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Nicosia is the capital and largest city on the island of Cyprus, as well as its main business centre. It is located near the centre of the Mesaoria plain, on the banks of the River Pedieos.
Nicosia is the capital and seat of government of the Republic of Cyprus, and as such is the farthest southeast of all EU member states' capitals. It has been continuously inhabited for over 4,500 years and has been the capital of Cyprus since the 10th century.
Nicosia was divided into the southern Greek Cypriot and the northern Turkish Cypriot parts in 1963, following the intercommunal violence that broke out in the city. Today, the northern part of the city is the capital of Northern Cyprus, a de facto state that is considered to be occupied Cypriot territory by the international community.
Apart from its legislative and administrative functions, Nicosia has established itself as the island's financial capital and its main international business centre. In 2012, the city was ranked as the 5th richest city in the world in relative purchasing power.It also hosts most foreign embassies and offshore companies . Along with its international students and foreign workers it has developed a truly cosmopolitan feel.
|POPULATION :||South: 55,014 ( Metro:239,277)
North: 61,378 ( Metro:82,539)
|TIME ZONE :||EET (UTC+2) Summer: EEST (UTC+3)|
|LANGUAGE :||Greek, Turkish, English|
|RELIGION :||Greek Orthodox 75%, Muslim 25%|
|ELEVATION :||220 m (720 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||35°10′N 033°22′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.15%
• Female: 51.75%
|ETHNIC :||Greek 75%, Turkish 20%, Others 5%|
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :||1010–1107|
|DIALING CODE :||+357 22|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
Nicosia is today's only divided capital 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.
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.
Nicosia has been in continuous habitation since the beginning of the Bronze Age 2500 years BC, when the first inhabitants settled in the fertile plain of Mesaoria.
Nicosia later became a city-state known as Ledra or Ledrae, one of the twelve kingdoms of ancient Cyprus built by Achaeans after the end of the Trojan War.
In Byzantine times the town was also referred to as Λευκουσία (Leukousia). In the 4th century AD, the town became the seat of bishopric, with bishop Saint Tryphillius (Trifillios), a student of Saint Spyridon.After the destruction of Salamis, the existing capital of Cyprus, by Arab raids in 647, Nicosia became the capital of the island around 965, when Cyprus rejoined the Byzantine Empire. From that point on it has remained as the capital of Cyprus.The exonym Nicosia appeared with the arrival of the Lusignans. The French-speaking Crusaders either could not, or did not care to, pronounce the name Lefkosia, and tended to say "Nicosie" translated into Italian and then internationally known as "Nicosia".
In 1374 Nicosia was occupied and ravaged by the Genoans and in 1426 from the Mamelukes of Egypt. In 1489, when Cyprus came under Venetian rule, Nicosia became their administrative centre and the seat of the Republic of Venice.
On 1 July 1570, the Ottomans invaded the island. The city managed to last 40 days under siege until its fall on 9 September 1570. Some 20,000 residents died during the siege and every church, public building, and palace was looted. The main Latin churches were converted into mosques, such as the conversion of the Saint Sophia Cathedral. Nicosia came under the rule of Great Britain on 5 July 1878.
In 1960 Nicosia became the capital of the Republic of Cyprus, a state established by the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. In 1963, the Greek Cypriot side proposed amendments to the constitution, which were rejected by the Turkish Cypriot community. During the aftermath of this crisis, on 21 December 1963, intercommunal violence broke out between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Nicosia was divided into Greek and Turkish Cypriot quarters with the Green Line.
Nicosia has a subtropical-hot semi-arid climate with long, hot and dry summers. Most of the rainfall occurs in winter.
Climate data for Nicosia
|Average high °C (°F)||15.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||10.6
|Average low °C (°F)||5.7
|Source: Meteorological Service (Cyprus)|
Nicosia is the financial and business heart of Cyprus. The city hosts the headquarters of all Cypriot banks namely the former Cyprus Popular Bank (also known as Laiki Bank), Bank of Cyprus, the Hellenic Bank. Further, the Central Bank of Cyprus is located in the Acropolis area of the Cypriot capital.
A number of international businesses base their Cypriot headquarters in Nicosia, such as the big four audit firms PWC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young. International technology companies such as NCR and TSYS have their regional headquarters in Nicosia. The city is also home to local financial newspapers such as the Financial Mirror and Stockwatch.
