Paphos is on the south-west coast of Cyprus, that perennially sun-kissed island in the Mediterranean Sea. Paphos itself is a beautiful resort town with a restaurant and cafe-lined promenade that sweeps around the harbour.
There is no bad time to seek cheap flights to Paphos. Cyprus is a year-round destination. The dazzling sun of the summer months cools down by about ten degrees for the winter months, something happy British holidaymakers, expats and retirees know well.
Long before there were British travellers however, Cyprus, and Paphos in particular, was visited by the Romans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Venetians, Greeks and Richard the Lionheart.
The mosaics of Nea Paphos are Paphos's main cultural draw and the Tombs of the Kings, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is nearby. The town boasts other Roman mosaics, Byzantine icons and Ptolemaic tombs.
Most famously perhaps, this part of Cyprus is where Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, is said to have emerged from the briny surf. Petra tou Romiou (Aprhodite's Rock) is 25km (15 miles) east of Paphos and was a tourist draw with Greek pilgrims in ancient times. Today, to guarantee eternal love, couples should swim around the rocky outcrop.
Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate — the sun shines almost year-round (340 days of sunshine per year), summers are long and dry and winters are mild.Temperatures are high in summer, reaching the 30s (Celsius) in July and August, but the sea breezes cool the coastal areas. Winter temperatures can be in the teens and 20s but rarely drop below 10 degrees. Winter is colder in the Troodos Mountains and brings some snow — it is possible to ski in the mountains in the morning and sunbathe on the beach in the afternoon.
When to fly to Paphos
The peak season is summer, especially June, July, and August. This is when most travellers step off their flights to Paphos. The Troodos are also busy with skiers in winter.
Spring and autumn are great times to visit when it is warm enough to swim but not uncomfortably hot.
In general, November to March is the rainy season and therefore the low season, but rain falls an average of just eight or nine days per month.
Getting around Paphos
Buses are the cheapest and most comprehensive way to get around Paphos. You can always hail or call a taxi, which is still fairly cheap, but shared taxis are even cheaper. Four to seven people share one of these minibuses, making for a cheap, comfortable ride between towns like Larnaca, Paphos, Nicosia and Limassol.
While main roads are well-maintained, side roads are often narrow, winding and unpaved. The UN buffer zone is blocked off for a reason, namely the presence of landmines and military activity. For your own safety, never enter the zone unless at a designated crossing point.
Paphos insider information
- Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, was born here. There is a trail. Aphrodite’s Cultural Route is a self-guided tour “in the footsteps of the goddess”, which takes in Petra Tou Romiou (or Aphrodite’s Rock), Aphrodite’s Bath, on the north coast of the Akamas peninsula and the ruins of her temple in the village of Kouklia.
- The Romans: the ruins of the Roman Governor's palace have beautiful mosaics. If this is not enough history for you, consider that in 45AD Saint Paul converted the first ruler - Governor Sergius Paulus - to Christianity and preached from this very place. The Pillar to which Saint Paul was allegedly tied and whipped, for spreading Christianity, is in Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church and Early Christian Basilica.
- Staying with churches, Paphos has several fine places of worship including Agia Paraskevi Byzantine Church, which dates from the 9th-15th centuries; Agios Georgios Basilica and the fountains of Pegeia and Panagia Limeniotissa Basilica, which was built in the 5th century, dedicated to Our Lady of the Harbour, and almost destroyed in the Arab raids in the 7th century.
- The entire town of Paphos is on the official Unesco list of cultural and natural treasures of the world's heritage.
- The Tombs of the Kings are underground tombs dating back to the 4th century BC. They are the final resting places of high officials rather than nobility, but they are spectacular. Carved out of solid rock, some are decorated with Doric pillars.
- The medieval fort in the harbour has a checkered past. It was originally a Byzantine fort built to protect the harbour. It was rebuilt in the 13th century by the Lusignans, was taken apart by the Venetians in the 16th century and was finally rebuilt by the Ottomans after they captured the island.