An Introduction to Paphos, Cyprus
The ancient and picturesque city of Paphos (Pafos) is located on the south-west coast of Cyprus. It is blessed with a colourful history, a rich architectural and cultural heritage and an immense natural beauty and is, not surprisingly, a major tourist destination. If you’re thinking of booking a trip to Cyprus for your next holiday, check out this guide to the Island by the guys at cheapflights.co.uk
Archaeologists believe that the first settlers arrived around 8,000 years ago and Paphos has since been colonised by Byzantines, Romans, Venetians, French, Turkish Ottomans and the British. During the Roman Empire it was a major port and, until the 12the century, the capital of Cyprus.
According to legend, Paphos was the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love and beauty. The city and its surrounding countryside are full of tributes to the goddess, as well as the remains of ancient palaces, villas, theatres, tombs and fortresses one reason why Paphos is a UNESCO world heritage site.
What to do and see in Paphos
Visitors are spoilt for choice. Must-see attractions include the Roman-built Paphos Castle, (also the venue for the yearly, cultural Aphrodite Festival), the Archaeological Park and the 12th century Ayios Neophytos monastery (still home to the monks) with magnificent Byzantine grottoes. Do try to see Aphrodite’s Rock, believed to be where the goddess emerged from the sea in 1200 BC to begin her life as a mortal and the architecturally renowned Tombs of the Kings, a vast underground burial ground dating back to the 4th century BC.
Nature lovers will revel in the wild and beautiful Akamas Peninsula to the west of the city. Its mountains and forests are home to hundreds of interesting plant species. Check out the Paphos zoo, also the third largest bird collection in Europe.
Most visitors come for the sandy, sun-drenched beaches, several of which are on the city’s doorstep, including the Pachyammos, Vrisoudia, Municipal and (quieter) Alikes Beaches. These are lovely all year round but particularly during the warm, dry summers (from April until mid-November).
Go further north up the coast and you’ll encounter Laourou Beach and Coral Bay, both popular with water-skiers and wind-surfers. Nearby Lara Beach is the nesting ground for the rare loggerhead turtle. There are also coves, sea caves and coral colonies to be explored – the crystal clear seawater is calm and safe at any time of the year. For those wishing to venture deeper underwater to the ancient shipwrecks, there is no shortage of diving schools to instruct you or organise your trip.
There are many ways to experience the city. Walking tours are organised regularly free of charge, courtesy of the Paphos municipality and it comes as an added benefit that many attractions are near each other. Public transport is reliable and efficient and taxis are plentiful.
Hiring a car is also an option as there are plenty of local and international car hire firms dotted around the island. Remember the speed limits are in kilometres per hour, not MPH so don’t go over the limit or you will face an on the spot fine.
Eating and drinking
The nightlife is lively and friendly and there is no shortage of places to eat and drink. It is simply a matter of preference. The harbour has a lively caff scene, the city’s restaurants serve sophisticated cuisine from many different countries and the tavernas offer local Cypriot dishes.
Paphos’ currency is the Euro and you will need a visa. Single-entry visas cost from EUR 10.26.