07 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions and Things to Do in Nicosia
1. Day trip to the ruins of Bellapas Monastery
One of the most popular tourist destinations on the island – thanks to author Lawrence Durrell – Bellapas is an old-fashioned village of whitewashed cottages that lies at the bottom of a hill that ends at the ruins of Bellapas Abbey.
British author Lawrence Durrell wrote Bitter Lemons of Cyprus while living here, immortalizing Cypriot village life at the end of the British colonial era.
While the village itself is incredibly charming, the main sight is Bellapais Abbey, an old Augustinian monastery with intricate carvings and cypress trees around the parapet.
From the rooftop of the dining hall there are beautiful views of the North Cyprus coast.
Bellapas is 25 km north of North Nicosia but there is no direct public transport from the town to the village.
If you don’t have your own transport, take one of the many minibuses from North Nicosia to Kyrenia and then a short taxi ride back to the village.
2. A road trip through the Mysoria region
To the west of Nicosia is the Mysoria district , dotted with small villages, monasteries, and ancient churches. If you have your own transportation, the area is great for a day trip, with historic sights and rural scenery within easy reach of the city.
The villages here Peristerona (30 km west of Nicosia) is an attractive place to visit and the domed 10th-century Church of St. Barnabas and Hilarion, surrounded by traditional stone houses. Based on the interior, the church contains important and well-preserved 16th-century icon paintings depicting the Presentation of Christ.
South from here to see Maharis Monastery , perched in majestic solitude on a rugged hill.
Then head northeast for a trip to Agios Monastery. The archaeological site of Irakleidios and ancient Tamasos , an ancient copper-working city dating back to the 6th century BC, are both near the village of Bara .
3. Discover the sights in Kyrenia ( Girne).
harbor of Kyrenia ( also known as Autumn) , 30 km north of Nicosia, is the dynamic maritime hub of Northern Cyprus. This is one of the best places to visit if you are looking for day trip options from Nicosia.
The small harbor overlooks a mighty Byzantine-era castle and is backed by the old town quarter, with winding streets and Ottoman-era houses that are fun to explore.
First visit the castle with its Shipwreck Museum, then stroll down to the harbor to see the Folk Art Museum in the restored Cherub barn.
Later, through the narrow streets to the Church of the Archangel Michael ( Kambolt Caddesi ), with its collection of religious icons that come from churches in North Cyprus.
Minibuses run frequently from North Nicosia to Kyrenia , so it’s easy to make a day trip into the city by public transport.
4. Climb the high towers of St. Hilary Castle.
Saint Hilarion seems to have fallen straight from the pages of a storybook. It sits atop a jagged hill with its ramparts, and is the epitome of a fairytale castle (Disney’s Snow White castle is said to be built on St. Hilarion ).
Built by the Byzantines in the 10th century, the fortress sits on an elevated position that was a strategic asset until modern times.
Walk the path (wear good walking shoes) from the Lower Antiquity, where the garrison was kept , to the Middle Ages, with its church and barracks, and then up to the Old Upper Portion with its tower and royal apartments.
From here, a flight of stairs takes you to Prince John’s Tower, which has great views of the countryside.
The castle of St. If you haven’t rented a car, taxi drivers in North Nicosia will be happy to drive you back to the castle.
5. Day trip to Famagusta
Filled with crumbling Gothic buildings, Famagusta’s Old Town ( also known as Gazimaǧusa ) is the island’s most picturesque town.
Surrounded by well-preserved Venetian fortifications, the old town is dotted with golden stone ruins and the remains of palaces nestled contrastingly among rows of crumbling houses.
In the city center is the magnificent Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (main square), which was once the cathedral of Agios Nikolaos. Nicholas which is a beautifully preserved example of Gothic architecture.
Nearby are the ruins of the roofless Greek Church of St. George . Caddesi ), where faded traces of frescoes remain on the apse.
Just inside the city walls are monstrous remains of St. Mary’s Church and a Carmelite church ( Safar Socak ) on the bank of the lawn.
It is possible to climb the Venetian fortifications at Plakzara Garh . You can walk along a section of the walls here to get views of the entire city.
Famagusta is 58 kilometers east of North Nicosia, and if you don’t have a rental car, regular minibuses run between the two cities. For a day trip, your own transportation is best, as you can easily spend a day visiting ancient Salamis and other historical tourist sites around Famagusta.
6. Wander the ruins of ancient salami
Along with Kourion , ancient Salamis is the most important archaeological site of the Old Kingdom of Cyprus, with a wealth of antiquities.
The gymnasium and bath complex, with its impressive sculptures and gorgeous colonnaded courtyard, is the main attraction, but the sprawling grounds are also home to two basilicas, an agora and a massive tank complex.
Almost all of the remains date back to the city’s Greco- Roman and Byzantine periods, but Salamis’ history extends much further.
It is said to have been founded shortly after the Trojan War and was under Assyrian, Persian, Greek Ptolemaic, Roman, Byzantine and Arab leadership, reflecting the classical history of the island.
There is no public transport to the site, so it seems easier with your own wheels, or you can take a minibus from North Nicosia to Famagusta and hire a taxi for the short ride to the site.
The ruins are located about 73 km east of Nicosia.
7. Visit the ruins of Buffavento Castle.
Buffavento is less dilapidated than St. Hilarion’s Castle , a dilapidated, airy outpost atop a rugged hilltop in eastern Kyrenia . The ruins here are not extensive but are scenically located on the forested slopes below.
Hike from the bottom up for the best views of the coast.
Buffavento may have been built during the Byzantine period, and was once owned by the Crusader Richard the Lionheart. Strategically, it played an important role in protecting the coast with St. Hilarion Castle to the west.
Located 52 km northeast of Nicosia, the castle is ideal for a day trip with your own transport, including Saint Hilarion .