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Looking for amazing things to do in Paphos, Cyprus?
While this semi-tropical island is famous for its beautiful clean beaches, warm azure seas, abundant sunshine, and fabulous Mediterranean cuisine, it’s much more than just a warm-weather holiday destination.
For the curious traveller, the city and district of Paphos on the island’s west coast make the perfect base for exploring its attractions.
Inhabited since the Neolithic period, it was once the centre of the cult of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess (Venus to the Romans) of love, beauty and fertility.
As a Canadian expat, I have savoured its delights for the past five years. My wife and I made Cyprus our home and love exploring its ancient ruins, mountain villages, remote beaches and traditional tavernas.
There’s always something new to discover! Here’s my list of the very best things to do in Paphos, Cyprus.
With so much to see, do and experience, you’ll want to return again and again.
1. Stroll the Historic Promenade at Paphos Harbour
The harbour is the best place to start your tour of Paphos. The harbour dates back to the third century BC. You are literally walking in history.
The Romans increased the Paphos port size to include foreign traders, local boats and warships. Today the boats are mostly pleasure craft and tour boats for sightseeing, excursions and pirate cruises for the kids.
Stroll along the wide promenade and enjoy the sights and sounds of the tourist heart of Paphos where you’ll find souvenirs as well as interesting shops, art galleries, outdoor restaurants and bars.
Make time to put your feet up and enjoy a seafood meze platter for two paired with a chilled Keo, the favourite local beer, while you watch the sunset from a seaside table at Pelican Seafood Restaurant.
Insider Tip: At the east end, you can rent sunbeds and take a dip in the clear warm sea at Sodap beach.
2. Explore Paphos Castle
At the western end of the harbour is the Paphos castle or fort. Built by the Byzantines over a thousand years ago, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1222. Since then it has been destroyed and rebuilt twice more.
The current structure was built by the Turks in 1592. Also known as Pafos castle, it’s also been used as a prison and for storing salt.
Some of the island’s best festivals happen right here in front of this landmark fort, including concerts, opera and ballet from world famous performers.
Open year-round, it’s closed on public holidays. Check the hours before you go.
Insider Tip: Don’t miss the spectacular views from the top of the ramparts.
3. Marvel at Ancient Mosaics at Paphos Archeological Park
Continue your deep dive into the history of Cyprus at the Kato Paphos Archeological Park located next to the castle. For 500 years from the 2nd century BC, Paphos was the capital of Cyprus. It’s rich in both Greek and Roman sites.
The Romans left remains of villas, amphitheatres and temples with more still being uncovered. Some of the best mosaics from the ancient world can be found in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This archeological park is a must-see attraction for anyone with a curiosity about the past.
4. Look Around the Church of St. Paul’s Pillar
A five minute walk from the harbour will get you to one of the most intriguing sites in Paphos.
The 13th century Roman Catholic church, Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa was built within the ruins of a large basilica which was destroyed centuries ago.
It’s also an important pilgrimage site. Cyprus became the first Christian country after St. Paul and St. Barnabus converted the ruler in 45AD.
Look for the pillar where St. Paul the Apostle was scourged by a thousand lashes when he arrived on the island. It still stands in front of the church.
Stop to admire the magnificent decorations inside the church which is open to the public.
5. Go Underground at the Tombs of the Kings
Further along the coast northwest of the harbour is another of the town’s most popular attractions. You can catch a cab or, for the stout hearted, walk the Coastal Boardwalk along the shore from the Archaeological Park.
Misnamed as there are no kings buried here, this open area contains the tombs of the rich and powerful. The tombs were carved out of the solid rock and often imitate houses of the time (3rd century BC).
This UNESCO World Heritage Centre has been continually excavated since the 1970s revealing more ancient Greek architecture each time.
Pro Tip: Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen. Cyprus gets between 300 to 340 sunny days a year and the sun can be especially intense at archeological sites.
6. Get Lost in Paphos Old Town
Designated a European Capital of Culture in 2017, the old town was completely refurbished for its time in the spotlight. It’s now a fine place for a stroll while discovering hidden surprises.
Starting at Kennedy Square, with its restaurants, bars and coffee shops head off to the northeast down a bright pedestrianized street with newly planted trees.
A little way down on your right you’ll find the Kiniras Hotel, set within a restored 15th century Venetian building with a lounge, cobblestone courtyard and lovely rooms.
Wandering around these streets you will find the Beeroom Craft Pub, Mr. Tippler’s cocktails, colourful street art, the Old Barber House and more.
Insider Tip: Stop for a craft beer at the Beeroom Craft Pub where you can sample a flight of four beers such as the popular Cumbaros Octopus lager.
