It is the smallest district in Cyprus with an area of 1,389 square km. and a population of approximately 88,000. It is located on the southwest tip of Cyprus and covers the coastline from Aphrodite’s Rock to Pomos. Despite its size, Paphos is a special destination, with important monuments, very good beaches and areas of unique natural beauty such as the Akamas peninsula, which is a protected Natura 2000 area that give the district additional interest and enhance its tourist profile. Easy access from various parts of Paphos to the attractions of the Troodos mountain range and the Cedar Valley on the road connecting the village of Panayia with Kykkos Monastery complete the picture. Besides the natural beauty spots, Paphos also has a number of picturesque villages with robust traditional elements that offer plenty of opportunities for excursions. Indicatively, on the road to Akamas in a pristine and remote area, Kathikas with traditional houses that are more than a century old and Episkopi which justifiably is considered a small paradise for nature lovers. It is no coincidence therefore that Paphos district is considered one of the most interesting destinations for visitors
The town of Paphos is a relatively small (around 36,000 inhabitants) but charming town with immense history. It is built on two levels: Pano (upper) Paphos, known also as Ktima is the town’s commercial centre and Kato (lower) Paphos which is lower and on the coast is the island’s leading tourist destination.
After 2017 and the completion of its activities at European Capital of Culture, Paphos was transformed, becoming even more beautiful, acquiring squares and offering additional reasons to visit. Naturally, the town of Pygmalion and Galatea remains the birthplace of the goddess of beauty and love, a town for relaxation and summer holidays, for excursions to its mountainous areas and magnificent archaeological finds. Its great natural and cultural heritage was recognized by UNESCO and the whole town features on its lists since 1980. Paphos port, the mediaeval castle – which was declared a monument in 1935 – and the Tombs of the Kings – are among the most important attractions of the Paphos area.
The historical centre is graced with Hellenistic buildings such the schools, the Town Hall and the municipal library. The renovated centre of the town – from the well-known Artimathkion Square as far as Moutallos – is more than impressive, while the small cafes and restaurants such as that at Ibrahim’s Khan with traditional local products, spur visitors’ interest. The many cultural events which take place every year in the square in front of the Mediaeval Castle is another pole of attraction for thousands of summer visitors who combine their holidays with quality recreation.
Among the most interesting tourist destinations, Paphos district owes the glamorous nightlife primarily to the town of Paphos. Without the momentum or intensity of Ayia Napa or the variety of Limassol, it nevertheless has interesting options to keep visitors entertained. The centre of the town’s night life is in Kato Paphos which is also the main tourist centre. In contrast, Pano Paphos, though not absent from social events, tends to offer quieter options. Some of the interesting venues in town are the Roofbar Ouranos at the Annabelle Hotel, Suite 48 with very good cocktails and an ideal spot to enjoy sunset, Boulevard on Kennedy Square, a reliable option with a romantic ambience and many more that you will easily discover.
WALKS IN TOWN AND THE ENVIRONS
Walking in the town of Paphos and in the district feels as if history has left its remnants scattered here and there, as every step leads to the discovery of a treasure from a different era. This feeling accompanies you from the emblematic castle in the town of Paphos and the Archaeological Park with its magnificent mosaics, as far as the centre of the town (known as Ktima) with its beautiful neo-classical buildings, the area of the Agora and Moutallos (the old Turkish Cypriot neighbourhood). A little outside the town, the scenery changes and the visitor has the opportunity to walk along the nature trails, swim in the crystal-clear waters and enjoy impressive landscapes, unmatched elsewhere on the island.
In the town
MEDIAEVAL CASTLE (Port, Kato Paphos)
It is a listed building and the symbol of the town of Paphos. The Byzantine fort was initially built to protect the harbour and was renovated by the Lusignans in the 13th century. It was demolished by the Venetians in 1570 during the Ottoman invasion and rebuilt by the Ottomans when they occupied the island in the 16th century. Other than a fort, through the years it has also served as a prison and to store salt by the British colonial rulers. The space immediately in front of the castle is used to host a number of cultural events every year such as the Aphrodite Festival of Paphos every September which stages well known operas.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK (Kato Paphos)
It is listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Monument. This important archaeological site has monuments from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages but it is the magnificent mosaics of Paphos on the floor of four Roman villas (the houses of Dionysos, Theseus, Aion and Orpheus) depicting scenes from Greek mythology that will capture your attention. The park also includes other important monuments, such as the Asklepion, the Odeon, the Agora, the ruins of the Saranta Kolones (Forty Columns) fortress, the Limeniotissa ruins (an Early Christian Basilica) and the popular Tombs of the Kings.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSUEM (Griva Digeni 55)
The Archaeological Museum of Paphos houses a large number of archaeological finds from the area representing all the prehistoric and historic periods. What stands out is a rare statue of a warrior Aphrodite whereas a unique collection of clay pots in the shape of various parts of the human body that were found in Nea Paphos and were used for therapeutic reasons are also of special interest. The Museum has five exhibition halls and a covered area at the entrance with various large stone finds.
IBRAHIM’S KHAN (Constantinou Kanari 40)
Completed in 2017 when Paphos was the Cultural Capital of Europe, the project is a gem for the town. An old inn once frequented by traders and hawkers who travelled from district to district has been converted into a complex for various cultural activities in three units that resemble neighbourhoods, while the area has started to acquire a commercial character with a few shops in the specially adapted areas. The Municipal Library is housed here while a wooden stage placed in the yard is used for outdoor performances.
The township has a long historical tradition and is associated with the worship of Aphrodite. Among the many interesting points of interest are the central square and the church of Ayia Paraskevi, a typical example of Byzantine architecture dating to the 9th century.
