Larnaca to Nicosia – how to get there and what not to miss

Nicosia and Larnaca are the two closest cities in Cyprus and traveling from Larnaca to Nicosia is simple but there is a lot to see along the way, and even more to do once you arrive in Nicosia. Here’s a detailed guide to all the ways to travel between the two cities including two different touring routes and a ‘must-see’ list of Nicosia’s attractions.

Introduction

Cyprus is a famous summer holiday destination, but there is more to it than just beach resorts, and the divided capital, Nicosia, is a cultural feast and a lot of fun.

Photo form the beach of an Easy Jet plane on approach to Larnaca Airport, McKenzie Beach, Larnaca, Cyprus
Easy Jet plane on approach to Larnaca Airport, McKenzie Beach, Larnaca, Cyprus

Most people arrive in Cyprus at Larnaca International Airport. Larnaca is a very developed port city on Cyprus’ southeast coast with beautiful beach resorts and a long history you can discover through stunning tourist attractions.

Larnaca is a convenient city for travelers to use as their base in Cyprus because it’s close to Larnaca airport and allows them to experience a blend of Cyprus’ culture, history, and beautiful nature. But for a more cosmopolitan experience, you must visit Nicosia, Cyprus’ capital.

Nicosia is the largest city combining the island’s modern and traditional lifestyles. It features many museums, archaeological sites, cafes, restaurants, and shopping streets.

And of course, it’s Europe’s only divided capital, and crossing the Green Line into Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, is a fascinating experience!

So, keep reading to discover how to get from Larnaca to Nicosia and the best things to do on your journey and within Nicosia.

How to get from Larnaca to Nicosia

Larnaca is home to Cyprus’ biggest international airport, there are several ways to travel from Larnaca to Nicosia.

There is public transport which is Cyprus’ bus network, Intercity Buses, private bus companies, taxis, and of course, by car.

Larnaca Airport to Nicosia

There are four ways to get to Nicosia from Larnaca airport.

Rental cars and private transfers are the more expensive but flexible and convenient options. The shuttle bus and public bus network are cheaper and easy to use.

A photo of a fleet of Kapnos airport shuttles at Larnaca airport, Larnaca, Cyprus
Kapnos airport shuttle, Larnaca airport, Larnaca, Cyprus

Pre-booking a car rental online is one of the most popular ways to ensure you have reliable transportation in Cyprus and it makes it a breeze to travel between Larnaca airport and Nicosia.

But if your first destination is Larnaca, or if you are jetlagged after a long flight, the Kapnos airport shuttle is a hassle-free way to get to Nicosia for only 8 Euros (5 for children over 4 years of age) for a one-way ticket.

Purchase your tickets before you get on the bus (you can’t get them from the shuttle bus driver). There’s a designated bus exit at the Arrival Area and here you’ll find the bus stand where you can buy your ticket. Alternatively, just book your ticket online on their website.

Boarding commences 15 minutes before departure time and it’s a friendly and informal service.

50 minutes later, the Kapnos Airport shuttle will have whisked you from Larnaca airport to Nicosia. (The shuttle bus also operates to and from Paphos and Limassol).

The downside of the Kapnos airport shuttle is that you’ll need to wait an average of 90 minutes at Larnaca Airport.

What is the driving distance from Larnaca to Nicosia?

The driving distance from Larnaca to Nicosia is only about 30 miles or 48 kilometers, and the travel time by car is about 45 minutes.

However, be aware this is the most traveled stretch of road in the country so it can take longer than this during rush hour traffic, weekends, and holidays.

Larnaca to Nicosia Bus Routes

As mentioned above, several bus companies travel from Larnaca to Nicosia both for day trips and transfers.

Public transportation is the cheapest way to reach Nicosia. Specifically, the Intercity Bus, which is a network bus service formed by green buses that connect every city.

Photo of the Taxi, bus, and paid public parking area at the entrance to Nicosia old city, Cyprus
Taxi, bus, and paid public parking area at the entrance to Nicosia old city, Cyprus

Bus tickets are inexpensive and you can download the Intercity Bus app on the Google Playstore and the Apple App Store.

