There are so many fantastic things to do in Nicosia – Cyprus’ capital city. It’s one of the main tourist destinations in Cyprus and is somewhere that shows that Cyprus is so much more than beautiful beaches.
I spent around 4 months living in Cyprus as a digital nomad. I loved visiting Nicosia for its amazing restaurants, bars, and cafe scene. As a history lover, and having spent a lot of time in Cyprus, I enjoyed learning about the history of this beautiful island and its people.
If you’re planning to visit Nicosia and are wondering where to go, this guide will help you plan the perfect itinerary.
Best Things To Do in Nicosia
Nicosia is a fascinating city full of culture and history. As the last divided capital city in the world, it offers a unique perspective from two opposing sides of the Green Line. It’s also a city that’s alive with great culture, an excellent food scene, and some amazing, boutique bars.
I loved my time in Nicosia, and within this post, I’ve collated some of the best things to do in Nicosia to help you make the most of your time in this wonderful city.
1. Head Inside the Buffer Zone
It’s impossible to head to Nicosia and not be struck by the stark division between north and south. The city is divided in half by the Green Line. The Republic of Cyprus, and its capital city Nicosia to the south.
North of the Green Line lies Northern Cyprus, separated from the Republic by the Turkish invasion in 1974.
I cannot recommend this fascinating walking tour enough. It takes you across the Green Line and into the buffer zone between the two parts of this city.
During the 3-4 hour tour, you’ll learn how the Green Line came to be, and see examples of life on both sides of the divide.
It’s absolutely one of the best things to do in Nicosia and really helps bring context to life in this divided city.
2. Explore St Hilarion Castle and Bellapais
If you want to head further north and explore Northern Cyprus, then this breathtaking half-day tour of St Hilarion Castle and Bellapais is an excellent choice.
You’ll be collected from your accommodation in Nicosia and taken across the border. From here, you’ll first head to St Hilarion Castle.
This wonderfully well-preserved castle is reputed to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Whether true or not, it’s a beautiful site to visit and offers some incredible views over the north coast.
Next, you’ll visit the beautiful village of Bellapais. It’s perched up in the Kyrenia mountain range and has some amazing views over the surrounding countryside.
This village was made famous by Lawrence Durrell in his book about life in Cyprus, Bitter Lemons of Cyprus – definitely worth a read if you are heading to this beautiful island.
3. Troodos Mountains Food Tour
Nicosia is ideally located very close to the Troodos mountains. With that in mind, it’s ideally situated if you fancy a day outside the city. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love visiting the small villages. It’s not only where the country’s wine is grown but where fresh produce is made in the traditional way.
This excellent tour is run by a group of Cypriot foodies for foodies. It’s absolutely brilliant.
You’ll be collected from your Airbnb or hotel and get driven to the mountains. From here you’ll visit a selection of traditional villages to taste a variety of Cypriot delicacies including local sweets, halloumi, honey, and olive oil.
You’ll also enjoy a full meze lunch at a village tavern and a walk around the cute little craft shops in a traditional village. This varies tour to tour but may include Lefkara, Omodos, or Kakopetria. Click here to read more about this excellent tour.
4. Embrace the Cafe Culture
Cafe culture is alive and well in Nicosia. It makes this city a really special place to be at any time of the day. Head into the Old Town and explore the cobbled, narrow streets, and you’ll find bustling cafes on every corner.
From traditional, family run offerings to more modern, familiar operations, you’ll have no trouble getting your daily coffee fix. This for me is one of the top things to do in Nicosia. Simply wandering the streets looking for hidden gems down backstreets.
If you want some inspiration, head to the wonderful To Apomero and try one of their baked goods. The spinach pie is excellent, and the baklava is perfect for those with a sweet tooth (like me!).
5. Take a Walking Tour into North Lefkosia
It’s hard to know where to start when you cross the border into Turkish-occupied Cyprus – it feels like a totally different country. As I recommend whenever you travel to a new country, the best way to explore it’s by taking a walking tour.
This walking tour through North Lefkosia (Nicosia) takes in the main Nicosia attractions in the North. You’ll learn all about the medieval city, the Ottoman conquest and visit the oldest historical landmarks in the north.
A break is included where you’ll enjoy a Turkish tea or coffee with a piece of yummy baklava.
I definitely recommend this walking tour as the history is fascinating.
6. Enjoy a Food Tour of the Green Line
Nicosia is a fusion of ages and cultures that’s represented perfectly in the huge variety of food on offer in the city.