Nicosia within is divided into 29 administrative units : Ayios Andreas (Tophane), Trypiotis, Nebethane, Tabakhane, Phaneromeni, Ayios Savvas, Omerie, Ayios Antonios (St. Anthony), St. John, Taht-el-kale, Chrysaliniotissa, Ayios Kassianos (Kafesli), Kaïmakli, Panayia, St Constantine & Helen, Ayioi Omoloyites, Arab Ahmet, Yeni Jami, Omorfita, Ibrahim Pasha, Mahmut Pasha, Abu Kavouk, St. Luke, Abdi Chavush, Iplik Pazar and Korkut Effendi, Ayia Sophia, Haydar Pasha, Karamanzade, and Yenişehir/Neapolis.
Internet access is available in tourist centres in the form of internet cafes. Many cafes now offer free wi-fi access and hotels and resorts often offer Internet access to their guests.
The country calling code to Cyprus is: 357. To make an international call from Cyprus, the code is: 00
Prices in Nicosia
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.08|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€6.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€20.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€40.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€55.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€6.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€4.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€3.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€8.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€13.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.06|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€4.70|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€2.00|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€85.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€35.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€73.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€1.50|
48 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
161 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Nicosia International Airport has been closed off since the partition of the country. Larnaca Airport (code LCA) (40 km, 30min drive) has scheduled flights to all major European cities. An airport shuttle bus operates between LCA and Nicosia [www]. Further away, the smaller Paphos Airport (code PFO) is a 140 km (1h40m) drive from Nicosia.
Limassol (80 km away) and Larnaca (40 km away) ports both 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 the afformentioned airports. Cyprus By Bus provides information about buses in Nicosia.
To/from North Nicosia
Until recently, entry from Northern Cyprus to south Nicosia was close to impossible. However, following a recent thawing in relations, it is now possible for EU citizens to cross the border at official crossing points, regardless of their point of entry to the island. It should be noted however, that this pertains to EU citizens only, and there have been cases of people from other parts of the world being turned back at crossing point. For full details on how you can cross from south to Northern Cyprus or vice-versa, please see the Cyprus page.
On 3 April 2008, the new Ledra Street crossing (as opposed to Ledra Palace Hotel crossing) was opened, allowing people to cross again from North to South Nicosia and vice-versa for the first time since 1964. The crossing actually 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 merely conducts ID checks while Northern Cyprus maintains an immigration and customs checkpoint on their 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.
Transportation - Get Around
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 (see TomTom, Garmin and family) have yet to hear that Cyprus exists, so don't go looking for the Cypriot version. A paper map can be picked up (free of charge!) from the Nicosia CTO (Cyprus Tourism Organisation) Information Office (in Laiki Geitonia) which should more than suffice.
Nicosia is developing a more extensive network of bus services [www] 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.
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The traditional shopping district runs along 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. 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 etc.) line the more modern Makariou Avenue. 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 [www] (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 [www] and Orphanides [www] 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.
The Indoor and Outdoor Markets are the markets in North Nicosia are certainly worth a visit…There are many market stalls to browse selling everything from genuine fake designer clothes, bags, belts and shoes to stalls overflowing with fantastic fresh, organic and locally grown fruit and vegetables. You can pick up all the local cheese (Hellim cheese), Turkish delight, olive oil and such like that you want to take home to family and friends and you can negotiate a good clothing bargain or two to boot.
Arasta region in the walled city is home to cheap clothing, souvenirs and many other items with friendly vendors.
Outside the walled city, Dereboyu is the most classy area of the city. With frequent festivals, the area hosts several international clothing brands, restaurants and cafes. You will encounter Turkish Cypriot youths here, and hear foreign music. It is busy until late, and probably the only place in North Nicosia with this quality.
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 McDonalds [www]& 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). Should cost less than CYP£5 including a soft drink, but you might have to stand whilst eating.
- Goody's, . Eleftheria Square, City Centre. The Balkan answer to McDonald's. Don't expect more, don't expect less. Safe fast food option, some dishes have a local flavour. Less than CYP£5 for a meal.
- 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.
