Things to Do in Paphos
If you believe the legends, the Adonis Baths played an important role in Greek mythology – it was here that lovers Adonis and Aphrodite spent much of their time, conceived many of their children and ultimately, where a wounded Adonis died in the arms of Aphrodite.
Today, the romantic spot is a popular choice for visitors to Cyprus and swimming in the natural pools is said to bring virility and long-lasting youth, while touching the waterfront statue of Adonis and Aphrodite is alleged to bring fertility. Even if you don’t believe the myths, the Adonis Baths make a scenic retreat on a balmy summer afternoon, with the emerald green lagoon set beneath a tumbling waterfall and hemmed in by rocky cliffs and wild greenery.
Set on an isolated beach, the Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station presides over the shelled creatures who come here every year to nest. Devoted conservationists keep an eye on the green and loggerhead turtles, safeguarding the eggs and young hatchlings and educating the public on the turtles’ plight.
Spread along the southwestern coast of Cyprus, the sprawling Tombs of the Kings are eight excavated tombs dating back to the third century BC. Around 100 Ptolemaic aristocrats are estimated to have been buried there, along with a substantial trove of jewels and personal effects, long since pillaged by grave robbers.
A looming stack of rocks standing proud off the southwest coast of Cyprus, the UNESCO-listed Rock of Aphrodite, or Petra Tou Romiou (Rock of the Greek), is one of the island’s most famous landmarks and the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, according to Greek mythology.
With slides, drops, and a wave pool, Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark is among the city’s top attractions. Even the names of the rides hint at adventure—try the Free Fall, Kamikaze, or Cannon Drop before relaxing on the Lazy River. Visitors with small kids will find plenty of fun at the family-friendly Mini Volcano and Mini Bubble.
A top attraction in Paphos, Paphos Archaeological Park is home to some of Cyprus’ most important historic ruins. Visit this sprawling open-air museum—a UNESCO World Heritage Site that stretches along the coast near Paphos Harbor—to see a number of ruins dating to the late Roman period, plus a few that are even older.
A highlight of Paphos Archaeological Park, the House of Dionysos is the largest of four Roman villas, nicknamed the Mosaic Houses for their elaborate floor mosaics. The mosaics, painstakingly crafted from limestone tiles, date back to the second and third centuries AD and remained hidden until a local farmer discovered them in 1962.
Founded in 1159 by Cypriot saint and writer Neophytos, the Agios Neophytos Monastery is among Cyprus’s most striking religious buildings, carved into a mountain rock just north of Paphos. Though a small number of monks live here, the main attraction for visitors is the museum, full of religious manuscripts, garments, and other artifacts.
Opened in 2003, the Pafos Zoo, outside Paphos (or Páfos), Cyprus, is a sprawling, 25-acre center for wildlife conservation. Spend a day here seeing animals from around the world, from giraffes and lemurs to bats and water monitors. The zoo is particularly well known for its extensive collection of birds.
Standing proud in the grounds of the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church, St Paul’s Pillar is one of Cyprus’ most important sites of pilgrimage, dating back to the early days of Christianity. Legend has it that St Paul arrived in Paphos in 45 AD and was scourged by the Romans for preaching Christianity, receiving 39 lashes while tied to the pillar. But his efforts weren’t in vain and Paul eventually succeeded in converting Roman Governor Sergius Paulus to Christianity, making Cyprus one of the world’s first Christian states.
Today, St Paul’s Pillar lies amongst a series of ancient ruins surrounding the Chrysopolitissa church, including the remains of an early Byzantine basilica and a mosque dating back to the period Ottoman rule.
More Things to Do in Paphos
Once famous for its sacred gardens, dedicated to the Goddess Aphrodite, these days the sleepy village of Yeroskipou (Geroskipou) is best known for its production of Loukoumia, the age-old Cyprian sweet, otherwise known as Turkish delight. The powdered sugar coated candies are traditionally flavored with rose water, but are produced in a myriad of unique flavors and make an ideal souvenir.
Additional highlights of the small town include the 11th-century Church of Agia Paraskevi, celebrated for its medieval paintings and icons; the fascinating Folk Art Museum; the sandy Yeroskipou beach; and the nearby Luna Park amusement park.
Largely regarded as one of Cyprus’ most beautiful churches, the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church, now the Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa, is renowned for its elaborate ancient floor mosaics, parts of which have been preserved and form a colorful addition to the medieval church.
Built on the site of an early Byzantine basilica, the church dates back to the 13th-century and forms the centerpiece of number of historic ruins and relics, among them the remains of a Gothic Basilica, a mosque dating back to the period Ottoman ruleand St Paul’s Pillar, where legend has it that Paul was flogged for preaching Christianity in 45 AD.
Looming over the Paphos Archaeological Site, Fabrica Hill once marked the northern entrance to ancient Paphos and today serves as a scenic lookout point, offering impressive views over the numerous Roman ruins, Saint Paul's Pillar and the glittering Mediterranean coast.
The main attraction of Fabrica Hill is the ancient Odeon amphitheater built on its slope, a striking limestone structure dating back to the 2nd-century, where music concerts and theatrical performances are held throughout the summer months. Also of interest are a number of quarry caves dating from the Hellenistic period, a partially restored ancient mosaic and the nearby Agia Solomoni Catacombs.
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