7. Go Shopping at the Paphos Market
Another landmark in the Old Town to the northeast is the market. Here you can have fun poking around in both the outdoor market and the indoor municipal shopping market.
Look for locally-produced traditional handmade crafts such as lace, leather-work, jewellery, copper-ware, baskets and other souvenirs.
Many of the artisans work and sell their wares in their shops here so it’s possible to find some excellent bargains.
After shopping and browsing the galleries filled with art and antiques, relax at one of the many restaurants, bars or coffee shops.
Insider Tip: Try Christos Grill and Seafood restaurant for its pitas, salads and kebabs, generous portions, and friendly service. Enjoy the view over the lower town and the sea beyond.
8. Visit One (or More) Paphos Museums
After years of delay, the completely revamped Paphos Archeological Museum is open to the public with no entrance fee. This is another Paphos must-see, displaying local archeological treasures dating back thousands of years.
The Paphos Ethnographic Museum, around the corner from the city hall, is a privately owned exhibition of folk art, history and archeology opened by a local historian in the 1950s.
Another folk art museum worth a visit is the Ethnographic Museum of Geroskipou. This village is located at the edge of Paphos on the way to the airport.
Geroskipou was said to be the site of Aphrodite’s sacred garden. The museum has fascinating displays of everyday life in Cyprus in the previous centuries, silk making, rug weaving, pottery and more.
These are just three of the many galleries, craft shops and museums to explore in and around Paphos.
9. Swim Around Aphrodite’s Rock
In Greek mythology, Cyprus is the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. She was known as Venus to the Romans.
A 20 minute drive east of Paphos along the coast will get you to Aphrodite’s Rock.
One of the top things to see in the Paphos district, this very pretty beach has three big rocks just offshore. Legend has it that the goddess was born here from the sea foam and brought to shore on a clamshell.
There are two versions of a story about Aphrodite’s Rock that the locals tell. If a woman swims around the rock three times she will find her perfect mate.
Either that or she will have eternal beauty. Which would you want? Both?
You can see this painting at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
10. Enjoy the Nightlife in Paphos
Down by the harbour you can find bars, pubs and nightclubs that will keep you out and about partying all night.
Flintstones Bar, near the waterfront, is one of the oldest bars in Paphos and continues to be very popular.
But if you’re looking for even more things to do in Paphos at night, there are lots of upscale cocktail bars around Old Town.
Take a walk down most streets and you’ll find welcoming places to stop for a drink and mingle with the locals. There are many themed bars from Irish pubs to Greek tavernas, something for every taste. As far as restaurants go, there are just too many to name and most will not disappoint you.
Insider Tip: For a unique experience try Oniro By The Sea. It’s a bit out of the way in lower Peyia by the Erdo III shipwreck but worth the drive for the views.
11. Splash Out at Aphrodite Waterpark
On the hot days of a family holiday, the waterpark is the place to cool off and have fun. The splash park is one of Paphos’s biggest tourist attractions.
It’s not far from the town centre and offers easy parking. Kids (of all ages) will enjoy get splashed on over 20 rides including the gut wrenching ‘Free Fall’ and a big wave pool.
For even more family-friendly activities, try Paphos Luna Funpark close by and Rikkos Beach for a quick dip in the sea. It’s a great day out for the family.
12. Take a Boat Cruise to the Blue Lagoon
The largest and prettiest beach on the north side of Paphos district can be reached by four wheel drive. But that is not the best way to see it.
From Paphos drive north to Latchi. In the harbour, there are many options for a cruise, half day, small boats, big boats, glass bottom boats.
All the cruises take you along the coast to this enchanted bay where the water is clear and warm. Swim to the beach or just play in the water.
Then enjoy a meal and refreshments and the trip back. Try the ‘Koulla’ traditional Cypriot boat which provides a traditional Greek BBQ.
13. Spend a Day at a Beach Near Paphos
In Cyprus, there’s no shortage of extraordinary beaches to relax on, swim at and enjoy.
Here’s a quick rundown of the best beaches near Paphos, heading north along the coast.
- Sandy Beach – located in Chloraka just outside of Paphos. As the name implies, there is lots of sand plus a few sun beds and a folksy beach bar. Popular place for surfers and building sandcastles.
- Potima Beach – Another couple of miles toward Peyia. Large beach, a bit rocky, rarely busy, easy parking, great surfing, lots of sun beds and a large beach bar and restaurant.
- Coral Bay Beach – The best beach in the area. Large, shallow and safe. Lots of sand, sunbeds, water sports, easy parking. Busy but never too crowded. Near the tourist resort of Coral Bay.
