Strolling through the narrow winding streets of Nicosia’s old Kaimakli district, you might be fooled into thinking you’ve stepped back in time, to an era when old men walked the streets calling out the news every evening, when children still played in the streets until dusk and when people sat outside their houses, doors wide open welcoming passers-by with cardamom scented tea.
The atmospheric traditional old yellow stone houses and the laid back vibe of this little village-inside-a-city make you feel as though you are in a different city or country altogether making a trip into Kaimakli seem like a vacation away from reality.
Home to a host of local characters and well-known Cypriots such as the capital’s oldest barber, Johnny, urban development NGO, Urban Gorillas, Monsieur Doumani’s tzouras player Antonis, and Cypriot fashion designer Georgia Moditi, Kaimakli has become a melting pot of creativity, free thinking and political activism. And the in-the-know residents of this cosy neighbourhood had the right idea. With its little coffee shops, theatres, dances studios and artists workshops, Kaimakli is as culturally rich as it is hospitable, warm and welcoming. And yes, it’s fast becoming one of the coolest areas to hang out in the capital!
Fancy a relaxing day exploring the nooks and crannies of the neighbourhood? Here are My Cyprus Insider’s favourite spots to eat, drink and be merry.
1. Sip on a stiff coffee at Kafenio o Platanos
Since opening two years ago, Kafenio o Platanos has become the go-to local hangout for the eclectic mix of residents who call Kaimakli home. Perfectly located for watching the world go by, Kafenio o Platanos is tucked into the junction between the main Archiepiskopou Makariou Street and some of the smaller side streets.
The spot has always been a kafenio (it was actually Kaimakli’s first) and has always been called o Platanos, but now, with the youthful injection of new owner, architect, Thanasis Christofides, the place has been given a new lease on life with a cool contemporary design infused with hints of the older, more traditional history of the locale.
Where? 96G Archbishop Makarios Avenue. Tel: (+357) 99-584374, (+357) 99-758209
2. Mix and mingle at Social Space Kaymakkin
Social Space Kaymakkin is a self-managed collective of left wing libertarians with a goal of providing a free space for expression, action and events. Housed in one of the stunning traditional old houses that are predominant in the area, the social space hosts free yoga lessons, movie screenings and a collective kitchen on Saturdays.
Where? 127G Archbishop Makarios III Avenue, Kaimakli. www.kaymakkin.org
3. Oggle at some great art Loukia & Michael Zampelas Art Museum
Founded by art collectors Michael Zampelas, together with his wife Loukia, the Loukia & Michael Zampelas Art Museum is a beautifully curated showcase of modern and contemporary art by Cypriot, Greek and international artists. Housing the family’s private collection as a permanent exhibition, the museum also organises temporary retrospectives by artists from Cyprus and abroad, as well as a series of educational programmes aiming to make art more accessible to all age groups.
While the art that adorns the walls of the museum is impressive in its own right, the building itself is also well worth a visit for its seamless juxtaposition of traditional and modern architecture.
Where? 27 Archbishop Makarios III Avenue, Kaimakli. Tel: (+357) 22-456093
4. Ogle at all things vintage and retro at the Flea Market of Nicosia
Exuding all of the otherworldly charm that permeates throughout Kaimakli, the Flea Market of Nicosia is located in an old warehouse which has been lovingly transformed into a vintage haven of second hand ware and tear. Divided into separate little booths selling different objects, the warehouse is set up like a jumble-sale exhibition with a coffee shop in the middle and a little yard outside for bikes and other outdoor objects.
The market is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 7pm and sells everything under the sun, from fashion and accessories to old magazines, trinkets and electrical appliances. Keep an eye on their facebook page for events and upcoming sales.
Where? 2 Yianni Koromia, Kaimakli. Tel: (+357) 99-678569
5. Get your Musical Fix at Pedestrian in the Roadway
Self-proclaimed free-thinkers, designers, tinkerers and makers of Boombots and custom sound systems, Ayiannis and Chris are the two creative minds behind Pedestrian in the Roadway.
From their eclectic workshop in the heart of Kaimakli, they create and sell their beautifully unique and refined sound systems as well as hand-made furniture and other home ware items their clients might commission.
Where? 92G Archbishop Makarios III Avenue, Kaimakli. Tel: (+357) 99-674883
6. Tuck into Cypriot fare at Souvlaki Stin Avli
Don’t be fooled by the somewhat uninviting neon lit kafenio style entrance to Souvlaki Stin Avli. Once you’ve passed the tables of tavli playing elderly men, and entered the cosy rooms at the back of the house, you will find yourself in a traditional and unpretentious little tavern, where the deliciously simple Cypriot food and wonderfully welcoming hospitality have made the place the talk of the town amongst residents of the area and Nicosians in general.
Don’t expect anything fancy, but rather, basic Cypriot salad, dips, souvlaki and traditional desserts made just the way they should be. Best visited in the summer when you can sit in the gorgeous leafy garden, Souvlaki Stin Avli is also warm and atmospheric on cold winter nights.
Where? Odos Kitiou 2. Tel: (+357) 97-710055