In this post, you will find our guide to travel to Nicosia in Cyprus. Nicosia is today the last divided capital of Europe. It’s under the control of two countries, Turkey and Greece. This division was caused by a civil war in the country. We have set up this guide to Nicosia in Cyprus based on our experience, so if you want to know more before or during your trip to the city, read on. What to see in Nicosia, what to do in Nicosia, where Nicosia sleeps, a little bit of history about Nicosia and much more.
- 1 A little bit of history about Nicosia
- 2 What to see in Nicosia: The south / Cypriot side of Nicosia.
- 3 Ledras Border Crossing
- 4 What to see in Nicosia: The north / Turkish side of Nicosia.
- 5 Important information to plan your trip to Nicosia in Cyprus
- 6 How to get to Nicosia in Cyprus
A little bit of history about Nicosia
Formerly called Ledra, Nicosia has passed under the control of Franks, Venetians, Turks, British and many others over the years. It is the only capital in the world that today is divided by two, like Berlin years ago. The frontier in Cyprus and that separates this city in two have been baptized as “green line” or “line of shame”.
You can see the barbed wire and the various guard posts walking through the borders. Only at the Check Point on Ledra Street can you cross from one side to the other in by foot. The difference between both halves is impressive, from great stores and perfect streets in the south (Cyprus), we cross to a chaos in the north with much more disorder and shops of brand imitations (Turkey). There are even several signs on the border that say it is forbidden to cross imitations from one side to the other.
You can access the map here
What to see in Nicosia: The south / Cypriot side of Nicosia.
There is so much to see, but more than anything we recommend you visit these places, in addition to its streets. There are several museums where you can find more information about the Turkish Cypriot War, so if you want to know more, you should visit them.
St. John Cathedral:
Icon of the area, the Cathedral dates back to the fourteenth century and is a simple construction in a Venetian style. Right next to it is a museum about the national struggle.
Venetian Walls and Famagusta Gate:
The Republic of Venice took the power of the city in 1489. At that time, Venetians built the walls of the ancient city and the Famagusta Gate. There are still several traces of what this Italian culture leaves in the area, which was expelled by the Turks in 1571.
A new building where you can get 360º views of Nicosia and understand better the current conflict. They teach some history and show with maps all the most important monuments and buildings in the area.
This street takes you to the border crossing and is quite attractive. Its shops and restaurants make it a must see during your trip to Nicosia in Cyprus.
Ledras Border Crossing
It is only allowed to cross from one side of Nicosia to the other with a passport if you are a foreigner. The process is quite easy, like immigration in any country. They will not stamp your passport so do not worry. Remember that it is an official border crossing area, so photographs are forbidden unless you ask the guard and he/she allow you to. Be aware to the only cross through this point… not only because you can end up in a problem with the police, but also because there are still many mines on the Green Line (which in it’s middle it’s no man’s land. Belongs to no one).
What to see in Nicosia: The north / Turkish side of Nicosia.
After crossing the border is so easy to tell the difference between both sides More dirty streets, imitation shops in every corner and a very different vibe.
Cathedral of Saint Sophia or Selimiye Mosque:
It’s awesome just to look at it: a huge Gothic church that has been transformed into a mosque. If you can enter, do it, the interior was reconstructed and today there remain only the columns of the main nave.
Immersed in a street market, the Buyuk Han on it’s inside is very quiet. It is said here is where people used to keep their horses and carriages. Today you can find several restaurants and shops.
Located in the middle of a square without any appeal, the Venetian Column is important because of its history. It was built in 1489 by the Venetians, and its upper part it used to have a lion, symbol of Venice.
After de Venetians were expelled from the city, it was demolished by the Turks. It was re-installed again by the British who also replaced the lion with a sphere.
It used to be one of the entrances to the ancient city, and today is the best preserved one. Inside there is a tourist information point and on the outskirts several souvenir shops and coffee shops.
Important information to plan your trip to Nicosia in Cyprus
Best time to travel to Nicosia
The climate of the island is Mediterranean, so that like other cities in this sector the best time to travel to Nicosia is between April and June, and between September and October.
For more information regarding the climate of the city, please visit our post of Cyprus.
How to get to Nicosia in Cyprus
As Nicosia is the capital of the country it is easier to find public transport from other cities on the island that arrives here.
We leave you the link of the most popular company on the island.
You can also enter the Cyprusbybus website.
Despite the fact that parking lots are scarce in the center of the city, if you go away a little bit you can find free parking on the streets. Just worry about not parking on a yellow line. Here we tell you our best tips for leasing a car abroad.
What to take for your visit to Nicosia
If you want to move from one side of the island to another, you can not forget your passport. The crossing with another type of document for foreigners is not allowed.
How to move around Nicosia and get to know the city
The city of Nicosia it is small, you will only need to walk from one place to another. If you want to go to more distant places or want to travel without getting any tired, the taxi system works quite well. For about 20 euros you can take one that takes you to all the most important points of the city.
Accommodation in Nicosia
For safety, it is best to stay in the vicinity of the center on the Cypriot side (South). The prices on the Turkish side are cheaper but also the quality/comfort of the accommodations you can find is not very good.
Where to eat in Nicosia
Although it may seem incredible, the gastronomic offer varies a lot from one side of the city to the other, although only a few meters apart.
Turkish side of Nicosia:
Typical Turkish dishes can be found in the northern area, such as the popular kebab and many others. We recommend restaurants inside Buyuk Han (one of the attractions in the city that you can see spotted on the map). If you are looking for something cheap, in the market next to the Cathedral of Santa Sofia or Mosque Selimiye you can find good alternatives.
Cypriot side of Nicosia:
For more information on the typical dishes and schedules on the Cypriot side, please visit our post on Cyprus in this link.
Shopping in Nicosia
The difference in purchases on one side and another is remarkable.
Cyprian side (south):
You will find on the main street (Ledras) that takes you to the Green Line many stores of recognized European and international brands. The prices are quite low compared to other countries so if you are looking for quality this is a good place to find this type of products. From clothes to jewelry and shoes.
Turkish side (north):
You will immediately notice the difference when crossing. Here is a jungle of shops with imitations of brands and typical souvenirs of the style “made in China”. What you can find are Turkish towels of good quality at good prices, a very good gift to take home! There is no specific area, immediately after crossing you will find hundreds of stores. In Buyuk Han, on the second floor, you can find stores with more artisanal and eye-catching products.
Scams and dangers in Nicosia
Be careful with what you buy. Taking pirated goods or imitations from the Turkish zone to the Cyprus area can mean problems at the border, as it is forbidden. Avoid any kind of situation that can make you have a hard time with the police. It is also forbidden to take photographs when crossing the border, you risk having your camera searched.