The Kyrenia Traverse

location Cyprus, Europe
  • Distance

    139 Mi.

    (224 KM)
  • Days


  • % Unpaved


  • % Singletrack


  • % Rideable (time)


  • Total Ascent


    (4,254 M)
  • High Point


    (847 M)
  • Difficulty (1-10)


  • 7
    Climbing Scale Strenuous100 FT/MI (19 M/KM)
  • 5
    Technical Difficulty Moderate
  • 7
    Physical Demand Difficult
  • 7
    Resupply & Logistics Strenuous
About Our Ratings

Contributed By

Tristan Ridley

Tristan Ridley

Guest Contributor

Tristan has spent the best part of eight years cycling around the world, crossing more than 70 countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. He is currently bikepacking from Alaska to Patagonia and works as a freelance writer, YouTuber, photographer, and coach. You can see more of his journey on his website and YouTube channel and follow along on Instagram @tristanrid.

The Kyrenia Traverse is a four-day route in Northern Cyprus, the breakaway region of Cyprus recognized only by Turkey. Starting in the stunning Karpas Peninsula, the route follows seldom-traveled dirt roads along the knife-edge ridge of the rugged Kyrenia Mountains. With medieval castles, astonishing views over the coast and the interior, and some incredible mixed-surface riding, this route showcases a side of the island few get to experience…
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The island of Cyprus is divided into two parts: the Republic of Cyprus, the larger part of the island that has been independent since 1960, and the smaller de facto region known as Northern Cyprus, which has never been internationally recognised. The island was split when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, and although Northern Cyprus is not recognised as a sovereign state by any country other than Turkey, there remains a militarized land border between the two, as well as some significant cultural and geographical differences.

The Kyrenia Traverse explores the best of Northern Cyprus, a unique region with a fascinating history, beautiful landscapes, and some truly superb riding. Starting in the beautiful Karpas Peninsula at the northeastern point of the island, the route follows the Kyrenia Mountains, a narrow range running parallel to the north coast. Following close to the ridgeline of the mountains on rarely used dirt roads, you’ll be treated to incredible views on both sides, with sweeping vistas out over the coast to the north and expansive views of the island’s interior to the south.

Northern Cyprus is far more rugged than the rest of the island, with a unique flavour that’s well worth savoring. The lowlands are rustic and agricultural, but you’ll see a different world up in the mountains, with thick pine and cedar forests and towering limestone rock formations. You’ll pass through several small charming villages well away from the tourist scene, allowing you to get a feel for the local culture and taste the local food, but for the most part, you’ll see few people on the road whilst riding.

  • Kyrenia Traverse Bikepacking Route
  • Kyrenia Traverse Bikepacking Route

The route also passes several points of historical interest, including two imposing medieval castles, all of which are well worth stopping to explore. The first of the two castles, Kantara Castle, offers what is arguably the best viewpoint on the entire island, with panoramic 360-degree views that will take your breath away.

Most of the riding is on reasonably good-quality dirt roads, and the paved sections are generally very low on traffic. There’s a fair amount of climbing, some of which can be steep and challenging, but the route is generally non-technical and straightforward. There is a short hike-a-bike section at the end of the route, but it’s otherwise entirely rideable as long as your legs are up to the task.

Because Cyprus is a relatively small island and the route can be completed in just three or four days, the Kyrenia Traverse can easily be combined with visits to other parts of the island or even with another bikepacking route, such as the recently developed Cyprus Crossing.

Route Difficulty

The route involves significant climbing, at least outside of the Karpas Peninsula, so the main challenge will be the physical demand on your legs. Summers can get very hot in Cyprus, so depending on the time of year you visit, the climate may make things much more challenging. Even in the shoulder seasons, the weather can be a factor. The road conditions are mostly good, with only a few sections of chunkier rock and one short hike-a-bike, so the route is not particularly technical. Food and water are available sporadically, so a little planning is necessary, and again, if riding this in the hotter months, you may have to carry a lot of water up in the mountains. Because the route is linear, a little planning is required to travel to and from the start and end points, but it’s a relatively small island, so this is not overly difficult.

Route Development

I spent a month bikepacking around Cyprus, and my original intention was to put together a new bikepacking route in the Troodos Mountains in the southern part of the island. I’d decided to check out Northern Cyprus first, before getting started with route development for the Troodos, and although I did subsequently spend time bikepacking in the south as well, it was my time in the north that truly captivated me. In the end, I decided to focus on that section instead, which ultimately led to this route being published. I never set out to create the Kyrenia Traverse, but once I’d ridden it, I felt it was simply too good not to share.

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  • Highlights


  • Must Know


  • Camping


  • Food/H2O


  • Trail Notes


  • The Karpas Peninsula features some of the best coastlines and beaches on the island, and due to being the most isolated part of Cyprus, it doesn’t suffer from the influx of tourists often found elsewhere. Golden Beach is particularly impressive, and you’ll likely get to see the wild donkeys that roam the peninsula, as they can be very friendly.
  • The Kyrenia Mountains are not as high as the Troodos in the south, but due to their knife-edge shape, they afford arguably better views, and the route alternates between the north and south sides of the range, providing incredible panoramas out over both the coast and the interior of the island.
  • Rustic agricultural tracks through the lowlands contrast the quiet forest roads in the mountains. Northern Cyprus is rough around the edges but full of charm.
  • Kantara Castle is a medieval castle that likely dates back to the Byzantine period. Incredibly impressive in its own right, Kantara Castle also offers one of the best viewpoints on the island.
  • Buffavento Castle is the other castle you can visit along the route, requiring a short detour and a hike. There are also monasteries to visit, a Turkish mosque, and even ancient ruins, so you’ll find plenty of interesting sites along the way.
  • Cypriot food and culture is worth exploring, and you’ll find that Northern Cyprus feels noticeably different to the Republic of Cyprus in the south. You can find some delicious food in the villages you’ll come across, and it can be fascinating talking to locals about the island’s recent history and their thoughts on the divide with the south.


