Famagusta in Northern Cyprus is a bustling spot known for its rich blend of culture, history, and beach tourism. The area becomes particularly lively in the summer, drawing a crowd of tourists eager to explore its various offerings.
With a history that spans multiple civilizations, Famagusta boasts a wealth of cultural landmarks. From ancient ruins and towering fortifications to castles and museums, there’s no shortage of historical sites to visit. Plus, as it’s located on an island, you’ll also find stunning beaches and shores perfect for swimming.
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Places To See In Famagusta
Ghost Town Maraş
Maraş, located within the borders of Famagusta district center, is known as the Ghost Town today. The neighborhood, located approximately 4 kilometers northwest of the district, can be reached on foot or by private vehicle; However, it is not possible to enter the town.
Maraş, which was once one of the leading tourism paradises of Cyprus, was among the world-famous popular holiday resorts. Maraş, an extremely luxurious area where world-famous names vacationed here, was evacuated in one night by the Turkish Armed Forces in 1970, and entry to the neighborhood was prohibited from that day on.
Although it is not possible to enter the neighborhood, which has the appearance of an abandoned city, you can easily see decaying buildings, workplaces and structures from the nearby beaches. You should definitely see Maraş, which has become the symbolic place of Famagusta with its creepy appearance.
Ancient City of Salamis
The ancient city, located approximately 6 kilometers away from Famagusta town center, is among the oldest historical buildings in the region. The region, which you can reach by following the coastal road north with your private vehicle, can also be reached by minibus via Yeni Boğaziçi.
Salamis, where the first settlements in the district were built, is located near the place where the water from the Troodos mountains in the region flows into the sea. According to the archaeological studies carried out in the ancient city, the theatre, mass graves, basilica, monuments and walls have survived from the city, which is thought to be approximately 2000 years old.
Buildings you can visit in the ancient city; They are listed as Salamis Gymnasium, Salamis Theatre, Roman Villa, Byzantine Cistern, St. Epiphanios Basilica, Zeus Altar, Cellarga Mass Graves and Nikokreon Monument and an open market place (agora).
The Gymnasium of Salamis
The Salamis Gymnasium is a must-see for history enthusiasts. Located at the north end of the ancient city of Salamis, it’s a site rich in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine history. Though damaged by earthquakes, you can still see columns on all four sides and sculptures around the pools at both ends. Salamis offers a wealth of ancient ruins, including basilicas, royal tombs, and classical colonnades, making it a great spot for those interested in the past.
Salamis Theater is in the south of the ancient city. The theater has a capacity of 15 thousand people and consists of three sections. Stage building, orchestra and seating areas. Due to earthquakes, only the foundations of the stage decorated with statues have survived to the present day.
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (St. Nicholas Cathedral)
Situated in the heart of Famagusta, the mosque is one of the area’s oldest and most storied structures. Over the years, it has served various civilizations.
Originally constructed as a cathedral during Byzantine rule, the building was transformed into a mosque when the Ottomans took control. Now known as Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, it continues to captivate visitors with its unique design and grandeur, setting it apart from traditional European cathedrals.
Open to the public every day, entry to the mosque is free, making it an accessible attraction for both local and international tourists.
You can get to the castle in Famagusta’s coastal area by car or on foot. Built originally for sea defense, the castle was later fortified by walls when the Venetians took over. Inside, a lion statue catches the eye. Its hind legs are submerged in the sea, while its front legs are on land. This statue is believed to represent a Venetian captain, symbolizing strength both on land and sea.
Cyclops Cave is a natural wonder about 20 kilometers from the center of Famagusta. The cave is thought to be naturally formed and offers stunning views, especially with the sea right below it. It’s in one of the island’s most untouched spots. You can also scuba dive around its shores. Entrance is free.
Namık Kemal Dungeon
Another interesting stop in Famagusta is the dungeon where poet Namık Kemal was once held, along with an adjacent museum. Easily accessible by foot in the city center, there’s also parking available if you’re driving, just follow Fevzi Çakmak Boulevard northward.
