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As a city believed to be the birth place of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, it is no wonder holidaymakers go head over heels for Paphos holidays.
At every turn there are reminders of the city’s fascinating history like the temples and mosaics which can be traced back to ancient Greece. Such is the notoriety of this corner of Cyprus that the entire town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Paphos was also given an extra accolade in 2017, being named as a European Capital of Culture.
While it may seem like Paphos is wrapped up in the days of ancient Greece, its nightlife, beaches and atmosphere will pull you back into the 21st century. It can boast miles of golden sand shoreline while the old town is a treasure trove of tavernas, bars and quaint boutique shops.
It is hard not to fall in love with Paphos.
Mythology and modern day
Paphos is a city heavily invested in Greek mythology. According to legend, when the goddess Aphrodite rose from the sea, she landed at the site of Paphos and it attracted followers from across the world. Her presence is felt across Cyprus and lying just off the coast between Paphos and Limassol is Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Rock).
This is believed to be the original birthplace of the goddess and is a regular tourist hotspot. While the waters are normally too rough to swim around and climbing on the rock is forbidden, many simply choose to bask in the presence of this poignant part of Greek mythology.
Exploring Paphos’ fascinating past is an absolute must and there are so many places of intrigue you can visit. Looming over the harbour is Paphos Fort, arguably the most famous landmark in the city, which was originally built as a Byzantine castle. After being rebuilt in the 13th century following an earthquake, it is now the focal point of the open-air Paphos culture festival.
Not far from the harbour is Paphos Archaeological Park, an amazing reminder of what has gone before in this part of the world. Featuring sites and monuments dating back to pre-historic times, the focal point is an amphitheatre used during the reign of the Romans. Numerous mosaics feature throughout with two of the most impressive being in the ruins of the House of Dionysos and the House of Thesus.
Paphos may be famed for its history but it doesn’t mean it is stuck in the past. It is a lively city with a selection of bars, clubs and restaurants to suit all tastes. The harbour itself is constantly bustling with locals and holidaymakers mingling during the day and then there are the miles upon miles of pristine shoreline to bask in the Mediterranean sunshine.
Why go to Paphos?
Paphos has it all – sun, sea, sand, interesting sights and a pleasant atmosphere. Catering for couples and families alike there are plenty of things to keep you entertained. Whether you are keen to do a bit of sightseeing or content on simply lounging around the beach – the city can provide it all. Immerse yourself into this unique culture and be amazed at this incredible place, you will not be disappointed.
There are regular flights from the UK direct to Paphos and with short transfer times from the airport to the city, you can get your Paphos holiday started in no time at all.
Stroll past the busy bars in the heart of the city and you’ll come to a much more solemn but hugely important part of Paphos – Tombs of the Kings. One of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites across Paphos, this necropolis burial ground is believed to date back to the 4th century BCE. These are masterpieces of archaeology with the tombs carved out of solid rock; they are thought to be the resting place of local aristocrats.
Discover more about the history of this fascinating city by visiting the Paphos Archaeological Park. Following its listing as a protected site in 1980, the Paphos authorities made it a priority to preserve the archaeological remains here.
It has meant that the intricate mosaics, Roman villas and a host of other monuments have been perfectly maintained. Look out to the sea from the steps of the former amphitheatre and stop by the House of Dionysos to see where the wealthy Romans lived during their occupation of Paphos. The park is open throughout the year with entry costing €4.50.
Take a drive to the southern tip of Cyprus to see one of the most iconic features of Greek mythology – Aphrodite’s Rock (Petra tou Roumiou). Situated between Paphos and neighbour Limassol, this sacred rock is believed to be the site where Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love and beauty, rose from the sea in 1200 BC. It is said that Aphrodite chose the rock as the location to begin her life as a mortal.
While the waters are a bit too rough to swim in and climbing on the rock is forbidden, you can take a stroll along the beach or grab a drink in one of the nearby cafes and soak in the aura of this unique site.
Get an extra fill of the legend of Aphrodite by taking a trip to the Baths of Aphrodite. These waters are believed to be where the Greek Goddess of love and beauty would bathe but also where she met her lover Adonis. Legend has it that the two met when Adonis came to here to quench his thirst, the pair instantly fell in love. There are numerous tours and excursions which can take you to the baths.
Aphrodite’s legend also lives on in the shape of Aphrodite Water Park. This exhilarating water park is the perfect destination for a family or group day out. Take on slides such as the Super Volcano, Gravity, Racer, Raging River, Twister and the daunting Kamikaze. Do you dare ride them all?
For the keen golfers among you, there are a number of pristine courses waiting to be tried out. Tee off on the stunning Aphrodite Hills, the scenic Elea Golf Club or the peaceful Secret Valley Golf Club. All have their own personality and will test even the best golfers.
