- For other places with the same name, see Nicosia (disambiguation).
|Nicosia has been nominated for featuring on the main page as Destination of the Month. We may have failed to notice some minor glitches in the article. Please plunge forward and help improve it further before it hits the main page.|
Nicosia (Greek: Λευκωσία; Turkish: Lefkoşa) is the centrally located capital of Cyprus and by far the largest city on the island. It also acts as a separate administrative capital for the Nicosia district.
Nicosia is one of the very few divided capitals in the world. The barbed wire and guardtowers of the Green Line cuts the town in two, with the northern side being the capital of the self-proclaimed Northern Cyprus and the southern half being the capital of the Republic of Cyprus.
The municipality of Nicosia governs only the central portion, but the city now sprawls for several kilometers and has engulfed surrounding villages and settlements. Its population hovers around 250,000 (a third of the total population of Cyprus) but the city has a feel of one much larger. It is the administrative and financial hub of the island as well as home to several universities, colleges and other educational establishments. It also hosts most foreign embassies and offshore companies (a big industry in Cyprus nowadays). Along with its international students and foreign workers it has developed a truly cosmopolitan feel.
Politics aside, Nicosia is a little short on both the archaeological treasure troves and beaches with pulsating nightlife that bring most visitors to Cyprus. But the Old City with its museums and churches is pleasant enough, and precisely due to the comparative lack of tourists, the city retains more of an authentically Cypriot air than the resorts of the southern coast. Fantastic little cafes invite you in for a Cypriot coffee, so just walk around and see the many woodworking shops that are deep within the city, and take a walk down to the Green Line, the boundary that now divides North from South. Being the financial and administrative centre of the island, it is by far the best place for shopaholics.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
One of the southernmost locations in Europe, Nicosia's climate is classified as hot semi-arid. Summers are very hot and dry and you can expect temperatures to rise above +30°C. Warm temperatures are common early in the spring and late in the autumn, and making these good times to visit. Winter is the wettest time of the year, though even then just 7-8 days of the month sees rain. During mid-winter, the temperature may sometimes drop below freezing and light frost and sleet occur, but snowfall is very rare.
Cyprus is in the Levant, and as with other places in this part of the world it has a long and tumultous history and has seen many great empires come and go. Taking that into consideration, Nicosia itself has surprisingly few sights dating back from antiquity or even from the middle ages.
Nicosia is in the middle of the island and the region has been inhabited since around 2500 BC. A city-state by the name of Ledra was established here sometimes after the end of the Trojan War (1180 BC), though not much of it is known today. By 330 BC Ledra was recorded as a small unimportant farming town. The following high point came in the Byzantine Era. In the 4th century AD the town became a bishopric seat and it got its current (Greek and Turkish) name, Lefkosia. Nicosia grew as an agricultural centre, and unlike the richer coastal cities it wasn't destroyed by Arab raids. Around 965 the Byzantine governor moved the administration to Nicosia, and since then it has been the capital of the island albeit under many different administrations.
With the crusades came the rule by Western European powers. The Frankish Kingdom of Cyprus was established in 1192 as a base for crusades to the Holy Land. During that time, the first city walls were built, as well as some notable churches (now in North Nicosia). Over the years Genoan and Venetian merchants established themselves and competed for influence over the island, and in 1489 the last queen sold the administration to the Republic of Venice. Venice had been fighting one war after another with the Ottoman Empire for some time already, and during the following decades Nicosia was attacked multiple times. A new fortification system, which still stands, was built in 1567-70, but in the same year it was finished, the Ottomans captured Nicosia after a siege of 40 days.
After that Nicosia largely laid in ruins, and the population fell by 95%. From now on the inhabitants comprised Ottoman Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians; the former settled in the north of the city and the latter in the south. Over the years the Ottoman Empire slowly declined, to the point that it was dubbed the "Sick man of Europe". In order to protect the empire from Russian incursions (as in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877), Cyprus was traded to the British in 1878 in exchange for protection against Russia. By then, Greece had gained independence from the Ottoman Empire, and many Greek-Cypriots hoped for the island to become united (enosis) with Greece.
Like the Venetian rule, the British rule would also last about 80 years. Most of it went relatively peacefully, but after WWII, the opinion turned against the colonial rule. The pro-independence EOKA organization was founded, and from 1955 on bomb attacks and rioting became common in Nicosia and elsewhere in Cyprus. As a result the independent Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960. The Greek Cypriots still dreamed about enosis with Greece, whereas the Turkish Cypriots who were afraid of what would happen to them now (and especially if such a union would take place), instead demanded a division of the island. In the following years the two groups were fighting each other.