To really get an appreciation of the different cultural influences, and to try some delicious food, I highly recommend this 3-hour food tour of the Green Line. You’ll wander through the Old Town with your guide, Eleni, who makes this tour one of the most fun things to do in Nicosia.
You’ll sample some delicious Armenian street food fresh from the wood-fired oven, followed by a visit to one of the oldest bakeries in the Old City, and a stop off at a beautiful Cypriot taverna.
The food is delicious. You’ll leave the tour full of authentic, local food and a feast of knowledge about this incredible city.
7. Relax with a Massage at Hamam Omerye
The incredible Hamam Omerye is one of the most relaxing places to go in Nicosia to escape the bustle of the Old Town.
These stunning baths were initially built by the Ottomans in the 1570s after the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus. A hamam bath was often described as a “silent healer” and the connection between cleansing and nature was used to purify the body and soul.
Today, Hamam Omerye has been completely renovated while retaining its original features and elegance, into one of the most luxurious hamams in Cyprus. You can enter to use the baths or combine this experience with a package.
Omerye offers a choice of massage and scrub packages or you can couple your time in the hamam with their wine and bites package. Either way, unwind and relax in true style in one of the most elegant Nicosia attractions.
8. Wander the Museums of Nicosia
Nicosia is a city steeped in history, and there’s no better way to learn about how this amazing place has changed over the years than to stroll through some of its fascinating museums.
I particularly enjoyed the Leventis Municipal Museum, which is located close to the main Ledra Street. It’s one of the best places to visit in Nicosia before you head to the Green Line to understand Nicosia’s unique history.
Leventis walks you through Nicosia’s history from ancient times right up to the modern era and the Turkish invasion in 1974.
Another option is the iconic Cyprus Museum, which is the largest and oldest archaeological museum on in Cyprus. It’s one of the best free things to do in Nicosia, with no entry fees to this incredible collection.
If you prefer art to history, then check out the Nicosia Municipal Arts Center. It’s the oldest contemporary arts center in Cyprus hosting exhibits from local and foreign artists. Entry is free here as well.
9. Venture to Famagusta and the ‘Ghost Town’
Given its location on the Green Line, Nicosia is the perfect jumping off point to explore North Cyprus, and there are plenty of great tours that allow you to do this easily and safely.
The walled city of Famagusta in particular is one of the jewels of Northern Cyprus. Historically, it was a hugely important port city where the Silk Road merchants would arrive to bring their goods to Western Europe.
Today, it has some incredibly well-preserved architecture combined with a modern revival of this beautiful city.
Take this fascinating full-day tour to Famagusta and explore the beautiful St Barnabas Monastery and the ancient city of Salamis where you’ll see the largest Roman amphitheater in Cyprus.
You’ll have a tour of Famagusta, and see the infamous ‘Ghost Town’. Varosha was a famous tourist district of Famagusta before the invasion. Ever since then, it’s been frozen in time with no one allowed to enter since that day.
10. Learn to Make Cypriot Halloumi
If you love cheese, you’ll absolutely love this tour. A guide will collect you from your location in Nicosia, and you’ll drive over to the Larnaca region of the Troodos Mountains.
Here, you’ll take part in a cheese-making workshop in a local village to learn the traditional way of making halloumi and anari cheese.
You’ll participate in the process from beginning to end and then have the chance to enjoy all your hard work with a brunch including the cheeses you’ve just made.
After this, you’ll continue on to another village and visit a honey producer and a local who makes unique products using donkey milk.
You’ll finish up in Lefkara and witness the ladies making lace on the cobbled streets as they have done for centuries. For a day trip itinerary to Lefkara, click here.
It’s a fantastic way to explore traditional Cypriot cuisine and a brilliant way to experience local culture outside the city.
11. Walk the Streets in Nicosia Old Town
One of the best things to do in Nicosia is to simply head into the Old Town and get lost in the beautiful cobbled streets. You’ll really get a feel for life in Nicosia and its historical and cultural origins – and chances are you’ll find a cool local bar or restaurant to try as well.
If you prefer a little more structure, then head to Ledra Street, which is the main street through the middle of Old Town. Or head to the adjacent Onasagorou where you’ll be met with plenty of shops of all types.
Both streets also lead to the most lively part of Old Town, and exploring here is one of the best things to do in Nicosia at night.
There are cafes, bars, and restaurants everywhere and the atmosphere in the evening is bustling yet calming. Try the lovely Halara Cafe for its outdoor street seating and awesome atmosphere.
12. Take a Wine Tasting Tour in the Troodos Mountains
One of my favorite things to do in Nicosia is to go on a wine tasting tour in the mountains. If you’re in the city in the summer, going to the mountains is the perfect way to escape the heat. It’s also the place where wine is grown, which is a happy coincidence!
