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  4. Nicosia - the capital of Cyprus: attractions, hotels, restaurants, transport

Nicosia is the capital and also an important industrial and commercial center of the Republic of Cyprus. Administratively, the northern part of the city is the capital of the partially recognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In other words, Nicosia overnight - the capital of the Cypriot and Turkish republics. The city is divided by a border, the so-called Green Line. Nicosia reflects the whole modern life of the island and its history. Here you can see architectural monuments of the Ottoman, Venetian, Greek and Byzantine periods. The main city differs from beach Cyprus, attracting, first of all, lovers of excursions and antiquities.

General characteristics of Nicosia:

  • Area: 111 km²
  • Population: more than 350 thousand
  • Nationalities: Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots
  • Official currency: Euro
  • Other names: Lefkosia, Lefkosha, Λευκωσία, Lefkoşa
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History of Nicosia

According to historians, the ancient Greek city was founded in the 7th century BC under the name of Ledra. It can be attributed to the oldest cities in the world. Until 330, ancient Nicosia remained a fairly developed separate state. The second wave of development came in the 12th century, when the city was conquered by the English king Richard I the Lionheart. As a result of these events, Nicosia becomes the capital of the Cypriot kingdom. In the future, the modern capital will go through several periods of conquests and changes of power. In 1974, after the invasion of Turkish troops, the city was divided into Cypriot and Turkish parts. The border between them runs right through the historical center of Nicosia.

The difficult fate of Nicosia has left an indelible mark on the history, culture and architecture of the city. This is one of the main factors of travelers' interest.


Name of the capital of Cyprus

The ancient name of the city is Ledra. During the Byzantine rule, it was renamed as Lefkosia, that is, the "white city". The Turkish version of the medieval name is Lefkosa. The modern term came into use in the 13th century. The ancient Greek name Nicosia, derived from the name of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, is increasingly mentioned in written sources.

Modern Nicosia

Nicosia today - the most populous city of the island, the center of culture and education. The city has several universities, shopping and entertainment complexes, a huge number of restaurants, establishments and buildings in European, Greek and Turkish style. The unusual, mixed flavor of Nicosia attracts travelers from all over the world. The city does not have direct access to the sea, but at the same time, it is no less popular among tourists than coastal resorts.


Weather and climate of Nicosia

Nicosia is located on a spacious plain between mountain ranges in the center of the island. As a result - a semi-desert Mediterranean climate with warm winters and hot, dry summers. Due to the low rainfall, the capital of Cyprus is one of the driest and hottest cities in the Mediterranean. The average temperature here in winter is +10°C, and in summer +29-30°C.

In Cyprus, the high season for a beach holiday begins in April and lasts until the end of October. If you are planning a vacation full of trips around the island and excursions, choose the beginning and end of the season, when the sultry heat will not bother you and warm weather will allow you to carry out all your planned routes.


Transport in Nicosia

Almost 95% of the population of Cyprus have their own car. There is practically no internal public transport in the city. Buses are convenient to travel between cities and villages. As for Nicosia, the city has about 20 bus routes to different directions, which run at intervals of 30 minutes. On weekends - Saturday and Sunday, the number of flights is limited.

  • 100 to 259 are daily routes for Nicosia.
  • from 300 - Nicosia night routes.

When it comes to car rentals, in Nicosia you will find several prestigious car rentals with a wide variety of offers.

Transfer services from Paphos and Larnaca International Airports to hotels and resorts can be operated by separate shuttles.


The airport

The capital has its own airport, although it is currently not used for passenger flights. After the Turkish invasion, the UN peacekeeping force is based on the territory of Nicosia airport to maintain peace in Cyprus.

You can get to South Cyprus and its major cities by air only through the international airports in Paphos and Larnaca. The latter is the best option, as it is located only 30 minutes from Nicosia. Regarding Northern (Turkish) Cyprus - through Ercan International Airport, where flights are operated only from Turkey.

How to get to Nicosia

From Larnaca airport. From a major airport to the capital of Cyprus, at intervals of several hours, round-the-clock shuttles run. There is another route option: from the airport by bus number 407, 418 or 419 to the local bus station, where you will need to purchase a ticket for an intercity flight in the direction of Lefkosia. The journey will take no more than 30-40 minutes.

From Paphos Airport. A less convenient and longer road option to Nicosia. The shuttle from Paphos airport to the capital runs only three times a day. If you are not in the mood to wait for a direct flight, you can get to the local bus station Karavella by city bus number 613. Then - on an intercity flight to the capital of Cyprus. The distance from Paphos Airport to Nicosia is 140 kilometers.