In July 1974, the military junta ruling Greece orchestrated a coup d'etat, installing a pro-enosis leader. Turkey replied by invading the island a few days later, capturing the northeastern third of Cyprus, including the northern half of Nicosia and establishing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. After the ceasefire, the UN established a buffer zone (aka the Green Line) between the two parts of the island and stationed peacekeepers there. Even as Northern Cyprus isn't recognized by anyone but Turkey, it is de facto a separate state from Cyprus, and Nicosia is a divided city. Since 2003 it's less divided than it used to be when the first border crossing between the Republic and TRNC was opened at the Ledra Palace Hotel (now there are several of them both in Nicosia and elsewhere).
The Cyprus peace process is ongoing as of 2020. A plan to unite the country was turned down in a 2004 referendum, and thereafter peace talks have stalled many times. But from a travellers point of view the situation is peaceful, and you can safely explore the two sides of the city (and the country).
Nicosia International Airport (NIC IATA) has been closed off since the partition of the country. 1 Larnaca Airport (LCA IATA) (40 km, 30-min drive) has scheduled flights to all major European cities. An airport shuttle bus operates between Larnaca Airport and Nicosia, this bus does not stop close to the city center so you will have to take a taxi or walk to the highway and take a public bus from there. Further away, the smaller 2 Paphos Airport (PFO IATA) is a 140-km (1hr 40min) drive from Nicosia.
Limassol (80 km away) and Larnaca (40 km away) ports have passenger terminals with ferry and cruise ship services to the Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Greece. Timetables vary considerably with the summer season being the busiest.
Nearly all visitors arrive via the southern highway from Larnaca (43 km) and Limassol (83 km). Regular, cheap and reliable intercity taxi and bus services connect Nicosia to the centre of Cyprus' other cities. Private hire taxis are considerably more expensive. Car hire is also affordable and all major car hire companies are represented at both airports. Cyprus By Bus provides information about buses in Nicosia. Nicosia's 3 central bus station is at Solomos square, next to the city wall.
To/from North Nicosia
Entry from Northern Cyprus to south Nicosia used to be close to impossible. However, following a thawing in relations, it is possible for EU citizens to cross the border at official crossing points, regardless of their point of entry to the island. People from other parts of the world will likely be turned back at crossing point. For details on how you can cross the border, please see the Cyprus page.
The Ledra Street crossing (as opposed to Ledra Palace Hotel crossing) allows people to cross again from North to South Nicosia and vice-versa. The crossing traverses the United Nations Buffer Zone dividing Southern and Northern Cyprus. The (Greek) Republic of Cyprus does not maintain an immigration post at the crossing but conducts ID checks, while Northern Cyprus maintains an immigration and customs checkpoint on its side of the border.
If you're taking a taxi to North Nicosia before crossing, do not say "Ledra" because everyone in Northern Cyprus will assume the Ledra Palace crossing, which is outside the city walls to the west.
Greater Nicosia sprawls for kilometers on end, but the Old City is small enough to navigate on foot. Traditional Greek Cypriot shops line the streets of the Old City, and with very narrow footpaths/walkways, traffic must always be observed. GPS Satellite navigation systems may not include Cyprus, but a paper map can be picked up (free of charge) from the Nicosia Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) Information Office (in Laiki Geitonia).
Nicosia is developing a more extensive network of bus services [dead link] that connect the ever expanding sprawl. Transport is inexpensive, however timetables remain unreliable and only a few buses are air conditioned.
Private taxis abound, they are usually diesel Mercedes cars, and always have a number plate starting with the letter T. Some even have a yellow TAXI (or ΤΑΞΙ in Greek) sign above. Unlike other world cities, they are not in a distinctive colour. Make sure the meter is turned on the second you enter, as tourist expoitation is as common here as everywhere else in the world!
A cheaper alternative to buses and taxis is to use the bike sharing system Bike in Action. Smart card needed.
Nicosia's sights are concentrated in and around the Old City, surrounded by a picturesque star-shaped city wall whose moat has been converted into a pleasant park. Wandering around the Old City is an interesting experience in itself, although some buildings (esp. those near the Green Line) are derelict and crumbling. Many sights in the Old City close early, so try to get an early start - also a good idea for beating the heat in the summer.
