Tucked away in the Eastern Mediterranean, the white sand shores of Paphos are peppered with unrivalled history and culture. A modern city incorporating decades of archaeological spectacles, pretty harbours, ancient tombs, fortresses and spellbinding natural sites, it’s near impossible not to fall head over heels. The birthplace of Aphrodite, the ancient town on the water’s edge is ideal for romantics with its glistening blue ocean, quaint streets and local charm. Here’s seven great reasons to spend the weekend soaking up the sun in Paphos.
Located close to the harbour, you can spend hours pottering around the ancient ruins of the Kato Paphos Archaeology Park. Boasting remnants from Roman, Middle Ages and prehistoric times, the park showcases a unique blend of ancient Greek and Roman social and cultural life. Dominated mainly by an impressive collection of remains from the Roman era, visit the site and marvel at ruins of four villas, each decorated in intricate mosaics depicting scenes from Roman mythology. Take a break from sunbathing and indulge in some history as you tour some of the most well-preserved ruins in Europe.
More formally known as Petra tou Romiou, the sea stack sitting just off the shore along the road from Paphos to Limassol is most definitely worth a visit. The natural structure named after the goddess of love and the area surrounding it, is one of the city’s more popular tourist attractions. Relax on the pebbly beach of Aphrodite and dip a toe into the water which, according to legend, have a powerful energy of life and rejuvenation. A photographer’s paradise, the stunning bay has no bad angles and offers beautiful views no matter the time of day.
Sitting just outside the centre of town, a large necropolis and UNESCO Heritage Site is next on the list of what to do in Paphos. The Tombs of Kings were built during the Hellenistic period and are housed in a network of underground crevasses carved into the rock in the Archaeology Park. Supported by ancient Doric pillars, the tombs once had walls covered in decorative frescoes. Set in desert-like surroundings the area is a real sight for sore eyes. Used by residents from the third century BC to the third century AD, the chambers are a classical example of Roman and Hellenistic architecture.
Dust off your hiking boots and prepare for an afternoon of walking as you scale the Troodos Mountains in search of an ancient monastery. Nestled on top of the mountain peak against a backdrop of pine-covered slopes, Cyprus’ largest and most famous monastery has been part of the scenery since the late 11th century. The Byzantine structure is adorned with decorations and exhibits made from precious metals and has a museum at its centre featuring a collection of manuscripts and antiquities. Plan your visit around the August and September annual religious fairs and top off your experience with a glass of wine at the restaurant.
No visit to any city is complete without exploring the resident Old Town and its inhabitants. Take a step back in time and escape the midday heat with a stroll through the ancient narrow streets lined with traditional tavernas and shopfronts. The authentic, rustic feel of Paphos Old Town transports you to a different era in ways no museum ever could. Wander past old-style houses with wooden shutters painted blue and grey and quaint crumbling buildings. The relatively small area consists of a cluster of streets winding around Kennedy Square and the Municipal Gardens. Venture into the middle of the Old Town where you’ll find a majestic church hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping street. Walls clad with street art, trendy authentic coffee shops and old fashioned restaurants and bars all add to the charming character and personality of Paphos’ cultural hub.
Originally built as a Byzantine fort to protect the harbour, Paphos Castle is located in the western part of the city with the edge of its foundations buried in the sea. The medieval structure mostly consists of a big square tower that encloses a courtyard and stands as an example of the style of rulers Cyprus had at the time. Nowadays, the castle acts as a picturesque backdrop for cultural events and festivals as well as a great tourist attraction that provides an insight into the city’s military history. If you’re visiting the castle, take the opportunity to walk along the neighbouring promenade and stroll through the Archaeology Park located nearby.
Venture into the countryside and explore the nature trail and salt lake at Larnaca. Made up of a network of four salt lakes, the waterbody is home to a plethora of migrating bird species and unique flora. See flamingos in the winter and watch in summer, as the heat causes the water to evaporate leaving salt crusts scattered across the area. Previously harvested, salt was one of the main exports of the island. Go for a walk along the four kilometres nature trail and explore the old aqueduct of Kamares. A welcome escape from the business of the main town, Larnaca is a must see when visiting Paphos.
Heading to Cyprus soon? Be sure to tag us in your photos of Paphos attractions using the hashtag #ryanairstories for the chance to be featured on Ryanair’s social media channels.
Flights to Paphos
- Lucy Norris