The Best Places to see and things to do in Nicosia, Cyprus
Nicosia, or Λευκωσία (Lefkosia), is the capital of Cyprus, and the most populated city on the island. Did you know that Nicosia wasn’t always the capital? That’s right – Paphos actually used to be the island’s capital! Although it is the capital, the wider region of Nicosia isn’t a particularly popular tourist destination, aside from the old town and a few other sights, which tourists commonly flock to. This is likely due to there not being any beaches in Nicosia, at least not easily accessible ones (the coastal town of Kato Pyrgos is within the borders of Nicosia – so in fact there are indeed beaches in Nicosia!). Nevertheless, there is still a lot that can be done and seen when visiting Nicosia, which means you are going to need to put together a “bucket list” – fortunately we are here to help!
Being locals of Nicosia, we hope that our guide lets you in on some local secrets, and great places to see. If you are wondering how to get around in Nicosia, we also have an overview of public transport in Cyprus here (link), which can also help you get to Nicosia if you are in another one of Cyprus’ cities. Anyway, enough stalling, let’s talk about everything Nicosia – heads up, there are going to be a lot of historical sites on the list!
Facts about Cyprus
The world’s oldest wine label comes from Cyprus. Commandaria dates back 5000 years!
Cyprus is the first nation to include the shape of its country of its Flag.
The first Olympic Medal won by Cyprus was at the 2012 London Games
More than 45 Beaches in Cyprus have been awarded the EU Blue Flag for Cleanliness & Safety
Nicosia, the capital of the island, is the only capital that is divided between two nations!
Cyprus has sunshine for 300 days a year. Make sure to pack your sunscreen!
10+1 Best Places to See and Things to do in Nicosia, Cyprus
1. Ledras Street: Perhaps most popular as the crossing point between south and north Nicosia, this street has a lot more to offer! As the rest of this guide will deal with the many locations around Ledras which are worth seeing, you can use this street as your starting point in Nicosia. Ledras is a pedestrian only street, with countless bars and restaurants, as well as shops to visit. If you want to have a coffee, just ask for a “Σκέττον Κυπριακόν” at one of the many coffee shops; this will definitely put a pep in your step!
2. Venetian Walls: As a form of fortification, the Venetians surrounded Nicosia with walls to deter any would-be attackers. These walls still stand around Nicosia, although nowadays they are much more a tourist attraction, than a fortification. They are surrounded by a grassy area, which is great for a walk.
3. Famagusta Gate & Aqueduct: Built in 1567 by the Venetians, this large gateway, styled in the fashion of Roman architecture is an impressive site to see. Walking through the gates you can get to a large grassy area, which is perfect for a nice walk. It’s also great if you want to take your dog for a walk!
4. Leventis Museum: An impressive addition to the many museums in Nicosia. This one charts the history of Cyprus from prehistoric times to the current day. It is easily accessible from the centre of Nicosia, being just a brief walk from Freedom Square. Tickets are relatively inexpensive, costing just a few euros. After visiting the museum, you can walk to the next place on the list!
5. Phaneromeni Church (and surrounding area): Built in 1872, not only does this church have a number of artefacts from its long history, but also still operates normally; with numerous religious events happening throughout the year. The best time to visit this church is during Orthodox Easter, as you will be able to witness the celebrations.
6. Ancient Tamassos: On the outskirts of Nicosia, this ancient citadel is a great destination for a small day trip. It was one of the 10 kingdoms of Ancient Cyprus, and has a number of royal tombs, and other artefacts. Today, the kingdom of Tamassos is made up of a number of rural villages, including Psimolofou, Pera Orinis and Kapedes, among others. There is also a dam nearby, which breeds a number of species of fish.
7. GSP Stadium (website in Greek): If you are a fan of football, and feel like experiencing a game in Cyprus, then this stadium on the outskirts of the city is the place to go. It is the home pitch of local football teams Omonoia and Apoel, both of whom have played with famous teams from abroad, such as Manchester United, Barcelona FC, and others.
8. Athalassa National Forest: One of many forests in Nicosia, this one is closeby to the University of Cyprus, and promises to be a great destination for a nice walk or even a picnic (if it isn’t too hot!). Depending on the season you choose to visit, the park may be completely green, or yellow and parched. It’s great for dog walks as well!
9. Fairy Tale Museum: A great place for kids and parents alike. This museum will take you on a journey through the wonderful world of fairytales. It takes fairytales from all over the world, from Aesop’s fables to Narnia and beyond. The museum functions everyday, except for monday, with tickets costing only a few euros.
10. Cyprus Classic Motorcycle Museum: If you are a fan of hogs, or any other kind of chopper, then you are definitely in for a treat here! Walk through the impressive collection of one avid Cypriot motorcycle fan, and watch the history of motorcycles unfold before your eyes. Perfect for a lazy day, when you just want to look at motorcycles!
11. Pyrgos Tillirias: This one may not be a very useful one, as getting to Pyrgos can take almost 4 hours by car, when travelling only in the south. If, perchance you are able to travel through the north by car, you can reach Pyrgos in just over 1 hour 30 minutes. It is truly worth it, as it may be one of the few remaining villages that still feel fully traditional. Plus, you can also say that you swam at a beach in Nicosia, and watch all your friends try and tell you there aren’t any!
Fot. Zde/ (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Cyprus Travel and More
We hope with this modest guide we have piqued your interest in the wonderful city of Nicosia! It may not be able to boast as many beautiful beaches or big skyscrapers that some of the other cities have. Nevertheless, we believe that Nicosia is a must-see destination, as the last divided capital in Europe, but also as one of the few remaining cities in Cyprus that has held onto its culture and national character. If you need more information on getting around in Nicosia, then check out our page on public transport. We also have handy guides for how to get from Nicosia to all of the other cities in Cyprus, be this either public transport, or by booking a quality private transfer with us.
We wish you safe and happy travels and hope you enjoy Nicosia as much as we do.