Nicosia, the main city of Cyprus, is special because it’s the capital of both the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot area. This makes the city a mix of different cultures and has created a rich, shared culture from its history.
In this post, you will discover a list of the best and most fascinating places to visit in Nicosia.
Table of Contents
1. Kyrenia Gate
Despite its name, Kyrenia Gate is actually located in Nicosia and is a must-visit for history buffs. Originally named after Fransesca Barbaro, a Venetian soldier and architect who held the title of ‘proveitore’, the structure dates back to 1567. It was later restored and expanded by the Ottomans in 1821. The name ‘Kyrenia Gate’ comes from the Southern Cyprus administration, located about 1 km away from the site.
Today, Kyrenia Gate houses a tourism office, making it a valuable resource for visitors to Cyprus. Here, you can find all the details you need for your trip around the island, making it a perfect starting point for exploring Nicosia’s rich history and culture.
2. Venetian Column
Another excellent destination for history and culture enthusiasts in Nicosia is the Venetian Column. Constructed by the Venetians in 1550, this column is an important historical landmark. It features the coats of arms of six Italian families and is situated in Atatürk Square, a central and easily accessible location in Nicosia. This site offers a glimpse into the rich past of the city and is a must-visit for those interested in exploring Nicosia’s historical heritage.
3. Museum of Barbarism
The Museum of Barbarism in Nicosia offers a poignant reminder of the devastating impacts of war. Opened in 1996, this museum is a crucial visit for anyone interested in recent history and the effects of conflict. To visit the museum, simply head to the Köşklü Çiftlik district in Nicosia. It’s a powerful and educational stop that provides deep insights into the region’s turbulent past, making it a significant destination for those looking to understand the historical context of the area.
Mehmet Akif Cd 118, Lefkoşa 9901
4. Selimiye Mosque
Selimiye Mosque in Nicosia is a remarkable historical site, representing one of the most significant Gothic architectural works in Cyprus. Originally built in the 13th century as St. Sophia Cathedral, it was later transformed into a mosque by the Ottomans in the mid-16th century, who added two minarets to the structure. This blend of Gothic architecture and Ottoman influence makes the Selimiye Mosque a must-visit location in Nicosia, offering a unique glimpse into the rich, layered history of the region. Visitors can appreciate the architectural beauty and historical significance of this site, making it a key destination for anyone exploring the historical and cultural heritage of Cyprus.
5. Bedesten St. Nicholas Church
Bedesten St. Nicholas Church, with its origins as a religious building in the 12th century, stands as one of the most historical spots in Nicosia. Over the years, it underwent expansions and, during the Ottoman era, was transformed into a covered bazaar, serving as a textile center. Today, Bedesten St. Nicholas Church is a key attraction for visitors, especially for those who enjoy photographing historical sites.
6. Great Khan (Büyük Han)
Büyük Han, situated near the Selimiye Mosque in Nicosia, is one of the oldest Turkish structures in the city. Its construction, which began in 1570, was inspired by Anatolian inn architecture. Historically, Büyük Han was a hub for traveling merchants and trade activities. Today, it has transformed into a charming spot surrounded by cafes. These cafes offer a cozy place to enjoy hot tea and listen to the tales of local tradesmen, making Büyük Han not only a site of historical significance but also a lively cultural gathering place.
7. Nicosia Walls
The Nicosia Walls, constructed by the Lusignans in the 14th century, are a significant historical feature of the city. These walls were originally built as a defense against the Genoese. To gather the necessary materials for construction, many buildings within the city were demolished, and stones were sourced from these ruins. Although not all parts of the Nicosia Walls, which include various gates and bastions like the Kyrenia Gate, have been preserved, a substantial portion remains accessible to visitors today. These walls offer a glimpse into the city’s past defensive strategies and architectural styles, making them an essential addition to the list of must-visit sites in Nicosia for anyone interested in history and architecture.
