Paphos is a beautiful Mediterranean resort town on the West Coast of Cyprus and a perfect location for a sun-filled holiday. To help plan your trip, these are the best things to do in Paphos!
For me, Paphos is one of my favourite places to visit not only in Cyprus but in the world. Why? Well, having lived in Cyprus for almost four years as a child, I have such fond memories of spending weekends exploring the historic old town and taking in its beautiful beaches. I’ve since returned a few times as a adult (the last time with my own daughter) and Paphos’ charm, for me at least, has remained. Paphos was the European Capital of Culture in 2017 and the town, and surrounding areas, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Over time, Paphos has certainly changed. It is no doubt more ‘touristy’ now and it’s clear money has been invested into the redevelopment of the Old Town (which I love) as well as into property (not so keen on the new high rises being built). However, this is not your typical hotel-only type of resort. As with many places across the Mediterranean, Paphos is full of history that begs to be understood and explored and so I would definitely recommend spending as much time as possible getting out there and experiencing the best of Paphos. With my guide below, we’ll look at the best things to do in Paphos and hopefully this will help plan your next trip or inspire you to visit Cyprus.
12 WONDERFUL THINGS TO DO IN PAPHOS, CYPRUS
KATO PAFOS ARCHAELOGICAL PARK
Kato Pafos Archaeological Park is probably the most important historical site in all of Cyprus. This rich archaeological site can be found just behind the harbour and is well worth spending an hour or two wandering through beautiful Roman villas, an Odean theatre and the old streets of Nea Paphos.
This ancient city, that is still being excavated today, was once the capital of Cyprus, from 2BC to 4AD and features on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Many of what you see now dates back to Roman times and, believe me, you’ll be amazed when observing the intricate mosiac floors within each villa depicting scenes from Greek mythology. These are considered to be some of the finest in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The House of Dionysos is a staggering 2000 square metres and over a quarter of those are covered in beautifully designed and complete mosiac floors. It’s astounding to think that these floors date back thousands of years and are in practically immaculate condition.
The entrance fee is just €4.50 which is well worth it. A word of warning, be prepared for the heat as you’ll be spending a lot of time walking under the scorching sun with little shade. It’s always worth heading out early morning (opening at 8:30am) and take plenty of water.
We visited with Evelyn when she was a little over one years old and the paths/gravel sections were just about manageable with our travel stroller but, inside the houses, I’d recommend leaving it outside and carrying your little one.
TOMBS OF THE KINGS
Guess what? The Tombs of the Kings are not actually the tombs of any kings whatsoever. I’m sorry to burst the bubble a little early. However, these magnificent tombs and shrines, carved out of solid rock, are certainly fit enough for royalty. It’s believed that local aristocrats and high officials were buried here with some opting for tombs that imitated their own houses.
No trip to Paphos would be complete without a trip to the Tombs of the Kings and, for a few hours only, you can pretend you’re Indiana Jones or Lara Croft as you explore from tomb to tomb.
As I said above, it gets seriously hot here so, whilst the tombs will offer some reprieve from the heat, prepare by wearing a hat, suncream, staying hydrated and avoiding the peak of the sunshine (12pm-3pm)!
Cost – €2.50
Paphos Castle, to me, is probably the most iconic of sights in Paphos and can be seen from almost all angles around the coastline. When I think of Paphos, I always picture the harbour and the castle at its end. It’s not particularly large or extravagant in the way that other Mediterranean castles may well be but you have to wander down past the fish restaurants and tour boats to see it up close for yourself. The castle was built in around the 13th century, added to by the Venetians and restored by the Ottomans in 1592. Head into the castle to quickly experience that little bit more of Paphos’ history for just €2.50.
PETRA TOU ROMIOU / APHRODITE’S ROCK
Just outside of Paphos, off the shore of the old road towards Pissouri, lies the mystical Petra tou Romiou otherwise known as Aphrodite’s Rock. According to the most popular legend, these beautiful sea stacks are the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite; the goddess of love and, if you were to swim around the rock, you would be blessed with eternal beauty.
Aphrodite’s Rock is a must-visit on any trip to Cyprus, whether you’re staying in Paphos or not – it’s stunning. There are many different points to take in the views from and my favourite has always been one a little further along the coast road, looking back towards the rocks. It’s probably one of the most iconic too. There’s not much else to see here but you can enjoy a peaceful (if you time it right) walk along the rocky beach. It’s probably not the best place to swim due to the currents though. I remember quite vividly as a kid struggling just a few metres from the shore near the base of the largest rock!
As I said above, Aphrodite’s Rock isn’t so easily accessed by public transport from Paphos so I’d either recommend joining a tour or, if you’ve already hired a car, it’s only a short twenty minute drive.
PAPHOS OLD TOWN & MARKET
The Old Town of Paphos, high up on its hill, was once a place perhaps defined by rundown buildings alongside the traditional covered market. There wasn’t much else to see for the casual visitor though we loved our afternoon here back in 2013. I barely remember visiting anywhere else other than the market when I lived here as a kid over 20 years ago.
Thanks to Paphos being named the European Capital of Culture in 2017, the Old Town has seen a lot of investment most obviously around the market area and now, the Old Town has been transformed. Everywhere is cleaner and just generally more pleasant. There are trendy bars and coffee shops alongside traditional Cypriot restaurants that have been here throughout it all. There’s contemporary street art on the side of buildings to hunt down and photograph. It’s all just a lovely place to visit and, if you’re not a big fan of the more touristy streets around Paphos (are you surprised I didn’t fancy a drink in the Flintstones Bar?), the Old Town brings back that traditional Cypriot charm alongside modern amenities.
