Cyprus Taxi can arrange taxi and mini bus transfers from both Paphos and Larnaca airports to Nicosia.
Nicosia is the world’s last divided capital. The barbed wire and guard towers of the Green Line cuts the city in two, with the northern side being the capital of the self-proclaimed Northern Cyprus and the southern half being the capital of the Republic of Cyprus.
Until recently, entry from Northern Cyprus to south Nicosia was close to impossible. However, following a recent thawing in relations, it is now possible for EU citizens to cross the border at official crossing points, regardless of their point of entry to the island. It should be noted however, that this applies to EU citizens only, and there have been cases of people from other parts of the world being turned back at the crossing point. Should you wish to cross to the Northern Cyprus, please do remember to have your passport with you.
Nicosia combines both old and new in a busy modern commercial business centre and a centuries-old culture. The centre of the city is the old quarter surrounded by a Venetian sandstone fortress wall with a moat and heart-shaped bastions.
Nicosia’s sights are concentrated in and around the Old City, surrounded by a picturesque star-shaped city wall whose moat has been converted into a pleasant park. Wandering around the Old City is an interesting experience in itself, although some buildings (especially those near the Green Line) are derelict and crumbling. Note that many sights in the Old City close early, so try to get an early start – also a good idea for beating the heat in the summer.
Mosques and palm trees give an oriental atmosphere to the old city. Wander round narrow streets with overhanging balconies and the beautifully restored pedestrian district with craft shops, cafes and tavernas.
Make sure you stop off at St John’s cathedral with its frescoes and the marvellous museum of Byzantine icons. St John’s Cathedral (Agios Ioannis), compared with the great cathedrals of Europe, is tiny. Its interior, however, is no less magnificent.
The church is single vaulted without a dome, and its long walls are covered with frescoes, which were created during the tenure of Archbishop Filotheos (1734-1759) from 1736 until 1756. The themes of the frescoes were mostly inspired from stories of the Bible. On the south wall there is a painting of the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle Barnabas at Salamis. St John’s Cathedral is the only church in Nicosia in which the whole of the internal wall paintings have survived in their entirety. Another element of this church is the magnificent carved iconostasis, which is covered with gold leaf. The four large icons on the iconostas were painted by John Kornaro in 1795 and 1797.
In the evening catch a concert in the moat or an exhibition at the Famagusta Gate, one of the three original entrances into the old city. This has now been restored and is used as a cultural centre.
The new town spreads beyond the walls with a modern Europeanised centre of high-rise buildings, office blocks, shops and pavement cafes, expanding into suburban residential areas.
Nicosia offers the best in shopping and the traditional shopping district runs along Ledra Street. A bustle of traditional jewellers, shoe and fabric shops give a blend of Middle Eastern and European feel.
Laiki Geitonia is a neighbourhood that has been preserved in its original architecture and is the best quarter if you are after souvenir shops.
Big chains such as Marks and Spencer, Zara etc. line the more modern Makariou Avenue.
Stasikratous street has evolved into a mini local version of 5th Avenue/Bond Street with expensive brands such as Armani and Versace stores. This small street, only about 500 metres long, is located in the city’s busy modern centre, parallel to Makarios Avenue.
Everyone goes there, even if it’s just to stop for a coffee and snack or to window shop. The well-designed shops are always an attraction specifically because they stock almost all the well-known, international labels. This is where to go to find out what’s on the catwalks in London, Paris, Milan and New York.
Superior designs and attractive displays, combined with professional, courteous staff, are just some of the characteristics you’ll come across when shopping on Stasikratous.
The shops on this compact street are small when compared to their counterparts abroad but they are very well put together and offer a more personalized, friendly, shopping experience.
Of the city’s main sights, the Cyprus Museum houses the best collection of archaeological artefacts on the island, including a first century AD Roman statuette of Aphrodite of Soli and the original mosaic of Leda and the Swan. Only artefacts discovered on the island are displayed in the Cyprus Museum.
The Leventis Municipal Museum presents the history and social development of the city of Nicosia from the Chalcolithic period (3.000 B.C.) to the present day. The Museum was founded in 1984 after the initiative of the Mayor of Nicosia, Mr Lellos Demetriades.
The Museum is named after its donor Anastasios G. Leventis Foundation which bought and restored the building and it is administered by the Municipality of Nicosia.
The exhibits are arranged so that visitors are guided from the present days of Nicosia, the capital of the Republic of Cyprus, through to the Ancient period (3.000 B.C.).