In 1974 an attempted coup by Greek Cypriot nationalists ended in an invasion by Turkey and the division of the island.
So the north is now only recognised by Turkey and is illegal under international law. The practical consequence of this is that you need to fly in via Istanbul. It is Turkish speaking but nearly everybody has excellent English. There’s no one great must see sight but there are plenty of interesting places to spend a few hours on a sunny day.
Salamis on the river Pedieos is a very impressive archaeological site. It was a large city in ancient times and was once the capital. It has been occupied by the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians and Romans. Destroyed by earthquakes in 76 AD and again in 331 AD there is still much to see. First excavated in the nineteenth century the early finds are now in the British Museum. Later excavations between 1952 and 1974 remain on the island. The huge amphitheatre has fifty rows of seats.
Kyrenia is called the tourist capital of Northern Cyprus with good reason. It has an historic harbour with a castle at the eastern end. Its a beautiful place surrounded by mountains.
Nearby Bellapais Abbey is a ruined monastery and the main tourist focus.
Soli is one of the ten ancient kingdoms of Cyprus. It hasn’t been fully excavated but there are mosaics on show. Here they are protected from the rain and sun by huge and very unattractive plastic roofing. There is also a very heavily restored roman theatre.
The Karpas Peninsular
This long wild peninsular is famous for its hundreds of wild donkeys descended from those abandoned by peasant farmers during the invasion. The ruined fifth century Sipahi basilica has outstanding mosaics in a beautiful setting so along with a scenic drive this is a great day out.