- Corallia Beach – On the other side of the headland from Coral Bay. Nice size, sandy, shallow, breakwater (no surf), family oriented, sun beds, restaurants, lots of paved parking, bus stop, showers, water sports.
- Agios Georgios Beach – Quiet little beach at St. George’s Harbour. Hidden gem, sun beds, parking, beach cafe, restaurant.
- White River Beach – Just beyond the end of the pavement the road is lumpy but passable by most cars. The small sandy beach has no amenities. Parking isn’t easy, but the almost deserted beach is worth the trip. Cliffs on both sides add to its natural look.
- Lara Beach – Be prepared for a rough ride. 4WD vehicle is your best bet for this adventure. Also known as Turtle Beach, this broad expanse of sand is the nesting spot for the endangered loggerhead and green turtles. Because of this, no sun beds or umbrellas are allowed on the beach. The water is clear but drops off quickly. Ideal for snorkelling and looking for huge turtles. Good Cypriot restaurant on the cliff at the south end of the beach.
14. Explore an Abandoned Knights Templar Village
An especially memorable place to visit in Paphos district is the village of Foinikas (Phoenix), a few miles northeast of the Paphos airport. It’s home to atmospheric ruins that have become a major attraction.
In the year 1191, King Richard the Lionheart defeated the Byzantines and captured Cyprus. He promptly sold it to the Knights Templar who built fortified villages to run the place.
Foinikas was one of these. In their turn, the knights were kicked out and others came and went.
During the 20th century this Turkish Cypriot village prospered with sugar cane and silk production. The invasion of 1974 forced the inhabitants out and the village has been left to crumble. Today, it’s a nice hike or sightseeing drive through the beautiful valley.
15. Poke Around the Cypriot Village of Kathikas
Considered one of the prettiest villages in Cyprus, Kathihas is a very pleasant way to spend a few hours.
Wander through the village’s narrow streets and soak up the atmosphere of the old stone houses, beautiful gardens, outdoor ovens and cozy courtyards.
When it’s time to take a break head to any of the local coffee shops or try the Kathikas Square Gin Bar in the heart of town.
Or settle in for a couple of hours at one of the tavernas to enjoy a Cypriot meze, a meal of about a dozen different dishes including fried halloumi cheese and local goat, plus a good bottle of wine.
A top thing to do in Kathihas is visit the Vasilikon Winery on one side of town and the Sterna Winery on the other. You can sample and purchase local vintages of cabernet sauvignon and wines made of indigenous Cypriot grapes.
Pro Tip: Be careful on the drive back. The roads are winding and the wine is potent.
16. Sample Cypriot Vintages on a Wine Tour
For an even more in-depth look at the wines of Cyprus, consider taking an escorted wine tour. You can devote an afternoon or even a whole day to explore the more than 6,000 years of wine production in Cyprus
Don’t miss local wines like Xinisteri, Kolios Shiraz and Moshato. Sherry from Cyprus is also a treat as it benefits from the hot sun and being aged in oak casks.
17. Sample Craft Beer at Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery
If you prefer beer, head to the Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery, a popular attraction and event space set in a former winery just a few miles north of Paphos.
This is the best place to sample various styles of small batch craft beer (from English ales to Austrian lagers) as well as cider made with fresh Cyprus fruit and other local ingredients.
You can also enjoy thin crust pizza on their patio. (Note that the pizzeria is closed on Wednesdays but the restaurant is open).
18. Commune with Felines at the Tala Cat Sanctuary
Just five miles north of Paphos, the town of Tala is home to a lovely square with some excellent tavernas to stop at for lunch. But that isn’t the only reason to visit.
Cyprus is famous for its cats which were shipped over by the queen of Egypt to kill the snakes a few thousand years ago. Now there are more cats than humans!
To help with the overpopulation problem, the Tala Cat Sanctuary offers spaying, neutering and medical attention for stray cats.
They currently house 850 felines waiting for their forever home. Come for a visit and they will happily sit on your lap to be stroked even if you cannot take one home.
19. Marvel at the Agios Neophytos Monastery
One of the most impressive attractions in Paphos is the Agios Neophytos Monastery, a 12th century monastery originally built into the cliff wall.
It’s famous now for its Byzantine frescoes, museum, church and gardens. Breathtaking.
20. Discover Orthodox Icons at Tala Church
Just off the main square, the Tala church is well worth a look around in itself. But, do not miss the museum in the basement.
It contains some of the best Cypriot Orthodox Church icons in silver and gold, garments and other notable items in its unique collection.
21. Experience the Beauty of Nature at Adonis Botanic Garden
Created by Dr. Michael Mountis, a naturalist, environmentalist and herbalist, the Adonis Botanic Garden is an astounding agritourism attraction filled with flowers, herbs and fruit trees on a ridge near Peyia, overlooking a reservoir.
