The capital of Cyprus Nicosia is centrally located on the island and has become a popular destination for tourists, not least because of its rich history. The older parts of the city center are full of sights and just walking around the area is an experience in itself. Visiting a couple of museums, churches and art galleries are hot tips for those culturally interested. In addition, Nicosia also offers good food and drink in countless restaurants, bars and cafes. Also count on good opportunities for shopping in charming shops, as well as high-class hotels.
The world’s last shared capital
A short history lesson is in order to understand why Nicosia is divided into two parts. According to top-mba-universities, Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and seized large parts of the island, more specifically the northern part. Nicosia acts as the capital of both the northern Turkish-Cypriot part and the southern Greek-Cypriot part, and thus got its own “Berlin Wall” which delimits the city. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not recognized by the UN, but only by Turkey. Negotiations on reunification have been tough, but now in modern times the conflict is not particularly infected and it is no problem to move across the border. The UN is monitoring the border crossing and has set up a buffer zone called the Green Line.
How to get to Nicosia
As Nicosia International Airport has been closed since 1974, Larnaca International Airport applies. It is about 40 km away and it takes about half an hour by car or bus to get from Larnaca to the capital. Another option is to go to Cyprus by boat. Both Larnaca and Limassol receive passenger ferries from Greece, Israel and Egypt, among others, and from the cities mentioned above, it is easy to get on to Nicosia. Cheap bus and taxi travel allows you to get between Nicosia and all of Cyprus’ major cities both quickly and easily.
Due to the central location on the island, it is usually even warmer in Nicosia compared to villages and towns along the coasts. During the summer, the temperature often climbs well above the 30 mark. However, it is significantly cooler during the winter months. Summer is the best travel time for those who want to enjoy sunbathing and swimming along the coasts of Cyprus and make a detour to Nicosia for more cultural experiences.
The capital serves as a financial and administrative center for Cyprus and has numerous hotels aimed at business people and well-to-do tourists. If your wallet allows, there is almost no limit to how luxurious you can stay, but for travelers it is also no problem to find affordable hotels, especially for those who are willing to stay a bit outside the central parts of the city. The budget alternative is to rent an apartment or take the chance to live in the northern Turkish part where prices are generally lower.
General travel tips
Cyprus uses left-hand traffic. It is a remnant of the British rule of the island. Every year during the month of May, a large art festival is held. Some exhibitions and other cultural events in Nicosia are limited in time, so if you are interested in something special, it can be smart to plan in advance and choose the right travel time. In the old city center, the distances are short and it is excellent to get around on foot. Otherwise, it is relatively easy to get a taxi.