need to be in the right place at the right time and you will be directly contributing to the preservation of these truly fascinating creatures.

If you are interested in North Cyprus turtles. Direct Traveller can arrange visits to turtle beach during the hatching and breeding seasons. 

Have you seen a marine turtle? what do you think of this amazing experience?

Why Direct Traveller offers truly the finest holiday deals online

When you are looking for the best company with which to book your next holiday, there are certain priorities that will matter more to you than others. Of course, you will want to find a holiday provider with a wide range of destinations, but for many of the most discerning travellers, it's also vital to find a company that prizes the utmost quality in everything that it does.

Direct Traveller doesn't merely offer competitively-priced holiday deals online. That's because we also ensure that every aspect of our service lives up to the most demanding expectations. This specialist in tailor made holidays certainly has the right past reputation, having been founded back in 2003 as a pioneer in direct-flight breaks to North Cyprus, since expanding its range of destinations and scooping accolades from the likes of Virgin Group and The Sunday Times.

However, Direct Traveller would not enjoy the status of 77th fastest growing company in Great Britain unless it also truly valued the relationship that it enjoys with its customers, working hard to ensure that the holidays that it provides meet with constant high satisfaction. Over the last 11 years, we have established a reputation as one of the UK's premier specialist tour operators, with a portfolio of destinations that includes not just North Cyprus, but also Turkey, Dubai, Sri Lanka and Oman.

As well as a greater number of destinations, we have built on various aspects of our current service. In addition to the guided tours that we can now provide in all of our specialist destinations, we can offer everything from private villa holidays in North Cyprus to activities like balloon riding and cooking classes in Turkey and elephant safaris in Sri Lanka. Our currently available holiday deals online even extend to luxury desert night camps in Arabia and hotel rooms under the ocean in Dubai.

These are offered alongside all of the more traditional beach holidays and city breaks, all while Direct Traveller continues to pay close attention to its principal objective of the very highest quality. We recognise that our considerable success to date has not been by chance, and that only by continuing to cater for the specific requirements of our customers in line with our family-oriented service, can we remain a leading choice for high quality, tailor made holiday deals online.

Buddhism and Sri Lankan Cultural Heritage

Buddhism has been a great civilising force of the Sri Lankan people since it was introduced in the 3rd century BC by Venerable Mahinda the son of the Indian Emperor Ashoka.

Sri Lanka, with a population of 20 Million out of which 75% is Sinhalese Buddhist, has the longest continuous history of Buddhism compared to any other Buddhist nation.
Sri Lankan culture has been nourished by Theravada Buddhism & is dating back as far as 2600 years.

Buddhism is based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is known as the Buddha ‘The enlightened one’. It is a ‘non theistic’ religion & doesn’t involve any believe in God. Instead, it encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices.

Buddhism has greatly influenced Sri Lankan way of life although this is less apparent today specially in cities like Colombo. Majority of Sri Lankans are quite conservative and have simple life style. They believe in the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. Some Buddhists exempt completely from eating meat & the ultimate goal would be to attain ‘Nirvana’ a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self.

However, Sri Lankan Buddhists have eventually adopted religious elements of Hinduism in their religious practices. Some of these practices may relate to ancient indigenous beliefs and traditions on spirits, worship of deities etc.

The Sri Lankan culture centres around the temple. Kandy ‘Dalada Maligawe’ which house the ‘tooth relic of Buddha’ is one of the sacred places on the Island. It is believed that Sinhalese as an ethnic group are destined to preserve and protect Buddhism in the country. Therefore, Sri Lanka has been ruled by Sinhalese Buddhist kings and leaders for many years in the past to date.

Buddhism has formed & shaped Sri Lankan heritage. In most instances, Sri Lankan arts & crafts, Literature, music & dancing, beliefs and traditions have originated from religious beliefs. This is represented in many forms such as painting, sculpture, and architecture.
Such as, the paintings and statues found in the ‘Dambulla Cave temple’ are related to Lord Buddha and his life. The frescoes found at Sigiriya and Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy are with historical value.

UNESCO has identified six archaeological World Heritage Sites in the island, such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Kandy & Galle fort. Most of these World Heritage Sites within a compact area called the Cultural Triangle.

