In the heart of Cyprus lies the country’s capital Nicosia. Right through the city runs the Green Line, which separates the Turkish Cypriot north and Greek Cypriot south, making Nicosia the only divided capital in the world. The historic and cultural division of the city makes for an interesting experience. It is no problem to cross the border to each side, just remember to bring your passport!
There are several border crossings to choose from depending on whether you want to go by car or by foot. Many tourists visiting Nicosia take the opportunity to walk across to the other side of the Ledra Street border crossing. On the south side you will find Nicosia’s main shopping street Ledra Street with shops like H&M, Bershka and Pull & Bear. There are also nice local restaurants as well as international fast food places such as McDonald’s and Subway. By crossing to the north, you get to the well-preserved old Turkish quarter. Here the narrow streets are filled with jewellery shops, cosy cafes and shops selling identical copies of famous fashion brands.
Travel reporters who have visited Nicosia have a bad habit of describing the contrast between the shopping streets as a sort of symbol that speaks for the whole island; crossing the border from the modern Greek Cypriot side to the undeveloped Turkish Cypriot side. Most likely, these journalists have never taken the trouble to really visit North Cyprus, but been content to just take a few steps across the border of the capital. The difference of the sides is big because the border crossing at Ledra Street is located between southern Nicosia’s most modern shopping street and northern Nicosia’s “old town”. If you want new stores and larger shopping complexes, you can go further into the Turkish Cypriot part of the city. On the shopping street Mehmet Akif Cd (Dereboyu) there is a wide range of shops, such as Mango, Polo and Terranova.
Nicosia is Cyprus’s administrative midpoint and centre of art, culture and entertainment. Inside the old town’s Venetian fortress walls are several interesting museums and attractions to visit. Here it is also close in-between the many bars and restaurants for those who want to enjoy food and drink in a historic setting.
From Nicosia it takes about 20 minutes by car to Ercan Airport.
See and do:
Büyük Han – A traditional Ottoman Inn, today filled with souvenir shops and cafes.
Belediye Pazari – Indoor market in the middle of the old town.
Home for Cooperation – Gathering place for Greek and Turkish Cypriots and a bridge builder between the two communities. Here you can go to participate in language classes, yoga classes or other courses organised by the centre. It’s open to anyone to visit and you have a cosy cafe and vegan restaurant. Remember to take your passport for the Home for Cooperation located in the buffer zone between north and south Nicosia.