- Erodos, e-mail: [email protected]. Erodos Patriarhou Gregoriou 1, Old Town Lefkosia, +357 22 752250, Erodos Cafe-Restaurant within the Venetian walls and in the heart of Old Town Nicosia, Cyprus – Live music, fine wines, good beers and traditional, yet eccentric gastronomy.
- 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.
- Eirinia, . 64A Arch Kyprianou Str, 2059 Strovolos. This tavern has a colourful past. Legend has it that the local prostitute (called Eirinia) cooked so well, that customers came more for her food than her services (the other version claims her services were so bad). Hence she switched to a restaurant. Her descendants still run one of the most successful and well known (among locals) taverns. Eat till you drop. €20-30/head.
- Akakiko, Achaion 1, Engomi, adjacent to Hilton Park, .Nicosia's newest Asian-Japanese Sushi restaurant. Part of an Austrian franchise and not much different to a Benihana.. Average €20-30 a head.
- Pizza Marzano, 27 Diagorou Street, , , fax:, e-mail: [email protected]. 1097 Nicosia. 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. CYP£10-15 a head including drink.
- Plaka Tavern, 65 Poseidonos Ave, . , 8042 Engomi, Nicosia. 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.
- Xefoto, . Aischylou 6, Laiki Yitonia, Nicosia. 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.
- Seiko, . 26-28 Stasikratous str. Nothing to do with mass production Japanese watches, this is an expensive (by Cyprus standards) design conscious Japanese restaurant. Boasting 132 different dishes including a variety of sashimi and sushi. €60 a head.
Traditional Cypriot cuisine is a melting pot of south European, Balkan and Middle Eastern influences. However, in northern Nicosia, the food you will find is by no means limited to that: while not incredibly cosmopolitan, as the cultural capital of Northern Cyprus, northern Nicosia will offer a unique blend of Cypriot, Turkish, Italian, and other cuisines. Food is cheap for European standards, and depending on the exchange rates, you should expect significantly lower deals than the restaurants in the south.
In Northern Nicosia, restaurants are omnipresent: Turkish Cypriots are an exuberant people who love to go out and eat, as a proverb states, "one should eat if they find food". Dining late is quite common outside of the walled city, and you will find that live music is quite common in restaurants.
While food is pretty much available everywhere, there is a large conglomeration of restaurants in the fancy Dereboyu area, where most of the students and the youth hang out and prices with a great range can be observed. Expect very few restaurants in the shopping district of Taşkınköy, but more in the Gönyeli area and Lemar Yolu. Traditional food (excluding kebabs and döner, which are available 24/7 in a few restaurants and everywhere in the city during daytime), while available in the modern city, can be more readily found in the walled city, although these restaurants tend to close earlier. Some examples of traditional food are:
- Molhiya is a well developed dish appealing to Turkish Cypriot taste, preparation and presentation, since they were Arabs known for their spicy and tasty food who passed it to Turks.
- Yalanci Dolma (vine leaves stuffed with rice, onions, and tomatoes) is a Turkish Cypriot dish. In Turkish Yalanci Dolma means "stuffed liar".
- Shish Kebab (marinated lamb, skewered and grilled over charcoal), shis is the everyday word used by Turkish people which refers to "skewer", similarly Doner Kebab means "spinning kebab".
- Musakka (layers of mince, potatoes, and aubergines baked in the oven with cheese topping).
- Dönerci - they are everywhere. Apart from perhaps a few, notably the famous Enişte Restaurant in Dereboyu, this Turkish fast-food is readily available (Özgülen Kebap is known for its 24/7 service, while Ozie Kebap is known for its gigantic meals at rather affordable prices). Expect good deals, as low as 3 euros / 10-12 lira at some places.
- Sandwich kiosks - much less ubiquitous than döner houses of course, but Ali Usta's place at Sarayönü Square is traditionally considered a decent place.
- Burger City - totally the same as Burger King in other countries, only that the "king" in the name has been replaced due to the international embargo. The city's only international fast food chain, you can find it in Dereboyu or in Lemar Yolu (Ortaköy). A decent meal should cost around 6 euros.
- Supermarkets are an option, they sell sandwiches or cold traditional foods at cheap prices.
- Sandviççi Ali'nin Yeri - at Sarayönü/Atatürk Square, this small and inconspicuous place has a sense of heredity: it has been there for decades.
