Cyprus isn’t necessarily the first destination people think of when they go on vacation, but the small island nation is a veritable treasure trove of beaches, scenic vistas, and history.
Famagusta is the dream destination for people looking to step back in time while enjoying blue skies and warm temperatures.
The area is most famous for the plentiful medieval ruins dating back as far as the 13th century. Even so, the coastline is a paradise for those looking to lounge in the sun.
Read on to learn more about things you should try to do while visiting the northern area of Cyprus and a few things to avoid while you’re there.
What Should You Do in Famagusta?
There are plenty of attractions in and around Famagusta for all ages and personalities. Attractions can be loosely divided into four different categories:
- Scenic points of interest
Among the many ancient ruins, the ghost town of Varosha in Famagusta has a distinctly different feeling. Unlike most of the other sites, the ghost town was quickly built up as a fashionable resort and area of commerce, only to be abandoned in 1974.
Being in the Mediterranean, many people are looking to escape to the outdoors, and Cyprus is their answer.
Places like Glapsides Beach and Silver Beach are great for relaxing the whole day away as long as it doesn’t peak tourist season. Meanwhile, hikes to places like Cyclops Cave provide gorgeous views and a sense of adventure for the outdoors person.
What Food Do You Need to Try in Famagusta?
Cyprus’ location means that it has a variety of cultural influences, and this can be seen in its cuisine. Although there is an overlap with Middle Eastern flavors (especially those from Turkey), many of the delicacies have Greek roots.
Must try dishes when visiting Famagusta include:
- Halloumi – a firm, slightly salty cheese that is best grilled or fried
- Kolokouthkia me ta afka (zucchini with egg) – a popular and traditional side dish that goes well with practically any main.
- Loukoumades – delicious bite-sized doughnut balls drenched in honey and coated with crushed nuts and cinnamon for dessert
There are plenty of other dishes to try when visiting Famagusta and the rest of Cyprus, but many will involve lamb meat which some people struggle to eat.
What is Famagusta Famous For?
Famagusta is famous for two main things:
- It’s a naturally deep harbor that was popular with merchants centuries ago
- The number of churches earned it the title “the district of churches”
The harbor is the deepest of all Cypriot harbors, which made the area wealthy back in the day. Because the harbor was so popular, it needed to be well defended, which gave rise to the fortress and its impressive walls.
The stronghold is said to have inspired William Shakespeare’s tale of tragedy, Othello, which is why it is named Othello’s Tower or Othello’s Castle today.
The density and distribution of churches in Famagusta are especially impressive, as if every affluent person was trying to build and buy a place in heaven. Each has a unique story and comes in a wide range of conditions.
Is There a Castle in Famagusta?
Yes, there is a castle in Famagusta known as Othello’s Castle. Back in the 14th century, when it was built, the castle was known as the Harbor Citadel, and it is believed that members of the Kingdom of Cyprus royal family once inhabited the place.
When Cyprus was sold to the Republic of Venice, several modifications transformed the castle into a military installation close to the 15th century.
The thick walls and deep moats are some of the greatest features of the castle, but there are also bronze cannons in superb condition that showcase the innovation and technology of that era.
The castle’s entrance door is also one of the oldest known surviving wooden doors in all of Cyprus.
Things That You’re Not Supposed to Do in Famagusta
Like anywhere else in the world, there are some things that you shouldn’t do while in Famagusta to protect yourself or respect the local culture and its people.
Although Cyprus, and Famagusta by extension, is by no means a poor country or lagging when it comes to technology, there is still a great deal of bargaining and haggling over prices at markets and small businesses.
If you find souvenirs or other items you like, you shouldn’t try to buy them immediately. Chances are that another store nearby will have the same item for a better price. If not, you might be able to negotiate the price with the shopkeeper.
It is also recommended not to drink the tap water of Famagusta. It isn’t especially dirty or unsafe water, but it can make a short trip worse as you try to acclimate to the different minerals in the water when your body isn’t used to them. The same is true for drinks with ice.
Final Thoughts on What to Do in Famagusta
There are many attractions for tourists to experience on a trip to Famagusta spread across a wide variety of interests. However, if you could only do one thing during your visit, it should be a tour of the abandoned town of Varosha.
Other points of interest for longer vacations include Glapsides Beach and Silver Beach, the Venetian walls of Othello’s Castle, and the tasty food at traditional restaurants!