Nicosia Cyprus (also known as Lefkosia) is a fascinating walled city with a unique star shape. It is the capital and the largest city of the island of Cyprus and the only divided capital in the world. One of the best ways to get around the walled city and experience it like a local is to explore it on foot. That’s why I have created this fun free self-guided walking tour in Nicosia Cyprus.
5 of the 11 bastions that are a part of the Venetian walls which surround the old town are in the southern part of Nicosia Cyprus, the others being in the north (Turkish side). The walls are still largely intact and are among the best preserved Renaissance fortifications in the Mediterranean and have become a major tourist attraction.
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Nicosia Cyprus is a place you should add to your European list especially if you appreciate history, culture and good food. With interesting things to do, see and places to eat, it should not be overlooked by its beach resorts as a destination to visit.
Free Self-Guided Nicosia Walking Tour: Tricks, Tips & Practical Advice
This free self-guided walking tour of Nicosia Cyprus walled city should take around 5-6 hours to walk, including stopping for a break, taking photos, but without going inside any of the paid attractions. The best bit is that you can do this at your own pace and can deviate if something catches your eye.
In it, you’ll find plenty of history and cultural sites well worth a visit, particularly if you’re looking to delve into the heart of the very history of Cyprus. Although the majority of the tour is on well paved flat surfaces, I highly recommend wearing good Walking Shoes that are comfortable.
- Start – D’Avilla Bastion
- Finish – Laiki Geitonia
- Walking Time = Around 5hrs
- Walking Distance = 4-5 kms depending on which streets you walk
⇒ Check to see if you are required a visa for Nicosia Cyprus before you leave.
Map for your Self Guided Nicosia Walking Tour
Walk part of the Medieval Wall- Free
Start your day walking a section of the Venetian wall (Medieval Wall) between bastions in the southern part of Nicosia. It’s best to walk from D’Avilla Bastion to Podocatoro Bastion roughly 850meters, along Konstantinou Palaiologou street passing Bayraktar Mosque before stopping at the Liberty Monument.
If you are arriving via bus for the day, add on an additional 300meters (3 mins) walk to D’Avilla Bastion. It is a nice walk from the central bus station along Konstantinou Palaiologou street, passing the newly built park and garden. It is an easy walk too as it is all on the same road.
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- There is a great little local place called Constaza Kiosk (oxi), between D’Avilla Bastion and Podocatoro Bastion. If you are wanting local a coffee/bottled water or a quick snack before your walk.
The Liberty Monument (Memorial Park)
When you arrive at Podocatoro Bastion make your way to The Liberty Monument (Memorial Park), located near the Venetian walls 100 meters walk towards Nicosia old aqueduct. You will pass Liberty Monument Garden from above as well as see parts of the Venetian walls (defensive walls) that still exist around the city.
The Liberty Monument symbolises the successful Cypriot struggle for independence from Britain 1955-1959. It is a really interesting monument to see and worth a visit on the self-guided walking tour. The large monument contains several statues representing various things. There is one atop of the structure, watching over another two statues who are pulling chains to open a prison gate, allowing prisoners to escape British rule.
Nicosia Old Aqueduct
Only 50-100 meters walk away from The Liberty Monument and on your way to Famagusta Gate is Nicosia old aqueduct. Built in the 18th century, the ancient Aqueduct was part of the old water supply system of Nicosia and is considered to be the oldest aqueduct in Cyprus.
You don’t need very long here and stop for a few photos before moving on to Famagusta Gate.
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Famagusta Gate – Free
Still along Konstantinou palaiologou 300meters walk (or a couple of minutes) from Nicosia old aqueduct is the famous Famagusta Gate considered to be the most splendid of all the 3 gates along the Venetian walls Nicosia.
Famagusta Gate is a 16th century Gate that has been restored and was originally a gate in the Nicosia walls. Now it houses the city’s Municipal cultural centre and exhibitions. Unless you are going to an exhibition, you only really 10-15minutes here to take your photos.
- Right next to the Famagusta Gate is an information point, which is great if you wanting to find your bearings along the walled city.
The Centre of Visual Arts and Research (CVAR) (Optional)
If you like art and history then the Centre of Visual Arts and Research (CVAR), should be next on your self-guided walking tour. You can either walk up Ammochostour St directly opposite the Famagusta Gate or go up Ektoros which is a little further up. Either way, both streets will lead to Ermou Street and are about 260-300 meters walk.
The Centre of Visual Arts and Research opened in 2014 and its exhibits trace the modern story of Cyprus. The Centre also houses a unique collection of paintings and artefacts that highlight the island’s multicultural past over the past three centuries.
There is a small fee to go inside the centre, however, if you don’t want to go in, then it is worth taking a walk around the area and maybe having a short break at one of the cafes. We didn’t go into the centre, instead we had a coffee and a nice break at the cafe/restaurant apart of The Centre of Visual Arts and Research
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- Entry Fe e – €5- per person (Students & children are free)
- Located – on Ermou Street
- Opening Hours – Mon-Sat: 9:30-17:00 Fri: 17:00-20:00 (only by appointment)
- Closed – Sunday
- You have the option to skip this and head straight to Archbishops Palace, which is the next stop (Refer below for walking directions). It might save you between 30mins to 1hr of your time.
- If you walk to the end of Ermou Street, you will reach the closed border area between Greeks and Turkish.
Next stop on the walking tour is Archbishops Palace, which is the official residence and office of the archbishop of Cyprus. Even though you will not be able to go into the palace, you can visit the Cyprus Folk Art Museum Byzantine Museum and National Struggle Museum, as well as St John’s Cathedral (I heard it’s really nice inside), which are within the grounds.
