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The capital of Cyprus is the worlds last divided capital but one can feel the change coming. In this 48h Guide I’ll show you the best things to do in Nicosia as well as cool bars, cafes and great restaurants which altogether make you feel like walking around a mediterranean version of Berlin.
Cyprus is a divided country – the southern part of the island is the free “greek” part, the northern part is an occupied area. While the south is internationally recognised and a member of the EU, the self-declared “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” is recognised only by Turkey. Therefore a trip to Nicosia is also a very lively history lesson as it is the center of all the important historic events of the island until today with its division.
In the last few years the situation calmed down, the borders were opened and in 2015 the North and South relaunched reunification talks. Nicosia itself is a lively city with a lot of hip cafes, stores and restaurants. This is how it must have felt like back in the days when Berlin was at the same stage – but here you can experience it live. Now is the best time to pay a visit to Nicosia and check it out during this process of change. I’m focussing mostly on the free part of the city, find my recommendations for accommodation at the end of the article!
Day 1, 10:00 am – Walk the Walls
No worries, I don’t want you to walk on top of the border and get yourself into trouble! Nicosia is a walled city with a unique star shape. Not only does it look pretty cool from above – its also fun to walk along the venetian walls and explore the remains of the old town.
I recommend starting your walk at the north-eastern end of the greek cypriot area and walk the walls clockwise to the north-western end. Don’t forget to take a city map with you (from your Hotel / Tourist Info) – personally I love the green “Nicosia: free map for young travellers made by locals” as it comes with many descriptions and highlights the most important things to do in Nicosia.
The top spots to visit along the wall are the Famagusta gate (exhibitions are held regularly here), the freedom monument, the farmers market (Wednesday/Saturday), the town hall and the Paphos gate.
12:00 am – Leventis Museum
If there is one museum you should visit in Nicosia then its this. Unlike the other big museums the exhibition at the Leventis Museum is well thought through and takes you through the history of Nicosia and Cyprus. Even better: the entrance is completely free!
The museum is located on a side street at the beginning of the pedestrian area.
opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am – 4:30pm
02:00 pm – Lunch at Mattheos
This is the perfect starting point to get to know the Cypriot cuisine (and yes: you usually have lunch here at 2pm). The Mattheos is a tiny restaurant next to the Faneromenis square and its church. The food on offer is very traditional homemade cuisine for reasonable prices.
Take a seat at the tables in the sun and order a selection of dishes with your friends. The staff is very friendly and the food is simple but very tasty. I recommend ordering a cypriot coffee afterwards (comparable to Turkish coffee).
04:00 pm – Nicosia from above (Shakolas Tower)
After an extensive meal a walk is recommended, afterwards you should head to the Shakolas tower to enjoy a panoramic view over the city. Until recently this platform was the only chance to take a look at the northern part of the city.
Beside the view and the interactive displays you shouldn’t miss the short film which is very well done (it’s about the most important events in Cypriot history). Another insider tip if you want a free view is to head to the toilets: you can open the windows there and take some snapshots without reflecting windows (no, don’t ask how I found out about that).
opening hours: daily from 10am – 6pm
entrance fee: 2€
06:30 pm – Loukoumades
After a short break at the hotel or a nearby café you should continue your discovery by trying Loukoumades.
These deep fried dough balls are a traditional pastry in Cyprus – you can get them at Honey Tokens and be creative in matters of toppings. Delicious!
07:00 pm – Pivo Microbrewery
It’s beer o’clock. As we are running late: how about 4 beers? This Microbrewery just opened and was founded by 4 brothers who learned the brewing craftsmanship in the Czech Republic (this is where the name comes from) and brought their knowledge back to their home country.
Good for Nicosia – good for you!
Right now they got 4 different brews on tap as well as one seasonal brew. My recommendation is to order the 4 pack to try all brews – especially when you are with friends this is the best way to find out which beer to order for your second round. Apart from the beer the location itself is worth a visit!
09:00 pm – To Anamma
Even though you had your glass sandwiches already it is time for a proper dinner. The To Anamma is situated just a few steps aways from the brewery and awaits with some yummy barbecue food.
Once there you should head to the beautiful courtyard. Don’t miss out on the great meat and the halloumi cheese as well as the fresh salads!
11:00 pm – The Gym
At the parallel street of the restaurant you’ll find this trendy Bar. The right place to finish your first days with some good drinks and talks (and you can tell your friends back home you’ve been to the gym!).
I highly recommend the “Weiss President”, a cocktail which has weissbier as it’s base and therefore fits perfectly for todays evening!