- Simit Dünyası - at Girne Avenue, in the walled city, a sort of bakery where you can get cheap meals. You can see their vendors around the streets of the old city.
- Yaprak Tantuni - traditional Turkish food (mainly southern regions of Turkey), found in the Dereboyu area, one meal could be as cheap as 3 euros depending on your appetite.
- Etiler Marmaris - known for its wet burgers in the Dereboyu region.
The Dereboyu region is practically full of mid-range restaurants, below is a choice of them, but feel free to explore around
- Califorian - a popular restaurant in the Dereboyu region, can be a budget restaurant as well with meals as cheap as 6 euros, even though it has costlier alternatives as well. Great range of options available.
- Meatballs - in the Dereboyu region, choice of a range of burgers and sandwiches that may surprise you with their unconventionality.
- Café de Bakkal - Ready for big gulps? A small, rather inconspicuous restaurant around the Ledra Palace checkpoint, serves burgers of 200 g, 350 g or 400 g with a choice of additional ingredients.
- Büyük Han / the Great Inn - a classical favourite of tourists in the walled city, this place has a great atmosphere and sometimes live music. Offers a selection of traditional Cypriot and Turkish food.
- Leman Kültür - again in the Dereboyu region, interesting design along the lines of a Turkish caricature magazine and rather different choice of meals.
- Eziç - part of a restaurant chain, popular place for date nights or special occasions, with an elite approach and range of meals. May be considered upper mid-range but is by no means expensive in comparison to the south, expect around 10 euros per head, or a bit more if opting for red meat. Near the Taşkınköy shopping region.
- Hamur - next to the Ledra Palace checkpoint, serves traditional Cypriot food.
- Domino's Pizzas - in the Dereboyu region, very close to the walled city, just across from the parliament.
- Meyhane - the Gönyeli region is full of these, even though you may find them in central Nicosia as well, and they may be named "restaurants" at times. They are basically places with a great range of mezes, a slowly served fix menu of kebabs and an opportunity to drink your drinks of choice, with live music or entertainment at some places - might be synonymous to a tavern! Ask for assistance to pick the ideal one. Expect 20-30 euros per person, and the bill will usually be divided among all that pay.
Coffe & Drink
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).
- Da Capo café, 30 Arch Makarios Avenue, . Regarded as one of the first modern cafés, caters for the nouveau riche. Serves basic meals, WiFi internet access.
- Le Café, 16 Arch. Makarios Avenue, . Used to be a confectionery. Now you'll find the suits of the Cyprus financial elite lunching there - book in advance if you're going for lunch. Wifi.
- Pralina Café, 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.
- Mondo's Café, 9 Arch. Makarios Avenue, . Large outside seating area, WiFi.
- Svoura Café-Bar, . 5 Thermopylon, Old town. Serves coffee, snacks and alcohol; dance all night long. Free Wi-fi.
Sights & Landmarks
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. Note that 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.
- Famagusta Gate (Leoforos Athinon). One of Nicosia's three old gates, it has now been turned into the Lefkosia Municipal Cultural Centre, used for various exhibitions and performances.
- The Nicosia Municipal Theatre (on museum street, opposite the Cyprus Museum). A spacious theater built in a neoclassical style. It seats 1200 persons and has a continuous programme of cultural events throughout the year. The theater is contemporary out of order for renovation purposes.
- Football. For a taste of local sport, visit the home games of the local clubs. APOEL [www], Omonoia [www] and Olympiakos (Nicosia). All three compete in the top division of the Cyprus football and basketball leagues. Recently APOEL football team has enjoyed considerable success in European competitions.
- Cyprus National Football team. The tends to play its home games in Nicosia at the GSP stadium. Recent success on the international scene (a 5-2 thrashing of Ireland and a 1-1 draw with Germany in 2006) have bolstered national pride and made these games quite popular (so advance ticket purchase is advised). Tickets are relatively cheap when compared to European leagues where on average a full price ticket costs less than CYP£15. Anorthosis, a team originally from Famagusta and now playing in exile since the Turkish invasion of 1974, play their Champions League home fixtures at the same ground. Entry prices vary and opponents for 2008 include Inter Milan, Werder Bremen and Panathinaikos.