To get to Archbishops Place from Ermou, turn right down Pnytagorou to the end of the street for 100meters and then turn right onto Thiseos. From here take your first left 5ometers down Ayiouloannou for another 150meters, where you will reach an intersection and the grounds of the Archbishops Place.
After the Archbishop’s palace, head over to Lera Observatory (or also known as Shacolas Tower Museum and Observatory) around 900meters away. Where you will have panoramic views of the whole of Nicosia (Lefkosia) on both the north and south side. It is also the best spot to get pictures of Selimiye Mosque and the Turkish flag across the border.
The Lera Observatory is on the 11th floor of the Sharcolas Tower located just off the famous Ledras St. There are interactive maps to identify areas and buildings, a short video/pictures about the history and a mini souvenir shop. It is only a small fee to go up but it is definitely worth it.
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- Entry Fee – €2.50 per person
- Located – Right off Lidras Street
- Opening Hours – Everyday 10:00-17:00
I recommend Καφενείο Αρσινόης (I think the English version is Arsinoe Café) right near Lera Observatory, as there was not a bar/restaurant at the top.
Pafos Gate (Holy Cross Catholic Church)
Next up on your self-guided walking tour is Pafos Gate and the Holy Cross Catholic Church, which is roughly 600meters walk from Lera Observatory. The gate is only 10m(30ft) from the Turkish Zone and it is here, you can also see the old UN building and get right up close to the Turkish side.
What makes The Holy Cross Catholic Church special is its position on the dividing line of the north /south. The entrance is opened on the south side but the rear door on the north side is sealed.
- If you have the time, head up to The Ledra Street Border Crossing where you can enter to the north of Cyprus if you have a valid passport.
200meters walk away from Pafos Gate, just passed Performing arts theatre is The Cyprus Museum and the last historical site on the self-guided walking tour. It is considered to be one of the best museums in Cyprus and is the oldest and largest archaeological museum in the country.
If there is only one museum that you have time to visit while in Nicosia then I highly recommend the Cyprus Museum.
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- Entry fee – €4.50 per person
- Located – on Museum street
- Opening Hours – Tue-Fri: 8.00-18:00 Sat: 9.00-17.00 Sun: 10.00-13.00
- Closed – Mondays
- If you love architecture then have a quick stop off at the front of the Performing arts theatre, it’s a stunning building.
After The Cyprus Museum walk the 650meters to Laiki Getoria pedestrian area where you can enjoy an abundance of shops cafes and restaurants. It is the last stop on the self-guided walking tour through Nicosia and a great way to finish up, relax and enjoy some of the local food or coffee.
The pedestrian streets have giant coloured sails about them that not only look pretty but protect you from the elements of the weather, especially the hot sun.
Points of Interest
- D’Avilla Bastion
- Podocatoro Bastion
- Statue of Liberty (Memorial Park)
- Nicosia old aqueduct
- Famagusta Gate
- The Centre of Visual Arts and Research (CVAR)
- Archbishops Place
- Lera Observatory
- Pafos Gate and Pafos Gate Police Station ( & Holy Cross)
- Cyprus Museum
- Laiki Getoria (Ledras street )
Top tips for walking around Nicosia
- This is a great day if you are staying in the nearby beach resorts like Larnaca, Limassol or Ayia Napa.
- Add the farmers market to your self-guided walk, if you are in Nicosia on either a Wednesday or Saturday morning. It is allocated in between D’Avilla Bastion and Podocatoro Bastion.
- Remember that you need to get some good Walking Shoes to get around the beautiful walled city of Nicosia.
- If you love doors, then walking around Nicosia Cyprus old town is the place for you.
Additional useful information about Nicosia
How to get to Nicosia
Flying and airports
The closest international airport to Nicosia the capital city on the Greek side is Larnaca International Airport which is (49 km) away (around a 1hrs drive). London Stansted flights with Jet2 Alternatively, you can also fly into Paphos International airport.
Catching the Bus to Nicosia
If you are catching a bus to Nicosia from one of the beach resorts the central bus station is only 500 meters from the free self-guided starting point D’Avilla Bastion.
- The company you will need to use to catch the bus is Intercity Buses
Where to park your car at Nicosia
Alternatively, if you have a car or you hire a car to get to walled city Nicosia Cyprus, there is a park car at the Tripoli Bastion. Which is near the Pafos Gate some of the last points on the self-guide walking tour.
Where I Stayed in Nicosia for Sightseeing
We stayed at Hostel Xanthis for two night and had just the one full day in Nicosia before, we moved on to Paphos. We don’t usually tend to stay in hostels but it had everything we needed for the short break and we could not argue with the price or the position of the hostel.
Hostel Xanthis was situated within the walled city and walking distance to the sites in Nicosia old town and only 10 minutes walk to the central bus station. We had a big room with a comfy bed for the two of us, the room also had USB ports and strong WiFi. The bathroom and kitchen were shared but they were clean and someone waited for us when to let us into our room when we arrived late.
Feel free to check out other peoples reviews about Hostel Xanthis on Trip Advisor ⇒ Read reviews on Trip Advisor
Other places to visit in Europe
If you are interested in discovering more historical cities within Europe, feel free to read the following articles.
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- A village Preserved in Time – Edam – Netherlands
- 48hrs in Lake Garda –Brescia and Lake Garda, Italy
- Best things to do – Chambery, France
⇒ Do you require a visa for Nicosia Cyprus before you go? You can check and see if there are any requirements.
Thank you for reading this article ‘Free Self-Guided walking tour in Nicosia Cyprus’. I hope it helped you to decide what to do while in Nicosia Cyprus walled city. It is such an interesting and beautiful place to visit, full of history and amazing cafes.
Have you been to Nicosia Cyprus before? Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below or if you know any other places to see?
Head here for more amazing activities in Cyprus before you go.