- 1 Cyprus Museum (Κυπριακό Μουσείο) (Cyprus Archaeological Museum) (west of the city wall, in between the Tripoli bastion and the municipal gardens). M-Sa 09:00-17:00, Su and public holidays 10:00-13:00; closed New Year's, Easter, Christmas. Showcases the best of Cypriot archeology from the 9th millennium BCE to the end of antiquity. There is a café on the grounds. 20% discount for groups of 10 or more. €4.50.
- 2 Byzantine Museum (Archbishop Kyprianou Square), ☏ . M-F 09:00-16:30, Sa 08:00-12:00, Su closed. Easily spotted thanks to the giant statue of Archbishop Makarios standing outside, has one of the world's best collections of Orthodox icons and other artworks, mostly ranging from the 9th to the 16th century. €2.
- 3 National Struggle Museum, Kiniras 7. Daily 08:00-12:00. Documents the history of the Cypriot independence movement (1955-1959), with a rather positive spin on the EOKA guerrilla movement. €1.
- 4 Leventis Municipal Museum, Ippokratous 17, Laiki Yitonia, ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-16:30. Housed in a converted, two-storey house since 1984 the Leventis Municipal Museum has exhibits dating from 2300 BC to the present day. Voted European Museum of the Year in 1989.
- 5 House of the Dragoman Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios, Patriarch Gregoriou St, ☏ . M-F 08:00-14:00, Sa 09:00-13:00, Su closed. A beautifully restored 18th-century building now housing an ethnological museum. €1.
- 6 Museum of the History of Cypriot Coinage, Bank of Cyprus Administrative Headquarters, 51 Stasinou Str., Agia Paraskevi, ☏ . M-F 08:00-14:30. Hundreds of coins on display, from ancient to modern spanning nearly 3,000 years of coinage history on the island.
- 7 Ledra Observatory Museum (Shacolas Tower Museum and Observatory), Ledra street, Shakolas Building, ☏ . Daily 10-8pm. The Shakolas (older Nicosians know it by its former name The Mangli) building sticks out like a sore thumb in the medieval old city. To reach the observatory you have to go into the Debenhams shopping complex which is right in the middle of Ledra street, a mini skyscraper of 12 floors, towers over other buildings not rising higher than 2-3 floors. On its penultimate floor you find the observatory, where it's possible “to see” the division of the island. There is a café up on the sixth floor which also has some nice views which you can enjoy should it be quiet, but usually there are paying customers sitting at the best viewpoints. Entrance to the observatory on the 11th floor is a low €2 so it's a must-see. Entrance to the observatory also comes with a voucher for 20% off your bill at the café. So go there first if you are planning to visit the café anyway for some food. €2.
- 8 The Cyprus Classic Motorcycle Museum, 44 Granikou Str., ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 09:00-13:00, 15:00-19:00, Sa 09:00-14:00. Privately owned, this is the only such museum on the island and is tucked away in the medieval city. On display are about 150 classic (mostly British) motorcycles dating from 1914 to 1983.
- 9 Cyprus Museum of Natural History, Odysseos (Dáli, about 8 km south of central Nicosia). M-F 8:30-13. Museum showcasing the animal life of Cyprus and the Mediterranean, including mammals, marine life, insects and fossils. There's also an exhibition about dinosaurs, as well as mammals from North America. Free entrance.
- 10 Cyprus Police Museum, corner of Lemesou Avenue and RIK. M-F 9-13. Learn more about the history of law enforcement on the island. On display are police equipment from different periods, and items and documents related to infamous crimes and 20th century conflicts. The museum was opened in 1933 in the main police station, and got its own dedicated building in 2004. Free entrance.
- 11 Cyprus Postal Museum, Agiou Savva 3b. M-F 9-15, Sa 9-13. Presents the postal history from the Venetian era, and has a very large collection of stamps.
- 12 Cyprus Folk Art Museum (Ethnographic Museum of Cyprus), Square of Archbishop Kyprianos. Now housed in the old Archibiscopric Palace, the museum holds more than 5000 exhibits of folk art: clothing, tools, pottery, artwork and paintings. In the museum shop there are traditional handicraft for sale, and the museum cafe has traditional drinks and snacks.
- 13 VON World Pens Hall, Dimostheni Severi 37. Established by an avid pen collector, Vladimiros Ouloupis Niros (V.O.N.), the museum has hundreds of pens on display, some of them dating back to the 17th century, and accesoires like inkpots, seals and stamps. There's also a reading room with rare books.