This dungeon also has historical ties to another prominent figure, Nazım Hikmet, who was exiled and imprisoned here. Namık Kemal was confined in this dungeon for about 38 months starting in 1873, after publishing his work “Homeland or Silistre.”
During his time in the prison, Namık Kemal faced numerous health challenges but continued to write. The nearby museum houses these writings as well as valuable information about the poet’s life.
The City Walls
The walls around the old city of Famagusta are about two miles long and are in good shape. The best way to see them is from the moat that runs along three sides of the city. Despite what some maps say, the area is open to the public. You can drive around the moat, but walking gives you a better view.
The Canbulat Museum in Famagusta is home to the tomb of Canbulat, a key Ottoman commander from the 16th century. The museum also has exhibits about the Ottoman takeover of the city. According to legend, Canbulat died riding through a tunnel filled with blades to inspire his troops, leading to an Ottoman win. The tomb is a significant site in Cyprus and many Turks visit it.
Sinan Pasha Mosque (Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul)
Famagusta is a hub of history and spirituality, featuring buildings from as far back as the 14th century. The Sinan Pasha Mosque, originally a Gothic church, is notable for its robust structure, built to endure earthquakes. The true charm of the building is in its finely crafted interior, adorned with detailed art and historical elements.
Constructed during the reign of Peter I from 1358 to 1369, the church was financially backed by Simon Nostrano, a rich trader. Although the building is solid, critics often say it doesn’t accurately reflect Gothic style.
Over time, the building has served various purposes. When the Ottomans conquered the area, they added a minaret and renamed it the Sinan Pasha Mosque. During British governance, it was used to store grain, gaining it the local nickname “Bugday Cami,” which translates to “wheat mosque.”
Also located here is the tomb of Yirmisekiz Celebi Mehmed Efendi, an 18th-century Ottoman diplomat to France. He earned his nickname, Yirmisekiz, or “twenty-eight” in Turkish, from his time in the 28th battalion.
The site provides a window into Famagusta’s complex past, showcasing its early prosperity and diverse cultural impacts.
St. Barnabas Monastery near Famagusta
St. Barnabas Monastery near Famagusta is a special place for history and art lovers. It’s dedicated to St. Barnabas, the patron saint of Cyprus. Now serving as an icon museum, it has a rich collection of Cypriot artifacts, some dating back to the 7th Century BC. These are displayed in the old monk cells. The current building isn’t the original; the first one fell into ruin and was replaced in the 18th century. Originally built with three domes, one collapsed due to weak foundations. It was never replaced, giving the church a unique square look. You can still see the walls of the original eastern apse today.
Don’t miss the tomb near the monastery! About 100 yards away, you’ll find St. Barnabas’ mausoleum. It’s built where his remains were found. A must-see for the complete experience.
Places to Visit near Famagusta for a Day Trip
There are also places you can visit as a day trip during your Famagusta holiday.
Dipkarpaz National Park
Located at the northeastern tip of the island, the national park is approximately 70 kilometers away from the town center. In Dipkarpaz, one of the most important parks of Cyprus, where you can go with your private vehicle, you can see the donkeys, the symbol of the region, and have the opportunity to closely examine the natural beauties of the island.
Kyrenia Gate, one of the symbolic structures of Nicosia, is approximately 60 kilometers away from Famagusta town center. By following the Nicosia – Famagusta main road west with your private vehicle, Dr. You can reach it by turning left from Fazıl Küçük Boulevard and entering the town center. You can also reach Kyrenia Gate with Nicosia minibuses departing from Famagusta.
The Venetian Column, located within the borders of Nicosia, is among the important historical structures of the region. After following the Nicosia – Famagusta main road with your private vehicle to the column, which is approximately 55 kilometers away from Famagusta, Dr. You can see it by entering the town center by turning left from Fazıl Küçük Boulevard. Transportation to the region can also be provided by Nicosia minibuses, which depart hourly from Famagusta bus station.
