Top 5 places to visit in Paphos
Paphos is a an ancient city located on the western coast of Cyprus, a Mediterranean island known for its beaches, UNESCO world heritage sites, and distinctive Greek and Turkish culture split. Once the capital of the small island nation, over the centuries Paphos has been captured and reinvented almost more than history books can keep track of, even going through a period known as the city of Augustus following one devastating earthquake.
While modern Paphos’ origins can be traced back to the early 20th century as a British colony, the Cypriots here never abandoned their Greek heritage. In 1960, during the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, citizens took pride installing the nation’s first president, a Paphos native. It was during this time that the city began recovering from a stretch of economic troubles, developed modern infrastructures and established a thriving tourism industry.
- Kato Paphos, also known as lower Paphos, is a rejuvenated district on the harbor. Its picturesque promenade, proximity to hotels and an abundance of trendy cafes, bars and boutiques make it an attractive hub for tourist activity. The area’s biggest draw, however, are the 3rd-century-BC structures — Tombs of the Kings — which were declared UNESCO World Heritage Monuments in 1980.
Medieval Castle of Paphos
- Originally erected by the Byzantines for the purposes of guarding the harbor, Paphos Castle survived a series of invasions over the centuries. At times used to house prisoners and then a salt storage facility under British rule, in 1935 the nation declared the castle a historic landmark. These days, the popular Paphos Aphrodite Festival is held on the Castle Square each autumn and international opera companies come here to perform on the open-air stage with the castle serving as the backdrop.
Kato Paphos Archaeological Park
- Kato Paphos Archaeological Park was established in 1980 for the purpose of providing education about and protection for the city’s ancient treasures. At the center of Archaeological Park are the 2nd-century mosaic floors of the Roman villas, which depict mythological characters such as Dionysos, the god of wine; Theseus slaying the minotaur; and the birth of Achilles.
The Baths of Aphrodite
- Legend has it that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, bathed in the natural pools at this grotto on the Akamas Peninsula near Polis. The pool, which is shaded by a fig tree, is surrounded by a well-paved nature trail that offers hikers an impressive view of the surrounding coastline and rocky hillsides where goats are free to roam. According to tradition, bathing in the cave’s waters can bring eternal youth. Unfortunately, signs warn that soaking in Aphrodite’s ancient tub is no longer permitted.
Akamas Lara Bay
- Lara Bay, located on the coast north of Paphos, is known for its commitment to protecting the region’s critically endangered and threatened wildlife. For that reason, visitors will not find chairs or umbrellas on this strip of unspoiled beach, which seasonally hosts green turtle hatcheries. In 1989, the Department of Fisheries and Marine Life declared this region, which includes Lara Bay, a protected area. As a result, several rules govern beach hours; and prohibit vehicles, liter and bonfires. Visitors are required to walk on existing pathways and avoid disturbing the delicate sand dune vegetation.