- 14 Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, 19 Apostolou Varnava Str, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Housed in a converted old power station built in 1936. The building sat derelict for 20 years and reopened as a contemporary art gallery in 1994. Includes a decent cafe-restaurant with an imaginative Mediterranean menu. Winner of a 1994 Europa Nostra award.
- 15 Leventis Gallery, 5 Leonidou street. M 10:00-17:00, Tu closed, W 10:00-22:00, Th-Sa 10:00-17:00. Cypriot and European paintings. There are temporary exhibitions, in addition to the three permanent exhibitions; the Greek, the Paris and the Cyprus collections.
- 16 The Office gallery, Kleanthi Christofidi 32. Modern art gallery next to the Green Zone, open during exhibitions (there are no permanent exhibitions).
- 17 Holy Mother of God Cathedral (Surp Asdvadzadzin Church), Elefsinos. To replace the main church of Nicosia's Armenian community which was left on the Turkish side, the Surp Asdvadzadzin Church was built and opened in 1981. It's the only built in traditional Armenian style on Cyprus, and around it there are also other monuments related to the Armenian community, like the Armenian Genocide Monument, a marble khachkar (Armenian cross stone) and several statues.
- 18 Archbishop's Palace and St. John's Cathedral. The residence of the Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus. It's built in neo-Byzatine style and finished in 1960. Not open to the public, but viewable from the outside. Next to the palace are the old palace, as well as St. John's cathedral, the main church of Cyprus, constructed in 1662 on the site of a former Benedictine monastery. On the palace grounds are also the Byzantine museum and the National Struggle museum.
- 19 Archangel Michael Trypiotis Church. Orthodox church built in 1695 according to an inscription, but its icon of Archangel Michael is older. Other points of interest of this church are its beautiful 18th-century iconostasis and the relics of Saint Riginos.
- 20 Bayraktar Mosque. Built and expanded gradually during the 18th and 19th centuries, around the tomb of an unknown Ottoman flagbearer (bayraktar) who fell during the conquest of Cyprus in 1570. The mosque went through some rough times during the violent decades after World War II, being bombed three times and heavily vandalized in 1975, possibly in retribution for the Turkish invasion. Since 2003 it has been open to worshippers again.
- 21 Ömeriye Mosque, Platia Tillirias. Open for both worshipers and visitors, Ömeriye is regarded as the most important mosque in the non-Turkish part of Cyprus. The mosque was built in 1571, when the island came under Ottoman rule after the Ottoman-Venetian War.
Monuments and architecture
- 22 Famagusta Gate (Leoforos Athinon). One of Nicosia's three old gates, it has been turned into the Lefkosia Municipal Cultural Centre, used for various exhibitions and performances.
- 23 Liberty Monument (Podocatoro Bastion). A monument to honour the fighters of the EOKA guerilla organization against the British colonial rule during the Cyprus emergency in the 1950s.
- 24 Nicosia aqueduct. Remains of an Ottoman aqueduct from the 18th century, part of the old water supply system bringing water from the mountains to Nicosia.
- 25 Tower 25. Also called the White Walls, this high-rise apartment building was finished in 2013, and in 2016 it was awarded the Best Tall Building Europe by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
- Walls of Nicosia. The old city walls with its bastions encircle the city, both the current northern and southern part of it. Certainly the most visible attraction in the city, the walls very built in the 16th century by the Venetians.
- 26 Faneromeni Square. An important historical square dating from Venetian times, and until 1974 considered the heart of the city. Faneromeni square is surrounded by historical buildings and monuments such as the Faneromeni Church, Faneromeni School, Faneromeni Library, and the Marble Mausoleum.
- 27 Eleftheria Square. This square next to the city walls has taken over Faneromeni's role; major events and rallies take place here.
Explore the smaller city streets, small enough to easily do this on foot. Visit a traditional Cypriot cafe, and sample a Cypriot coffee. Greet the locals. Make sure you visit the Green Line and view all of the city from the Watchtower, into North and South Nicosia.
- 1 Hamam Omerye, 8 Tyllirias Square, 1016 Lefkosia. In the heart of the old town within the ancient Venetian walls. Find your way to the 'Ohi' Round about, then head straight all the way until you find the Omeriye Mosque on your right - you can't miss it. Turn right here and the Hamam Baths are on your left. 14th-century building restored to operate once again as a Turkish bath. The site's history dates back to the 14th century, when it stood as an Augustinian church of St. Mary, built by the Lusignan (French) and later maintained by the Venetians. In 1571, Mustapha Pasha converted the church into a mosque, believing that this particular spot is where the prophet Omer rested during his visit to Lefkosia. Most of the original building was destroyed by Ottoman artillery, although the door of the main entrance still belongs to the 14th-century Lusignan building, whilst remains of a later Renaissance phase can be seen at the north-eastern side of the monument. Couples on Mondays, men only Tu Th Sa, women only W F Su. €20/two hours, including towels, disposable underwear, tea, and sponge.
