Nicosia Resort Guide

Following the Turkish invasion in 1974, Nicosia separated into the Republic of Cyprus (59%) and the Turkish-occupied area (37%), which is self-proclaimed as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and recognized only by Turkey. The two areas are controlled by a United Nations buffer zone. Since 2003, there is no restriction in the borders between the Greek and the Turkish part of Nicosia. However, only EU citizens are allowed to cross the Green Line, the official crossing point. The Greek part of the city is densely populated and has a cosmopolitan air due to universities, foreign embassies and international companies. At the Turkish side there are abandoned houses from 1974, quite a tragic spectacle.

Main Attractions

The Cyprus Museum is the oldest museum in Cyprus. In fact, the first archaeological museum in Nicosia was built in 1888 in the occupied part of the city and it was a privately funded institution to protect the archaeological findings that came into light during the excavations, which took place under the British Rule. In 1935, the museum became fully official due to the growing number of findings from systematic excavations. In the Cyprus Museum you can admire Cypriot antiquities dating from the Neolithic period up to the Roman period, including pottery, sculptures, figurines and statues and a wide collection of artifacts discovered in archaeological excavations.

Built within the City Walls, Buyuk Han (The Great Inn) is a fine building with wonderful architecture, a typical caravanserai built in 1572 under the Ottoman Rule to accommodate travelers from Anatolia. Its exterior with its high windows resembles a fortress and under the British Rule it served as Nicosia Central Prison. The Han has 68 rooms with a view to the vaulted galleries and the inner courtyard. Today, Buyuk Han houses a unique art center with workshops and souvenir shops. You can enjoy the traditional Turkish tea or coffee in any of the coffee shops in the Han's courtyard with a wonderful view of the fountain.

The Venetian Walls of Nicosia are some of the best preserved renaissance walls in the Eastern Mediterranean. Although just 80 meters high, the Venetian Walls of Nicosia are impressive, offering to the city a medieval air. Built of mud brick under the rule of Queen Catarina Cornaro in 1489, the Walls form a circle and are fortified by eleven heart-shaped strongholds. Kyrenia Gate is also built as part of the Walls to facilitate transport of goods to the northern parts of the island. In their interior, you can enjoy a coffee or lunch.

Other places of interest are the Leventis Museum, the Museum of Byzantine art, the Monastery of Kykkos, the Hagia Sophia Mosque, the convent Mevievi Tekke, the Armenian Church and Monastery of Notre dame de Tyre and Laiki Geitonia, a picturesque neighbourhood with tasty local food and narrow shady streets.

Nicosia Airport

Before the Turkish invasion of 1974, the Nicosia International Airport (NIC) was originally the main airport of Cyprus. However, following the Turkish invasion, the airport's commercial activity ceased. To visit Nicosia, you have to fly to Larnaca Airport (LCA), the main gateway to Cyprus and the closest airport to Nikosia, located 40km away. You can fly directly to Larnaca, Cyprus with British Airways from London - Heathrow, and London - Gatwick airports, and with EasyJet from Manchester and London - Gatwick.

Getting to Heathrow

There are several ways to get to Heathrow using public transportation or your own car.

The Heathrow Express leaves from Paddington and reaches Heathrow in 20 minutes. The cost is GBP21 and the service runs every 15 minutes from 5:00 to 23:45pm. Alternatively, you can use the Heathrow Connect, which leaves from Paddington and reaches Heathrow in 25 minutes, yet the cost is significantly lower, just GBP9.50.

The Piccadilly Line, the London Tube to Heathrow, leaves from Piccadilly Circus and reaches Heathrow in 50 minutes. The cost is GBP5.70 and the service runs every five minutes from 05:47 (Sundays, 07:05) to 00:32 (Sundays 23:38) for Terminals 1, 2, and 3, from 05:42 (Sundays, 07:05) to 23:09 (Sundays 22:40) for terminal 4, from 05:47 (Sundays, 07:05) to 00:22 (Sundays 23:24) for Terminal 5.

National Express leaves from Victoria Coach Station and takes approximately 40 minutes in normal traffic and 90 minutes in heavy traffic, to get to Heathrow. It costs GBP6 and it takes you to all five Terminals. Additionally, Heathrow's night bus, the N9 can get you to the airport in 75 minutes for GBP2.40. The N9 leaves from Trafalgar Square every 20 minutes from 23:30 to 6:00 (roughly).

You can book an airport transfer or use a taxi service to get to the airport, or for those who wish to drive their own car Heathrow offers short-term and long-term parking facilities, or you can also use the Meet and Greet Heathrow service, which allows you to drop off your car at a valet parking.