Paphos Travel Guide
In Greek times, philosophers thought Paphos was the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek god of love. The mountain and ocean scenery here lends itself well to romance.
However, history buffs will find plenty to love here as well – an ancient city recognized by UNESCO stands out.
Begin your time in the Paphos area by exploring Kato Paphos Archaeological Park. This site has plenty of ruins, as archaeologists believe people inhabited the park grounds since prehistoric times. Here, you’ll find Greek temples, Roman villas, and Neolithic remains. Romans last occupied this site back in the 4th century, when an earthquake forced them to abandon the city.
The scale of this site is so vast that UNESCO inducted it as a World Heritage Site in 1980. Excavations continue here even to this day. Because of this, do respect the work done by archaeological teams by keeping your distance. You wouldn’t appreciate a random tourist peering over your shoulder at your job, so don’t do it here. Finally, be sure to wear a hat during your visit. There is little shade here – it won’t take long in the midday sun for your neck to burn.
Of all the unearthed ruins at Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, its Roman villas stand out the most. In particular, The House of Dionysus is among the most noteworthy of these. This villa is a treat to see, as historians named it after the Roman god of fertility, wine, and pleasure.
Its mosaics stand out, as they depict scenes from Roman life. Among them, you’ll see the hunting trips, nature scenes, and images of various Roman gods. Its constructor arranged the entire house around a central courtyard. As you enjoy it, imagine this home’s former owner doing the same thousands of years ago.
Check out where the citizens of Paphos buried and honoured their dead by visiting the Tombs of the Kings. At the height of Greek power, the nobility of Paphos built this complex to house their remains. After they took over, the Romans continued to use the necropolis until an earthquake levelled the city. The grandeur of the tombs shows the importance of the officials interned here. Throughout the complex, you’ll find grand Doric pillars and villa-esque courtyards. Additionally, historians believed loved ones filled these tombs with expensive goods. As you might expect, though, grave robbers methodically stripped these graves of their valuables over the centuries.
Natural beauty and wilderness surround the Paphos area. As such, it was the perfect place for a hermitage like Agios Neophytos Monastery. Officials persecuted Neophytos for attempting to live a simple life devoid of material pleasures. As a result, he withdrew from society, fleeing into the hills outside Paphos. After he was sure nobody would disturb him, he began to construct a monastery.
Here, he and a tight group of disciples lived a life dedicated to God, and little else. After his death, though, his followers loosened up, allowing the introduction of paintings, icons, and other decorations. Today, this place is worth a visit, if only for its peaceful surroundings. However, its frescoes and wall paintings will impress those looking for a reason to come.
Nature lovers will want to dedicate a full day to the exploration of Avakas Gorge. This three-kilometre long canyon formed due to millions of years of erosion by a mountain stream. In places, the walls of the gorge stand over 30 metres tall.
Avakas Gorge is physically stunning, but it is also home to various species of wildlife as well. Foxes, hares, falcons, and fruit bats can all be spotted as you hike through the canyon. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit. Visiting in summer is not recommended, as it can get sweltering. Neither is winter, as water levels can get too high in this season.
Paphos is not known for its beaches. However, a wild beach close to town is home to Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station. Here, you can learn about efforts to protect one of the most beloved marine species in Cyprus.
While you can visit without a tour, we recommend hiring a guide. They have 4×4 vehicles, can explain the issues surrounding conservation, and point out hatched baby turtles.
While there are no beaches of note in the Paphos area, you can cool off by visiting the Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark. Here, you’ll have a selection of slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river to choose from. Are you worried about having to trudge back to your locker for cash? Don’t be – this park offers a loadable bracelet that can be used to pay for food and drink.
Enjoy one last evening in Paphos by enjoying everything Paphos Harbour has to offer. As you walk along the waterfront, you’ll find many shops and restaurants. Get a nice meal, then find a souvenir for your loved ones back home.