In bygone times Nicosia was dotted with dozens of open air and closed cinemas offering films from local, Greek, Turkish and Hollywood producers. The advent of the video player and other home entertainment systems has strangled this industry and now only a handful of cinemas remain, none of which are open air. These offer the latest blockbuster movies from Hollywood and occasionally the odd arthouse European film. Most will be screened in their original language with Greek subtitles. The annual Cyprus International Film Festival [dead link] is the local Cannes equivalent. Expect to see great movies, but not the same calibre of stars.
- 2 K. Cineplex, 115 Makedonitissis, Strovolos, ☏ . Modern multiscreen theatre, not much different to what one would find anywhare else in the world.
- 3 Zena Palace Cinema, 18 Theofanous Theodotou, ☏ . One of the oldest venues, has escaped the bulldozer by a thin film.
The Friends of Cinema Society was the first to bring forward to the Cypriot viewer, films from countries as diverse and distant as China, Iran, and Japan. With the popularity and recognition of Greek cinema, the Cypriot viewer was able to finally view modern, Greek productions by distinguished artists. Through various festivals (European, French, Spanish, German), Cyprus is able to admire films which are awarded important prizes by international critics, thus bringing state-of-the-art trends of world cinema to Cyprus.
- Football. For a taste of local sport, visit the home games of the local clubs. APOEL, Omonoia [dead link] and Olympiakos (Nicosia). All three compete in the top division of the Cyprus football and basketball leagues. APOEL football team has enjoyed considerable success in European competitions.
- 4 Cyprus National Football team. The tends to play its home games in Nicosia at the GSP stadium. Success on the international scene (a 5-2 thrashing of Ireland and a 1-1 draw with Germany in 2006) has bolstered national pride and made these games quite popular (so advance ticket purchase is advised). Tickets are relatively cheap when compared to European leagues. Anorthosis, a team that began in Famagusta and has been playing in exile since the Turkish invasion of 1974, play their Champions League home fixtures at the same ground. Entry prices vary.
- 5 Horse Racing (Nicosia Race Club), Ayios Dometios, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The small and picturesque race track has a colonial feel to it. Emotions run high here every Wednesday and Sunday. Check website or call them for race timetable.
- 6 Tennis. Cyprus plays its home Davis Cup matches at the Field Club. Clay courts line the moat that was once covered with water protecting the city from medieval invaders. It has a colonial feel to it. Again, if you are lucky you might catch Marcos Baghdatis playing for Cyprus.
The traditional shopping district runs along 1 Ledra street and its tributary roads within the medieval walls of the city. A bustle of traditional jewelers, shoe and fabric shops give a blend of Middle Eastern and European feel. 2 Laiki Geitonia is a pedestrianised neighbourhood that has been preserved in its original architecture and is the best quarter if you are after souvenir shops. Big chains (e.g. Marks and Spencer, Zara) line the more modern 3 Makariou Avenue. 4 Stasikratous street has evolved into a mini local version of 5th Avenue/Bond street with expensive brands such as Armani and Versace stores. All the above are within walking distance of each other.
There are no real department stores in a purist sense, but Ermes (this chain inherited and re-branded the old local Woolworths) has several mini department stores across the island and a couple on Makarios Avenue. Alpha-Mega and Orphanides [dead link] are local hypermarket chains (worthy equivalent of a Tesco or Wal-Mart) where it would be difficult not to find what you were after. Most of their stores however, are located in the suburbs.
International newspapers and periodicals (especially in the English language) are widely available but you can inevitably find them at the large kiosks (periptera) planted at the two corners of Eleftheria Square. These kiosks are open 24/7.
Traditional Cypriot cuisine is a melting pot of south European, Balkan and Middle Eastern influences. You will find most Greek, Turkish and Arabic dishes, often with a local name or twist. It is now decades since Cyprus has established itself as a tourist hotspot and as a consequence many of the local chefs have trained in Europe and elsewhere, bringing their experiences back home with them. As such most international cuisines are well represented (but unfortunately so are McDonald's & gang). In summary good food is not difficult to come by and most westerners will find dining quite affordable.