The Larnaca to Nicosia journey includes these stops:

  • Finikoudes at Larnaca’s Marina,
  • the Old Hospital,
  • the Μunicipal Library,
  • Agios Georgios Church at Griva Digeni Ave.,
  • Alexander College at Eleftherias Ave.,
  • Electromechanical Services at Akropoleos Ave. and,
  • Rizoelia at Akropoleos Ave.The final destination in Nicosia is Solomou Square.

Since Larnaca is a popular destination, there are one to two buses every hour to Nicosia. You can purchase bus tickets through the Intercity Buses website.

Larnaca to Nicosia Bus Times

Buses run either hourly or every half hour from Larnaca to Nicosia. On weekdays the earliest departure is at 05:50 in the morning, and the last bus departs at 21:00.

A photo of the small stone Agios Georgios Makrus Church, Griva Digeni Ave, which is a major bus stop in Larnaca, Cyprus
Agios Georgios Makrus Church, Griva Digeni Ave, is a major bus stop in Larnaca, Cyprus

On weekends and holidays, the first bus is at 06:30 and the last at 20:35. All services run directly with no transfers required and take approximately one hour and twenty minutes.

Larnaca to Nicosia By Car

The distance from Larnaca’s first bus stop to Nicosia’s last bus stop is 49 kilometers and is definitely an easy and cheap choice.

A photo of cars traveling in both directions along the A1 Motorway to Nicosia, Cyprus
A1 Motorway to Nicosia, Cyprus

But undoubtedly, the fastest way to reach Nicosia from Larnaca is by car. Specifically, by a rental car or a taxi.

Although Cyprus’ network services are exceptional, most locals travel by car. There are hundreds of rental car companies around the country.

The roads are very good, it’s simple to reserve a car online, and if you plan to explore part of the island, driving a car is a very simple way to get around Cyprus except for the offroad areas like the Akamas Peninsula.

There are many, many countries in which I won’t drive, but driving in Cyprus is a pleasure.

Best Routes By Car, Motorcycle or Scooter

With your own transportation, you can explore different routes and experience Cyprus’ unique beauty.

Here are two itineraries that will take you, on your journey from Larnaca to Nicosia, to some of Cyprus’ most extraordinary cultural and historical landmarks.

Important: If you plan to cross into North Nicosia, you can’t do it with a rented vehicle and you must take your passport to clear immigration and customs on both sides of the Green Line Border

Route 1 – Historical Landmarks on the way from Larnaca to Nicosia

Kamares Aqueduct

Kamares is a beautiful 18th-century aqueduct built by the Turkish governor of Larnaka, Bekir Pasha. The aqueduct was an amazing and welcome surprise to me!

Photo of the Kamares Aqueduct, Cyprus
Kamares Aqueduct, Cyprus

It was used until 1939 when its function was replaced by modern pipes.

Today, there are still more than 20 stunning arches intact, and the surrounding area was transformed into a quiet, peaceful park that leads to Larnaca Salt Lake.

Stavrovouni

Stavrovouni is within Larnaca’s District and about 40 kilometers away from Kamares. Perched on a rocky peak, Stavrovouni is a monastery founded in the 4th century.

Photo of the tall peak of Mount Stavrovuni with the Stavrovouni Monastery at the top and the landscape for miles behind the mountain, Cyprus
Stavrovouni Monastery, Cyprus

Unfortunately, only men are allowed to visit (!), but this is a fantastic spot for astonishing mountainous and cityscape views.

Also, on the foothills of Stavrovouni, you’ll find the monastery of Agia Varvara, which is accessible to all visitors.

Monastery of Saint Thekla the Healer

The Holy Monastery of Agia Thekla is located about 500 meters south of Mosfiloti village in Larnaca District and 12 kilometers away from Stavrovouni. (Yes, Cyprus is full of monasteries!)

Photo of the entrance to the stone Monastery of Saint Thekla the Healer, Mosfiloti, near Larnaca, Cyprus
Monastery of Saint Thekla the Healer, Mosfiloti, near Larnaca, Cyprus

Agia Thekla was built by St. Helen during her visit to the island in the early 4th century AD and used to be a men’s monastery. Later during the island’s colonization, it was used as a Greek school until 1914.

Today, it is a nunnery, and many locals visit to pray since Agia Thekla is known as a divine healer.

Ancient Idalion

The archaeological site of Idalion is located at Dali town, in Nicosia District, and about 10 minutes away by car from the monastery of Agia Thekla.