  • The route can be ridden year-round. However, due to extreme heat in the summer months and the possibility of snow in the winter, the shoulder seasons, around April to June and September to November, are generally the best times to visit. Nighttime temperatures can be chilly in the mountains, especially in the colder months, so make sure you’re prepared.


  • There are international airports at Paphos and Larnaca, with affordable daily flights from many cities in Europe. For this route, Larnaca airport is the closest and most convenient. The Republic of Cyprus is part of the EU, so visas, if needed, are straightforward.
  • The start point of the route in the village of Ziyamet is easiest to reach by taxi transfer, although due to the small size of the island, it’s also feasible to cycle there. It’s just over 100 kilometres (65 miles) from Larnaca International Airport to Ziyamet, and taxis, though not cheap, are not overly expensive. Another option would be stopping first in the popular holiday town of Ayia Napa. Public transport options to Ziyamet and the Karpas Peninsula exist from Famagusta but are inconsistent and, unreliable, and not recommended.
  • To reach the route, you will have to cross the border into Northern Cyprus. The border crossing is an interesting experience, as it’s quite militarised and runs through a section of no man’s land, but it’s nevertheless straightforward. You will need a passport, but you would be required to have this anyway when entering the Republic of Cyprus. For short stays of up to 90 days, for most nationalities, no additional visas are needed to enter North Cyprus, although it’s advisable to double-check this before travelling. You’ll be able to return to the Republic of Cyprus afterwards without issue.
  • Northern Cyprus is outside of the EU, so most European SIM cards won’t cover you there. You can easily purchase a SIM in Famagusta or Nicosia (I would recommend Turkcell) or just make do without data whilst in the North.
  • Whereas the currency in the Republic of Cyprus is the Euro, in Northern Cyprus, they use the Turkish Lira. Card payments are less available in Northern Cyprus than they are in the Republic of Cyprus, especially in smaller villages, so it’s advisable to take out some cash at one of the larger towns or cities, such as Famagusta or Nicosia, depending on your route to the start. You will struggle to find ATMs or banks once you’re on the route, so it’s a good idea to take out some Lira right after crossing the border.
  • The route ends at a highway on the western edge of the Kyrenia Mountains, and you have the option of either rolling south down the hill to Nicosia, from where you can easily organise transport to the airports at Paphos and Larnaca or down to the popular tourist town of Girne on the north coast. If visiting Girne, you can either continue your tour or arrange taxi transport back from there, although it will be more expensive than if going from Nicosia.
  • The route can be ridden in either direction, but it will flow better if ridden as suggested, from east to west.


  • Note that although a dirt road continues a little further west along the Kyrenia Mountains from the endpoint, this area is a restricted military zone where bicycles are expressly forbidden. Soldiers patrol the area, and live fire exercises are occasionally carried out, so do not try to proceed any further. See the GPX for the details.
  • Be warned that venomous snakes exist in Cyprus, with the most dangerous being the Blunt Nosed Viper. It’s very unlikely that you’ll see these, so it’s not something to be overly worried about, but it’s always best to be aware.


  • This route is suitable for any off-road-capable bike, including gravel bikes. A few sections are a little rougher, so you may have more fun on a mountain bike, especially on the descents, but you’ll be able to enjoy this on many different bike types. Whichever bike you choose, bring low climbing gears, as the gradients can sometimes be quite steep.
  • There are no established campsites along the route and virtually no accommodation options, so wild camping will almost certainly be necessary.
  • Although wild camping is technically not allowed in Northern Cyprus, as in most of the world, the route goes through fairly remote areas, so it shouldn’t be an issue. Cypriots are generally relaxed, so even if you were discovered, it’s highly unlikely that you would have a problem.
  • Don’t make any fires. Doing so will attract unwanted attention, and with how hot and dry Cyprus is, you would also risk starting a forest fire, a very real danger in the Kyrenia Mountains. Stick to your camp stove, and please be fire-aware.
  • It’s generally easy to find places to wild camp along the route, although water and food access are limited, so some planning ahead is recommended, especially with water.
  • Once you’re up in the mountains, there is generally no food or water access until you come back down, so you’ll need to plan ahead.
  • Water should be your main concern, especially in the hotter months, as the mountains have no streams or natural sources. When in doubt, bring more water than you think you’ll need. You may need more water capacity than normal; depending on how fast you’re riding the route and where you plan to camp, you may need to carry several litres. Water sources are marked on the map.
  • There are a few restaurants in the mountains, but relying on them is difficult, especially outside of the summer months, as they are often closed. Cypriot cuisine is generally delicious, especially if you eat meat. Grocery stores in Northern Cyprus will be basic, but they’ll have most of what you need.
  • Camping gas canisters are available in Larnaca at Nicosia, but you’re unlikely to find them elsewhere. Alcohol fuel is easy enough to find in pharmacies and hardware stores, although again, you’re best off buying this before crossing into Northern Cyprus.

Because the route is relatively short, and because of the logistics of getting to the start point, meaning riders will begin at different times in the day, I wouldn’t say there’s a strict day-by-day itinerary that I would recommend. As long as you plan for food and water, you can start the route earlier or later in the day and just take it at your own pace.

Wild camping is possible throughout most of the route, and there aren’t any particular wild camping spots that are especially worth aiming for, so this is a route best taken as it comes!

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

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