The shopping district is dotted with local tavernas and the likes of KFC and Pizza Hut. Virtually all restaurants allow smoking, (and unfortunately some don't even have a non-smoking area, and most restaurants with the non-smoking area don't enforce it). Al fresco dining is a luxury that can be enjoyed for over half the year. It would be a crime not to try (at least once) a mixed pork kebab with a chilled local KEO or Carlsberg (which is brewed locally and tastes different to the same brand overseas) beer. Carnivores are spoilt for choice, whilst vegetarians might find it a tad difficult.
The food is high quality and somewhat cheaper than in the most Western capitals. Snacks should be available from €2-4, kebabs from €7 and whole meals from €15-20. Local KEO beer costs around €4 a pint in bars, local wines starting from €10 a bottle. Hygienic standards are followed and even foods that usually are not recommended in the Mediterranean destinations, such as mayonnaise and salad-based foods, can be safely eaten.
- Kebab houses. The epitome of Cyprus fast food. There is no neighbourhood without its local (99% of these are family-run businesses) so follow the BBQ smoke or smell. Try a traditional mixed kebab (aka souvlakia/sheftalia) with a cold KEO beer. That should set you back €12 at the most.
- Sandwich kiosks. Several line Regina Str in central Nicosia close to Eleftheria Square. Some also offer doner kebab (gyros). You might have to stand whilst eating.
- Toronto Pizza. The first local pizza chain created by a Cypriot returning from Canada. Now has over a dozen outlets, some of which have seating but some are only for home delivery/takeaway. Choose this over Pizza Hut or Dominoes.
- 1 Piatsa Gourounaki, Faneromenis 92, ☏ . M-S 12:30-16 and 19-23. Greek restaurant with large servings specializing in meat dishes, but also has some vegetarian ones on the menu. mains around €6-8, also has different types of pita for €3-4.
- 2 Cookshop, Pindarou 6A, ☏ . lunch M-Sa 12-15:30, dinner F 19-22:30. Dishes from many European and Middle Eastern cuisines. Friendly but sometimes slow service. Reservation is recommended. Has a nice price menu with mains for €8.50, and their regular menu with mains €10-15..
- 3 Syrian Friendship Club, Vasilissis Amalias 17, ☏ . daily 12-23. Syrian restaurant with fresh food and plentiful servings and as such good value for money. Appetizers €2-5, mains €7-10, full meze €18/person (min. 2 persons).
- 4 Habibi, Ippokratous 16A, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. daily 11-23. Syrian restaurant with salads, döner and sandwiches. €5-7.
- 5 Toanamma, Ledra 89, ☏ . Greek and Cypriot cuisine; mainly different kinds of grilled meat. pitas €3-7, mains €8-14.
- 6 Erodos Cafe-Restaurant, Erodos Patriarhou Gregoriou 1, Old Town Lefkosia, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Within the Venetian walls and in the heart of Old Town. Live music, fine wines, good beers and traditional, yet eccentric gastronomy.
- 7 Zanettos, 65 Trikoupi Street, ☏ . Hidden away in the narrow streets of the old city, this can be difficult to locate alone. Ask any cab driver though and it's as much as a landmark as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. Around since 1938, it serves traditional Greek-Cypriot meze at €14 a head. Booking is essential.
- 8 Akakiko, Achaion 1, Engomi, adjacent to Hilton Nicosia, ☏ . Asian-Japanese Sushi restaurant. Part of an Austrian franchise and not much different to a Benihana. Average €20-30 a head.
- 9 Pizza Marzano, 27 Diagorou Street, ☏ , , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Safe choice, but unadventurous. Part of the Pizza Express empire. Offers a similar menu to the UK version with a couple of extra pizzas with a local twist.
- 10 Plaka Tavern, 65 Poseidonos Ave, 8042 Engomi, ☏ , . The quintessential Cypriot taverna, set in the middle of old Engomi (a Nicosia suburb) with tables spilling out on the street offering a strong meze. €15/head.
- 11 Xefoto, Aischylou 6, Laiki Yitonia, ☏ . Traditional food in a traditional setting. Serves mezes too. The tables spill onto the pavement for the al-fresco months of the year. Live music on weekend nights. Open daily from 11am till late. €15-20/head..
- 12 Artisans Burgerbar, Stasandrou 20, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su–Th 12-22:30, Fr–Sa 12-23. Hamburgers that can be customized in many different ways, also serves salads, different small dishes, and steaks. Reportedly very good burgers, though prices are a bit steep. small dishes €5-10, burgers around €13, steaks €15-25.
