Are you looking for an exciting and vibrant travel destination? Look no further than Nicosia Cyprus. The capital city has it all. Ancient ruins and historic landmarks. Modern art galleries and trendy cafes. This beautiful city has something to offer everyone, from history and culture to cuisine. With a variety of attractions, there’s much to look forward to in Nicosia!
8 Things to See and Do in Nicosia Cyprus
1. Explore the Cyprus Museum
Cyprus is a treasure trove of ancient civilization. It has a rich and storied past. Nearly every town on the island boasts an excavation site. Visitors get a unique glimpse into the island’s rich history. However, the best place to see the island’s most impressive ancient artefacts is the Cyprus Museum.
It’s the most extensive archaeological exhibition on the island. What sets this attraction apart is that only pieces recovered on the island are on display. It’s a true gateway into Cyprus’ past. The museum’s exhibits span from the Stone Age to the Roman era. It showcases an array of fascinating objects such as coins, sculptures, jewellery, and everyday household items. Plus, there are also priceless treasures from the Ancient Greek Tombs of Salamis.
2. Walk Through the Venetian Walls of the Old City
Venetian walls surround Nicosia’s Old City, making it quite distinctive. They are unforgettable even when seen from a map or aerial photo. Strolling along these fortifications and the accompanying moats is an essential experience for any visitor to the Old City.
Dating back to 1567, Venetian rulers constructed these walls to defend against Ottoman invaders. Unfortunately, they failed in their mission. The Ottomans successfully stormed the fortifications but the walls have remained in place ever since.
3. Experience the Selimiye Mosque
The Selimiye Mosque is the most recognizable landmark in North Nicosia. It has a fascinating history that dates back to the 14th century. Originally known as the Church of Agia Sofia, construction on the structure took 78 years to complete. Its Gothic features are an impressive example of medieval church architecture.
However, following the Ottoman occupation in the 16th century, the occupiers converted the church into a mosque. They whitewashed and stripped the walls of any iconography. This created a stunning blend of mosque design and Gothic architecture. To enter the mosque, visitors should bring a headscarf (for females) and dress modestly. Don’t wear shorts and shoulder-less tops.
4. Take a Food Tour Along Ledra Street, Nicosia Cyprus
If you’re planning a trip to Nicosia, be sure to set aside enough time to truly explore this fascinating city. One of the best ways to get a feel for the city and to get your bearings is to join a walking tour on your first day. This will give you a chance to see some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. You will learn about its rich history and culture. In the afternoon, be sure to indulge in a delicious Turkish lunch and experience the cultural differences firsthand.
There’s the Krubera Restaurant and Cafe to sample some authentic Turkish cuisine. You could go wine tasting or book a food tour to fully immerse yourself in the culture and history of the Troodos Mountains.
5. Experience the St. Hilarion Castle
For those looking to explore beyond the borders of Nicosia, a half-day tour of St Hilarion Castle and Bellapais is an absolute must. After taking the transportation from your accommodation in Nicosia, you’ll be going across the border to your first stop: St Hilarion Castle. This beautifully preserved castle inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and it’s not hard to see why.
Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the north coast while exploring this impressive site. From there, the tour heads on to the picturesque village of Bellapais, situated in the Kyrenia mountain range. The village offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Lawrence Durrell’s depicted it in his famous book about life in Cyprus, Bitter Lemons of Cyprus.
6. Grab a Relaxing Bath at Hamam Omerye
If you’re looking for a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Nicosia’s Old Town, look no further than the incredible Hamam Omerye. Built by the Ottomans in the 1570s after the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus, people considered the hamam baths a “silent healer”. Natives believe they purify both the body and soul through a connection with nature.
Today, Hamam Omerye has been lovingly restored while retaining its original elegance and features. It is now one of the most luxurious hamams in the country. You can also choose from a range of massage and scrub packages. Alternatively, you can opt for the wine and bites package and indulge in a truly luxurious experience.
7. Visit the Shacolas Tower
Located just off Ledra Street, the Shacolas Tower is one of the top attractions in Nicosia. While the tower houses a small museum about the city, the real draw is the breathtaking views from the observatory at the top. From here, visitors can enjoy sweeping panoramic views in every direction. These include Nicosia and the distant mountains. One particularly impressive sight is the enormous North Cypriot flag flying high atop Mount Pentadaktylos.
8. Watch the Whirling Dervishes
Experience a spiritual tradition practised for centuries on the northern side of Nicosia. At Tekke, men who practice the Sufi form of Islam gather at spiritually significant meeting places. This is for a unique kind of dance that cannot be found elsewhere in the Islamic world. The performance typically lasts for about 30 minutes. The dervishes in long white robes and conical hats spin on the spot, accompanied by live music and vocals.
For spectators, it’s a visually stunning and emotionally charged experience. The dancers whirl in a trance-like state. Remember though that this rite is a way for them to connect with the divine. Be sure to dress modestly and respectfully during your visit.
In conclusion, Nicosia Cyprus is a city that offers a truly unique and unforgettable experience. From its rich history and culture to its stunning landmarks and beautiful countryside, there is something for everyone to discover and enjoy. So why not pack your bags and embark on an adventure to this beautiful city. History, culture, and natural beauty combine to create a truly unforgettable experience.