Pafos is a captivating holiday resort with a vibrant, modern and progressive character. At the same time, it has retained its status as a traditional harbour town with a rich history: the town as a whole is on the UNESCO list of cultural and natural treasures, with many of its historical sites connected to ancient Greek mythology.
On the south-eastern part of Paphos, Cyprus a huge rock marks the birthplace of Aphrodite (Petra tou Romiou). It is said that she emerged from the white foam of the waves and remained on the island at her castle in Kouklia. Furthermore, visitors can dip their toes into the Baths of Aphrodite, found on the north-western part of the district, where she would bathe and cleanse her body from the salt of the sea. It is said that this is the place that Adonis first fell in love with her and visitors that touch the water receive love and beauty.
Petra tou Romiou
Also known as Aphrodite’s Rock, this sea stack marks the spot where the legendary goddess was born from the sea foam.
Wild flowers, picture-perfect landscapes, a rugged coast and the Avakas gorge make up this stunning protected natural park that ranks among the island’s top beauty spots.
The traditional pedestrian quarter of Laiki Gonia offers a lovely stroll for traditional souvenirs or the freshest of local produce at the municipal fruit and vegetable market.
Baths of Aphrodite
The small grotto shaded by an old fig tree is where the goddess Aphrodite used to bathe and meet with her lover, Adonis.
Cyprus has an exciting cuisine that combines the riches of many diverse food cultures. A typical holiday table is a mini-tour of the entire Mediterranean.
The Cyprus potato
Exported all over the Europe for their unique taste, these red-soil potatoes can’t beat, especially when fried or lemon-roasted in the oven.
The locals’ answer to BBQ is souvla, large pieces of lamb or pork slow-cooked on lng skewers over a charcoal grill, sometimes sprinkled with salt, oregano, oil and wine. No island feast is complete without souvla.
The Meze or ‘little tastes’, is the best introduction to the multiple pleasures of local cooking. It’s the chance to sample 20 to 30 different dishes such as tahini and taramosalata, sheftalia sausages, stifado stew, kleftiko and many others. Go slowly, siga siga, and enjoy!
Halloumi, the iconic cheese of Cyprus, originated on the island 800 years ago. It is a semi-hard, unaged cheese made from sheep and goats’ milk and often garnished with fresh mint leaves. The texture will remind you of a mozzarella, and because it is stored in brine, it has a salty flavor. Eat it fresh and it will squeak on your teeth. Grilled or fried in olive oil and doused with lemon juice, the taste is the essence of Cyprus sun and sea! In the summer, enjoy it with watermelon. And for a traditional sandwich, try it with tomato, cucumber and wine-soaked lountza, the local cured ham.
This ‘black gold’ of Cyprus is used in hundreds of candies, cakes, and cookies. It also makes a delicious liqueur.
A symbol of island hospitality, glyka are fruits or vegetables (walnut, eggplant, sour syrup. Try them native-style with a Cyprus coffee and a tall cool glass of water
Known as the goodness Aphrodite’s favorite love potion, Cyprus’s wild thyme honey has an aroma and taste that is sublime.
Once you taste this confection of grape juice, almonds and rose water, you ‘ll never forget it. Makes the perfect souvenir.
Also called ‘Cyprus Delight’, these are soft but chewy, powdered-sugar-coated cubes of gel that come in such flavors as rosewater, orange, lemon or refreshing mint
5 top drinks
From a wide array of beverages available on the island here are the 5 most popular:
An arise-flavored aperitif and a symbol of Greek culture. Add water or ice and a magic cloud appears.
A distillate of two local grapes, it is similar to Italian grappa or french marc. Best enjoyed chilled.
Made from native Xinistery grapes, this is sweeter than the French version. Try it in a Brandy sour cocktail.
Cyprus winemakers are winning more international awards every year. Maratheftiko and Xinisteri are two varieties unique to the island
Similar to Port or Tokay, Commandaria is one of the oldest continuously made wines in Europe. With or without dessert, it’s the idea after dinner drink.
The Greek goddess of love was born from the sea foam at Petra tou Romiou and took her first steps in Pafos, which became her playground and the centre of her cult. According to legend, if you swim around Aphrodite’s Rock (Petra tou Romiou) three times, you will be blessed with eternal youth.
Built on the hillside slopes of the Fabrica hill, and situated within a complex of ancient buildings, the Odeon was the focal point of the ancient city centre. Made entirely from limestone blocks, it was uncovered in 1973-74 and has been beautifully restored for theatrical and musical performances during the summer.
House of Theseus
The House of Theseus in Kato Pafos once belonged to a Roman nobleman. It had more than 100 rooms and many mosaic floors with varying themes. Among its beautiful mosaics are geometrical decorations that depict mythological scenes including ‘Theseus killing the Minotaur’ and the ‘Birth of Achilles’.
The focal point of Kato Pafos is the fishing harbour with its magnificent medieval fort surrounded by cafés and restaurants. Visitors can enter the fort, explore its passages and take in views of the whole harbour from the top. In September it is the site of the annual open-air Pafos opera.
History & Heritage
Greek mythology and the Orthodox religion are the foundation of Pafos’s glorious cultural past. With so many significant historical sites, it is no wonder that the whole town is on the UNESCO list of cultural and natural treasures.
The list of fascinating things to see is endless, from ornate Byzantine churches to ancient tombs and mosaics. These are complemented by a landscape that is famous for its outstanding natural beauty. Pafos has some of the most stunning beauty spots on the island which include sea caves, limestone cliffs, the breathtaking Akamas Peninsula and Lara Bay.
The intricate architecture, icons, chandeliers and ceilings of some of the town’s Byzantine churches tell a compelling story of the local faith. Definitely worth a visit are Ayia Paraskevi Church in Geroskipou, the Byzantine Basilica in Kato Pafos and the monasteries of Ayios Neofytos and Chrysorrogiatissa.
One of the area’s most famous sites is the Tombs of the Kings. The impressive underground tombs date back to the 3rd century BC. Carved out of solid rock, they are the final resting place of about 100 noblemen of the time.
One can always find something to do in Paphos as the nightlife is quite diverse. One can dance the night away in a clubs, watch rugby in the pubs, experiment with fusion restaurants or snuggle up in the romantic little taverns along the beach. Additionally, there are many festivals and cultural events taking place throughout the year. One of the most interesting is the ancient Greek drama festival throughout the summer months where performances are done by theatre companies from around the world.
Paphos beaches are ideal for practicing an array of water sports including surfing, snorkelling and swimming. One such Paphos beach is Coral Bay which is famed for its sandy beaches, sparkling clear waters, safe swimming areas and organized water facilities. A more remote Paphos beach is Lara Bay which is unique because sea turtles lay their eggs their each year. A boat can be taken from Paphos harbor to avoid the difficult roads leading down to the beach.