These are few of the places not to be missed! You can see these amazing sites for yourself with a Direct Traveller Sri Lankan culturaltriangle tour which explores the very best of the region in the comfort of a private tour, chauffeured by your own guide.

Eating out In Istanbul....So many choices!

Having visited Istanbul so many times, each time the trips become more and more fascinating. People tend to do Istanbul as a short weekend city breaks or combine it with a beach stay in Turkey or North Cyprus. It extremely charming that a city can vary from one visit to another where you find ‘not one’ or ‘two’ places you have not seen or heard off but so many places which you did not even know were there from your last visit which is why my experience has been a different and better every time.

Istanbul Bosporus bridge - Ortakoy

I travelled to many cities around the world but this city has by far been one of the most interesting and fascinating, especially for dining and eating out. Restaurants from your local average hidden places, in the side streets to the more commercial dining places but the experience no matter where you chose to dine it is just incredible and memorable each time. Having discovered new places which were better than the previous and yet still so many restaurants to explore and try the local Turkish cuisine. One thing , you do find in Istanbul is the good quality of food was not just in those very expensive restaurants but also in those small local places where the people are credibly friendly, service and food is just ‘spot on’ at all times.

You will notice that the less commercial side of the city and places to dine were actually the best which you will find in many other cities surely but what makes Istanbul unique is that there is so much choice and variety of places to dine that you really feel the real Turkish Culture.  The most amazing places to eat are often found on small side streets which are not on any tourist map/guide by the way so make sure you explore the hidden streets during your visit as you will get good value for money as well as amazing food.  One thing the Turkish culture takes pride in is their food and their big kitchen so whether you’re on a budget or don’t mind splashing the cash you will always find ‘good’ food to suit your needs in this city.

The local small kebab booths to the top end classy prestige restaurants and the best wraps that little man put together in the little ‘kofte’ booth near Taksim square. If you get hungry, at 2am at 3pm in the morning you will always find a place to eat in this city and not just fast food take out but proper home cooked food. It is like a 24 hour moving city. I will never forget the little diner place where I had the opportunity to have their local  home-made lentil soup with fresh bread early hours of the morning as I was ill with a cold and needed something warm for my throat. This little family owned place was where the locals would go if they were hungry after a night out with friends or people coming back from a long day of work so there was something for everybody...

Try to go dine at different places in Istanbul because this city has a big ‘food’ culture where you can experience home-made cooked food from different villages to the traditional Turkish Cuisine depending on what you feel like really. With various options and types of restaurants it really tops my list for fine dining as my experience has been nothing other than amazing. The options and variety of places to eat is creditable in comparison to other cities I have visited over the years and more importantly the quality of food just gets better.

A simple salad has never tasted so amazing with just simple ingredients; you can actually taste the freshness and enjoy it. When you think about the views of the Bosporus and the fine dining you almost forget the traffic and over populated crowd walking in the streets but it makes you wonder why people continue to migrate to Istanbul it has amazing views, history speaks for itself, great food and lastly socialising is so easy with so much to do you will never get bored. It is a 24 hour buzzing city! 

Have you been to Istanbul.. or are you planning to go? What do you think of Guner's tips on Istanbul dining. 

Pinnawala – The Elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka

It is believed that Sri Lanka has the highest density of elephants in Asia...

A visit to Pinnawala – Elephant orphanage is an unforgettable experience for anybody.

The orphanage was originally founded in order to protect many of the orphaned wild elephants found wandering in and near the forests of Sri Lanka and is a captive breeding ground. Many Elephants were injured or orphaned due to deforestation or during the past conflict in the county.

 Pinnawala – Elephant orphanage

The orphanage did attract local and foreign visitors and the income was intended to use to maintain the orphanage.

It would take about one & half hours from Colombo to reach ‘Pinnawala’.  It is advisable to start the day early as it would give you plenty of time.

As soon as you enter, in the close vicinity you would see a group of 50-60 elephants of different sizes and shapes.  You may find some of the large Male elephants are chained. This may be sometimes necessary to tame them & don’t forget these are large wild animals and therefore, only specially trained ‘mahouts’ are capable of controlling them.

