The town of Paphos (or Pafos) is located on the south western tip of Cyprus. It is known as the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek godless of love and fertility. Cyprus is a very old culture, with a civilization predating the Greeks. Evidence of both Greek and Roman civilizations are still present and some of it is amazingly well preserved. There are a number of areas designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites in Paphos Cyprus. Paphos (or Pafos) is both the name of the town and the western district of Cyprus.
What to Do in Paphos Cyprus
1. Kato Paphos
Kato Paphos, the old town, is definitely worth a wander. Most of the archaeological sites, tavernas and hotels are located in this part of town. (The commercial part of town is up on the hill.)
2. The Archaeological Park
There is a large archaeological park which you enter from the western end of the Paphos waterfront. There are some very well preserved Roman mosaics dating from the 2nd century B.C. from the villas known as the House of Dionysos and the House of Theseus. Both of these are named for the images depicted in the mosaics.
There are also the remains of a theater, the Odeon, an Agora and an Asklepieion (medical facility). You may recall we visited a very large, Roman Asklepieion in Turkey.
The archaeological park is quite large and quite exposed. Bring hat, water, sunscreen and wear comfortable shoes.
3. Other Archaeological Sites
Other archaeological sites in Katos Paphos include the Tomb of the Kings, where the wealthy were buried in tombs cut into the rock.
Further afield in the village of Kouklia you can view the mosaics and ruins of Aphrodite’s Sanctuary.
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4. Explore the Harbor, Waterfront and Beaches
At the western edge of the harbor, there is a large Fort built by the Turkish is 1586. Starting at the end of the harbor, you can stroll through along the waterfront. There are a number of tavernas, restaurants and hotels in this area.
There is a great walk along the harbor and coastline. It is perfect for a morning or evening stroll. The walk ends at Coral Beach to the east of town. The beach is quite nice although in the winter the water is quite rough. Many newer hotels and apartment rentals can be found in this area.
5. The Agios Neophytos Monastery
In the hills 10km from Paphos, near the village of Tala, is the Agios Neophytos Monastery. The monastery has fantastic views over the Cyprus countryside. There is a museum and church on the site. It is still in use and is all very well maintained.
Polis on the North Coast of Cyprus
There are a number of villages you can visit from Paphos. Our favorite was Polis, a small, traditional fishing village on the north coast of Cyprus. It is 37 km north of Pathos near the start of the Akamas Peninsula.
12 km past Polis, on the Akamas Peninsula are the Baths of Aphrodite. There are a number of pleasant walks which deliver spectacular views of the rugged coastline, choose a distance to suit your fitness levels. Walking to the baths is a short paved walk, and there is a beautiful native garden there. If you are after something more strenuous you can hike around the peninsula on any of the well marked hiking trails.
Polis is the perfect spot for a long, leisurely seafood lunch. With your choice of any number of tavernas. Many are family-owned and operated for generations. It makes for a most pleasant afternoon.
There is also some accommodation in Polis (and camping on the Akamas Peninsula). You could stay here and then go down to Paphos, but I think it would be quite limited on what to do in the evening.
When to Visit Paphos
Cyprus is a great island country to visit in winter as the weather is quite sunny and warm. Some things are closed (not sure why really other than for them they consider this the low season. For most of Europe, their winter is the equivalent of Northern Europe’s summer but the old ways persist.)
We did visit in winter and enjoyed the fact we had most of the island to ourselves. A number of the budget airlines including Easyjet and Ryanair have direct, cheap flights to Paphos.
In the summer there is good hiking in the nearby Troodos Mountains.The highest peak is Mt. Olympus at 1,952 meters. In the winter these have snow and there is some skiing.
There are also a number of well signed wine routes on Cyprus, including one in the Paphos district. Cyprus has a very old wine culture, one of the oldest in the world. You can read more about Cyprus wine and food in our upcoming post.
Internet access is not that common, so if you need access, double check your accommodation before you book.
The other good thing about Cyprus is at the time of this writing (2016) Cyprus is not a full member of the European Union and they are not a party to the Schengen Visa so your time in Cyprus does not count towards your 90 days in Europe.
Getting Around Paphos, Cyprus
There is bus service around the island. Before you decide if this is sufficient, check the schedule. For many villages the time schedule is based on the needs of the locals not the tourists. It was difficult to get to a village and then get back if you wanted to go mid-morning, have lunch and then return. The buses tend to run very early in the morning from the villages to Paphos, and then back out of Paphos in the late afternoon (presumably for the locals to do their business in town).
Renting a car is cheap. If there are several of you in your group this may be cheaper and certainly much more flexible than trying to use the bus. Cyprus drives on the left hand side of the road. The roads are not too busy. Taxis are available around Paphos.
There is good bus service connecting the cities, i.e. Paphos to Nicosia.