Alsancak has all that you need, great restaurants, shops, supermarkets, right on your doorstep. Only 5 minutes drive to the Mediterranean.
A few miles to the west of Kyrenia, the villages of Lapta and Alsancak form a major centre for tourism, but are also of significant importance in the history of Cyprus. The area is founded on the ruins of the city of Lambousa, which was one of the major kingdoms of Cyprus in ancient history. Lambousa may have been first occupied as long ago as 3000BC, but evidence confirms its definite settlement by 1000BC. The city was of great importance due to its harbour, and in Roman times it was heavily populated and a vital centre for trade. Today, some important archaeology survives, including parts of the city walls, the rock tombs and the remarkable fish tanks. These tanks were built adjacent to the harbour and were reputedly used to breed and keep fish, although some archaeologists now suggest that although they might have had that use in Byzantine times, their origin is actually part of the structure of baths for a Roman villa that once stood on the site.
The city was eventually abandoned after Arab raids and there were many stories that suggested the inhabitants in the Byzantine period buried treasure to await their eventual return. The legends of the Lambousa treasure were long assumed to be nothing more than rumour, but around the end of the nineteenth century many incredible finds were made, including silver items that are now on display in various places around the world, including the British Museum. Further substantial items were later unearthed, including gold and jewellery that represent some of the finest items of Byzantine art. Who knows what still remains to be discovered? There are many churches and mosques in the area, including Timios Prodromos Church, Saint Luka Church, Saint Evlalios Church, Saint Avlambios Chapel, Saint Anastasia Church and Monastery, Saint Theodoros Church, Saint Minas Church, Saint Paraskevi Church, Akhiropetos Monastery, Haydarpasa Mehmet Bey Mosque and Esseyid Mehmet Agha Mosque.
Today, the area is home to a great many excellent hotels and holiday villages and you will find everything you need for a stay, including tavernas, restaurants, coffee shops, supermarkets, general shops and banks. There are many places of interest nearby, including some fine churches and monasteries. There are also two petrol stations for those who have hired a car for the Northern Cyprus holidays – and a couple of car-hire companies for those who have not yet done so! For eating out, you are spoiled for choice here. From traditional Cypriot fare to international cuisine, you are bound to find something to suit. In the area, the Cenap restaurant serves Cypriot meze and grilled dishes and has live entertainment on some evenings, and the local ‘fast food’ restaurant is a fantastic spot to discover what a doner kebab ought to taste like. Pizza Boungerno is great place for pizza and Turkish Pizza (very thin and spicy, and known as lachmacun) and Veni Vici Italian Restaurant offers a good meal. Sevener restaurant also offers Lahmacun kebabs and other North Cyprus dishes, There is one Indian Restaurant, Jashan’s, and other decent places to eat include Happy Valley, Silver Rocks, Calamari, Hillside, Hanimeller and The Lodge. The Acmenya restaurant is great place for kebabs and live music. The Wild Duck and the Blue Song Café and Bar both offer a selection of English dishes.
Lapta and Alsancak are spread over a relatively large area, reaching from the foothills of the Kyrenia mountain range down to the sea, and it is the sea-front that the region is probably best known for, as there are some excellent beaches here. Kervansaray beach and Mare Monte beach are both managed by municipal authorities, whilst most of the rest are privately run, with more facilities. They generally charge a small entrance fee and can get relatively busy at weekends in the summer, as local people also enjoy the beaches. The Deniz Kizi hotels have a sandy cove with beach bar and restaurant facilities, plus use of the pool. Sunset beach is also private and has a beach club offering activities, Camelot beach is similar. Escape Beach Club is probably the best known in the area and has a good snack bar with hot food and a full restaurant. There are also a range of watersports on offer here and at night on certain days, the club is run as an open-air disco. There are also a number of smaller beaches and coves.
For the active, the location makes this a superb base for hiking, walking and mountain biking and there are many organised activities as well. The region also has a strong history of being a centre for culture and the arts and there are a number of festivals here. The Lapta Tourism Festival is held in June every year, the Tepebasi Tulip Festival in March and the Hisarkoy Orchid Festival from February to April.