Tourists tend to overlook Nicosia in favour of the countless beach resorts that straddle the coastline of Cyprus. This is to their detriment because Nicosia, the largest city in Cyprus, also happens to be it's most beautiful. Awash with museums, mosques, gorgeous colonial architecture and a brilliant variety of shops - from designer brands to independent craftsmen - it is the ideal holiday destination for those looking to revel in the glory of the "real Cyprus". Our collection of the best places to stay in Nicosia include charming and authentic boutiques and guesthouses.
Nicosia is the world's last divided capital. A UN buffer zone, the Green Line, divides the North and South of the island in two: the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus respectively. Due to recent thawing of relations between the two sides, it is possible for EU citizens to cross the border at certain checkpoints, like the Leda Street crossing. Leda Street also happens to be one of the most popular shopping precincts in the city, full of traditional jewellers and fabric makers and is a shopaholics paradise!
Nicosia is far from the English pubs and tourist tit-tat shops that abound in places like Paphos. There is an authentic Greek-Cypriot air floating through the city. Lefkosia, as it is known to locals, is the cultural heartland of Cyprus, where you can find cute little Cypriot cafes on dusty side streets and woodworking shops in shaded alleyways. The Hamam Omerye is one such example. A traditional Turkish bath, it was originally built in the 14th-century and it nestles within the old Venetian walls, and makes for the best spot of respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
While not boasting as many archaeological sites as Paphos, the city is a treasure trove of museums and art galleries. The Cyprus Museum has an excellent array of artefacts dating from the 9th-century BCE to the end of antiquity, while the Leventis Municipal Museum holds archaoleogical findings from as early as 2300 BCE. As for art, the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre has some amazing contemporary pieces and a great cafe. Spend some time walking along the old 14th-century Venetian walls and be sure to check out the Famagusta Gate and walk beneath the great vaulted passage. Close by is also a Roman aquaduct which is fascinating to behold.
WHAT NOT TO MISS
Walk around the Old City and marvel at the number of mosques, churches and old colonial buildings scattered about.
Check out the Cyprus Museum and the Leventis Municipal Museum for a detailed and immersive history of the island.
Visit the Hamam Omerye, a beautifully restored 14th-century Turkish bath, and enjoy a quiet respite from the noise and dust of the city.
Walk along the old Venetian walls and through the Famagusta Gate!
Head over to the Nicosia Municipal Art Gallery and marvel at the incredible contempoary artworks on display.
Meander down Leda Street and check out the woodworkers, traditional jewellers and fabric makers.
This is authentic Cyprus at its best, so to be sure you bag a room at one of the best places to stay in Nicosia, we recommend planning your trip well in advance.
THE BEST PLACES TO STAY IN NICOSIA
Arsinoe Guesthouse: incredible value for money, this charming little guesthouse is ideal for young couples looking for the kind of intimacy you don't get in a hostel. The bright and colourful rooms are delightful, and it is just 400 yards from the centre.
The Three Rooms Boutique Hotel: private balconies, stylish rooms and located in the heart of the Old City, this charming B&B is effortlessly cool. The rooms look out onto Onasagorou Street, which has some wonderful restaurants and cafes.
The best time to go is during the autumn, when the heat isn't too unbearable, (summer highs can reach 34 degrees). The temperature ranges between 11 and 30 degrees.
Fly to Larnaca International Airport and get the shuttle into the city.