Starting early in the morning you’ll drive to Lefkara with a guide where you’ll get to explore this lovely traditional village on foot with a guide. You’ll stop for a traditional Cypriot snack, sample some sweets, and enjoy a coffee in the village square.
From here, you’ll move on to Kato Drys, where you’ll visit a local boutique winery. During a tour of the site, you’ll learn all about the indigenous grape varieties, and try a few different wines including the famous sweet wine in Cyprus, Commanderia.
Everything is included in the price, making it a fun and great value tour.
13. Hike the Incredible Akamas National Park
If you want to escape into nature during your time in Cyprus, then taking a tour out to Akamas National park is absolutely one of the best things to do in Nicosia.
Akamas National Park is one of my favorite places in Cyprus, and it’s packed full of all the best bits that this island has to offer.
From stunning viewpoints to the incredible waters of the Blue Lagoon, turtles hatching on Lara Beach, and the flora and fauna in the imposing Avakas Gorge. There’s something for everyone.
This superb full-day tour of Akamas will collect you from Nicosia before taking you to ‘Aphrodite’s Playground’. The 7-kilometer walk will see you explore the pristine national park until you reach the viewpoint at Moutti tis Sotiras.
After a picnic overlooking the rest of the coastline, the trail leads back down and finishes up at the Baths of Aphrodite.
Along the way, there will be plenty of stops for swimming and snorkeling in the incredible waters that surround the national park. A great way to cool off and end an amazing day trip from Nicosia.
14. Explore Nicosia on Two Wheels
If you want to take your Nicosia sightseeing up a notch, then why not jump on one of these excellent 3-hour Segway tours of the city? After a quick induction on your new mode of transport, you’ll be taken on a guided tour of the best Nicosia tourist attractions.
You’ll roll past the Archbishop’s Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Cyprus, as well as the stunning Nicosia Cathedral. There are also stops at the Town Hall, the newly recreated Eleftheria Square, and plenty more of the best places to see in Nicosia.
You’ll stop for a coffee with your knowledgeable guide who will share stories and answer any questions you may have about this amazing city. Not only will you cover a lot of ground and tick off many of the best things to see in Nicosia, but it’s also a lot of fun.
15. Stop for a Drink at Pivo Microbrewery
For the craft beer lovers out there, a stop at Pivo Microbrewery is one of the best things to do in Nicosia during your trip.
The brewery is located in a restored traditional Nicosia house and was co-founded by four brothers who shared a passion for brewing. They create incredible beers without filtration or pasteurization to preserve the flavors and freshness – I’m telling you, they’re delicious.
You’ll find their beers stocked in various bars around town, but the microbrewery is the best place to give them a try.
They have a beautiful setting to settle in for a beer or two and the wonderful staff are on hand to answer any questions or to help you decide which one to try next. It’s open until 1:30 am, and it’s one of my favorite places to go in Nicosia at night.
Quick Travel Itineraries For Nicosia
There are so many things to see in Nicosia, it’s hard to know where to go and where to start. Below, I’ve put together some short itineraries to help you plan what to do in Nicosia.
1 Day in Nicosia Itinerary
If you’re taking a day trip to Nicosia, I recommend you grab a homemade pastry and Freddo Cappuccino (Cold Cappuccino) from Apomero first to fuel the day.
Once suitably fueled, I recommend that you take a walking tour of the city, including a tour of the Green Line. It’s here that you’ll learn about the history of Cyprus and its divided capital city.
In the afternoon, cement your knowledge with a trip to the Leventis Museum and soak up that sweet cafe culture.
2-3 Days in Nicosia Itinerary
If you have a little longer in Nicosia, explore the city on foot first by joining a walking tour to get an idea of what the city is all about and to get your bearings.
On the second day, cross the border at Ledra Street and explore the north of Nicosia. I recommend taking a tour to see the best north Nicosia attractions, but you could also go for a walk and see what you find for yourself.
In the afternoon, go for a delicious Turkish lunch and experience the culture change. I recommend Krubera Restaurant and Cafe to try some authentic food.
On the third day, take a day trip to the Troodos Mountains and visit the traditional villages in the hills. You could go wine tasting or book a food tour; both are excellent ways to explore the Troodos mountains.
1 Week in Nicosia Itinerary
If you have a full week to enjoy Nicosia, then you’ll be able to visit all the best places in Nicosia, as well as venture out of the city and see more of the island.
