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Find information on Nicosia in our Travel Guide covering sights, foods and nightlife plus more...
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Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, lies in the centre of the island. It has a long history which can be traced back to the Bronze Age. It is a divided city with part belonging to the Turkish north and the other to the Greek south. The ancient heart of the city is enclosed by Venetian walls dating from the sixteenth century while beyond the walls is a modern bustling city.
Cyprus is a beautiful island and as it takes under two hours to travel its length, it is possible to see most of its attractions in a short time. Nicosia is a good base for those who like the city but also enjoy the beach. Since Cyprus is roughly fifty kilometres wide it is easy to reach beautiful beaches by day and return to enjoy the city’s nightlife.
Cyprus appeals to young couples and groups as well as older visitors. Families generally choose resorts closer to the beach.
The summer season begins in April when the temperature is a pleasant seventy degrees. This can soar to the high eighties from June until September. Winters are pleasant at sea level but it is the rainy season and there can be snow in the mountains.
When you leave the modern Nicosia and enter through the gates of the old town it is like taking a step back in time. Walk through the narrow streets past the old houses with their flower laden balconies and look for the small workshops where craftsmen continue their ancient trades. The many small craft shops sell locally produced work.
The Folk Art Museum exhibits work from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Other excellent museums are the Cyprus Museum which houses artefacts from ancient times. A wonderful collection of icons from the ninth to the eighteenth centuries is held at the Byzantine Museum and Art Gallery.
Nicosia has many excellent restaurants serving traditional food as well as international cuisine. Evening entertainment varies according to the area from lively to tranquil thereby accommodating most tastes.
Nicosia has a varied nightlife catering for most tastes. There are numerous bars, discos and clubs playing a wide range of music. The main area for evening entertainment is Laiki Ytonia and George GrivasAve to the west of the centre. Eleftheria Street is favoured by young people because of its many pubs.
Leda Street within the city walls is the main shopping area in the old town. It is a narrow traffic free lane lined with small shops including many selling handicrafts such as silver, lace and embroidered linens. There are many large stores in the city including Marks and Spencer. South east of the old city there is an open market. Cyprus excels in handcrafted goods and the government have recognised the value of this by creating the Cyprus Handicraft Service. The official shops compete with the unofficial shops but all of them sell quality goods at reasonable prices. Popular gifts and holiday mementoes are the embroidered linens, the Lefkara lace and ceramic pots.
There are numerous bars and restaurants in Nicosia serving all manner of food. Fish features prominently on Cypriot menus with calamari, red mullet and sea bass being particularly popular. Halloumi, a cheese made from goat and sheep’s milk is an island speciality. It is often served grilled and served as an appetiser. The Cypriot equivalent of the Spanish tapas is mezze and it is a good way to sample the variety of local food.
George Grivas Ave has many restaurants serving international cuisine.
Local wines are tasty and inexpensive.