You will of course also enjoy the famous Geroskipou loukoumi which has been produced for more than 100 years. It is delicious and registered as a protected geographical indication (PGI) in line with European Union regulations. You can only buy the authentic Geroskipou loukoumi from producers in the village. There are a number of flavours, rose, tangerine, orange, mint, banana, lemon mastic of Chios, vanilla, chocolate and nuts.
EDRO lll shipwreck, Sea Caves, Peyia (20 km.)
The wreck, which ran aground among the white rocks near the Sea Caves, creates a magical scene at sunset, making it by far the best location in town to watch the sun go down. You can enjoy this enchanting scene from the balcony Oniro by the Sea (Glykou Nerou 5, Peyia)
Petra tou Romiou (26 km.)
About 25 km. east of central Paphos is the renowned Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Rock), perhaps the best-known landmark on Cyprus’ coastline. According to myth, Aphrodite – daughter of Ouranos (sky) and Thalassa (sea) rose from the sea foam here and then went to Olympus, accompanied by Erotas (love) and Pothos (desire) to take her place among the gods. There are some admittedly poor remains of the Sanctuary of the Goddess at Kouklia (Paleopaphos), 16 km. east of Paphos. It once dominated over one of the most important and famous religious centres of antiquity. However, the name “Petra tou Romiou’ is not associated with the Goddess Aphrodite but with Digenis Akritas, who legend has it, repelled the Saracen pirates who were preparing the pillage the bay (7th -10th century)
Akamas peninsula (42 km.)
A four-wheel drive car and a camera. That is all you need for an excursion to the Akamas, a protected region which is part of the Natura 2000 network and is unique and wild beauty, with steep peaks, valleys, sandy beaches, impressive flora and fauna and sea caves. Akamas offers boundless opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, bird watching and swimming. The famous Avakas Gorge and Adonis Baths attract crowds of hikers through the year, the sandy Lara beach is a well-known turtle nesting beach, while one of the most popular beaches is Blue Lagoon, with its blue, clear waters offering visibility to the seabed, even without a mask. You can access Akamas from Ayios Georgios Peyias, through Droushia, through Neo Chorio near Latchi as well as along a route that goes past the famed Aphrodite’s Baths.
Ayios Georgios Peyias (18 km.)
Enjoy a magnificent sunset and feast your eyes on the unending blue from the small bay of Ayios Georgios tis Peyias. A small church dedicated to Saint George and built at the end of the 13th early 14th century stands proud on site. On the horizon, exactly opposite the little church, bathed in the colours of the sunset, is Yeronisos (Iera Nisos) – the holy island of Apollo.
Kathikas (26 km.)
One of the most beautiful and traditional wine producing villages of Paphos district is Kathikas, built on the Laona plateau, half way between Paphos and Polis Chrysochous, only 23 km. north of Paphos. Here you can visit wineries, traditional taverns with local flavours, vineyards, stone-built traditional houses as well as a magnificent view of Coral Bay and the Akamas as well as the Troodos mountains and Paphos forest.
Geroskipou Municipal Beach (6 km.)
It is one of Paphos’ most popular beaches and justifiably so. The calm, shallow waters and golden sand extend some 400 metres while in the summer it hosts various happenings, sports tournaments and concerts.
It may be located in the centre of Kato Paphos, but it is one of the quieter beaches in the area. It is idea for families with children and also for small groups. The 300 metre or so beach is sandy and places and pebbly elsewhere.
Coral Bay/Peyia (13 km.)
One of the most beautiful and, certainly also one of the most popular beaches, is the famous Coral Bay Beach. Situated on the road to Peyia, behind the restaurants in the area which bears its name, it boasts calm, shallow water, a golden, coarse sand.
Dasoudi /Polis Chrysochous (40 km.)
Tucked away at the Polis Chrysochous camping site is the lovely Dasoudi beach that retains its natural beauty. Sandy beach, with calm and shallow waters, in a landscape covered with eucalyptus trees and vegetation.
Argakas Beach (45 km.)
It belongs to the Natura 2000 network and is one of the island’s most beautiful beaches. It is situated in the village of Argakas, west of Polis Chrysochous, and extends 10 km as far as the village Yialia.
Kanali tou Pomou (57 km.).
It is quite a distance away but well worth the effort. Situated next to Pomos fishing shelter, it is one of the island’s most picturesque beaches. Pebbly, with crystal-clear, blue waters and in the summer the site for a superb little bar that refreshes with its drinks and its music.
Sea Caves/ Peyia (18 km.)
A landscape of infinite natural beauty definitely worth visiting for a swim, or just to enjoy the view. Tall, sculpted, white rocks and unlimited blue that sparkles under the summer sun make up the scenery of the Sea Caves. Access is by car, taking the road towards Ayios Georgios tis Peyias.
Lara Beach (27 km.)
An endless golden beach with crystal-clear waters offering swimmers a unique sight as this is a nesting beach for the Caretta caretta turtles. The area is protected, with no infrastructure or facilities and access requires a four-wheel drive car. The impressive spectacle is well worth the effort, especially if you are among the lucky ones who spot dozens of newly hatched baby turtles emerge from the sand.
NOTE: Distances have been calculated from the centra of Paphos. To calculate the time needed to travel each attraction, bear in mind that a distance of 5 km. requires 5-6 minutes.
The town from above
You can see the town from above from Muse Café Kitchen Bar (Andreas Ioannou 16, Paphos, 99176232), an old time favourite in town. Book your table for sunset and enjoy the romantic setting with the light blue of the sea mingling with the blue of the sky and the red from the sun.