The amphitheater at Soli with a backdrop of the region's coastline
Dillirga is the relatively remotest part of Northern Cyprus and arguably the one least frequented by travellers. However, for those who wish to get off the beaten path and discover a natural state of being that is still very much dependent on the soil and is a fusion of the mountainous terrain and the coastline, Dillirga offers a unique opportunity infused with ancient history.
Dillirga, being mountainous in nature, has largely preserved the dispersed villages located on hilltops and hillsides, and the settlements with reflect this. The only significant town and the center of the region is Lefke, with the Gemikonağı port, once used by the Cyprus Mining Corporation, very close by. This area has seen a recent revival with the opening of a university and is surprisingly vibrant. Yeşilırmak (Limnitis) is another small yet important village in the area.
Turkish is the main language used throughout, usually with a heavy Turkish Cypriot accent. English is less widely understood in comparison to other regions, but you can still expect to have a sufficient level of communication. Greek is almost useless.
The general unreliability of public transport in Northern Cyprus applies here. There are daily buses (mostly departing twice a day) to Lefke from Nicosia, and more frequent ones from Morphou. Çimen Dolmuş is a more reliable mode of transport to larger cities, but it is advised that you acquire that you phone them: +90 (392) 7288310.
Public transport is almost non-existent and useless. Hitchhiking can be considered rather safe. However, the safest option is to rent a car to visit this region and experience it fully.
- Soli - a city believed to be founded in the 13th century BC, the remnants of this ancient kingdom stand defiantly to this day, with its large amphitheater and one of the first Christian churches in Cyprus, the St Auxibus Basilica. Make sure that you see the famously beautiful "Swan Mosaic".
- Vouni Palace - constructed by a Phoenician king in the 5th century BC to keep Soli under control, the palace has three terraces and the remnants of 137 rooms and a temple dedicated to Athena. The Petra tou Limniti, a small rock just across the water is the site of the first settlement in Cyprus, with artifacts found from the Neolithic Period.
- Lefke - the town is full of typical Cypriot houses and colonial architecture, and is a candidate for "Cittaslow". You can always observe the stereotypical Cypriot men at coffeehouses, often juxtaposed with the modern youth, and just swing by at a restaurant or cafe, have a drink and an entertaining conversation with locals who are mostly unfamiliar with tourists.
- Date trees - Lefke is surrounded by some date trees that make wonderful scenery, make sure to visit them.
- CMC mines and Lefke Dam - the mines have been left from colonial periods and are an interesting sight.
- Visiting Yeşilırmak - this village, often called Limnidi, is the centre of strawberry production in Northern Cyprus. You can sit at the coast at cosy restaurants, or collect strawberries at an open organic farm on a hilltop if you arrive at the right season. Just ask any local and they will tell you where it is.
- Swim - yes, the beaches at Dillirga may remain dim in comparison to the idyllic sands of the northern and eastern coast, but it's still high quality and quieter. Add to that the factor of unmatched scenery in the other parts of the country, and that makes Dillirga a considerable destination.
- Diving, windsurfing and kitesurfing - these activities are held throughout the summer in Yedidalga, around Aspava restaurant.
- Aspava - the landmark restaurant of the region, this medium-budget restaurant offers a selection of fish, meat and chicken and has a dock extending into the sea where you can sit. It hosts water sports and swimmers during summer and is a popular attraction.
- Swan of Soli - located on an extremely picturesque cliff right next to the sea, this restaurant makes delicious sea food freshly fished by the owners of the restaurant. Sometimes, it offers unusual choices such as swordfish. Has live Turkish or Cypriot music every Saturday and is a perfect place to sip your rakı or zivania.
- Traditional restaurants at Lefke - just drop by and order kleftiko or hırsız kebabı. Enjoy the Cypriot delicacies in their traditional setting!
- Dillirga Restaurant - this is a popular restaurant at Yeşilırmak, a bit similar to Aspava, but more remote. It has beautiful scenery.
- Restaurants around the university - relatively cheap and fast offers.
- Erson Hoca's Organic Farm- the above-described farm in Yeşılırmak, has a few cosy and new rooms. Fascinating view, remote and tranquil location, and a chance to live in harmony with nature. +90 533 861 5304.
- Lefke Gardens Hotel - a boutique hotel in Lefke at a traditional house. +90 392 7288223, fax: +90 392 7288222
- Soli Inn - at Gemikonağı. +90 392 7277695, fax: +90 392 7278210.