Day 2, 10:00 am – Bike Tour
After a long breakfast you’ll be active – either by renting a bike or taking part in an guided bike tour. I recommend the first option to get to know the green side of Nicosia at your own pace.
For the tour into the green you should head to the Paphos Gate and afterwards in the direction of the Pedieos river. Once you reached the river you can cycle along the newly constructed paths along the river in southern direction through the parks of Nicosia.
01:00 pm – Lunch at Diosmos & Kanela
Today we are at the restaurant slightly early. The Diosmos & Kanela also has great brunch options. The food is very good and offers a some contrast to the traditional cuisine. Though its pricey it is worth it.
Again this cosy restaurant is located right in the pedestrian area (Onasagorou 24). Which means you can kill the waiting time by people watching ;)
03:00 pm – Along the Green Line
Your post-lunch walk takes you through the eastern part of the old town with its numerous alleys and churches into north-eastern direction.
From the northern most section of the city wall in the southern part of the city you are heading west by walking along the “green line” (the name derives from the fact that a UN general drew the demarcation line with a green pencil onto a map of the city) until you get to the Ledras checkpoint (don’t forget to take your passport).
During your walk you’ll come to see a lot of Street Art, many antique shops but also workshops. You can also use the chance to see a glimpse of the buffer zone by looking through one of the many holes in the barriers – since 1974 the time is standing still in this area.
05:30 pm – coffee at the Weaving Mill
The hip coffeeshops in Nicosia open their doors a bit later. This one is like a mixture between a library and a huge living room…altogether a very cosy place to hang out.
The Weaving Mill is the place where the startup/freelance scene of Nicosia meets to do business or just to talk. If you are fancy a session of Pool Billiard you can use the table in the back…or you just grab a book, the selection is quite huge.
06:30 pm – After Work beer at Brew Fellas
Another institution in matters of beer is this rustic pub just around the corner from the checkpoint at the Ledras street. The selection of beers is massiv, they also have 5 brews on tap.
If you are hesitating you can ask the very friendly barkeeper for some recommendations or go straight for their very good IPA.
08:00 pm – Dinner at Piatsa Gourounaki
I bet you are very hungry by now. Great! You are about to go to the most popular restaurant in town. Traditional, meaty Cypriot cuisine at its best. Prepare for a feast!
The Piatsa Gourounaki is the culinary closing note and very popular amongst locals. The staff is very friendly, the food is great and the prices are reasonable as well.
10:00 pm – the worlds best cocktails at the Lost & Found Drinkery
If someone would have told me that I’ll find one of the worlds top 50 bars in Cyprus I would have thought it must be a joke. Indeed Nicosia is home to an international awarded bar: the Lost & Found has a wide selection of some very rad cocktails. The prices are more than reasonable – use it to try a few of their creations (stop whining, it’s your last night anyway!).
The owners are passionate barkeepers who teamed up a few years ago to revive the bar scene of Cyprus: fresh ingredients, own creations from their “lab”, several ice machines to create unique shapes and a wide selection of top notch spirits. I recommend ordering the “Arcade” or just having a chat with the barkeepers on what to order.
This seems like a decent final stop for a diverse journey, don’t you think!?
Where to stay in Nicosia
Unlike the coastal areas of Cyprus the selection of Hotels is not as wide. Nevertheless I found a great place to stay with “The Sandstone” – a trendy, family owned B&B right in the pedestrian area. The English owner Max put a lot of energy and love into the design and decoration of this cozy place.
If you are a breakfast lover you won’t want to leave due to the extensive buffet which is waiting for you each morning. I haven’t seen something like that in a B&B before: fresh fruits from the farmers market, a wide selection of cold cuts, cereals, yoghurt, freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee/tea. Of course the WiFi is free of charge as are the recommendations and tips you will get from Max who knows the city very well.
It is no surprise that the Sandstone is amongst the most popular places to stay in Nicosia therefore it is often fully booked. If you are not lucky I can recommend the Centrum Hotel which is also very good located and offers decent rooms, only the breakfast is a bit disappointing but there are good coffee places and restaurants nearby (Diosmos & Kanela).
Find more options based on user reviews and ratings on the Nicosia overview page at Booking.
More cool things to do in Nicosia?
I created this travel guided based on my own experience with the help of some locals. Have you been and know of some more cool places to visit in Nicosia? Let us know in the comments below! Feel free to share this article with your friends or link to it from your website.
Disclaimer: My trip to Nicosia was made possible by Visit Nicosia who let me explore the city on my own. All opinions, recommendations and views are my own. This post contains Affiliate Links for services and products I’m using on my travels – therefore I can highly recommend using them. By using these links you won’t pay any additional fees!