Included in the UNESCO list of cultural and natural treasures for its ancient ruins, Paphos is the perfect destination for those looking to combine culture with relaxation.
The coastal city of Paphos is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cyprus. Known for its beautiful beaches, year-round sunshine, delicious cuisine and plenty of things to do, it’s a destination that caters to a whole range of visitors.
Culture lovers can visit museums, archaeological ruins and UNESCO world heritage sites. For those seeking adventure, gorge walking, quad biking, scuba diving and rock climbing are popular activities. And if you’re just looking to sit back and relax in the sun, then the Paphos region offers some of the island’s best beaches, restaurants and wineries.
Here’s a look at ten of the best things to do on your next trip to Paphos:
1. Aphrodite’s Rock
Aphrodite’s Rock, or Petra Tou Rominou in Greek, can be found between Paphos and Limassol. Famous for being Aphrodite’s birthplace, legend says she was carried by the tide to the shore and rose from the waters here. Legends aside, the surrounding area is beautiful and the unusual rock formations make it the perfect place for a scenic walk, especially at sunset!
2. Kato Paphos Archaeological Park
Near the bustling harbour area, the Archaeological Park is one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cyprus. With monuments dating from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages, the park is home to the famous Paphos Mosaics, an outdoor theatre, Roman villas and an abundance of ancient ruins. A must-see for anyone interested in the ancient history of Cyprus.
3. Paphos Castle
One of the city’s most iconic sites, Paphos Castle was originally built as a Byzantine fort to protect the harbour. Destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries, the building has served many uses. Originally a fortress, then a prison, a mosque and even a warehouse for salt during the British occupation, the small but picturesque monument is certainly worthy of a visit. Whilst you are in the area, the harbour itself is also a great place to have a stroll and stop for a glass of local wine or refuel with some Cypriot food.
4. Tomb of the Kings
Part of the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, and one of the top sites in the area, the Tomb of the Kings is an ideal attraction for history and culture buffs. Dating back to 4th century BC, no actual royalty is thought to be buried here, instead it is believed to be the final resting place for high-ranking officials and aristocrats. Impressively carved from solid rock, marvel at the deep underground tombs and chambers at this historic site.
5. Avakas Gorge
Not directly in Paphos, but a 30-minute drive away, the Avakas Gorge is a natural wonder definitely worth exploring. Formed by a fast-moving river that flowed continuously over limestone for thousands of years, the 30-metre-high rock walls are fascinating. Considered a moderate to difficult level hike, it can be very slippery in areas so appropriate footwear is recommended.
6. Boat Trips
What better way to explore the area than from the water? From pirate themed family boat trips to adults only all-inclusive cruises, there are plenty of options to choose from. Departing from Paphos harbour, many of the boats stop at the nearby sea caves or shipwrecks and regularly anchor up for snorkelling and swimming breaks. A perfect way to spend the day!
7. Wine Tasting
With award-winning wineries in the region, and a wine industry that dates back 6000 years, Paphos is a great destination for wine lovers. Head to a local winery or join an organised tour and learn about the wine making process. The main local grape varieties are Mavro (red) and Xynisteri (white), although international varieties are also cultivated. Many of the wineries offer a pairing meze with the wine, so sit back and enjoy tasting the local produce as you admire the views of the sprawling vineyards.
8. Scuba Diving
With its rocky coastline and mild seas, Cyprus is regarded as one of the best diving destinations in Europe. Whether you’re a first timer or a qualified diver, the majority of dive companies cater to a range of different experience levels. Some of the most common marine life spotted here are groupers, barracudas, pufferfish, octopus, squid and turtles. Divers can also explore historic shipwrecks, sea caves, ravines and drop off points.
9. Water park
Aphrodite Water Park is the largest water park in the Paphos region. A great family day out, the cooling waters, thrilling rides and slides provide a welcome break from the hot sun. From the famous heart racing Kamikaze slide, to a lazy river and wave pool, the park has attractions for all ages. If you need a break from all the fun, then lounge on the sunbeds in the shade or refuel at one of the park’s restaurants.
10. Troodos Mountains
If you want to go further afield then make a trip to the nearby Troodos Mountain range, home to Mount Olympus, the tallest peak on the island. For culture lovers, nestled between the sleepy villages and valleys, there are nine UNESCO listed churches and monasteries. For hiking enthusiasts, the forested peaks, rivers and waterfalls on the walking trails provide a stunning backdrop.