Paphos is a cultural and historical Mediterranean city with a lot to do. With UNESCO sites, forts, ruins, tombs, museums, amusements and beaches youâ€™re spoilt for choice. The city has the second largest airport on the island so getting flights to Paphos shouldnâ€™t be a problem. So letâ€™s take a look at what there is to doâ€¦
Landmarks in Paphos
This castle is located near the edge of the harbour and is one of the most distinguished landmarks in Paphos. The castle dates back from the Roman era and has been excavated extensively. The Byzantine fort was destroyed in 1222 by an earthquake but was since rebuilt in the thirteenth century. A few more patches up and rebuilds later, it presently serves as the backdrop to an annual open-air culture festival which takes place every September.
The sacred rock, located between Limassol and Paphos, is named after the Greek Goddess of Love. The legend has it that this is the point where Aphrodite emerged from the sea and chose the location to begin her life as a mortal woman.
Tombs of the Kings
As the name suggests, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a large necropolis burial ground not far from the harbour. The underground tombs are carved from solid rock and believed to be home to Paphitic aristocrats and high officials.
Paphos Archaeological Park
Many famous sites and monuments cant be found in the park, most of which are from the Roman era. Youâ€™ll find incredible mosaic floors from four Roman villas here. The park is also home to the Odeon, an Odeon is an amphitheatre-like structure. The Odeon has now been fully restored and could house 1,200 spectators. The Odeon still hosts performances today. Imagine watching a performance in a structure that was built in the 2nd century!
The lighthouse is an iconic landmark as it can be seen from any corner of Paphos. The lighthouse offers panoramic views of Paphos and a great location for that perfect picture. This view is a must see.
Ayios Neophytos Monastery
This landmark will take you back in time! Located a mere 20 minutes from the centre, this monastery still houses a handful of monks but gives you an idea of what it was like back then. The monastery is believed to have been founded by the writer Neophytos in the year 1159.
Things to do in Paphos
The CTO and the Cyprus Tourist Guides Association have a free walking tour of Ktima (town centre). Youâ€™ll have a fully qualified guide and the tour lasts for about two and a half hours. You will need to book in advance. It leaves at 10am every Thursday from the CTO Office, 3 Gladstonos Street. Itâ€™s a great and free way to get acquainted with the area.
Paphos Aphrodite Festival
This festival is normally host to a new opera every year and draws music fans from all over. This festival is held at the Medieval Castle Square in Paphos and invites world famous acts from around the world. This festival takes place during the first weekend of September.
Aphrodite Water Park
The water park is just one amazing day out for all ages. There is a wide variety of entertainment and attractions on offer, one of which is the largest rafting ride in Europe. The water park sits on 35,000 square meteres of natural landscape along the costal road. The water park is easy to get to and has a free car park. The ideal times to visit are May through to October.
Paphos Bird Park
This park is home to a huge variety of birds and animals from around the globe. Thereâ€™s much more here than birds from emus and monkeys to giraffes and ponies. There is also a petting zoo for kids and even has owl and parrot shows. This park is open year round and open from 9 until around sunset.
Diving In Paphos
Paphos is a great location for scuba diving. In fact diving in Cyprus is something you should really do. The area around Paphos is surrounded with amazing dive spots and the lack of underwater currents make deep dives easier. You can dive any time in Paphos and there are numerous dive schools.
Where to stay in Paphos
Having just slept on the floor in a budget apartment in Ayia Napa, some class and luxury was needed for Paphos. Where better than a 5* hotel. One extreme to another!
I opted for the Constantinou Bros Asimina Suites Hotel. There are four hotels under the umbrella of which Asimina is the only 5*.
Close your eyes and picture luxury and this is exactly that. When you check in you donâ€™t do it at reception. Oh no, you go to a longue where youâ€™re given Champaign, sat comfortably and then shown to your suite.
I must admit I was torn most of the time as to what to do! Iâ€™d spend a bit of the morning sitting out on the balcony before heading down to a breakfast that will spoil you for choice. This is where I had breakfast each morningâ€¦
The rest of the day was split between the beach and the pool.
The beach is small but itâ€™s private and quiet which is perfect for putting your feet up and relaxing.
After a hard day of sitting around in the sun (itâ€™s a hard life but someone has to do it) I highly recommend dinner at the restaurant by the beach. Each of the hotels have one (I had dinner at the Pioneer Beach Hotel too). Youâ€™re not even 5 metres from the water and itâ€™s just a perfect setting.
Would I recommend staying here. Hell yes! Iâ€™ve never stayed in a hotel like it and I felt giddy the whole time. Everything is just perfect from the staff and food to facilities and beach. This certainly isnâ€™t a budget place but a night or two at the end of a trip might be what you need.
Just before I left the hotel, and Cyprus for that matter, I took this shot on my iPhone. It just sums up how much of a beautiful place it is. Paphos is firmly cemented in my mind and a place I will never forgot. I genuinely did not want to leave.