Nicosia is the world's last divided capital city and is split at the "Green Line" between Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus and Greek-controlled Southern Cyprus. There are five different checkpoints to cross between the two regions, with the Ledra Street crossing being the most used. Nicosia is popular for its archaeological sites, pristine beaches, and culture.
Recently converted into a cultural center, this gate now provides weekly exhibitions and community performances.
This museum is famous for having one of the most comprehensive Orthodox icon and artwork collections in the world.
Dating back to the 14th century, this hamam was once a Christian church and Muslim mosque at various times throughout history.
This open caravan-style setting in North Nicosia is filled with many boutique shopping and eating opportunities.
Formerly known as the Cathedral of Saint Sophia, this 13th-century structure sports Gothic architecture and is the burial site of many former rulers in Cyprus.
The Old City of Nicosia is a strange conglomeration of Ottoman and Greek culture and history. Through its street names, religious buildings, architecture and markets, there is a deep sense that, once upon a time, wars were waged and the sands of time shifted here. Today, however, modern restaurants, cafes and bookstores operate side by side, giving it a very European flair. It is the Venetian fortifications which run for 1.86 miles around the old city, however, that tie it to a moment in time that is even more ancient. The walls were built in the Middle Ages and while they're finally starting to crumble, the impressive Famagusta Gate is still well-preserved.
The Büyük Han is a classically restored piece of architecture from the late 1500s that was used as a resting place and accommodation for merchants and traveling caravans. These quarters once housed horses and hammams but today are thronging with visitors who come to experience its venerable ambiance take the opportunity to rest amidst its variety of restaurants, shops and cafes.
A true testament to the power of shared faith, Nicosia's Selimiye Mosque was previously the Cathedral of Saint Sophia. The present-day mosque is an interesting conglomeration of traditional Gothic church features with the kind of tall, spindly minarets found on Ottoman Empire mosques. Whether intentional or not, this inclusive design is also reflected in the interiors. The "church" and "mosque" feature tall columns with a clear division for pews and a long, wide corridor in the middle. It is decorated simply, with the white and black columns adding to the ascetic atmosphere.
With Cyprus right at the epicenter of history, war and culture, and Nicosia bristling with ancient fortifications, it makes sense that the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia would be the country's oldest and largest archaeological museum. From the Neolithic period to the Byzantine era, with rock-cut tombs, Egyptian amulets, and Mycenaean artifacts from ancient Kourion, the museum accurately captures all of history within its cleverly designed rooms. The progression of rooms from 1 to 14 is intended to symbolize a linear movement through time. The museum's collection is so vast that only a small fraction is on display on any given day. A testament to just how much history the human race has experienced.
High above the Lefkara Valley is the Dafermou Winery, where visitors can take a trip to see how local wines are aged and processed. Take a tour through the vaults of floor-to-ceiling barrels and the gorgeous estate surrounded by green hills beneath blue skies. Once you're done soaking up information, why not sip a little wine? Visitors can head into the tasting room - just don't be surprised if there's a wedding in progress.
The best time to visit Nicosia is in the summer months between May and August, when the high volume of tourists really brings the city to life with events, tours, and outdoor sports activities.
Ercan International Airport (ECN) is located eight miles east of North Nicosia in the Turkish side of Cyprus, and is the closest airport to the capital. Visitors can then connect to the city by shuttle bus, taxi, or intercity transit.
The journey from Larnaca to Nicosia can be made in just 50 minutes by following the A2 and A1 highways.
The Intercity Bus Route Larnaca-Nicosia drops off at several stops in the city, including Limassol Avenue, Dionysiou Solomou Square, and Archbishop Makariou C' Avenue for around ₺8.
Holiday Inn Nicosia has a rooftop pool and is located in the center of Old Town, while Centrum Hotel features an on-site bar and serves free breakfast.
North Nicosia - the Turkish section of the city features many mosques, spa facilities, administrative buildings, and performance spaces.
South Nicosia - the Greek side of the city has many museums, restaurants, and archaeological sites, and is slightly more developed than its northern counterpart.
Laiki Geitonia - in this quarter you can find many souvenir shops all accessible within a pedestrian-friendly area.
There are many buses connecting riders within North and South Cyprus. A single ride ticket costs ₺6.
Taxis in Nicosia do not have a distinctive color, but will generally carry a sign denoting their purpose. Tariffs start at ₺12 and cost up to ₺30 for a trip around the city center.
Daily rental cars can be picked up from Ercan Airport, Larnaca Airport, or several destination points in downtown Nicosia. Rates start at ₺70 a day.
Ledra street is the main shopping thoroughfare, selling jewelry, fabrics, shoes, and other cultural souvenirs. Makariou Avenue features more international stores like H&M and Marks and Spencer.
Lemar Supermarket is the biggest grocery store in the North, while Alphamega Acropolis is the largest in the South. A dozen eggs costs ₺10.
Piatsa Gourounaki offers Greek-style BBQ food in South Nicosia for around ₺40 per person.