Nicosia, my hometown and capital city of Cyprus, is the last divided capital of the world. If your reaction was “What’s Cyprus,” it’s a relatively small island with a population of less than one million people. On the other hand, we boast to be the 3rd biggest island in the Mediterranean; we Mediterraneans love boasting about our uniqueness, so we keep coming up with all sorts of things we should be proud of.
Among locals of Nicosia and other cities, there have always been funny controversies with those from the capital being regarded as snobbish and being bullied for living in the only city of Cyprus without a seaside. Locals from Nicosia have recently started “fighting back” by turning a dull city without beaches and the after-war effects still visible, including abandoned buildings in the old center, into a lively city full of unique outings for both mainstreams and hipsters with numerous cafés, bars, and restaurants. Old abandoned places are being continuously renovated with new spots sprouting everywhere in the old city center, with some of them even reaching into the top world rankings of bars and restaurants.
One of the classics where you‘ll be able to taste the best and traditionally cooked foods of Cyprus is Zanetto’s Tavern, a family-owned tavern in a tiny street of the city center since 1938. You definitely need to make sure you will be really hungry before going there since there is a great chance you will eat enough food for the rest of the week! It’s a simple but cozy place that will help you feel like home.
If you fancy something cheap and tasty on your way through the central pedestrian area of Nicosia, you can enjoy a lahmajoun, or Armenian pizza, at “Avo.” Lahmajoun is a very thin type of pizza dough with a mixture of minced meat and spices on top. Remember to add some lemon juice on it to send your taste buds to heaven!
If there is still space in your belly for some drinks and cocktails, I have two options for you. One is the “Lost + Found Drinkery” with amazing cocktails. The only down side is that it’s a bit outside the old center, but if you‘re into cocktails it’s definitely worth it since it‘s ranked among the top 50 bars of the world according to the “World’s 50 Best Bars.” If these rankings do not amaze you and you prefer living in the hidden hipster life of the capital, then a beer at New Division pub would definitely excite you. It’s a traditional-style old house of Nicosia that has been turned into a pub with good music and beer for those that prefer dressing simply and mingling among locals.