Perfect Weekend: 48-Hours in Nicosia, CyprusBy Suzi Malin
I was just thinking that life couldn’t get any better than this.
I was cycling down a smooth mountain slope; plucking bunches of red grapes from the vine, washing them in an ancient well and surveying the most magnificent panorama, all with the sun on my face. I won’t tell you what happened next but it involves falling off my bike in the the most spectacularly ungainly way. But even that didn’t stop my enjoyment of sunny Cyprus during this pleasant time of year.
In fact, if ever a climate could be just right, neither too hot or too humid, it’s Cyprus in the Autumn. And if ever a destination could have more to offer – it is the two-destination trip to the buzzing city of Nicosia and the peaceful mountain retreat of Kalapanayotis. If you’re looking to visit, here’s how to it:
Nicosia: Where to Stay
Stay at the Hilton which is 45-minutes from the airport and about seven minutes from the walled city of Nicosia. The Hilton has the best of everything – great rooms, scenic and quiet with a huge pool to laze around if you have had your fill of shopping and sight seeing.
Check out the restaurant and when you have your poolside breakfast, make sure you sample their rolls filled with an assortment of pumpkin paste and olives – warm and very delicious. The Greek yogurt here is the best I have eaten anywhere, ever.
Nicosia: Where to Eat
Market Company is situated in the heart of the walled city. Expect traditional dishes that keep on coming – they do a great variety of tasty food, with good vegetarian options, and some twists on the classic fare. This is one destination not to miss.
Dine outside in the old part of the city. The fresh food is free-flowing and brought until your sides ache – and there is no more space on the table for the colourful array of dishes. Walk it off around the old city which buzzes at night with outdoor coffee bars, clubs, young people and laughter.
3. To Anamma
Typical Greek food with outdoor and indoor dining; there are two little stone houses at the the end of the garden which have neither windows nor doors. Therefore if you are a larger party, you can dine both inside and outside in an old Greek dwelling in your own private Greek dwelling. Lovely.
Nicosia: What to Do
You need to visit the museums and art galleries to get a full picture of the island’s history, the occupations it has endured, the suffering of its people and the richness of its history.
Go to the Cyprus Archeological Museum and trace the history of the island from prehistoric to the early Christian period with objects from Neolithic period, Bronze and Iron Age, to Greco-Roman period. See the display of 2000 terracotta figures from the North of Cyprus dating back to 6th century B.C. and objects buried in the royal tombs of Salamis.
The Byzantine museum is most prominent religious museum in Cyprus with a treasure trove of icons, 300 from the 9th-19th century. So much of this treasure was looted and the government has worked hard to have many art works repatriated in this absolutely dazzling collection.
Byzantine museum in the yard of St. John Cathedral rich in icons and frescos and quite awe-inspiring so you can see two fabulous sites at the same time.
The permanent exhibition takes the visitor on a journey of ancient Nicosia’s history with special mention given from recent history 1960 till today. A.G. leventis, the founder, was a very interesting man and contributed much to the artistic and cultural life of Cyprus. He was a man who left the island to make his fortune but used it to build up Cyprus’s galleries and museums. Sadly after the Turkish invasion of 1974, his hometown, the cultural centre and the church he had built, were occupied by Turkish forces. It is widely thought that this contributed to his serious illness, the committed philanthropist and lover of his homeland died within two years of this event.
This is the private collection originally built up by the extraordinary A.G. Leventis. It houses the Greek collection of paintings which shaped the face of Greek art in the 19th century, the Paris and the Cyprus collection, all on separate floors. Until 20th century Cyprus had been subject to foreign rule and thus had not been exposed to the artistic Renaissance as experienced in Western Europe.
Nicosia: What to Buy
Buy rose oil and all rose-based cosmetics products – and wine because their grapes their thing. There are essences which mimic the original designer perfumes for a fraction of the price, and for purchases of individual charm you will have to head for the hills, to the cottage industries as we did.
Nicosia: Where to Relax
Visit the Hamam Omerye for an authentic Turkish Hamam. The calming atmosphere takes you into another world and the environment into another century. Heaven.
Return flights with Cyprus Air from London Stansted start at £191 (inc all taxes) and can be booked here. Hilton Cyprus rooms start at €123pp with bed and breakfast, book here. Full-day cycling Excursions with Bikin’ Cyprus start at €45 and can be booked here and spa treatments at Hamam Omerye start at €30 and can be booked here. See more: visitcyprus.com