It’s no secret that Cyprus is one of my favourite destinations for a summer holiday, having been three times (which makes it my joint most visited destination). The weather is always pretty much perfect, the locals are the most friendly and the food is absolutely divine.
Whilst Cyprus has a bit of a reputation of being over saturated with Brits on their yearly holiday (and of course the British ex-pat scene), it also has so much more to offer. In fact, it’s fair to say that to visit Paphos in Cyprus is one of my favourite cultural holidays in Europe largely because of its fantastic range of archeological sites. So if you are looking for history and sunshine, here are my top reasons to visit this magical place.
1. The Paphos Fort and Harbour
At the heart of Paphos Old Town, and in a position you cannot miss, the Paphos Fort (also known as Paphos Castle) lies still and proud overlooking the beautiful harbour. It was originally built as a Byzantine fort to protect the harbour, but has been dismantled and rebuilt over the years by different occupying forces in Cyprus.
Paphos Fort has had an interesting past, having been used not only for protection but as prison cells and even for salt storage. Not only that, but if you climb to the top (it’s not a difficult climb), you’ll get beautiful views across the harbour and beyond. There is a small charge to enter (2.50EUR at the time of writing), and it is open daily.
Once you’ve visited the site, it’s well worth stopping for some lunch or a harbourside drink. Whilst many of the restaurants and bars in this area can be overpriced and not particularly good quality a cocktail at sunset is not to be missed!Not sure what Paphos in Cyprus has to offer except sunshine and the beach? Here are 5 other reasons!Click To Tweet
2. Kato Paphos Archeological Park
One of my favourite places to visit in the whole of Cyprus, I have visited Kato Paphos all three times I have holidayed there. This is a vast site, and I always manage to see something new whilst there, but the most impressive things to see are the mosaics. You can see them alone, but on my first visit in 2003 I had a tour which was fascinating, and gave me a great insight into the meaning of the artwork uncovered.
Within the archeological boundaries, you can visit four Roman villas (with their impressive mosaic floors), as well as the ancient Odeon, the Agora (an ancient Roman courtyard) and the Asklepieion (a sanctuary dedicated to the god of medicine). Whilst much of what you can see does date back to Roman times, there are finds from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages.
At the time of writing, the cost is 4.50EUR per adult to enter. In the height of season, I would ensure you take a hat and plenty of sunscreen as it is very open to the elements with little shade.
3. The Tombs of The Kings
Technically part of Kato Paphos and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Tombs of The Kings is another vast archeological site you can explore at low cost within easy reach of Paphos Old Town. The area is full of underground tombs carved out of stone which date back to the 4th century BC, and most are completely open from above to peer into and to explore.
Along side these impressive tombs (which actually didn’t house Kings, but high officials), is a gorgeous rugged vista of old rocks and greenery with the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea. Even without the grandness of the tombs, the area itself is strangely beautiful to walk around and investigate, and even at the height of Summer I didn’t find it too busy.
Entrance at the time of writing is 2.50 EUR per adult, and as before I would ensure you take a hat and plenty of sunscreen as it is very open to the elements with little shade.
4. Aphrodites Rock
This area of stunning natural beauty is a little on the outskirts of Paphos (towards Limassol) but is worth visiting, and not to relax on the rugged stone beach either. It’s an area of great importance in mythological circles and for hobbyist photographers you’ll not be able to resist this place for a few snaps.
In mythology, Aphrodite was the daughter of Uranus and Sea, and she emerged from the foam of the sea at Paphos (as pictured above) and went to Olympus to claim her place among the assembly of the Gods. Aphrodite was the Goddess of beauty, joy, laughter and love, and interestingly one of her symbols was the sparrow, which is why I am so enamoured by this myth!
If you are interested to find out more about the myth of Aphrodite its well worth a google search and a read – she had many lovers and also played a role in the Trojan War. However even without the mythological stories, this is a place of outstanding natural beauty.
5. Kolossi Castle
Kolossi Castle is the furthest location in this list from Paphos, actually lying beyond Limassol (see below on my top tips on getting around whilst you are there). The drive we took there was beautiful, and gives you a totally different feel to Cyprus than just hanging around Paphos will. Kolossi Castle is different to much of the other locations I’ve talked about because it dates back to the Middle Ages and is actually a location built during the time of the Crusaders – so a totally different period of history.
Kolossi Castle now is a three storey keep and a fine example of military architecture. At the time of writing it is 2.50 EUR to attend, and there is a 14th century sugar mill next door which shows that the area is well known for its sugar production. However as well as that, the area is also known for its sweet wine, Commandaria which was originally produced by the Knights Templar. How is that for a historical alcoholic fact? (it’s also rather tasty).
How to get around Paphos in Cyprus
My best tip for visiting these destinations is to hire a car. If you are staying in central Paphos, the Fort + Archeological Park are both within easy reach on foot, and if you don’t mind a longer walk, you can route march it to the Tomb of The Kings too. Taxis are also in pretty good supply and are not hideously expensive, and I’ve found very many of the taxi drivers are in fact British ex-pats.
However to get to some of the places that exist beyond Paphos town, a car is your best bet. I’ve hired cars twice and it was easy, inexpensive and better yet they drive on the same side of the road as we do in the UK. In fact, if you hire a car you can visit other amazing places in Cyprus including Nicosia, Limassol Castle, Kurion Bay and the Triodos Mountains. On my first visit we actually took a 4×4 open top Jeep for the day and armed with our guide book we managed to see so many hidden churches and villages!
A cheeky hotel recommendation
On all three visits I’ve stayed in different places – a hotel in Limassol, a villa inland in new Paphos and most recently a hotel just 10 minutes walk from the harbour. The Almyra Hotel is a stunning family friendly hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. With gorgeous modern touches, beautiful food and a two pools it was one of the most beautiful weeks I spent in the area and would fully recommend a stay there.
The same hotel group (Thanos Hotels) also runs The Annabelle next door and The Anassa in Polis, giving lots of options for a stylish stay in Cyprus – and although I don’t have children, it really was a family friendly hotel with lots of young children enjoying the facilities on offer!
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