Nicosia has been working hard behind the scenes. Whilst us Brits have been flocking to the southern beach towns of Paphos or Larnaca, we’ve been missing a trick. The inland capital, Nicosia, has been regenerated from an old, traditional area. It’s not too cool to recognise its past though. Instead, this stylish city manages to offer the perfect blend of cultured charm, fascinating history and modern quirks. Here are seven pearls of wisdom on why you should visit Nicosia, Cyprus:
♥ Unique Night Life
In Nicosia even the Cypriot teens are cultured. Come midnight they sit side by side with the older generations. The over eighteens spill out onto the square sipping Keo beer and drinking bottles of Ouzo like it’s water. The younger locals sit beside them, but with cups of steaming coffee. They chat excitedly whilst playing board games long into the early hours. It’s an alternative community culture that definitely needs to be seen to be believed.
♥ Contemporary Art
Nicosia is filled with art galleries showcasing creations from eras gone by. However, it’s the modern and unique stuff that’s really exciting. Head to one of the newest on the block, Zambelas Art Gallery. Built from three separate (and very traditional) houses, it has been transformed into a contemporary home for ever changing exhibitions. The building has noticeable nods to its past, such as an installation using the original window shutters.
♥ Coffee Culture
Forget Starbucks and Costa Coffee. Whilst you will find them in this capital, it’s all about the stylish, independent cafes. Stepping inside them you’d think you were in New York or London, not Nicosia. Perhaps that’s what’s makes them so special. They feel like undiscovered treasures that you can tell all of your friends about. You’ll definitely be ahead of the cool crowd if you go to The Market Company (8 Pythonos Street).
♥ Stylish Spa
The renowned Turkish Bath has been given a luxurious makeover and reborn again here in Nicosia. If you’re in need of a bit of pampering or relaxation head to Hamam Omerye. It’s a truly stylish hideaway. Sit in the steamy hamam for an hour or so. Relax on the hot beds or scrub your warm skin, and when it all gets too much, splash yourself with the cool water from the bronzed taps. Afterwards enjoy a massage or facial in your private Moroccan inspired treatment room. Warning: It’s highly likely that you’ll never want to leave. You can read a full review and see a quick #TravelTrailer here.
♥ Two Wheels
Walking in the Cypriot heat can sometimes be a little too much, especially when you really want to see the city. A cycle tour offers the chance to create a bit of a breeze as you cruise down the streets. Bikin’Cyprus has organised various routes that allow you to soak up the culture, history and gorgeous scenery all in one go.
♥ Change of View
Walking the streets of Nicosia, especially the cobbled ones in the Old Town, is a must-do. Cute Cypriot kittens hide in doorways, whilst locals sit on chairs watching the world go by. However, it’s worth seeing Nicosia from up above to fully appreciate the old and modern sides of the city. Climb the observatory tower on Ledra Street to the eleventh floor (or get the lift). From here you’ll be able to see the walls of Nicosia and key landmarks. Although you can use binoculars to look at specifics, it’s pretty fascinating to simply see the old and new rooftops.
♥ Green Hearts
A little over an hour’s drive will take you to the Troodos Mountains, or what’s better known as The Green Heart of Cyprus. Winding roads criss-cross back and forth taking you way up into the hills. The trees multiply for every turn you take and the birds dart in and out of your vision. Treks and hikes fill the space, ensuring that you don’t miss out on the beautiful scenery. Even the short walks such as the ‘Myllomeris’ 1.5km nature trail, offer an exciting finish of a hidden waterfall. Locals strip off to cool down in the water or climb into the crevices of the old trees for a lazy snooze. Extend your visit with a stay at Casale Panayiotis.
Nicosia offers so much more than these seven pearls. From cookery classes to divine restaurants, and fascinating museums to arts & crafts, it really has it all. It’s a new look Nicosia and it’s waiting patiently for you to experience it for yourself. Stay ahead of the crowds; don’t keep it waiting too long. X
Big thanks to the Cyprus Tourism Organisation for hosting my lovely visit.