Take the 2-3 day itinerary above and add in some of the day trips and experiences listed in this blog which go further afield. I recommend either the Halloumi Making Tour or the Famagusta Ghost Town Tour as not only are they both really good fun and interesting, but they also return you back to Nicosia.
Maybe treat yourself to a hamam on the final day to end your trip on a luxurious and relaxing note.
Where to Stay in Nicosia
These are a few of the best neighborhoods in Nicosia for tourists.
Old Nicosia – Best for Cafe Culture
Old Nicosia, or Chrysaliniotissa to be exact, is filled with beautiful architecture, pretty churches, and traditional Cypriot homes. The neighborhood is an up-and-coming hipster spot having enjoyed a revival over the last few years.
You can expect hip coffee shops and bars where you can enjoy coffee or brunch, boutiques selling Greek-made clothing, and some amazing restaurants and cafes. My favorite cafe in Nicosia, Apomero, is in this neighborhood.
Kaimakli – Best for Families
This quiet neighborhood almost feels like a Cypriot village right in the middle of the city. Its narrow winding streets make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
It’s a fabulous neighborhood to enjoy the city while providing an escape from the hustle, which makes it a good choice for families.
Kaimakli is cozy and welcoming and is a melting pot of creativity with theaters, artists’ workshops, and studios dotted around along with little coffee shops.
City Center – Best for First Time Visitors
The center is very modern and is home to lots of brands and chains that you’ll recognize. In this neighborhood, you’ll find the main shopping mall and some of the best bars and restaurants in Nicosia.
It’s within walking distance of Old Nicosia and Kaimakli, and minutes from many of the best places to visit and things to see in Nicosia.
Best Restaurants in Nicosia
Don’t miss these great places to eat in Nicosia!
A traditional taverna with simple, yet amazing food. The souvlaki is incredible – the meat is just so tender and juicy! I recommend that you try it or get one of the meat platters. You won’t be disappointed.
All the meat is cooked on a traditional grill and tastes very authentic and fresh and yet, it’s super affordable. A great option for those travelling on a budget but still looking for quality traditional food. They even have an express restaurant for those in a hurry.
If you’re vegetarian, vegan, celiac, or just after something a little different, you should definitely check out this cool restaurant in the heart of Nicosia. Everything on the menu is vegan and gluten-free and so tasty. The veggie burger is one of the best I have ever tried.
The prices are around mid-range, but the portions are also huge, so you’ll get a very decent-sized meal for your money.
Pyxida Fish Tavern
For fans of fish dishes, head to Pyxida in the city center. It’s one of the best seafood restaurants in Nicosia. Everything is cooked fresh, and the service is excellent. It’s also located in an old traditional building, so the setting is lovely.
I recommend ordering the fish meze as you’ll get a little taste of everything, and everything served is delicious.
Things To Do in Nicosia: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Nicosia.
Nicosia is known as the last divided city in the world. It’s split in two; half remaining Greek Cypriot, and the other under occupation by Turkey. You can cross the border and see how different both sides are to experience both Turkish and Cypriot culture in one city.
You can visit Nicosia at any time of year. However, the summer gets very hot in the city, and it’s not coastal so if you don’t do well in the heat, I’d avoid visiting Nicosia between June-September.
Of course, everywhere is air-conditioned, but walking around the city during the day can be very hot work.
Absolutely. It’s a trendy and pretty city with so much history and culture. If you love food, this is the place to try some of the best cuisines in Cyprus. It’s also a very walkable city, and a great place to grab a coffee and watch the locals go about their day.
Nicosia is full of beautiful architecture, sweet cobbled streets lined with bougainvillea, and traditional Cypriot homes.
That said, the Green Line, which marks the buffer zone and splits the city in two, isn’t so beautiful. It’s lined with barbed wire, and derelict buildings which have fallen into disrepair since the war, but it’s so interesting to see.
Yes. You may see more military personnel in Nicosia, but this is because of the buffer zone rather than anything to do with safety. Cyprus is a very safe country to travel to, with a very low crime rate. Of curse, you should still take precautions, as you would in all tourist destinations.
Yes. The main crossing is at Ledra Street, where there is a border crossing. You’ll need to show your passport to get through where you’ll be stamped as leaving Cyprus, and again when you enter Turkish Cyprus.
Nicosia is a vibrant and fun city, with a fascinating history, much of which is still pretty recent within many Cypriots lifetimes.
For foodies, it’s the best place to visit on the whole island and for history lovers, there are lots of museums to visit to escape the heat and learn about Cyprus and its capital city.
I hope this blog post helps you plan what to do in Nicosia and have an incredible visit.