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Archaeology, mythology and sun-kissed beaches

Paphos is a classic bucket-and-spade destination, yet it offers so much more than that. There are ancient sites galore, pristine beaches that are home to nesting turtles and backstreets teeming with medieval baths, catacombs and a simple fisherman’s church. The Old Town got spruced up for its joint role as 2017 European Capital of Culture, and there are excellent museums and galleries to explore. Discover a city awash with myths and legends – this is the land of Adonis and Aphrodite after all, and you too may fall under its spell.

Learn about the city’s ancient history at the excellent Ethnographical Museum, call in at Psi. on main shopping street Makariou III for a souvenirs with a difference, then enjoy a leisurely lunch of lamb kleftiko at local’s favourite Laona. Drop into The Place to watch artisans working on pottery, textiles, silk cocoon jewellery and even encaustic hot wax painting.

Tackle the vast Paphos Archaeological Park and then climb Fabrica Hill, site of an ancient theatre carved from the rock. Delve into the Tombs of the Kings, where local nobles were buried amid frescoed walls and Doric columns. Explore the village of Kouklia, the third pillar of Paphos’ UNESCO World Heritage status and home to the remains of the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, an open-air temple dedicated to the goddess of fertility. Splash around in the Adonis Baths, where it’s said Adonis and Aphrodite would regularly meet, and where Adonis died in his lover’s arms after being wounded by a man disguised as a wild boar. Book your flights to Paphos today and start exploring.

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Best hotels in Paphos for all types of traveller

We have a great selection of quality hotels in Paphos to recommend. The Olympic Lagoon Resort Paphos is a customer favourite, thanks to its adult-only areas, five themed pools, spa, kids’ club, on-site animation team and handful of restaurants and bars. Columbia Beach Resort impresses visitors thanks to its peaceful location, award-winning spa, two pools, creche and kids’ club. It also offers activities including cycling tours and water sports.

The family-friendly Constantinou Bros Athena Beach Hotel offers a splash pad, two kids’ pools, two water slides, a playground and a kids’ club. You can retreat to the exclusive adults zone, relax in the Elixir Spa or on Pachyammos Beach, participate in daytime activities and dine at several restaurants. Annabelle Hotel is a truly family-friendly hotel too, from its spacious, interconnecting rooms through to the children’s menus in most restaurants. This secluded seafront oasis is set in six acres of lush tropical gardens, close to the old fishing harbour and castle.

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Paphos winter sun holidays

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Make the most of your Paphos holiday

The region surrounding Paphos is home to many good vineyards, producing wine varieties that are both inexpensive and delicious, especially those made from xynisteri and mavro grapes. Sample the best of the next generation of, mostly organic, Cypriot wine at the Tsangarides Winery, which has fine mountain views.

What are the best places to visit in Paphos?

Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Paphos Archaeological Park is built on the ancient Greek and Roman city, dating back to the 4th Century BC. It contains four Roman villas with exquisite and largely complete mosaic flooring, an ancient Odeon, the Roman forum, the Agora, the Asklepieion – a sanctuary dedicated to the ancient god of medicine – and a lighthouse with splendid sea views.

Limassol, Cyprus’ second largest city and its financial centre, has plenty of sophisticated restaurants, high-street style shops, lively bars and clubs, and white-sand beaches. Visit Limassol Castle in the old town – the current building was constructed in 1590 by Ottoman rulers, replacing the medieval castle in which Richard the Lionheart was wed. Today it hosts the vast collections of the Cyprus Medieval Museum.

North of Limassol, the stunning Troodos Mountains boast isolated Byzantine monasteries as well as vast swathes of pine forest offering respite from the sometimes-oppressive heat. Learn to make Cyprus’ most loved export halloumi alongside skilled local farmers who also produce the ricotta-like anari.

Coral Bay offers one of the finest sandy beaches in Cyprus. The seafront is lined with restaurants and cafes, while the nearby village of Pegeia is packed with funky boutiques, roadside stalls and tavernas. Water sports available here include jet skiing, paddleboats and windsurfing. Check out the historic water well, Agios Neophytos Monastery – a 12th Century monastery carved from cliff walls set in beautiful gardens – and the Tombs of the Kings.

East of Paphos lies the small town of Geroskipou or Yeroskipou, where many of the area’s hotels have been developed in recent years. Highlights include the 11th Century Byzantine Agia Paraskevi Church with its icons and five domes, and shops selling locally made Turkish delight and traditional pottery. Don’t miss the Folk Art Museum, which showcases treasures from the 18th Century onwards.

Which Paphos holiday type is right for me?

For five-star holidays in Paphos, the luxurious, secluded Anassa Hotel ticks all the boxes. Overlooking beautiful Asprokremmos Beach and boasting outstanding restaurants, elegant guest rooms with balconies or terraces, and the option for parents to pre-order everything your baby might need – from buggies to bottles.

Set close to the Tombs of the Kings, Elysium Hotel feels palatial with its Byzantine-inspired architecture and magnificent gardens featuring multi-level pools. There’s a stylish spa and a small private beach. Louis Paphos Breeze is an all-inclusive hotel providing the ultimate sanctuary, nestled among extensive gardens, with access to a small sandy beach, and offering panoramic views. Or Amavi - MadeforTwo Hotels, Paphos is an adult-only hotel offering half-board dine around with drinks included, sea views from all rooms, and two charming outdoor pools surrounded by landscaped gardens and towering palm trees.

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What are the best things to do in Paphos?

  1. Paphos Harbour’s origins stretch back to around 321 BC when it was built by Nikoklis, the last king of Paphos and successor to Alexander the Great. Today it’s a thriving tourist hub popular with boat trippers, anglers and beachgoers. Highlights include Paphos Castle, well-preserved Roman villa the House of Dionysus, St Paul’s Pillar, where the apostle Paul received 39 lashes for preaching Christianity in AD45, and the Panagia Chrysopolitissa basilica, once Cyprus’ largest church.
  2. Paphos is blessed with an abundance of beautiful beaches. Rugged and remote, the Blue Lagoon offers calm teal waters ideal for swimming. You can only reach it via boat or 4WD, which keeps the hordes at bay. Another isolated treasure is Lara Bay, a thin sliver of sand where loggerhead and green turtles nest in summer. Lara Bay is on the Akamas Peninsula, perhaps one of Cyprus’ last great remaining wildernesses. Its diverse range of flora and fauna includes 168 varieties of birds, 20 reptiles, 16 species of butterfly and 12 different mammals. There’s also the mystical Baths of Aphrodite, a natural grotto where, according to legend, Adonis first saw Aphrodite and promptly fell in love with her. The relatively remote peninsula is best explored by trail bike or 4WD.
  3. Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark is perfect for all the family, with high-speed water slides, an extensive lazy river, a wave surge pool, plenty of swimming areas and a stunning kids’ play area, complete with a food court and all set within a lush, tropical environment. Look out for the jaw-dropping Kamikaze adrenaline ride, the twisty and exhilarating Adventure slide, Nautilous Screw, a thrilling plunge slide and more.
  4. The wreck of the Swedish cargo ship Zenobia, which sank off Larnaca Bay in 1980, is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top leisure dives. The wreck provides a variety of fascinating dives to suit all levels of experience, ranging from a 16-metre scuba dive to the starboard side for beginners to challenging dives to the lower car deck or the engine room for highly experienced divers.
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