A photo looking across the tops of the walls of the Ancient Idalion ruins, near Dali, Cyprus
Ancient Idalion ruins, near Dali, Cyprus

This is one of the most important sites in Cyprus due to its rare and rich findings.

The site houses a museum and Visitor Centre, which showcase its finds and is also linked with the Aphrodite Cultural Route. That’s because it is said that this is where Adonis, Aphrodite’s lover, was killed by Ares, the God of War.

The British Museum and Leiden in the Netherlands are where you will find some of the most powerful terracotta figures taken from this site.

Agios Sozomenos

Agios Sozomenos is an abandoned village in the Nicosia District and eight kilometers away from Idalion’s archaeological site.

A phot of the arches in the Ruins of Agios Sozomenos temple, Nicosia district, Cyprus
Ruins of Agios Sozomenos temple, Nicosia district, Cyprus

It is a magnificent and eerie area showcasing a different era of Cyprus. Set within barren fields and open skies, the village features the ruins of houses, a school, and the Agios Mamas church.

It’s said that in the 12th century A.D., the hermit monk St Sozomenos used to live in a cave right above the village. Today people can visit this cave and light a candle in his honor.

Agios Sozomenos is the last stop of this route towards Nicosia and is about a half-hour drive from Nicosia’s center.

Route 2 – Cultural Route

Lefkara

Located in the Larnaca region, the mountainous village of Lefkara can be reached within 35 minutes of Larnaca’s center.

A photo of Lefkara Village's ancient streets and steps, Lefkara, Cyprus
Lefkara Village’s ancient streets, Lefkara, Cyprus

It is world-renowned for its traditional handicrafts, such as lace embroidery and filigree silver.

You can experience this village’s beautiful cultural art by visiting the Lefkara Handicraft Centre, the Museum of Traditional Embroidery and Silversmithing, and through participating in various workshops.

Apart from its handicrafts, Lefkara also features picturesque, narrow streets and traditional architecture that take you back to medieval times.

Machairas Monastery

The next stop is Machairas Monastery, a 40-minute drive from Lefkara. Located on the slopes of Kionia, this monastery is one of the most important religious sites on the island.

Photo looking down at the red roofs of the Holy, Royal, and Stavropegic Monastery of Machairas, Nicosia, Cyprus
The Holy, Royal, and Stavropegic Monastery of Machairas. Nicosia

It is home to the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, which is attributed to Apostle Luke, the Evangelist.

Also, today the renovated vestry basement houses a collection of old books and manuscripts, icons, and other religious artifacts.

Kampia

The village of Kampia is a village in Nicosia district, and it is built on a plateau of the Machaira Mountains.

Within the village is the Kampia Community Park, which includes an organic farm. The park is next to Tamassos Reservoir where you can hike, kayak, and horse ride.

Episkopeio

Just 4 kilometers away from the Kampia Community Park, you will find Episkopeio village. Although it is just a small village, it is famous for its magnificent Russian-style church and beautiful wooden Romanian Orthodox church.

A photo showing the Russian and Romanian Orthodox churches in Episkopeio Village, Cyprus against a bright blue sky
Russian and Romanian Orthodox churches in Episkopeio Village, Cyprus

The Russian Orthodox Church is the first of this style to be built on the island.

Dedicated to St Andrew, the church is adorned with mosaics featuring saints, a lavish interior with icons and intricate paintings, as well as a playground and park next to the church.

Chrisospiliotissa

About 10 minutes away from Episkopeio, you will find Chrisospiliotissa in Deftera village. It is the last stop before arriving in Nicosia and concludes this cultural route.

A photo of Panagia Chrysospiliotissa Church carved into the rocky cliffside at, Dheftera, Nicosia, Cyprus
Panagia Chrysospiliotissa Church, Dheftera, Nicosia, Cyprus

Chrisospiliotissa is a church carved into a sandstone cave and dates back to the early Christian period. Sadly, the decorated walls of the cave have suffered great damage, and the frescoes are no longer visible.

Still, it is a unique spot that holds a large religious festival every 15th of August in honor of the Virgin Mary.

Best Places to Visit in Nicosia

Having explored the best places to see on your way from Larnaca to Nicosia, we’re just getting warmed up! As Cyprus’ capital, there’s a host of things to do and see within the city as well.

