What to visit in Nicosia?
Cyprus is one of the hidden gems of Europe. It is a perfect choice to stay away from the busy summer tourism life, but at the same time to enjoy the best of what summer has to offer – good weather, good food, and amazing nature. Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus. The city is located on the river Pedieos, in between the mountains Kyrenia and Troodos. The heart of the city is enclosed by the Venetian ramparts dating from the 16th century. Still not convinced? The city also has a magnificent royal palace and over 50 different churches to visit that are no better history tellers of Nicosia. Keep on reading…
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What not to miss?
The first city walls surrounding Nicosia date from the Middle Ages. Although, the ones you get to see right now are the ones completely rebuilt by the Venetian Republic in the 16th century. It is not up to debate that the history related to the fortifications is amazing by itself. Although, we think you will be most amazed by how the modern and the ancient are integrated into this amazing scenery.
If you are interested in museums, Museum Street in Nicosia is the place to be. There you will also find the Cyprus Museum. This is the largest and oldest archaeological museum in Cyprus and it offers you to see some of the oldest Cypriot antiquities found on the island.
Buyuk Han is the name of the largest caravanserai on the island and is what many believe to be one of the most magnificent buildings in Cyprus. You might be wondering what a caravanserai is. Back in the days, it used to be a place where travellers could come and rest before going back on the road. It was the centre of urban life back then. Now, it is what reminds us of the astonishing Ottoman architecture.
Continuing in the same tone, another amazing ruin from history is Bellapais Abbey. This is a ruin built by the Canons Regular in the 13th century. Currently, this place is also a museum, a cafe, and a restaurant. In the early summer season, it also hosts a music festival. If you decide to visit this amazing place, make sure you keep an eye on the amazing streets surrounding the Abbey, each hiding a dash of the ancient culture. You will not fail to see breathtaking views and enjoy the great atmosphere Cyprus has to offer.
Old Town in Nicosia is full of lively life – art, architecture, bars, restaurants, museums, and churches. It is a perfect place to spend your time in Nicosia if you want to experience daily life in Cyprus. We would highly recommend you visit the Ledra and Onasagorou streets to get the real feeling of the tradition.
What else to visit?
St Hilarion Castle
Best preserved of the three castles in the Kyrenia mountains, St Hilarion Castle is a great place to see. It was the inspiration for the famous Disney fairy-tale – “Sleeping Beauty”. Your imagination will be moved by this amazing castle as you will be able to picture how magnificent it looked back in the days. Paying a visit to the castle will also allow you to see the beautiful landscape even in Turkey!
A sad, but definitely worth-visiting part of the history of Cyprus is Famagusta. The city was completely abandoned and earned itself the title of the “ghost town” after 1974 when Famagusta came under Turkish control. Ever since the Greek Cypriots could not return. You can visit each part of Famagusta today, except for the Varosha suburb. To visit Famagusta from the southern part of Cyprus, you will have to get to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus by crossing the Green Line. We highly recommend taking an organized trip to visit Famagusta.
Ancient Salamis Ruins
From what is known, Salamis used to be the capital of Cyprus in the Bronze Age. The ruins show what life back then looked like, giving you a window looking into the past. There you can find the Gymnasium, Roman Amphitheatre, Roman Villa, Temple of Zeus, and much more. A visit here is a real step back into history! A fun fact is that most of the Roman city is actually submerged in the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, if you have a passion for scuba diving or if you always wanted to try it out, this is a great place to go for it!
How to travel there?
Larnaca International Airport is well connected to all European major cities. From there, you can get a shuttle bus to Nicosia which should take you there in approximately 30 minutes. The price of the shuttle bus is 9 EUR for an adult ticket, and 5 EUR for a child (ages 2-12).
If you prefer to take the road to get to Nicosia, Larnaca is 43 kilometres away while Limassol is a bit further and 83 kilometres away. Between the cities, you can travel by busses or by taxi. There are also options for car rentals. If you are moving within Nicosia and are on a budget, you can also consider renting out bikes through mobile applications.
Another option of transport is to take ferries from Larnaca and Limassol which are connected to Egypt, Greece, Israel, and Lebanon.
When to travel there?
The best time to visit Cyprus is in either May or June. Temperatures then vary from 23 to 28 °C, and you can be almost sure there will be no rain since this period is also one of the driest of the year. You are also looking at getting 13 hours of daylight, so you will have enough time to explore all the sightseeing places.
Although, if you are looking to visit Cyprus at the warmest time of the year, early August is the best time to go as the temperatures then average around 39 °C.
If you are travelling on a budget, there are hostels in Nicosia starting at as low as 10 EUR per night. If you prefer to stay in completely private accommodation, hotels start from 30 EUR.
Kebabs are starting at 7 EUR which makes a very affordable street food meal. There are also a lot of affordable options for Armenian food which are starting at only 1 EUR. If you prefer to seek mid-range restaurants, they start at around 14 EUR. Best quality restaurants can be found at prices starting from 24 EUR for a seven courses meal. When it comes to drinks, prices go around 1,50 EUR for a soda, about the same for a coffee, and 3 EUR for a beer.
What to eat?
We would highly recommend you try local kebabs or gyros. These can be found in Reginis Street and can be a perfect bite to grab in between the sightseeing. At night, we recommend having dinner at Erodos where you can enjoy good quality wine, live music, and traditional food. Of course, we cannot forget to mention Zanettos. This amazing restaurant is very well known among everyone in Nicosia, therefore, make sure you book your table in advance. For a fancy option, we recommend No reservations – a restaurant of “Contemporary International Cuisine”. Let us know what you think if you decide to try any of these restaurants!
To try a Greek coffee, we would recommend you visit Da Capo café. At night, you can grab a drink (or two) at Babylon and Plato’s Bar.
Still not convinced? We highly recommend @CyprusTasteTours for a personal and unforgettable traditional food and wine tour!
International Historic Car Rally
One of the events you should not miss in Cyprus is the International Historic Car Rally. There, you have a chance to see historic cars racing on the historic streets of Nicosia. This event has been hosted in Nicosia for around two decades and never fails to amaze visitors of Cyprus and locals.
Anthestiria or the flower festival of course takes place in the Flower Month – May. It is symbolic of the celebration of the rebirth of nature starting in Spring. The tradition dates back to ancient Greece. If you visit it now, you can expect a huge parade of decorated floats. The event is breathtaking!
Kataklysmos or the Day of the Holy Ghost
marks fifty days after Easter. The event was originally started to honour Aphrodite. Because of this, there are fairs on the day held at the waterfronts. The day is full of people enjoying their time and playing water sports.
Nicosia is an amazing travel destination which we are sure you will dearly remember long after your travels! Let us know if you decide to visit it! We also have other places for you to visit, such as Lanzarote, Tenerife, and Budva. Do not forget to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be always updated on the new releases.