One of the most popular beaches is known as Alykes and lies close to the busy tourist area of Kato Paphos. Thanks to its shallow waters and its abundance of sunbeds, it is a real favourite with families. You can also try out windsurfing, jet skiing and a host of other watersports here.
Speaking of beach sports, Geroskipou Municipal Beach is no stranger to that. The sandy shore, close to the Geroskipou village, is a world renowned beach volleyball venue. It is a regular feature on the season calendar with teams from across the globe competing. When there isn’t a tournament on, however, Geroskipou is an excellent place to relax and top up your tan.
If you’re looking for a true slice of Paphos, there is no better spot than Pharos beach. This part of the region is Paphos in a nutshell, a glorious beach a simple stone’s throw from the Tomb of Kings. Make it a moment to remember by getting up early to watch the sunrise over the horizon.
Take a stop off at Laourou Beach in the Peyia district and experience some of the best facilities as well as the breathtaking views. Alternatively there is the Municipal Baths near the centre of Kato Paphos which is a perfect destination for swimmers. The deeper waters are excellent for swimming and snorkelling while the beach itself is the ideal place to kick back and watch the world go by.
If you’re looking to sample some classic Cypriot home cooking then head to the Loana Restaurant on Votsi 6 Street. This family-run restaurant is one of the hidden gems of Paphos serving up a host of hearty, delicious meals. Another favourite when it comes to local cuisine is Mandra Tavern in the Kato region. Try the house speciality of meat or fish meze or treat yourself to a succulent steak, all complimented with a local Cypriot wine, of course.
You can push the boat out and try the dining experience at 7 St George Tavern. They do things a little different here, you won’t find any set menus instead there is an assortment of dishes in the meze designed to hit every taste bud. Everything is chosen according to season and only the freshest of ingredients will reach your plate – it is a gastronomic adventure you won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
Of course, it is not just about Cypriot food in Paphos and the city has a great range of international restaurants to satisfy your hunger. Taste delicious pizza and pasta at Grazie Ristorante Italiano while you’ll love the atmosphere in Fat Mama’s. Blending Italian and American dishes you can take your pick from classic cannelloni, sticky spare ribs and much more, there is also a special children’s menu to keep the little ones happy.
If you’re looking to up the ante in the romantic stakes, then Ficardo Restaurant is the place to be. Tucked away on Poseidonos Avenue it offers an intimate ambience and an interesting menu packed with delicious Mediterranean food.
A short stroll from Alykes Beach is the incredibly chilled out Alea Lounge Bar. During the day you can grab a bite to eat from its enticing menu while at night relax with a cocktail or two and have a good ole people watch by the harbour. If you’re looking for a little taste of home then The Rose Pub nearby has all the comforts you could ask for while also being one of the best places in Paphos for live music.
Barhopping is a common theme in Paphos and there is no better place to do this than the Tomb of the Kings Road. Here you’ll find a smattering of lively bars including O’Neill’s Irish Bar and Grill, Pit Stop Pub, Thomas’s Jungle Pub and Ben’s Bar which can be a stop off point or your place of choice for the evening.
You can continue the party long into the early hours of the morning in one of Paphos’ fashionable nightclubs. One of the favourite spots is Decades Nightclub on the Coral Bay strip in Peyia. While it is a predominantly local crowd, the blend of jazzy atmosphere and free-flowing cocktails will have most people feeling right at home.
The Loft Club is the place to be to dance the night away to all your favourite electronic and pop classics every night of the week. While the Robin Hood Pub, which could be easily mistaken for a medieval castle, is dedicated to creating a fun atmosphere with music to suit everyone’s taste.
There are the usual fixtures you come to expect from any European city with a host of supermarkets as well as departments stores such as Debenhams and G.Sel Milano Boutique dotted across Paphos. All of which can be found in the bustling Kings Avenue Mall which also features a cinema, arcade and numerous food outlets.
However, for a real taste of this Cypriot jewel you must visit Paphos Market. This Bazaar-style setting is the perfect place to pick up some unique souvenirs. The huge range of stalls sell everything from art works, leather goods and clothing to candles, pottery and jewellery. Each item is carefully crafted to ensure you take home an authentic piece of Cyprus.
Continuing the traditional theme, the Kivotos Gallery is the place to be to find amazing arts and crafts. Awarded the ‘Destination Pafos’ honour by Cyprus Tourism Organisation, you will find a host of incredible gifts such as jewellery, ceramics, glasswork and a host of knitted and crochet items. Another destination for all thing Cypriot handicrafts is The Place; here you can watch the magic of basket-making, pottery and woodcarvings come to life.
Looking for a gift for that special someone in your life? Stop by Aphrodite Jewellery on Makarious III Ave and you’ll find a range of jewellery and watches painstakingly made in Paphos. An excellent souvenir from your holiday.