There’s a wide range of things to do here but be sure to sample the wine made from their 17 different types of grapes. Explore the agricultural museum, old distillery and olive press.
Then, breathe in the heady aromas of lavender, thyme, bergamot and other botanicals at the herb and garden shop where they distill essential oils to make handcrafted products.
Later, relax in their pool and enjoy the sun. This is an outstanding place to spend a few hours surrounded by nature.
22. Take a Dip in a Sacred Pool at Adonis Baths Waterfalls
After a couple of miles of rough road, you find the very popular attraction where, according to legend, Adonis and Aphrodite spent a lot of their time together.
You can cool off in the pool surrounded by cascading waterfalls. Then, relax with a meal in the restaurant, explore the museum and check out the statues.
Pro Tip: Be careful, touching the statue of the god and goddess is said to increase your fertility.
23. Watch for Snakes at the Paphos Zoo
Half an hour’s drive along the coast gets you to a surprisingly large zoo. It’s best known for its more than 700 exotic birds including raptors, flamingoes, cranes and parrots but also has a large collection of poisonous snakes.
Kids can get close to the resident rabbits, guinea pigs, chicks and baby goats. Stop for a meal or drinks at their Cypriot restaurant when you need a break.
24. Snorkel Among Sea Caves and See a Shipwreck
Not far past Coral Bay in Peyia northwest of Paphos there are several places to visit where you can get close to the cliffs and see where the clear waters have eroded and shaped them into caves.
While it can be a scary sight when the seas are rough, the waters offer great snorkelling when they are calm.
For a beautiful way to wrap up the day, head for the nearby wreck of the Edro III sitting on the rocks at a precarious angle.
Watching the sun set behind the wreck is definitely one of the most romantic things to do in Paphos.
Insider Tip: Oniros by the Sea is one of the best places to eat and enjoy the views. Be sure to try a signature Big Bad Wolf or Evergreen cocktail.
25. Hike the Impressive Avakas Gorge
A half mile past White River Beach you can find one of the island’s most intriguing sights. But this Paphos attraction is not for the faint hearted as the walk can be rigorous.
Over the centuries a stream has cut a narrow 100 foot deep cleft through two miles of limestone. As you navigate through the gorge along this incredible hike, you’ll get a workout and see rare and endangered flora and fauna.
On your return, make a stop at Viklari, a traditional Greek taverna known as The Last Castle, at the top of the cliff near the beach. It features fantastic views from its vine-draped terrace and good food.
Pro Tip: The path at Avakas Gorge can be slippery and wet, so wear good footwear.
Transportation and Hotels in Paphos, Cyprus
Getting to Paphos
Cyprus has two international airports, one in Larnaka and the other conveniently in Paphos. Coming from North America, one of the easiest routes is through London Gatwick.
Both Ryanair and Easyjet fly non-stop to Paphos from there. At both airports, you can easily find taxis, buses, and hotel transfers.
Best Hotels in Paphos
The town has a wide selection of hotels of all classes and sizes so accommodation is rarely a problem.
For one of the best 5 star hotels try the Elysium (Paradise in Greek mythology). Not far from the Tombs of Kings, this top rated resort offers lush grounds, spectacular sea views, a multi-level outdoor pool, a spa, three international restaurants and outdoor dining by the sea. Paradise.
Check rates and availability at the Elysium Paphos on Booking.com
For something completely different, I suggest the Roman Boutique Hotel. It’s located in the heart of the city near the Kings Street Mall and a 10 minute walk to the harbour.
This hotel complements the Roman archaeological theme of Paphos as each room features unique scenes from Greek mythology.
Guests can enjoy the spa, drinks by the pool and dining on the terrace. There’s also a kids pool at this family-friendly hotel and entertainment in the evening.
Check rates and availability at the Roman Boutique Hotel on Booking.com
Cyprus is on Eastern European Time (GMT + 2) so expect a bit of jet lag. It’s a member of the European Union (EU) and uses Euros ( € ) as currency.
Is Paphos safe? Yes, walking around in the day and in the evening is safe.
As a former British colony, you drive on the left. The crime rate is low but not nonexistent. The health care system is very good, both public and private.
As well, the island attracts many expats who are schooling their kids with online tutors, remote workers as well as digital nomads as the Internet service is good.
Medical tourism is also very popular.
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Canadian by birth, Rick Powell has lived in Vancouver, in England and most recently in Cyprus. His writing includes fiction and non-fiction, as well as articles for international and local magazines. Stane Street, his historical travelogue, was recently published in England and his first historical mystery thriller, The Missing Prisoner, is available on Amazon.