8. Derviş Pasha Mansion
For those fascinated by 19th-century Ottoman architecture, Derviş Pasha Mansion in Nicosia is a must-see. Originally belonging to Derviş Pasha, a notable figure who assisted in publishing the first newspaper in Cyprus, this mansion now serves as the Ethnography Museum. It offers a vivid window into life in Nicosia during the Ottoman period. The museum houses numerous artifacts and provides extensive information, giving visitors a comprehensive understanding of the era’s lifestyle, culture, and architectural style. Exploring Derviş Pasha Mansion is a wonderful opportunity to connect with the historical and cultural heritage of Nicosia.
Beliğ Paşa Sk, Nicosia 99010
9. Northern Cyprus High Court (The British Colonial Courts)
If you’re wondering what to do at the court during your trip to Nicosia, it’s worth noting that this building is not just any ordinary court structure. It was constructed when Nicosia was under British rule and is quite remarkable for its architectural style. Designed in the typical British colonial architectural style, this building is a significant and beautiful addition to the city’s landscape. Its proximity to Atatürk Square, which is the city center, makes it easily accessible and a convenient addition to your itinerary. Visiting this court building offers a unique glimpse into the historical period of British rule and its architectural influence on Nicosia.
10. Ledras Street
When exploring Nicosia, Uzun Yol Street, also known as Ledras Street, is a must-visit destination for shopping enthusiasts. This bustling street is perfect for those who want to combine shopping with a relaxing break, offering numerous spots to enjoy a hot or cold drink. As you stroll along, you’ll find a variety of stores selling beautiful souvenirs and other desirable items. Whether you’re looking for unique gifts, local crafts, or just want to experience the vibrant atmosphere of Nicosia’s shopping scene, Uzun Yol Street is the place to be. It’s not just a shopping street; it’s an experience that captures the lively spirit of the city.
11. Arasta Street
Arasta Street, one of Nicosia’s most famous streets, is an excellent destination for shopping, exploring the city bazaar, or experiencing the daily life of locals. Located in the heart of Nicosia, just south of Büyük Han, Arasta Street is a bustling hub from early morning until night.
This pedestrian-only street is alive with a variety of shops, ranging from jewelers to souvenir stores, providing plenty of options for every kind of shopper. Arasta isn’t just a shopping street; it’s a traditional open-air bazaar that captures the essence of Nicosia’s vibrant culture.
12. Lusignan House
The Lusignan House, a significant historical building in Nicosia, reflects the era when the Lusignans were a dominant force in the region. Located on Yenicami Street, this building is conveniently situated near the city center and is easily accessible on foot or by taxi.
Dating back to the 1500s, the Lusignan House showcases Gothic architectural techniques, with its entrance arches adorned with striking motifs. It’s not just a testament to the Lusignan period; the building also bears important traces of the Ottomans, making it a place where the influences of various civilizations that ruled the region are evident.
Visitors can explore the Lusignan House on weekdays from 08:00 to 15:30, except for Thursdays when it has extended hours from 08:00 to 13:00 and then 14:00 to 17:00.
59H8+7G5, Yenicami Sk, Nicosia 99010
13. Mevlevi Lodge Museum
Another building you can visit in Nicosia is the Mevlevi Lodge Museum. Transportation to the museum, located on Kyrenia Street, can be done by taxi, city minibuses, or on foot.
The building, which was used as a lodge during the periods when the Ottomans dominated the region, operates as a museum today. The lodge, which was built in the 1700s, includes dervish rooms, a kitchen, a sema hall where Sema ceremonies are held, and a guest room. Education on religion and positive sciences was given in the building, which was converted into a museum in 1954.
You can visit the museum every weekday, where you can see the tools, equipment, clothes, and all the artifacts that have been in it since its construction.
Girne Cd, Nicosia 99010
14. Former Bishop’s Palace (Kumarcılar Hanı)
Kumarcılar Hanı, located on Agah Efendi Street in the center of the Nicosia district, is a standout historical building in the area. It’s easily accessible by private vehicle, taxi, minibus, or on foot, making it a convenient destination for visitors.
Originally built by the Ottomans, Kumarcılar Hanı was intended as a marketplace for selling wheat. Archaeological research has indicated that the inn, constructed with cut stones, was built upon foundations believed to be from earlier civilizations in the region.