- Horse Racing (Nicosia Race Club), Ayios Dometios, , fax:, e-mail: [email protected]. 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.
- 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.
Most of Nicosia's sights are within the walled city:
- Selimiye Mosque (St. Sophia Cathedral).Northern Nicosia's top attraction, this fortress-like cathedral-cum-mosque was completed in 1228 and has survived a number of earthquakes since then. The cathedral was converted into a mosque in 1570 and the two minarets added at the same time are a Nicosia landmark.
- Kyrenia Gate. Built in 1567, the impressive Northern entry gate into Nicosia was built when the Venetians were in charge of Cyprus. Today it is home to the tourism information centre in Nicosia.
- The Great Inn (Büyük Han). It has been totally transformed through sympathetic renovation and restoration over the past few years and today it’s a place where you can shop for eclectic crafts, enjoy a light meal, watch some street theatre or listen to live music and marvel at the incredible architecture of this building constructed back in 1572.
- Atatürk Square. better known as Sarayönü - the heart of the walled city, this square boasts the Venetian Column and the Judicial Building, with an opportunity to see other historical buildings and witness locals going about their daily business.
- Samanbahçe Houses. a very good reflection of traditional Turkish Cypriot architecture, these houses are well-preserved and well worth seeing and photographing.
- The Great Turkish Bath (Büyük Hamam). built over 400 years ago and still active, this bath is a place to relax.
- Dervish Pasha’s House. Another cultural anthropology centre is the recently resorted mansion that was once owned by Dervish Pasha.
- The Lusignan House. A French medieval residence
- Lapidary Museum. An archaeological museum
- Mevlevi Tekke. Museum of whirling Dervishes
- Arabahmet Mosque. another historical mosque
Attractions outside the walled city:
- The Museum of Barbarism. The house of Dr. Nihat Ilhan, a major who was serving in the Cyprus Turkish Contingent in 1963. During the inter-communal troubles of December that year, the house was attacked by the Greek-Cypriot terrorists. Dr. Ilhan's wife and three children were ruthlessly murdered in the bathroom where they had tried to hide. The house, in the Kumsal district of Nicosia has been preserved as a museum.
- Kızılbaş Church. in the Kızılbaş area, within walking distance from Dereboyu, this historical church is now used as a cultural center with frequent exhibitions and other cultural events.
- The Office of Rauf Denktaş. the office of the founder of Northern Cyprus, this is another attraction in the Dereboyu area.
- The Republic Park (Cumhuriyet Parkı). hosting the grave of Rauf Denktaş and a monument dedicated to the national struggle, this park is located in the Gönyeli area.
Museums & Galleries
- Cyprus Museum (west of the city wall, in between the Tripoli bastion and the municipal gardens). M-Sa 9-5pm, Su/public holidays 10-1pm, 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 convenient café on the grounds. 20% discount for groups of 10 or more. €3.40.
- Byzantine Museum (Archbishop Kyprianou Square). M-F 9-4:30pm, Sa 8am-Noon, 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.
- National Struggle Museum, Kiniras 7. Daily 8am-Noon. Documents the history of the Cypriot independence movement (1955-1959), with a rather positive spin on the EOKA guerrilla movement. €1.
- Leventis Municipal Museum, Ippokratous 17, Laiki Yitonia, . T-Su 10-4:30pm. 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.
- House of the Dragoman Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios, Patriarch Gregoriou St, . M-F 8-2pm, Sa 9-1pm, Su closed. A beautifully restored 18th-century building now housing an ethnological museum. €1.
- Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, 19 Apostolou Varnava Str, , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. 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 [www] .
- Museum of the History of Cypriot Coinage, Bank of Cyprus Administrative Headquarters, 51 Stasinou Str., Agia Paraskevi, . M-F 8-2:30pm. Hundreds of coins on display, from ancient to modern spanning nearly 3,000 years of coinage history on the island.
- Ledra Observatory Museum, Ledra street, Shakolas Building, . Daily 10-8pm. The Shakolas (the aged population 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 its 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.
- The Cyprus Classic Motorcycle Museum, 44 Granikou Str., , e-mail: [email protected]. M-F 9-1pm 3-7pm, Sa 9-2pm. 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.
Things to do
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 Watch tower, into both North and South Nicosia.