Tourists get the opportunity to bottle feed the baby elephants and can also observe the bathing elephants from the broad ‘Ma Oya’ river bank.  This would be very interesting sight as these herds of elephants interact socially, bathing and playing.

 Pinnawala Elephants bathing

Most of the elephants at Pinnawala are healthy and once attaining adulthood they were released to temples or private owners whilst the injured ones remained.

Unfortunately, the elephant population in Sri Lanka has declined drastically by at least 50% over the last three generations. This could be due to poaching, illegal trading etc.

Today, the elephant population is largely restricted to the dry zone in the north, east and southeast of Sri Lanka. Elephants are present in the Sri Lankan National parks of Udawalawe National Park, Yala National Park, Lunugamvehera National Park, Wilpattu National Park and Minneriya National Park but also live outside protected areas.

Sri Lanka Elephants Drinking

Elephant is an endangered species and need to be protected for the sustainability of the natural balance for generations to come.

Visit the orphanage is an amazing experience, and a must-see for anyone. Whether you are interested in wildlife or not, watching the elephants will captivate you into another world.

Are you planning to visit the orphanage? need tips or ideas? let us know here...

Oman – The undiscovered...

Oman renowned for it is endless desert; beautiful greenery it is one of those destinations with a lot of charm and natural beauty. The best time to visit Oman is between October and April where the temperature varies between 20c to 30c's.

The beautiful Muscat City is where most of the busy life takes place, saying that you would still find it quiet and peaceful. Rocky mountain scenery and the beautiful ocean complete the atmosphere of this beautiful area.

Oman Locals

While swimming in Oman, I walked in the sea for over 300 meters in a shallow water to reach 1.50 meter depth, it's a very nice sandy beach where locals and tourist can enjoy, but tourists tend to use hotel private beaches as it's not a local trend to appear with a bikini on public beaches. 

When it comes to hotels, it has more to offer than any other place and it’s the popular places for tourists and locals alike to hang out, dine, or have an alcoholic drink, as drinking alcohol is only permitted in hotels.

The Oman cuisine is quite spicy and close to Indian food, and it's not as popular outdoor, but you tend to find more Lebanese and Turkish restaurants in and outside the hotels. but one thing I can recommend is the sea food, Oman its an area rich in sea food cuisine as the sea food export business forms 70-80 % of it's economy, so don't hesitate to order fish it will always come flapping on your plate :)
Oman beaches

An enjoyable time prior to dinner is sipping a nice cold drink on the hotel terrace and watching the sun immersing behind the sea, reflecting a beautiful colour on both sky and water. 

The people in Oman are very friendly and polite, as they are famous on having a laid back and relaxed mood most of the time. 

Definitely, a must do in Oman is scuba diving especially if you have a passion for undersea photography and filming. The marine life is absolutely thrilling, in particular the turtles.

The beaches of Ras Al Had and Ras Al Junayz are the most popular areas for turtles to come lay their eggs. Green turtles, loggerheads, Hawksbill and leatherbacks live for over 100 years and swim the length and breadth of the Indian Ocean only to return every year to the same sites to lay their eggs.

Oman architecture 
What is more fascinating are the intriguing caves Al Hoota being the most popular cave in Oman. This cave is over 2 million years old; it is in Jabal Shams and will take about 45 minutes to tour the whole cave. Even though the cave may look like its made of stone, it isn’t. It made of water. It all starts when rainwater dissolves, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or soil, producing a dilute carbonic acid that dissolves the limestone, creating room for it, thus forming the cave.

From many people we hear Oman is the natural version of Dubai, which is agreeable based on the nature, the beaches and the amazing architecture. If your looking for a place to escape have nothing but pure indulgence, fantastic beaches and deserts, with a lot of scenic views Oman is the place to go.

Have you been to Oman? or thinking tell us your thoughts?

Karpaz and the New Yacht Marina

For a few years we've been hearing a lot about this beautiful Port Marina opening in North Cyprus. In June 2013, it was a very exciting time with the grand opening of the Karpaz Marina in North Cyprus. The launch was absolutely fantastic; it was a beach party with a live Cuban band singing and dancing the night away. Cocktails and snacks were available all night.

