Not going to deny it, I’m usually a “one and done” sort of traveller. Once I’ve explored a place one, I tend to move on because… there’s so much of the world to see right? WRONG. My latest trip to Cyprus had me feeling both nostalgic and inspired. This wasn’t the Cyprus I visited last year, and there was so much I didn’t see when I was here last. Cyprus, you are a beauty.
On my latest Mediterranean adventure I explored Paphos, also known as Pafos, located in the District of Paphos in western Cyprus. Last year I explored the East of Cyprus, and I must say that every region has it’s own unique culture and “vibe” so to speak. There’s also plenty to do, spoiler, but I still think I can go back to Cyprus for a third time and do a bunch of other things I didn’t get round to on my first two attempts!
I’m inspiring you to head to Cyprus in the New Year and explore with my top 7 things to do in Paphos. If you’re looking for some accomodation / hotel inspo for your trip check out where I stayed at the beautiful Elysium Resort, which is the perfect luxury base for your adventures in Paphos.
World Heritage Sights
As far as things to do in Paphos is concerned, you’re spoilt for choice in terms of culture and history. The area has attained UNESCO World Heritage status due to the sheer amount of historic relics found from as early as the Neolithic era (that’s the latter end of the stoneage to you and me). Many remains of ancient tombs, villas, theatres and palaces have been discovered in the region. Many were actually discovered by accident, causing whole areas to be unearthed to reveal and preserve the rich history.
Also, the area of Paphos has always had a divine affinity with Aphrodite as legend says she was born on the the island. Look around and you’ll notice that there are many business, areas, statues, etc in her name and honour dotted around Paphos town.
Tombs of the Kings
There are plenty of historic things to do in Paphos, starting with a tour of the Tombs of the Kings (in Greek: Tafoi ton Vasileon). Contrary to it’s namesake, the tombs weren’t those of Kings. The tombs are actually historic relics of the lives of the richer classes of the society between 3rd Century BC and 3rd Century AD. The tombs in Paphos are very unique in that they have a lot of Egyptian influence, and each tomb resembles an “after-life house” for the dead to live in when they pass.
There are 7 tombs to explore, starting from those of the slightly poorer individuals of the time and ending at the richest folk around. The 3rd tomb is the biggest and most impressive, you can even walk through the tunnels that connect it to other ruins (although I may have chickened at that point). You can also spot some unfinished tombs where you can find square pillars, which indicate that they weren’t completed.
Oh, and look at this ocean view. Holy smokes.
The Paphos Mosaics
Out of everything on the list, this is at the top for me. I grew up reading about Ancient Greece, the legends and myths, all of the stories. So for someone like me, this was heaven. Our guide, Mary, was an expert at narrating the Paphos mosaics and told us about the rich history behind each of the main mosaics and what they could possibly mean. Safe to say, I learned a lot here. I heard three new stories that I had never read about as a child and found out how to spot different tales in a mosaic. For instance, if you see a man holding wine it’s very likely that you’re looking at Dionysus, the god of wine. Definitely check out all of the “houses” of mosaics, believe it or not, you’re looking at an ancient floor plan of mosaic art!
If you’re looking for a way to spend a chilled out morning, there are plenty of things to do in Paphos harbour that will tickle your tastebuds, dockside. First off is Paphos castle, and although I didn’t have time to go in… I did have time to stroll around outside. It was originally built to act as a Byzantine fort to protect the harbour and has a v. picturesque backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea.
Next to the castle is the famous Aphrodite statue, which everyone was trying to grab a photo of. Again, this whole area is built on the legend of Aphrodite and her birthplace so it’s of historic and cultural significance. Last of all, grab a coffee or ice cream and sit back and enjoy the views. The Cypriot people are very chilled and laid back, so do as the Cypriots do!
Kourion Archaeological Site
One place I wish I spent more time exploring was the Kourion Archaeological Site, it really is such a beautiful conservation area with so much culture behind it. The site is located near Limassol in a village called Episkopi, and there’s evidence that shows that this area could have been the ancient kingdom in Cyprus.
The most well known sight in this area is the Kourion Theatre. It was originally built in 2nd Century BC but was altered in 2nd Century AD and stands now as it was then. The theatre holds over 3000 people, and has the most immense sea view you’ll ever see at an ancient open-air theatre.
Try Cypriot Delight
During our trip, one thing was on my mind: Cyprus Delight. I’m a big fan of anything rose-scented, rose-flavoured, rose-anything. Cyprus Delights are very much like what you probably know as Turkish Delights, but these are homemade right here in Cyprus. We headed to an area called Loukomi called Arsinoe Delight to see how real Cypriot Delight is made, and found out that it can take up to three hours! Real delights aren’t made with gelatin, so they take a long time to get to the right temperature – Totally worth the wait imo. This is definitely one of my favourite things to do in Paphos, because I have such a sweet tooth!
If you’ve exhausted the list of things to do in Paphos, why not travel slightly further afar and take an excursion to quaint villages and ports on the beautiful coastline.
My top ideas for excursions:
- Choirokoitia & Lefkara: Beautiful villages – If you enjoy exploring beautiful villages, I’d recommend visiting one of Cyprus’ small villages which have their own specialities. Choirokoitia is home to classic cheese production (halloumi, omg) and traditional basket weaving, which you can see being made from scratch! Lefkara is absolutely stunning, it has the sweetest, Mediterranean cobbled roads that wind around the mismatched buildings and hanging vines. This is definitely somewhere you could spend half a day strolling around in the sun, drinking coffee and eating mezze. I really wish we managed to make it to Tasties for lunch, it looked so cute (inside and out) – Plus apparently it’s where French Montana filmed one of his latest music videos.
- Wine Tasting in Omodos Village – Traditional wine tasting is *the* thing to do here, don’t miss out! Try the traditional Cypriot sweet wine of the region, Commandaria, which is made from sun-dried grapes. It’s so delicious, and lethal, this stuff doesn’t taste as alcoholic as it is! The wine tasting we did in Omodos also featured 5 absolutely fluffy cats who loves fuss and attention, which made the experience even better imo.
- Lemenos & Limassol Marina – This is another fab place to grab a coffee because Limassol Marina is just beaaautiful. Bike tours are really popular here too for that reason. I didn’t manage to go on the one we had planned because, well, I can’t ride a bike (I know, I know) but it sounded blooming fab. Instead I went for stroll around the old port and the new marina, and was blown away by how beautiful the scenery was here.
- Lara beach – It’s worth hiring a tour guide to take you off to place like Lara Beach, which is located in the Akamas Peninsula. Here you can see the fab conservation work individuals in the area are doing to preserve marine life, like sea turtles. Due to the popularity of beaches with tourists, this conservation work is so important. The turtles come to shore to lay eggs on the beach and the baby turtles hatch there. Unfortunately the light pollution in Cyprus’ coastal towns can cause the hatchlings confusion when they attempt to follow the light of the moon back to the sea.
Jet2 flights to Paphos run all year round (yep, get that sun in guys!) and fly from many airports across the UK. One main airport is Manchester Airport, which runs regular Jet2 flights from Manchester to Cyprus. Plus if you’re looking for a package holiday Jet2Holidays Paphos packages (like the Indulgent Escapes one I was on) are available too, to save you time and all that faffing about.
If you’re looking for a Mediterranean trip with a difference, I’d highly suggest looking at booking Paphos for you next sunny European holiday.
Thank you so much for planning a fab itinerary, Visit Cyprus!
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*My stay at Elysium Hotel was a complimentary press trip with Jet2Holidays & Visit Cyrus*