Throughout its history, the structure has been utilized by various civilizations for different purposes. Although it suffered damage over time, the inn has been preserved thanks to its solid foundations and is now open to the public. Visitors can explore Kumarcılar Hanı every weekday from 08:00 to 18:00.
Agah Efendi Sk, Nicosia
15. Derviş Pasha Mansion
The mansion, situated within the Arabahmet District in the center of the Nicosia district, is easily accessible by private vehicle, taxi, or on foot. This impressive two-story structure features a unique architectural combination, with the lower floor constructed of cut stone and the upper floor made of adobe.
Under the guidance of the Department of Antiquities and Museums of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the mansion has undergone extensive restoration work. Today, it serves as a museum, offering visitors a glimpse into the island’s rich history and traditional daily life.
The mansion is open to the public every day of the week, except for Thursdays. The visiting hours are from 08:00 to 15:30 on regular weekdays, and on Thursdays, the mansion operates with split hours, from 08:00 to 13:00 and then from 14:00 to 17:00.
Beliğ Paşa Sk, Nicosia 99010
Places to Visit in Nicosia for a Day
Nicosia’s proximity to other popular holiday destinations in Cyprus offers great opportunities for day trips. These excursions allow you to explore more historical sites around the island and add diverse activities to your holiday itinerary.
16. Alagadi Turtle Beach
Alagadi Turtle Beach is located in Gözübüyük Village within the Kyrenia district, about 47 kilometers from Nicosia. It’s approximately an hour’s drive northward on the Nicosia – Kyrenia Main Road. Alagadi Turtle Beach is an exceptional place where you can observe sea turtles and enjoy a relaxing day at the beach.
17. Kyrenia Castle
You can reach the Kyrenia Castle, which is approximately 31 kilometers away from Nicosia, by following the Nicosia – Kyrenia Main Road north. The castle, which you can reach after a road trip that will take approximately 40 minutes, is a building of high historical importance with a unique view.
Best Places To Visit In Nicosia: Eat and Drink
After exploring many of the sights in Nicosia, you’re probably feeling hungry. So, let’s check out some of the best restaurants and nightclubs in Nicosia for a meal or to enjoy the nightlife.
When visiting an island country like Cyprus, indulging in seafood is a natural choice, and Pyxida in Nicosia is a perfect spot for this. Among the numerous dining options in Nicosia, Pyxida stands out as one of the most popular. It’s a great place to visit with friends or loved ones, partly due to its stylish interior design. Pyxida is particularly renowned for its fish dishes, making it one of the city’s most prominent seafood restaurants.
Given its popularity, it’s advisable to make a reservation before visiting Pyxida, as it tends to be consistently busy.
Menandrou 5, Nicosia 1066 | instagram.com/pyxidafishtavern
19. Lost+Found Drinkery
Ending a day in Nicosia at this popular bar sounds like a perfect way to unwind. It’s a favorite among both locals and tourists, known for its extensive selection of cocktails and delicious food. The option to sit outside and catch up with friends, or head indoors to dance during a party, offers versatility for any mood. The friendly and welcoming staff further enhance the experience, making this spot a great choice for a relaxing evening or a fun night out in Nicosia.
38 Lord Byron Street, 1096, Nicosia 1096 | instagram.com/lostandfounddrinkery/?hl=en
20. Brasserie Au Bon Plaisir
Brasserie Au Bon Plaisir stands out as a unique destination for a French-inspired gourmet brunch experience. This café/restaurant prides itself on offering an authentic French dining experience, reflected in everything from its menu choices to its interior decor. Guests can indulge in classic French favorites like croissants, as well as a variety of toasts with conserves, fresh juices, eggs, and savory dishes, accompanied by warm beverages. A standout favorite among both diners and staff is their mussels, a versatile dish that can be enjoyed at any time of day. Brasserie Au Bon Plaisir is more than just a meal; it’s a journey into the heart of French culinary tradition.
B17 155, Nicosia 1048, Cyprus | instagram.com/brasserieaubonplaisir/