Nicosia is a unique city, one of the oldest in the world, because the first settlements in the picturesque Mesaoria intermountain date back to the 7th century BC. e.
According to wholevehicles.com, Nicosia is a city of fusion of two cultures and peaceful coexistence of past and present. One third of the island’s population lives in the city, but it is as easy to breathe here as anywhere in the vast Cypriot plains. Admirers of beauty will enjoy visiting museums repeatedly recognized as the best in Europe, gourmets will enjoy dishes of the Balkan and Greek cuisines, and hedonists of all ages and nationalities will be delighted with the ancient Byzantine baths and modern spa centers.
What to bring
The main trade arteries of Nicosia are the pedestrian streets of Ledra and Onasagora, almost entirely consisting of shops, boutiques and cafes. Those who are interested in good and inexpensive shopping should go to Archbishop Makarios III Avenue or to The Mall of Cyprus at the exit from the city towards Larnaca.
For souvenirs, it is better to go to the Laiki-Gitonia area – a restored quarter, where the atmosphere of old Lefkosia (as the city was called before) is recreated. The shops sell traditional magnets, ceramics, tablecloths, even carpets and jewelry. Inexpensive and nice souvenir – ceramic dishes. Pottery has been developed on the island for thousands of years, so even the simplest vase or plate will become a good memory of the trip.
An excellent place for bargain shopping is the Crafts Center on Atalassia Avenue. There you can see with your own eyes how the craftsmen work on products, and then buy the ones you like.
In Nicosia, they make beautiful silver jewelry. A technique popular in the capital is called filigree, reminiscent of lace weaving, only silver wire is used for the base. Another traditional craft is leather dressing; you can buy elegant bags, belts and wallets in shops.
Their local delicacies are haloumi white cheese, honey, Turkish delight and wines.
Cuisine and restaurants in Nicosia
“Meze” (or “mezedes”) is the king of Cypriot cuisine, as well as the opportunity to taste all the most delicious at one time. This is a whole set of dishes and snacks that are served one after another for a couple of hours. They start with sauces, followed by meat or fish dishes with vegetables, and light desserts and fruits complete the feast.
You need to calculate your strength and order a meze, being very hungry – this is really a hearty meal.
Sauces are prepared from different products and are served with almost all dishes. Tzatziki is especially tasty – yogurt with mint and cucumbers, taramasalata from smoked cod caviar and tahini from sesame seeds. Meat and fish dishes are very popular: “suvlaki” – a local kebab, “sheftalia” – chopped meatballs or sausages, “afelya” – pork stewed in red wine, “kotopoulo” – chicken in tomato sauce. They offer a salad for any dish, the rustic one is especially popular – a variant of the Greek one. Almost every eatery has local cheeses: halloumi or feta. Desserts here are mainly: baklava, Turkish delight or “kadaifi” – rolls in white sprinkling.
To get acquainted with the real Cypriot cuisine, you need to go to a tavern – an inexpensive cafe that usually specializes in a certain range of dishes created according to old traditions. A more expensive and refined dinner will be served in one of the restaurants in the capital. You can have a bite to eat in a coffee shop or a pastry shop, many of which are open around the clock. Dinner with a glass of wine in a restaurant will cost 40 EUR per person, in taverns prices are half as much.
Entertainment and attractions
The main architectural landmark of Nicosia is considered to be Laiki Gethinia – one of the quarters in the old city. Relatively recently, it underwent a large-scale reconstruction, as a result of which it was possible to recreate the unique atmosphere of the beginning of the last century. Here, old houses stand along cozy cobbled streets, so narrow that they can only be walked on foot. They housed many bars and restaurants in retro style, serving national cuisine prepared according to old recipes, accompanied by amazing Cypriot wines.
The center of Nicosia is an almost perfect circle surrounded by a fortress wall. But its main feature is that the city (like the whole island) is divided by the so-called “green line”, this is the buffer zone of the UN peacekeeping troops. To see the sights of both parts of the capital, you will have to go through border control.
In general, the old city amazes with its splendor, life here is completely different than in the business center of Nicosia, where there are no modern shopping centers, trendy nightclubs and expensive restaurants, only old oriental bazaars, souvenir and antique shops, colorful taverns. In this part of the city there is the cathedral of St. John, filled with solemn grandeur, where ancient frescoes have been preserved, the churches of Faneromeni and Chrysaliniotissa. All this is surrounded by an ancient wall, with amazingly beautiful fortress gates, recognized as the best restored object of antiquity in Europe.
In Greek Nicosia, there are two archbishop’s palaces – Old and New. The first one was created in 1730 and was once a Benedictine monastery. In the second half of the 20th century, the Cypriots built a New Neo-Byzantine Palace next to it.
It is definitely worth visiting the numerous museums – Archaeological, Municipal, Artistic, Jewelery Museum – where many interesting exhibits are presented, many of which were created long before our era. The Museum of Arts and Crafts and Folk Crafts deserves special attention, where the history is collected and the life of the entire island is shown.
Nicosia is located in the center of the hottest and driest island in the Mediterranean, therefore it is considered the driest capital of the region. It rarely rains here, warm in winter, very stuffy in summer, but comfortable in the off-season. For a trip, it is best to choose the beginning of autumn or spring: there is no heat, it occasionally rains, but mostly it is sunny and warm weather.