Where To Stay In Famagusta
Arkin Palm Beach Hotel
Built in 2011, Arkin Palm Beach is in Cyprus’s Famagusta area. It’s right by the sea with a 250-meter beach and a pier. The place has its own sandy beach and different places to eat, like outdoor and indoor restaurants.
There are pools for fun and relaxation. If you like water sports, they offer pedalo, canoe, and surfing. You can also get a massage to relax more.
The place has other services like a doctor, photographer, hairdresser, market, and car rentals. There’s a bar for a good time. Your room’s air conditioning can be adjusted to keep you comfortable.
Salamis Bay Conti Resort
Salamis Bay Conti is a hotel in Famagusta, Cyprus, not far from the city center and the airport. It’s right on Salamis Beach, which has fine golden sand. The hotel is a good fit for both couples on their honeymoon and families with kids.
For relaxation, there’s a spa with a sauna, Turkish bath, indoor pool, and massages. If you want to work out, there’s a gym.
The hotel provides free open buffet meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some local and certain foreign drinks are free at the Lobby Bar from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. The minibar in your room gets stocked with beer, soft drinks, water, juice, and soda when you arrive.
Oscar Park Hotel
Oscar Park is a 3-star hotel in Yenibogaziçi, Famagusta, Northern Cyprus. It’s close to the city center and the airport. The hotel has a cozy feel and is near the historic Salamis ruins.
The hotel offers walking paths lined with pine trees, a swimming pool, and a sandy beach that’s just 277 meters from the sea. It also has an A’la Carte menu with various dishes to choose from.
Port View Hotel
Port View Hotel located in the historic city of Famagusta, Northern Cyprus offers a mix of modern comforts and easy access to ancient sites. You can choose from different room types, including luxury suites and family apartments. The hotel is just a minute’s walk from Salamis Street’s cafes and shops, as well as other historical spots like the Port of Famagusta and the city’s ancient walls.
For relaxation, the hotel offers an indoor pool, sauna, and massage services seven days a week. If you want to stay active, there’s a 24/7 gym. The restaurant and bar serve a range of global dishes and offer an open buffet.
Best Beaches in Famagusta
Gorgeous beach with crystal-clear blue water. It’s quiet and not crowded. Perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. There’s a nice bar by the sea where you can get food and drinks. Sunbeds and umbrellas are available too. The beach is just 11 km away from Famagusta city centre.
Great beach for families. You can rent chairs and the water is shallow, good for swimming. There’s a bar and restaurant on-site. The beach has a gentle slope into deeper water and beautiful green waters for snorkeling. There’s also a paid area with lounge mats and a quality restaurant. Warm waters in the summer and good food make it a perfect spot.
This Famagusta beach is stunning, with clear waters and white sand. It’s great for relaxing or for those seeking some adventure. It’s one of the best beaches in the area.
Location: 3XMJ+5P9, Derinköy 99450
Best Places To Eat in Famagusta
Castello Restaurant & Bar
Castello is a restaurant in the heart of Famagusta, right next to Suriçi. You can get there by car via Fevzi Çakmak Boulevard or by taking a coastal minibus from the town center. The restaurant specializes in Turkish and Mediterranean food, and the prices are reasonable. They also serve alcohol. It’s a popular spot, especially in the summer, so it’s a good idea to make a reservation. They’re known for their tasty appetizers and are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to midnight.
Ezic is a great restaurant with big portions and tasty food. They even give you some free starters. The place looks amazing, and the staff know what they’re doing. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ll also find good options here.
This place is known for its Mediterranean and Turkish dishes and has lots of snack options. You can sit inside or enjoy the garden. It’s near a beautiful beach, making it a great spot for lunch with a view. The service is good, and while the menu isn’t huge, the food quality is excellent. It’s close to Salamis, so you can go for lunch or just a drink.
Aspava Restaurant & Bar has a lively atmosphere. It’s popular with tourists for lunch and locals at night. Even though there’s no menu or prices, don’t worry. This is how dining is done in Cyprus. You start with meze dishes, both cold and hot. Save room though, because a big platter of mixed meats like kebabs and chicken comes next. The food is good and it’s a great deal. Make sure you’re hungry!