Sunset at Karpaz Gate Marina, North Cyprus

Full of lush yachts stationed on the port side, you can have a lovely dinner to begin with at the Hemingway restaurant overlooking the marina. Watching hundreds of guests arrive and sailing in by sea and land during sunset to start the celebration of the grand opening – was truly spectacular.

Night-time at Karpaz Gate Marina, North Cyprus

The Marina was built to be an access gate through which people can enter TRNC, rather than just flights and commercial harbours.  It is a unique hospitality development with elegance of al fresco dining, advantages of duty free status. It provides 300 berths for vessels up to 55 metres and boat maintenance facilities on site.

Restaurant at Karpaz Gate Marina, North Cyprus

On the promenade not only is there the Hemingway Bistro Bar restaurant, but there is also a shops, the beach club, fitness centre, art gallery, and diving school. The marina can accommodate vessels up to 55 metres, while boats up to 45 metres and with a beam of up 10 metres can be brought ashore for refit or anti-fouling.

Yachts Karpaz Gate Marina, North Cyprus

If you have a keen interest in yachts and your thinking of purchasing, Karpaz Marina is the perfect location for this, you will find Cyprus Yachts a subsidiary company of Sea Alliance group located right in the marina. This exclusive dealer has yacht brands such as Jeanneau, prestige, nautique, wellcraft, Four winns and the famous ski and wake boats of Natique. The company sell a large range of pre-owned yachts too.

Karpaz Gate Marina scene

This Marina specially designed with super-yachts and larger vessels is unlike others,  has superb berthing as well as on-shore facilities, advanced technical services and range of leisure activities. The unique Northern Cyprus venue is attracting many sizes of yachts cater for larger vessels.  Sailors are discovering this striking location on the Karpaz Peninsula as a perfect stop over during a cruise, while other yacht owners from ports across the world are taking advantage of this marina as a tax free, sheltered and secure base for an extended stay.

Karpaz Gate Marina docked yachts
Just a short drive away from the Marina, you will find accommodation from 5 star luxury hotels to small beach bungalows on the Karpaz Peninsula if you wish to be away from the buzz and taken by the nature. The beach bungalows are highly recommended as you’re surrounded by nothing but sea and sand, what more can anyone want…. Burhan’s Beach Bungalows is one of the popular choices. 

This beautiful location on the island is where you forget everything and totally relax and unwind. Listening to the waves, watching the sunset, seeing the stars shine at night I really cannot wait to go back.

The marina is situated in Yeni Erenkoy, near the Karpaz Peninsula towards the tip of the island, but no matter what location you are at in North Cyprus – it is definitely worth adding this to your trip itinerary.

Have you been to the new Marina? what did you think?

Winter Fun in North Cyprus

I am 36 years old and originally form Sri Lanka, currently living in the UK with my wife. I am working for a specialist tour operator - Direct Traveller.

I had an opportunity to go on a free holiday thanks to my Managing Director. We arranged a free winter holiday in North Cyprus last year December with my wife.

As a leading North Cyprus tour operator, has a very high repeat client rate, with some of them travelling to North Cyprus more than 2 or 3 times per year. Intrigued about what all the fuss is about, I decided to visit and try for myself.

As an organised person I prepared an itinerary for our holiday. I combined adventure, fun, discovery, shopping, and peace and quiet all into one holiday.

Here is my North Cyprus winter itinerary:

Day 1 - 17/12/2013

9.00am - 01.00pm

Rest at Pia Bella


01.00pm - 2.00pm

Walk down to Harbour @ take lunch from somewhere


2.00pm - 4.30pm

The Girne Castle & Shipweck Museum

2.5 hrs

4.30pm- 5.30 pm

Aga Cafer Pasha Mosque


From 5.30

Harbour sight seeing

Day 2 - 18/12/2013

09.00am - 01.00 pm

St. Hilarion Castle


2.30pm - 4.00pm

Bellapais Abbey



Alagadi Turtle Beach

Day 3 - 19/12/2013

Apostolos Andreas Monastery

Ayios Trias Basilica

see wild donkeys

Edremit -small church/slovenlier/deco plates

Day 4 - 20/12/2013

9.00am - 11.30am

Buffavento Castle


   1.00pm -

Kantara Castle


Day 5 - 21/12/2013

10.00am-10.30 am

Kyrenia Gate


11.00am - 2.00 pm

The Great Khan


2.30pm - 3.15pm

Selimiye Mosque


from 3.30pm

Covered Bazaar

Day 6 - 22/12/2013

09.00am - 10.30am

Salamis Ruins


11.00am - 12.00pm

Porta Del Mare (Sea Gate)


