Nicosia remains the only divided capital city in the world, with the southern side, called Lefkosia, in Republic of Cyprus. And the northern side, called Lefkoşa (pronounced Lefkosha) in Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. There is a UN-monitored buffer zone that passes through the pedestrian-only Ledras street. This is where most people cross between the two ‘countries’.
I stayed at Kipros Accommodation about two blocks from Ledras street in the old town. Started my day by walking along the main street amass with cafes, restaurants and shops – time for some coffee and breakfast!
The plan was to do a self walking tour of the south side of Nicosia, and then head over to the north side later in the day.
The old town has a lot to offer and nearly everything lies within the snow-flake shaped Venetian walls. Looping lanes, museums, cafes, and colonial-era architecture personify this city that is divided into two by the UN-monitored buffer zone.
My first stop for the day was at the post office to get a stamp in my Postal Stamps Travelogue book. It’s a unique way of collecting memorabilia by getting a post-mark from every city I visit.
This was a unique stamp because this was the last one at the post office, and it depicts the island nation as one country with a rail line going from east to west, right in the center of the island cutting across Nicosia.
Lefkosia (South Nicosia) Self Walking Tour
This tour takes about 3-4 hours within a shirt distance of about 2.5km. A lot of sights to explore and museums to visit. But most of the museums and galleries were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic at the time of writing.
This is the list of sights in the walking tour:
- Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia (closed)
- Laiki Gitonia
- Archangel Michael Trypiotis Church
- Omeriye Mosque
- The Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion
- Archbishop’s Palace
- Byzantine Museum (closed)
- Panagia Chrysaliniotissa Church
- CVAR – Severis Foundation
Some other sights worth visiting along the southern Venetian walls are:
- Nicosia Old Aqueduct
- The Liberty Monument
- Famagusta Gate
Cyprus to North Cyprus from Ledras Street Crossing
To cross from Lefkosia (south side) to Lefkoşa (north side), a covid test was required (PCR or Antigen) by KKTC (official name for TRNC) authorities. And the best place to get one is located on the south-end of Ledras street at Eleftheria Square. Just walk down the covered square and they do the antigen test for free! Takes 20 mins to get the results printed.
|Covid-19 Requirements for North Cyprus
If you are entering from the Republic of Cyprus, or via the Ercan airport, there are different rules applicable at the time of writing. Depending on your departure country, you may be required to quarantine in addition to the mandated PCR/Antigen test results taken 72 hours prior to entering. Check out the TRNC government website for the latest updates.
IMPORTANT: The KKTC authorities insist on getting a printed version of the covid-test, which must have an official stamp on it. Home-test kits and other results in digital form are not accepted at the border.
[Free Covid-19 Antigen test done at Eleftheria Square in Lefkosia]
After getting my test done, I walked back to the hotel, picked up my bags and walked to the border crossing into Lefkoşa (north side), the de-facto capital city of Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.
[Ledras Border Crossing, Nicosia, Cyprus. Photography is strictly prohibited at the green line (buffer zone). Source: Medium.com]
A straight-forward process to cross the border – passport and Covid-test check on south side, walk across the buffer zone, another passport and covid-test at TRNC side, and you’re set!
I exchanged some USD to Turkish Lira (TRY), which is the accepted currency in TRNC. Walked to the hotel located less and a kilometer from the crossing. After checking-in, and a quick nap later, I headed out to grab some dinner, before calling it a day.
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Exploring Paphos, shipwreck beach and the west coast.
South side of the capital city of Nicosia (Lefkosia).
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North side of the capital city of Nicosia (Lefkoşa), and Girne Harbor.