The market is still there too but now it’s entirely open air with little stores instead of stalls. The Place is a great shop selling local artisan products with space for art workshops and a wine garden.
The 610 bus heads from the harbour to the municpal market every 10 minutes or there are plenty of car parks which cost €1 for 2 hours, no matter what the time. The machines either accept cash or you can pay via an app (a little difficult if you don’t have roaming on your phone!). We parked here near the bus drop-off point as it has a lift for easy access to the main streets.
MEZE AT 7 ST GEORGE’S TAVERN
The meze is one, if not the, most famous type of meal to come out of Cyprus and something that you must experience at least once (preferably an infinite amount of times). ‘Meze’ is a collection of small dishes served throughout the evening; from little appetizers to main dishes, the meze features the best of the best in terms of Mediterranean cooking. Here at 7 St George’s Tavern, you’ll find quite possibly the best meze not just in Paphos but in Cyprus so this is without doubt one of the best things to do in Paphos. Honestly, I wouldn’t bother eating in advance…
There’s no menu at 7 St George’s Tavern so just sit back and let your host, Ben, bring you around twenty dishes to eat over the course of about two hours! We’re talking homecooked traditional Cypriot dishes including kleftiko (slow cooked lamb), moussaka & pork ribs. If you’re after an authentic Cypriot meze, you have to visit here from 7pm each night (not open at lunch despite what the website says!)and the meze will only set you back just €22 each.
At the end of the promenade is Paphos Harbour where you’ll find several touristy and seafood restaurants with picture perfect views of the marina. The harbour is also, probably quite obviously, the setting off point for various boat trips most of which head up towards the Akamas Peninsula and the Blue Lagoon or head out to spot turtles. Some boat trips may be a little livelier than others!
The Pelican Restaurant has an iconic guest of honour that has wooed tourists for decades; yes their own pelican.
WALK THE COASTLINE
A lovely way to start or end the day is with a walk along the coastline between Rikkos Beach and the town centre, past the site of the old Keo brewery (sadly no longer in existence) and the many hotels that house the tourists that visit Paphos. There is a palm-tree lined pathway that goes all the way from the municipal baths to the Louis Phatheon Beach hotel and will take you around an hour one way. There are however plenty of bars along the way to keep you hydrated and small beaches where you can cool down in the sea if it get’s a bit hot. Try Antasia; a luxurious modern beach club that seems to signal the reinvention of Paphos as an upmarket resort.
We once stayed at the Louis Ledra Beach hotel and, if I was to return to Cyprus, I’d probably aim to stay along this strip for easy access into Paphos without the need to hire a car (though hiring a car in Cyprus is the best way to explore further afield). Some of the hotels are perhaps a little dated now but the relatively new Ivi Mare hotel (adults only) would be my choice if we were travelling without Evelyn.
Tip – Jump on Bus 611 to either take you to the end of Poseidonos Avenue and walk back or walk as far as you can and use public transport to get back into Paphos.
FIND THE BEST VIEWS OF PAPHOS
Thankfully, Paphos isn’t yet filled with high rise hotels and residential units promising spectacular views from rooftop bars. For a relatively flat coastal city, I’m sure you would question where to find the best views of Paphos though you’d be right in thinking those views must be found in the Old Town, which does sit on higher ground. Luckily for you I’m here to tell you that the best views can be found at the Muse Restaurant, one of the best places to eat in Paphos. Grab a frappe or a milkshake and marvel at the widespread view from the Shipwreck MB Demetrios II all the way to the Kato Pafos Archaeological Park.
ADMIRE THE EDRO III SHIPWRECK
Back in 2011, the EDRO III cargo ship careered into the rocky coastline of Peyia around 15km north of Paphos. After attempts to relocate the ship failed, it was made watertight and now can be admired, in all its rusty beauty, from the comfort of a restaurant, Oniro by the Sea. If you fancy getting a bit closer, you can walk along the coastline to within a few metres.
There’s another, probably more famous, shipwreck off the coast of Paphos and that is the MV Demetrios II. The 1960’s cargo ship ran aground during a storm back in 1998 which isn’t surprising given that the captain and first officer’s competency certificates were forged. I’d probably end up crashing a cargo ship too if I just thought I could give it a go. As a kid, I would always peer out of the window as we drove through Paphos up to Coral Bay for a glimpse of the shipwreck and I’m amazed that it’s still there to this day!
VISIT AGIOS GEORGIOS
Only 20km from Paphos, the peaceful village of Agios Georgios is a hidden gem and a lovely place to visit for half a day. Agios Georgios is the last village on the west coast of Cyprus; the gateway to the Akamas Peninsula.
There’s not much to do at Agios Georgios but, for me at least, that’s part of its charm. A place where you can relax on the beach, explore the sea caves or just sit and soak in the beautiful views across the crystal clear ocean.
Coral Bay is around 12km north of Paphos and is a little bit of a livelier resort yet with one of the best beaches in the region. The main strip is, it’s fair to say, quite touristy; a strip of bars, restaurants and shops catering to the influx of tourists each summer and to the expats that call the hills and the banana plantations around this area home. If it’s lively nightlife you’re after, you’ll find it here.
However, it’s Coral Bay itself, the beautiful crescent beach with clear azure sea, that is the biggest draw. It can get busy in the summer and you have to pay to hire a sunbed but there’s no denying its beauty. Coralia/Laourou Beach is also a great place to spend the day.
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