2.00pm - 3.00 pm

The Othello Tower


For the route, we chose the Pegasus airlines night flight from London Stranded airport on 16th December 2013 within six hours; we were in lovely sunshine temperature near to 15C in Cyprus.

We headed to Piabella hotel (4 Star) near to Kyrenia town centre. It is a very beautiful hotel with amazing views of Kyrenia Mountains. Afterhaving a short rest at Piabella around 2.00pm we went out to buy some local currency (Turkish lira). My advice is, it’s always exchange your money at local exchange bureaus rather than stick to the airport or Hotel.

Thereafter we had a lovely lunch assorted with grilled beef and peppers at a Mexican grill, which is very close to the hotel - great value for money! I won’t hesitate to recommend this place to anyone... You will love it.

Then we had a wander around Kyrenia town centre, it is a beautiful town, which is between Kyrenia harbour and the Kyrenia Mountains. Kyrenia town is the best place to do your shopping. There was a sweet shop called ‘SIMIT DUNYASI’ and there are lot of sweets in this shop. We never forgot to visit every day, for late afternoon tea at this shop, as we fell in love with their sweets and Turkish tea.

 In Kyrenia town centre there are lots of fruit juice and soft drinks stores. You can buy freshly made orange juice for less than £1, which is squeezed from more than 14 oranges!

At the hotel we stayed on a half board basis. The hotel gives different types of dishes throughout the week and it was a buffet style dinner. It was not amazing but was always a good standard and some days was even very good. They had even served a BBQ night, Curry night, grill night and other varieties, making it interesting for guests.

We are used to fly-drive holidays and easily adapted to self driving our rental car in North Cyprus. Our local rep handed over the car to us, I asked where are the keys?, he said they are in the car…That’s an example of how safe it is in North Cyprus. I was very surprised, because that is not something we can expect in UK.  Cyprus is a really honest country, which is close to a zero percent crime rate.

Compared to London the weather is amazing and during the day time its around 15C to 20C, and night time it was reduced to 8C to 12C.

Our mission was to discover the island as much as possible, we took early breakfasts and we started each day early. As it was winter time we went with a soft jacket and that was amazing. We went to the end of North side of island (Karpaz), known as the “Panhandle”. In this side of the island there are lots of wild donkeys - we even gave carrots to them. There is very old church in this area, where people make wishes and we made a wish as well.

We went to two castles, and I think winter time is the best time for castle visits as its not excessively warm.
The food was amazing and we tried different types of dishes.

We love to walk through Kyrenia harbour in the evenings as the ambience and view in the harbour area was beautiful. There are lots of fish restaurants in the area and the fish is very fresh. In fact you can choose which fish you would like the chef to grill for you..

We went to the restaurant at the Bellapais area and that was the best lunch in North Cyprus. I had grilled fish with salad and a different type of humus.

Nobody really used the hotel pool except to sunbathe, as the water was chilly. One day I bucked the trend and on a warm 16C sunny day, I took a plunge. I jumped into to the pool and swam 2 lengths. As I came out the pool some guests and hotel workers Cheered me! “come on”. To be honest the water was cold, but once you stepped out I quickly defrosted in the sunshine J

Unfortunately our 7 days had gone very quickly. We came to London on the 24th December and were presented with the great British winter...

North Cyprus is very safe country with honest locals – the people are very good.

I know now why people fall in love with North Cyprus. One day I hope to purchase a retirement house in North Cyprus.. but for now I am definitely planning to visit this winter as well..

Have  you been to North Cyprus in the winter? what's your favourite aspect?

Like this post? Share with friends now