Paphos is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus and the capital of Paphos District. It lies on the Mediterranean coast, about 50 km (31.07 mi) west of the Limassol (the biggest port in island), which has an A6 highway connection. Paphos International Airport is the country’s second largest airport.
Believed to be the birthplace of Greek Goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, Paphos proudly boasts the remains of villas, palaces, theatres, fortresses and tombs that belong to Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Such exceptional architectural and historic value is an ornament to the city that is included in UNESCO’s list of world heritage as a natural and cultural treasure. Paphos, roughly divided into Old Paphos and New Paphos, is also famous for its sun-kissed beaches. Paphos was valued as a major port and the capital of Cyprus during Roman times. Today, this small harbour is slowly and steadily emerging as an attractive tourist destination.
Paphos enjoys a Subtropical-Mediterranean climate, with the mildest temperatures on the island. The typical summer’s season lasts about 8 months, from April to November, although in March and December temperatures may also reach 20 °C (68.0 °F).
Paphos Castle :
Located on the edge of Paphos harbour, this castle is one of the most classifiable landmarks of Paphos. It has attracted a number of archaeologists to excavate and investigate its past, as it dates back to the Roman era. The Byzantine fort, originally built to protect the harbour was destroyed in the earthquake of 1222. It was then rebuilt by the Lusignans in the thirteenth century and has seen few more rebuilding in the years ahead till date. It currently serves as a background for the annual open-air Paphos cultural festival, which takes place in September.
Aphrodite’s Rock Petra Tou Romiou (Birthplace of Aphrodite) :
Named after the Greek Goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, the rock located between Limassol and Paphos is believed to be sacred. The legend tells a tale that this is the point where Aphrodite emerged from the sea in a surge of amazing sea foam in 1200 BC and she herself choose this rock as the ideal location to begin her life as a mortal.
Tombs of the Kings:
A large necropolis burial ground lying about two kilometres north-west of Paphos harbour in Cyprus is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Many of these underground tombs, date back to the 4th century BCE, are sculpted out of solid rock. Believed to be the burial sites of Paphitic aristocrats and high officials, some of the tombs have frescoed walls and Doric columns.
Paphos Archaeological Park:
Paphos archaeological Park is famous for sites and monuments that date back to pre-historical times. In addition to that, most of the remains in the park mark the Roman period date.Marvellous mosaic floors of four Roman villas here have also added to the fame of Paphos Archaeological Park.
Located in Paphos Archaeological Park, Odeon is an amphitheatre-like structure, which was unearthed during excavations. Now fully restored, Odeon is in close vicinity of several other archaeological or tourist sites such as Paphos Lighthouse, The house of Aion, The house of Dionysos and the villa of Theseus. This interesting archaeological monument built in the 2nd century is made entirely out of well-hewn limestone and has approximately 1,200 seats for spectators. Odeon is not only a tourist attraction today; it also hosts many musical and theatrical performances.
Paphos lighthouse is a golden point of the city as it can be seen from any corner of Paphos. Situated in close proximity of Odeon, the top of this lighthouse offers you an opportunity to catch panoramic, magnificent glimpses of Paphos in your camera. After climbing the staircases successfully, you reach to the top of this lighthouse and a look at the historic and scenic city of Paphos makes your visit to Paphos worth a treasure.
Akamas Peninsula Paphos:
The most beautiful location on the entire island, the Akamas Peninsula is located in the west of Cyprus. The peninsula covers approximately an area of 230 square kilometres with mountains and densely wooded, almost inaccessible forests that are home to almost 530 plant species, endemic to Cyprus and enjoy a great biodiversity. Because of its ecological significance, the Akamas peninsula is not only a tourist attraction but also is a great interest of botanists from all over the world.
Ayios Neophytos Monastery:
Located just 20 minutes from the busy Paphos town centre, the historic Ayios Neophytos monastery takes you back to the ancient world and introduces you with the life back then. Today, a home to only a handful of monks, the monastery is famous for the grottoes carved out of the mountain rock and is believed to be founded by a Cypriot hermit and writer called Neophytos in the year 1159.
Originally, a Christian catacomb, Ayia Solomoni Church was carved underground out of limestone rock. Home to several 12th century frescoes, the church also houses some of the original graves that date back to the Hellenistic period, the archaeologists say. The remains of the old frescoes from the 12th century and some holy water are the main attractions of Ayia Solomoni Church.
Considered as the richest museum of Cyprus, Ethnographical Museum that now holds collections of woodcarvings, jewellery, tapestries, woven goods, pottery, embroidery, and national costumes from19th and 20th centuries, was the Folk Art Museum until 1971. Today it is famous among tourists, especially among history and art lovers as an excellent place that introduces the lives of the people in the prehistoric era.
The Mosaics of Paphos:
Famous as the finest mosaic in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Paphos Mosaics are located beside the harbour. The mosaics here show the scenes from Greek Mythology and were made from small cubes of marble and stone called tesserae, and glass paste available in those days.
Getting Around in Paphos
Paphos offers many tourist attractions, historical places and heritage sites. The city is listed in UNESCO’s ‘World Heritage sites’.
Though public transport of the city facilitates visiting all Paphos attractions, exploring the city on foot is a great pleasure as most of the attractions are close to one another, within a walking distance. For those who are willing to avoid summer heat or are interested in investing time in sight-seeing rather than walking to different sites, numerous modes of transport are available. The public transport system of the city is efficient and reliable. One may also hire a car or go for taxi services available in the city.
OSYPA LTD formerly known as Alepa is the Paphos Transport Organization. The local buses run by the organization cover most of the routes between all popular destinations in the city. The charges are extremely reasonable and the system is fully computerized. Maps of the city and the suburbs are made available online. Though the bus schedules are reliable, they get disturbed during festive times.
Taxi services in Paphos work no different from those in any other tourist place in the world. Taxis in Paphos are fleets of cars and shared cabs and buses as well. Some of which are licensed and some are unlicensed. The unlicensed taxis are the cheapest and compete well with the licensed cars/buses. They offer pick-and-drop from-or-to the airport as well.
Intercity taxi service is offered in shared 4-to 8-seater minibuses. This service provides a connection service between all major towns at a fixed rate. As rates are not fixed, negotiating the fare before you get into a taxi is a must; otherwise you run the risk of being ripped off. Shared taxis operate like shuttles.
Hiring a car allows exploring the island and its outskirts according to your choice and pace. You can rent a car in Paphos by booking it online in advance or the time you reach the city.
Car hire services in Paphos are competitively priced and so longer trips can be planned. If some adventure or less travelled roads such as roads to Akamas Peninsula are in your mind, hiring more sturdy cars that have an extra ground clearance is a wise choice as the roads are bumpy, rutted and potholed.