Dimitris Vetsikas
Dimitris Vetsikas

Where to stay in Nicosia

The choice of housing in Nicosia is quite diverse. There are many luxury hotels, small hotels and budget hostels in the capital. Check out the list of the most requested options based on guest reviews:

  • Asty Hotel. Three star hotel in the southern part of Nicosia.
  • Hilton Nicosia. This 5-star hotel in the city center offers the service and amenities of the Hilton brand.
  • MAP Boutique Hotel. Modern boutique hotel with its own restaurant and fitness center.
  • Aelia Wellness Retreat. An exclusive wellness resort in a picturesque village on the outskirts of Nicosia.
  • Hypnos Boutique Hotel. Boutique hotel offering breakfast, great location and great service.
  • Lordos Hotel Apartments Nicosia. Self-catering apartment hotel in the city center with modern interiors and comfortable amenities.
Choose and book hotels in the catalog of Cyprus.


Sights of the capital of Cyprus

The main asset of Nicosia is architectural monuments, picturesque parks, historical museums, cozy narrow streets with an indescribable atmosphere. If you find yourself in the capital of Cyprus, be sure to take the time to walk around the colorful city, in which two cultures are intertwined.

Please note that the sights of Nicosia that you want to see may be territorially related to different parts of the city - Cypriot and Turkish. When planning a visit to the divided capital, this point must be taken into account.

To enter the territory of the Republic of Turkey, you need to go through a pedestrian checkpoint on Ledra street, with the obligatory presence of a passport.

Dimitris Vetsikas
Dimitris Vetsikas

What to see in Nicosia (Republic of Cyprus)

In the southern part of the capital, you can find many historical buildings and interesting locations that you should definitely see:

Archbishop's Palace

The largest cultural complex of the capital, which is also the religious center of Orthodoxy in Cyprus. A beautiful building in the Byzantine style was built in the middle of the 20th century. Near the complex is the old palace, which was once the abode of the Benedictine monks, and the majestic monument to Archbishop Makarios III.

What to see in the Archbishop's Palace:

  • Museums. Visits and excursions are allowed on the first floor of the palace, where two museums are open - the Ethnographic Museum with a collection of folk art of the 19th-20th centuries and the Byzantine Museum, which contains ancient religious artifacts from previous eras.
  • Gallery. On the top floor of the palace there is the only room where visitors are allowed. This is the Art Gallery, which contains a collection of paintings by Western European masters of the 15th-19th centuries.
  • Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. On the territory of the complex there is an old cathedral from the 17th century, which is also worth a visit. Unremarkable from afar, but with incredibly beautiful interior decoration - ancient frescoes on the walls of the cathedral, carved iconostases covered with gold leaf.

Dimitris Vetsikas
Dimitris Vetsikas

Cyprus Archaeological Museum

Civilization in Cyprus originated in ancient times, so there is something to see in the main Archaeological Museum of the island. Already the first large-scale expedition, carried out in the 30s of the 20th century, made it possible to significantly expand the museum's collection. Today it consists of 14 themed rooms - from the prehistoric period to the Roman era. The largest Cypriot museum is located in the very center of Nicosia, along Museum Street.

Old churches

Studying Greek Nicosia and its surroundings, you can see several historical and architectural buildings of religious significance:

  • Church of the Archangel Michael or Trypiotis (1695), whose main relic is the iconostasis of 1812.
  • Faneromeni is one of the oldest churches in the capital, founded in 1222. Located in the center of Nicosia, close to the Green Line separating the Greek and Turkish parts of the city.
  • Church of Panagia Chrysospiliotissa. It is the oldest complex of religious buildings of different periods, starting from the 15th century. Inside you can see a collection of Byzantine icons.
  • Church of Saints Barnabas and Hilarion. An ancient temple of the 10th century with an iconostasis of the 16th century. It is located 30 kilometers west of Nicosia, in the village of Peristerona.
  • The ancient monastery of Herakleidios, located in the village of Politiko (20 kilometers from Nicosia). Also in Politiko you can walk among the ruins of the ancient city of Tamassos, which is of great interest to fans of archeology and history.

Dimitris Vetsikas
Dimitris Vetsikas

Old Quarter of Laiki Gitonya (Laiki Geitonia)

Pedestrian zone inside the city walls of Nicosia, where the whole atmosphere of old Cyprus is concentrated. A charming street with pretty houses, cafes, restaurants, souvenir and craft shops. Once here, guests of the capital plunge into the past a couple of centuries ago - all the buildings date back to the 18th century. Laiki Geitonia is a prime example of traditional Cypriot urban architecture.

Dimitris Vetsikas
Dimitris Vetsikas

Attractions Nicosia (Republic of Turkey)

In the north of Nicosia, there are several picturesque places for which it is worth crossing the Green Line. Among the most attractive locations of the Turkish part of the capital:

Selimiye Mosque

Medieval temple (1209-1325), which was originally built as a Roman Catholic cathedral in the Gothic style. During the Venetian era, it was reconstructed, but retained its majestic Gothic features. After the conquest of Cyprus by the Ottoman Empire, the temple becomes the main mosque of the island. The Selimiye Mosque is recognized as the main monument of Gothic architecture in Cyprus.