- 13 Rokoko, Odos Christodoulou Sozou 21, ☏ . daily 19-0:30. Popular Italian restaurant; here you can get for instance pizza, pasta and dishes like cotoletta alla milanese. mains around €10-20.
- 14 Pyxida Fish Tavern, Menandrou 5, ☏ . daily 12-16, 19-23. High quality seafood with prices to match. Long menu with different fish, prawns, mussels, octopus, and lobster dishes. mains around €15, also more expensive dishes on the list.
- 15 Bastione, Athinas 6, ☏ . Tu-Th, Su 19:30-23, F-Sa 19:30-23:30, bar open daily 19-1:30. Mediterranean restaurant next to the city walls, with dishes from many different cuisines. Also has a bar. mains €15-30.
- 16 Domus Lounge Bar, Adamantiou Korae 5, ☏ . daily 19:30-2:30. Mediterranean, mainly Italian, fine dining restaurant with indoor dining in the winter and outdoor in the summer. It has a bar and a wine cellar. mains about €20-25.
The substantial student population supports a flourishing industry of bars, pubs and nightclubs which keep the old city alive. Cypriots are true socialites and spend most of their time out as opposed to at home. In line with other south European countries going out is unheard of before 10-11pm. There is no official nightlife reference point but Makarios avenue turns into a catwalk cum cruising strip for Porsche owner show-offs. If you are after a more traditional flavour (generally catering for an older population) you could try a bouzouki bar.
Bars will stock the usual international brands of spirits. Local giants KEO beer and Carlsberg (the only other brand brewed on the island)also Leon beer, the first Cyprus brew, was relaunched 4 decades after it was last produced and traded in the market of Cyprus. Based on the original Leon recipe that was used in 1937, Leon is a pure all malt beer characterised by a rich and strong taste and aromahave a universal presence. Local wines are now making a comeback after years of medioaracy and decline. Commandaria is the pride of Cyprus' dessert wines. The local spirit zivania (very similar to grappa) is usually drank as shots straight from the freezer. Cyprus brandy was introduced about 150 years ago and differs from other continental brandies in its lower alcohol content (around 32%). As such it is often drank by locals whilst eating (and before and after) and is the basic ingredient for a local cocktail, The Brandy Sour. Local Ouzo is also another favourite.
Coffee culture is a way of life in Nicosia. It is the place to see and be seen in the afternoon to early evening. In the summer months, tables spill on to the streets. The posh cafés line Makarios Avenue, intertwined with shops. Starbucks and Costa coffee have invaded the island but local equivalents also survive. For a change don't stick to the latté/cappuccino, try a Greek coffee. In the summer you must order a frappé (iced coffee).
- 1 Pralina Café (Pralina Experience), 31 Stasikratous Street, ☏ . The flagship café of a confectionery chain. A chocolate addict's paradise. You can easily overdose on sweets here, and before you know it, your diet is down the drain forever. The coffee is not bad either.
Bars and pubs
There is not much of a distinction between the two, most will serve beer, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. Many will now serve food too, but kitchens usually close earlier than the bar.
- 2 [formerly dead link] Babylon, 6 Iasonos Street, 2021 Lefkosia, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Popular, long-established bar in a converted 1950s house. Has a large beer garden for the hot summers and cosy log fires for the cold winters.
- 3 The Corner Pub, 48 Demostheni Severi Avenue, ☏ . As the name suggests it’s a pub and on a corner. Some consider it a spooky shrine to Man Utd football club; its walls are adjourned with countless memorabilia and photos. Has several large projection screens so good for watching popular football games.
- 4 Plato's Bar, 8-10 Platonos St, ☏ . Long-established and popular, in the old city in an old converted house. Prides itself on its incredible range of beers, wines, malts and spirits selection. Good food menu. Has a beautiful yard open all year round featuring two massive fireplaces in the Winter. Nice Rock, Blues, Indie and Alternative sounds. Opens at 20:00 all year round. Entrance is not allowed to men with sleeveless T-shirts.
- 5 Vinocultura, 20 Kyriakou Matsi, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. daily 18-01. Wine bar and shop, with wine seminars and classes and hundreds of wines. They serve many different tapas too.
- 6 Moondogs, Mykinon 7, ☏ . daily 12-02. Bar and grill, with a very wide selection of beer (Belgian beers especially) which are also sold in their beer store as well as other drinks, burgers and salads on the food side, and regularly live music (rock).
