Café culture is an essential part of life in Cyprus, so be sure to indulge in a hot drink with one of the many delicious pastries and traditional cakes on offer in coffee shops across the city. Locals love To Apomero, a small café hidden in an alley just off Ermou, its name aptly meaning “secluded” in Greek.
Splitting the island in two, Nicosia’s Green Line (officially the UN Buffer Zone) extends across the capital, with various checkpoints along the way. The main one can be found at Ledra Street, an entry point where people can cross over to the other side, into what is known as Northern Cyprus. Nicosia is the only divided capital in the world, and the city’s Green Line is a visible reminder of the social and political situation on the island, as well as its fascinating history.
Head to OHI roundabout where local sellers lay out their goods every Wednesday and Saturday from 6am to 4pm. Here, you’ll find all kinds of fresh products from fruit and vegetables to eggs and nuts – it’s the perfect place to savour the local produce. Even if you’re not planning on cooking anything, a visit to the farmers’ market is an experience in its own right. Watch how the locals interact and how the sellers shout out and announce their products to entice customers. It’s best to head here in the morning, as things sell quickly and there’s not much action after lunchtime.
Another must-visit museum is the iconic Cyprus Museum, the largest and oldest archaeological museum on the island. Its rich collection demonstrates the turbulent and significant role that this tiny country has had in European history, while the building itself is emblematic of the pride Cypriots have in their heritage and culture.
The third cultural spot worth visiting is the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre (NiMac), the oldest contemporary arts centre in Cyprus, which hosts exhibitions from local and foreign artists. Admission is free.
The best-known street in Nicosia is the pedestrian Ledra Street, which is filled with shops, bars, cafés and eateries, and ends at one of the most popular checkpoints on the Green Line. Parallel to Ledra is Onasagorou, an equally busy street that has flourished in the last decade with bars and restaurants, bringing life back into the Old Town. A bit further down past the NiMac is Ermou Street, which is home to many old Cypriot craftspeople.
Off Onasagorou Street, you’ll find a dozen little shops that make up a pedestrian neighbourhood called Laiki Geitonia. This is the ultimate place to visit if you want to do some souvenir shopping, as the shops sell everything from olive oil and zivania (a traditional alcoholic drink) to Cypriot sculptures and lace embroidery. The friendly shop owners will definitely engage in conversation as you explore their goods.
Although Laiki Geitonia has a couple of taverns, for a more local experience, head to one of the Old Town’s eateries, otherwise known as mayiria. These eateries serve daily home-style, traditional meals and are the closest you’ll find to eating at a Cypriot home. Try Siantris or Mathaios – both in Old Nicosia – or Stoa tou Dimitri just outside the walls of the city. A visit to Cyprus can’t be complete without trying a pitta of mixed souvlakia: grilled meat skewers and sheftalia sausages with salad. It’s a traditional island dish.
This is one of the funnest (and most leisurely) ways to explore the city, and is a quick means of manoeuvring between many of the town’s unmissable landmarks. Groups are provided with a guide and individual Segways, as well as some basic training and safety talks. The guides are experts on the local area and will use their native knowledge to make tours fun, educational and unlike any other tour provided on the island. Although you won’t see any locals on Segways, it’s an exciting way to see the town, especially for children.
This large stretch of greenery is the closest thing to a forest you’ll find in Nicosia. Located in the suburbs of the city, it stretches over 840 hectares (3sq mi) and hosts a beautiful lake, the park’s signature feature. There’s plenty of space for children to play, either amongst the trees or at the playground, which is near the park café. For animal lovers, there’s a designated dog path that circles the park and offers fantastic city views. Head to Athalassa for a picnic, a walk or to get your dose of nature.
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