Scratch beneath the surface in Paphos, and you’ll discover the myths and legends of ancient Greece and Rome. The modern side to this city has tiptoed around the treasures of the past, which are carefully tucked away in a seabound corner. Contemporary action is to be found in the Kato Pafos seafront, lined with bars and shops, and in the Akamas peninsula, a playground for off-roading enthusiasts. The Blue Lagoon, Pafos Zoo and Kykkos Monastery are also prime daytrip destinations.
Top six things to do in Paphos
1. Admire mosaic masterpieces
The jewel in the city’s crown – Paphos Archaeological Park is home to a collection of mesmerising mosaics. You’ll find these at the House of Dionysus, the House of Theseus and the House of Aion. To really get a feel for the history behind these painstakingly excavated and restored treasures, a guided tour is highly recommended. The park’s Roman Odeon and its adjacent lighthouse are also worth checking out. And, the recently restored Crusader castle is eminently Instagrammable.
2. Visit the Tombs of the Kings
The seven Tombs of the Kings are another ancient site worth seeing. Located just two kilometres north of Paphos Archaeological Park, the Roman era tombs’ size and splendour are what makes them stand out from the crowd. Their similarities to tombs in ancient Egypt hint at the trade and cultural links between the two civilisations – they’re well worth a visit.
3. Head to the Akamas Peninsula
If you’re more into wow than highbrow, then the Akamas Peninsula is your playground. It’s got its own classical legends, such as the Baths of Aphrodite, but the real attraction is its rugged landscape. A 4x4 quad or buggy safari will get your adrenaline pumping. Book an organised tour and roam through the peninsula’s wild west while catching sight of attractions such as the Chapel of Agios Georgios and the turtle sanctuary at Lara Bay.
4. Take a boat trip to the Blue Lagoon
The star of the northern coast, the Blue Lagoon, is best reached on a boat trip from Latchi harbour. It goes without saying that the shimmering lagoon is the highlight – but the views from the deck of the cove-dotted coastline, including the mythical Baths of Aphrodite, are well worth the journey alone. Many excursions also feature a Blue Lagoon boat trip in combination with other activities.
5. See the Kykkos Monastery
This monastery might be a bit of a trek from the coast, but as daytrips go, it’s one of the best excursions in Paphos. The Greek Orthodox Holy, Royal and Stavropegic Monastery of Kykkos – to give it its full name – is famed for its religious icons, but the journey there is an experience in itself. You’ll discover why as you climb through the pine-clad Troodos Mountains, passing rustic stone villages along the way.
6. Visit Pafos Zoo
Ever popular with families, Pafos Zoo is a bit of an unexpected find in this corner of Cyprus. Home to more 1,200 creatures, including giraffes, tigers, reptiles and even penguins, expect a lot of excited finger-pointing from the kids.