- 7 Murphy's Pub, Alkeou 11, ☏ . M-Th 10-02, F-Sa 10-04, Su 10-24. British-style pub with occasional live music and football on tv.
Being more of an administrative city plus the financial hub of the island, hotels tend to cater more for business travelers. Accommodation choice is more limited than the purely tourist destinations that line the coast
- 1 Averof Hotel, 19 Averof Str., ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. A cheaper hotel in a very residential area. Rooms with A/C, tv, and some with balcony. sgl €35, dbl €55.
- 2 Sky Hotel, 7C Solonos Street (near the City Hall), ☏ . Budget hotel. Rooms with A/C and tv. Friendly staff and big rooms, but some travellers report the rooms may be dirty. rates from €60.
- 3 Asty Hotel, Prigkipos Karolou 12, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Rooms have private bathroom, cable tv, A/C. Free Wi-Fi. The hotel has a restaurant and bar, as well as common areas (sitting room, library, verandah) and a gym and laundry room. In the 2010s, this hotel has won several awards of booking.com and Tripadvisor. sgl from €45, dbl from €65.
- 4 Kipros Accommodation, Vasileiou Voulgaroktonou 16A, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Family-run hotel in an old building. Rooms have private bathroom (a bit small), tv, and balcony. Free Wi-Fi. rates from €44.
- 5 Delphi Hotel, Kostaki Pantelidi 24, ☏ . Clean but basic hotel. Laundry service. Free Wi-Fi. rates around €50.
- 6 Castelli Hotel, 38 Ouzounian Str., ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Rooms with A/C, tv, bathroom and what you would expect from a mid-range hotel room. Some rooms have a balcony. The hotel has a bar, the restaurant is for breakfast only. rates from €68, including breakfast.
- 7 Centrum Hotel, 15 Pasikratous Str., ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 2pm, check-out: Noon. Cosy, 40-room hotel with a bar on the ground floor. Offers free WiFi access and includes breakfast. single €89, double €109.
- 8 Classic Hotel, 94 Rigenis Str., ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Called Classic, but in fact very minimalistic and chic with wooden floors. Some limited conferencing facilities. Run by GAP Vasilopoulos, one of Cyprus' largest conglomerates. dbl €105.
- 9 Cleopatra Hotel, 8 Florinis Str., ☏ , fax: . A family-run hotel close to the city centre and within walking distance of the shopping district. Swimming pool, bars and WiFi internet access. sgl €152, dbl €175.
- 10 Europa Plaza Hotel, 13 Alkaios Str, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 50 room hotel with wifi internet targeting the business traveller. Small conference room available too. rates from €70.
- 11 Royiatiko Hotel, 27 Apollonos Street (City Centre), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Central location with an outdoor swimming pool. Brands itself as a "business hotel", and as such has a business centre and conference room. Rooms have the equipment rooms in mid-range hotels have, but are a bit dated. rates from €106.
- 12 Hilton Nicosia, Achaion 1, Egkomi 2413 (next to the business district), ☏ , ✉ Hilton.Nicosia@hilton.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. The only Hilton hotel in Cyprus. There are 3 restaurants, including a Japanese option, as well as 3 bars and indoor/outdoor pools. rates from €253.
- 13 The Landmark Nicosia, 98 Archbishop Makarios III Avenue, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Luxury rooms, all with balconies. The hotel has two restaurants, a bar and two lounges. It also has a wellness and a business center and a few shops. rates from €174.
- 14 Central Park Residence, Evagorou 25, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A 21-storey building with fully equipped luxury apartments, some of which are available for short term rental. The building also has a spa complex. upon request.
Crime rates are generally low in Cyprus. Pickpockets and petty theft are a risk at touristed areas, and some scams may be prevalent in bars, though may be less of a problem than at the beach resorts.
Don't stray into the buffer zone other than at designated crossing points, and don't feel tempted to photograph military and police installations.
There's 4G coverage throughout Nicosia. Places to sleep also commonly offer free Wi-Fi.
- Egypt, 14 Ayois Prokopios, 2406, Engomi, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 08:30-14:30.
- Finland, 9, Arch. Makarios Avenue, Severis Building, 2nd floor, 1065, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- United States, Metochiou & Ploutarchou St 2407, Engomi, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can cross over to Northern Cyprus and the northern side of Nicosia on foot or by car via the checkpoint near the Ledra Palace hotel, on the western side of the city wall. A more convenient checkpoint if you're on foot is the Ledra Street (Turkish: Lokmacı Caddesi) crossing which runs through the center of Nicosia.