Nicosia is not built around a harbor, like Paphos harbor, is not warm and temperate like the coastal cities in the wintertime, and luckily does not have the overdeveloped feel of Limassol and Larnaca.

But its old walled city on both sides of the Green Line is full of fascinating architecture, and museums, and there are surprises around every corner and down every alleyway.

It is unlike anywhere else in Cyprus. Below are the must-visit tourist attractions in Nicosia.

Cyprus Museum

If you are interested in Cyprus’ history, you must visit the Cyprus Museum.

It is the main and largest archaeological museum, exhibiting pottery, jewelry, sculptures, coins, copper objects, and other artifacts from the Neolithic period up to the Byzantine era.

Nicosia’s Old Town

The best way to explore Nicosia is through the city’s old narrow streets with traditional Cypriot architecture in the old town.

Photo of a Shopping street in the old town, Nicosia, Cyprus, showing the art deco and art nouveau architecture of the two-storey buildings lining the street on both sides
Shopping street in the old town, Nicosia, Cyprus

Specifically, the old town’s neighborhood, or in Greek Laiki Geitonia, whose entrance starts off Onasagorou Street. The buildings’ architecture dates back to the 18th century and is now used as residences, shops, taverns, and craft centers.

Eleftheria Square 

Eleftheria Square (Eleftheria means ‘liberty’) divides the old from the new town and is extended along the Venetian Walls.

Photo of Eleftheria Square at night, with its illuminated fountains, Nicosia, Cyprus
Eleftheria Square at night, Nicosia, Cyprus

Walk along the square to admire the impressive 16th-century fortifications of the city, beautiful gardens, and the massive difference between modern and old architecture.

Makarios Avenue

Makariou avenue is in the heart of Nicosia, covering a distance of 2 kilometers.

The street is named after the first President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III., and has recently been transformed into a commercial district with many of the original buildings demolished to make way for shops and office blocks.

Famagusta Gate

Famagusta Gate is the most significant of the gates of Nicosia’s city walls. It used to function as a gate toward Famagusta during the Venetian rule in Cyprus. Today, this impressive gate is used as a cultural center.

Ledra Palace Crossing Point

Back in 1974, the Turkish army invaded Cyprus. After just a couple of months, the war ended, with Cyprus being divided into two parts.

Photo of the Berlin Wall Kebab House backs onto the border wall at the Ledra Palace Crossing Point into Turkish North Nicosia
The Berlin Wall Kebab House backs onto the border wall at the Ledra Palace Crossing Point into Turkish North Nicosia

Today, Nicosia is the only divided European capital. Ledra Palace Crossing Point is the only spot in the city’s center where you cross and see remnants of the war, as well as the difference between the two parts of the country.

Selimiye Mosque

Selimiye Mosque, or the Cathedral of Saint Sophia, is a former Christian cathedral converted into a mosque.

Photo of Selimiye Mosque (former St. Sophia Cathedral mosque with its twin minarets, North Nicosia, Cyprus
Selimiye Mosque (former St. Sophia Cathedral), North Nicosia, Cyprus

It is located in North Nicosia, so you can only reach it after crossing at the Ledra Palace Crossing Point.

The mosque is housed in the largest and oldest surviving Gothic church in Cyprus, which used to be the coronation church of the kings of Cyprus.

Buyuk Han

The Buyuk Han is Cyprus’ best-preserved example of Ottoman caravanserai architecture.

The interior courtyard of the wonderful Buyuk Han in North Nicosia, Cyprus
Buyuk Han, North Nicosia, Cyprus

It was constructed in the 16th century and functioned as an inn for travelers and traders. Today, the courtyard is home to cafes and traditional craft workshops. It’s my No. 1 ‘don’t miss it’ sight in Nicosia.

Kyrenia Gate

Kyrenia Gate is another gate of Nicosia’s city walls. It was constructed by the Venetian in 1567 and was the smallest gate.

Today it’s located in the occupied part of Nicosia, meaning you can reach it after crossing the border at Ledra Palace.

Final thoughts

Whether you choose to travel to Nicosia from Larnaca by bus, taxi, private transfer, or rental car, taking a little time to visit some of Cyprus’ beautiful and historic sights along the way makes for a fascinating journey.

Of course, once you arrive in Nicosia you can begin discovering its long history, beautiful culture, and incredible sights.

Keep Planning Your Trip to Cyprus