The legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love, Paphos is a ravishing and ancient harbour town on the eastern coast of Cyprus. It is divided into two distinct neighbourhoods: Ktima, a quiet collection of elegant mansions which sits on top of the hill, and Kato Paphos (‘lower Paphos’), a narrow maze of narrow streets that spread out from the harbour. Although the town is most famous for its fabulous beaches, there is so much more to this beautiful and historic city which has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its spectacular ancient ruins, which include the Tombs of the Kings and an extensive archaeological park, are just one of the reasons why it was designated a European City of Culture in 2017. Don’t miss out on all this fantastic city has to offer, and check out our local guide: 48 hours in Paphos now!
Day one: morning
Get your bearings with a stroll along the waterfront in Kato Paphos, admiring the magnificent harbour, which is still guarded by a sturdy fortress which you can climb for amazing views. This has become the main tourist district, packed with shops and restaurants, as well as plenty of cafés where you can sit out in the sunshine and soak up the atmosphere. Stroll east along the sea front to reach the Paphos Archaeological Park, which contains some of the most beautiful and best preserved ancient mosaics to be found anywhere in the world. Then stop for a spot of lunch on the water front – perhaps some of the amazing local seafood.
Day one: afternoon
Get lost in the maze of tiny streets that make up Kato Paphos: there are scores of shops and boutiques to browse through if you head away from the tourist strip along the seafront. Admire the atmospheric ruins of the Hrysopolitissa Basilica, which dates back to the 4th century, seeking out the mosaics which survive among the columns. There’s a 15th-century church at one end of the site, and at the other, you’ll find St Paul’s Pillar. This is where St Paul is said to have been tied and lashed 39 times before converting his persecutor to Christianity. For dinner, head up to the tranquil Ktima district and find a traditional tavern.
Day two: morning
Begin the day with another of Pathos’ superb archaeological sites: the celebrated Tombs of the Kings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although this necropolis is also protected as part of the Paphos Archaeological Park, it is located two miles north east of the harbour. These splendid underground chambers, which were gouged out of the rock and intricately carved, date back to around the 4th century BC. During the Greek and Roman periods, the most prominent officials of Paphos were buried here, although no royalty, despite the name.
Day two: afternoon
In the afternoon, get out of town. Pack a picnic and drive 20 miles east on the road to Limassol to find Aphrodite’s Rock, perhaps the most iconic sight on the island. This rock stack, on one of the most dramatically beautiful stretches of coastline on Cyprus, is said to be the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite. You can’t climb the rock, and the waves that froth around it are too dangerous for swimming, but there is a gorgeous beach nearby where you can relax, tuck into the picnic and take a dip in the crystal clear waters.