- Hamam Omerye. Located in the heart of the old town at: 8 Tyllirias Square, 1016 Lefkosia - 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 Tue/Thu/Sat, women only Wed/Fri/Sun. €20/two hours, incl. towels, disposable underwear, tea, sponge etc.
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 is the local Cannes equivalent. Expect to see great movies, but not the same calibre of stars.
- K. Cineplex 115 Makedonitissis, Strovolos 2057 +357-22355824. Modern multiscreen theatre, not much different to what one would find anywhare else in the world.
- Zena Palace Cinema 18 Theofanous Theodotou, Nicosia 1065 +357-22674128. One of the oldest venues, has escaped the bulldozer by a thin film.
- Ifantourgio, , fax: , e-mail:[email protected]. 67-71 Lefkonos Str., Phaneromeni, 1011 Old Nicosia. The name of this place translates as The Weaving Mill and is in fact a converted old factory. Very arty, no blockbusters here. You can sip your wine as you watch an alternative movie.
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.
Whirling Dervish Shows take place in the walled city near the Selimiye Mosque, every night apart from the Sundays.
Try the 500-year-old Great Turkish Bath (Büyük Hamam) for an experience of true and relaxing cleanliness.
The Nicosia International Fair, takes place every June, and it's more than a fair, with an opportunity to mingle with locals and enjoy the decades-old atmosphere of the mobile restaurants and funfair there.
Nicosia is home to festivals, especially during the summer:
- International Gönyeli Festival - organized by the Gönyeli Municipality in July, one of the suburbs of Nicosia, the festival boasts concerts from some internationally-known Turkish bands and folk dance shows, with many other events
- Nicosia Theater Festival - in September and October, with well-known plays and actors from Turkey and Cyprus, this is a festival the locals are proud of, though the plays are in Turkish
- Nicosia Youth Festival - takes place in the summer, with concerts of local bands
- Walled City Jazz Festival - in September
Golden Tulip Hotel, Saray Hotel, Merit Hotel and Royal Hotel host casinos, which are banned in the south.
The so-called nightclubs on the highway to Morphou are prostitution centers. While prostution is illegal, the government turns a blind eye to these "nightclubs" and they remain an attraction for men. These are called "gabareler" in Turkish Cypriot dialect (from "cabaret" in French). Information about these brothels as well as a vibrant discussion form is available online under the same name "gabareler" for curious clients who would like do some research before paying them a visit.
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.
- Babylon, 6 Iasonos Street, , e-mail: [email protected].2021 Lefkosia, Popular, long established bar in a converted 1950's house. Has a large beer garden for the hot summers and cosy log fires for the cold winters.
- The Corner Pub, 48 Demostheni Severi Avenue, . Nicosia 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.
- The Kush Bar, 2 Omirou Avenue, . Eleftheria Square, 1521 Nicosia. Opened in 2006, decorated with ultramodern minimalistic furniture and overlooking the dry moat surrounding Nicosia's venetian walls.
- Plato's Bar, 8-10 Platonos St, . Long established and popular, located 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. Note that Entrance is not allowed to Males with SLEEVELESS T-shirts.
- The Toy Lounge, . Pindarou St. Opened in 2003. More than a bar, less than a club, frankly somewhere in between. Open till about 2am and serves finger food too. Live music on certain nights. More frequented by ages 25–40.
- Svoura Cafe-Bar, . 5 Thermopylon,Old town. The new hot spot in Nicosia for a coffee and alcohol. Chill out and have a coffee with a snack at daylight OR dance all night long with lots of alcohol and cool people. Free wireless intenet and happy prices.
- Scorpios Club, 3 Stassinos Street, . Probably the onlydiscothèque in Nicosia having survived the test of time. Opened in the early 1970s and has reinvented itself (after several facelifts) since.
- Sfinakia club, 1 Kyriakou Matsi Avenue, . 1082 Nicosia. Opened in the 1990s and still going strong. Caters for an age group of 20-30s. Has a nice outdoors bar section open in the summer months. Usually packed on a daily basis and even on weekends.
- Zoo Club, 15 Stasinou Ave, . 1060 Nicosia. Started out as a club but over the years has taken over several floors on the same building. Has a restaurant section and a chill-out lounge bar.
Safety in Nicosia