Buyuk Khan

The most beautiful historical building in Cyprus is a large inn Buyuk Khan . It was built in 1572, during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. During its existence, this object changed its purpose several times. Since 1878, under British rule, Buyuk-Khan began to be used as a prison, since 1893 it became an orphanage.

At the end of the 20th century, the courtyard changed significantly. Today, Buyuk Khan is a square complex of four two-story buildings with a colonnade in the courtyard. Galleries, workshops, cafes and souvenir shops are open here.


Cuisine and restaurants in Nicosia

The capital of Cyprus is characterized by traditional Cypriot cuisine, which is in many ways similar to Greek. Aromatic olive oil and seasonal vegetables are used to prepare local dishes. Cypriots are famous for cooking meat over an open fire, which is available in every prestigious restaurant, colorful tavern and even in the local market. Barbecue in all the cuisines of Cyprus has long been ranked first. And the legendary Greek souvlaki are deservedly popular far beyond the island. As for desserts, the traditional baklava and the famous Cypriot jam are noteworthy.

All the main international dishes and snacks can be found on the menu of local restaurants, from burgers and french fries to Mediterranean salads. If you want to try something from deeply traditional dishes, pay attention to the following names on the menu:

  • Stifado is the main dish of most traditional restaurants. It is a tender beef stewed in red wine of a certain variety.
  • Kolokasi (taro) is a nutty flavored root vegetable popular in African and Asian cuisine, in the Cypriot interpretation.
  • Halloumi is a Cypriot cheese made from a mixture of goat and cow milk.
  • Kleftiko is an original lamb dish worthy of a separate evening.


Where to eat in Nicosia

There are many food establishments in the city. Traveling around the capital of Cyprus, you will have no difficulty in finding a place for a hearty lunch or a gourmet dinner. A few restaurants in Nicosia worth a visit:

  • Ocean Basket. The chain of restaurants spread throughout Cyprus offers an extensive menu of seafood and Mediterranean cuisine.
  • Tavern Kalamies. Authentic restaurant with a menu of local and international dishes.
  • Zanettos. A small family tavern, one of the oldest establishments in the city, offering traditional Cypriot cuisine.
  • Cook Shop. A cozy restaurant with original steaks and Mediterranean salads.
  • Sawa Restaurant. Excellent value for money and rich meat menu.
  • Moondog's. The American restaurant offers burgers, ribs and juicy rib eye.


Shopping: what to buy in the capital of Cyprus

Among the major cities of Cyprus, Nicosia is the most attractive in terms of shopping. There are many offers for tourists here - souvenirs, jewelry, authentic ceramics, porcelain and olive oil from Cypriot producers. Antique shops of the capital are worth special attention.

What and where to buy in Nicosia

  • In the city center there is a picturesque pedestrian street Ledra (Ledra Street) is an ideal location for leisurely walks and a variety of shopping: clothes, shoes, accessories, souvenirs in a wide variety.
  • Stassikratous shopping street has many branded boutiques with exclusive outfits, luxury cosmetics and perfumery stores.
  • The Mall of Cyprus. The largest center in Nicosia with a variety of shopping pavilions, restaurants and cafes, a cinema and children's playgrounds.
    Bandabuliya bazar. The best place for grocery shopping. The colorful market always has a huge selection of seasonal vegetables and fruits, farm delicacies, meat, seafood, as well as home-made Cypriot wines.


Holidays and festivals in Nicosia

The cordial and friendly people of Nicosia create a bright event from any holiday.

Religion and Traditions. All religious holidays are celebrated in the city on a grand scale, of which the most significant and large-scale are Easter and Christmas. Of the traditional events, the wine festival, known since ancient times, has a special atmosphere. It is held in Nicosia in the middle of autumn.

Modern festivals. Every summer, Nicosia hosts an annual city festival - a spectacular sight for visitors to Cyprus. The holiday lasts from the beginning of July to the end of August. It is accompanied by street concerts, theatrical performances and music festivals featuring international performers. Visiting the capital of Cyprus in the summer, you can witness a rich cultural program.

Beer Festival. During the velvet season in Cyprus - from the beginning of September, guests of the capital get to a unique beer tasting, which lasts for several days. The beer festival features varieties of local factories and original snacks. The holiday is accompanied by musical concerts, in particular performances of folk groups and rock performers.

Interesting facts about Nicosia

  • The capital of Cyprus is one of the oldest cities in the world, in which civilization existed about 3 thousand years ago.
  • Nicosia is a divided city, which is simultaneously the capital of two states.
  • Nicosia has an unprecedented mix of religious communities, denominations, churches and mosques.
  • The capital of Cyprus has the largest open-air Archaeological Museum in the world.
  • Nicosia is the capital of the resort island, which at the same time does not have access to the sea.


Choose and book hotels in the catalog of Cyprus.

The multifaceted, ancient city of Cyprus, with an unusually rich history and culture. The unique flavor of Nicosia attracts guests from all over the world.


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