"Second time around....." Top 5 Page for this destination Paphos by leics

Paphos Travel Guide: 480 reviews and 1,093 photos

I'd been to Pafos three years ago, and decided to go again to see more of the archaeology both there and elsewhere; Cyprus is full of archaeological bits and pieces.

Pafos isn't really my type of place, being almost entirely geared up for package holiday sun-seekers....a beach and water-sport place, with acres of concrete and zillions of huge 'beach hotels'. A nightmare for me in season, I'm sure, but out of season it provides a pleasant enough base for some winter sunshine and further island explorations.

But it's grown by at least a third in the past three years, and is continuing to expand. There is evidence of building everywhere: new 'resort' hotels, 'holiday villages', houses and apartments for both holidays and the ex-pat market. One of the nearby villages, Tala, has 700 Greek families but 1600 English, and that's a clear indication of what's going on. If the Cypriot authorities do not get a handle on things (assuming they want to) the area will soon be like the 'Brit' Spanish costas: pubs, Brit culture overwhelming everything, concrete and buildings everywhere.

I suspect I won't be going to Pafos again. Cyprus is still lovely, and there are many parts of it I have still to explore (the majority, in fact) but I'll have to find an alternative base.

But if you like bars and pubs and clubs, souvenir shops and glass-bottomed-boats, water sports and sunbathing, the hurly-burly of packed tourist venues and being in a largely built-up area then Pafos will probably suit you down to the ground!

There's one part of Pafos which won't be built on: the massive archaeological site near the harbour. Nea Pafos was begun in the 4th century BC, encircled by massive walls, and was the capital of the island for the seven centuries or so of its existence.

Only a small part of its vast site has so far been excavated, mainly focusing on the city as it was when part of the Roman Empire (from 58BC). The mosaics uncovered there are stunning in their complexity and beauty (they are said to be the best in the Eastern Mediterranean); clearly there were many very wealthy residents. An earthquake in the 4th century AD badly damaged the city, and it was superceded by Salamis as the capital.

As well as the various beautiful mosiacs, the site has extensive building remains (including my favourite look-for, Roman toilets!), a Roman theatre (which has been rather unsympathetically restored and is used for performances) and the 'agora' or marketplace. Some of the city walls are still standing (though clearly far smaller than originally) and the beach below is covered in huge pottery sherds...a wonderful place to explore! There are more pictures of mosaics, ruins and sherds in my travelogue.

But the main archaeological site is not all Pafos has to offer. A couple of kilometres from the harbour lies the 'Tombs of the Kings', a vast area of rock-cut tombs dating from 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD. They are nothing to do with royalty at all; it was their sheer size which led them to be so-named. Some of the tombs have been damaged by quarrying but some have been excavated and restored. As well as a place of burial they were used by Christians as a refuge from persecution, and in Medieval times by squatters. The site was systematically looted dering the 14th century, but nevertheless is an excellent (and, if quiet, a somewhat eerie) place to visit. I've made a travelogue with more photos.

Tucked away in Kato Pafos (the harbour part of the town) are other fascinating sites: rock-cut tombs and shrines and ancient churches. Fabrika Hill is riddled with these, covered with pottery sherds and building debris as evidence of the buildings which once stood there (a Roman ampitheatre has recently been excavated on the side of the hill). The Byzantine church of Ayia Kyriaki, dating from the 11th or 12th century stands alongside the foundations of a 4th century basilica and episcopal palace, destroyed by Arab raids. There are beautiful mosaics here too, and columns, and carvings, and more left to excavate. More in the travelogue, as before.

So it is worth going to Pafos (and, really, you need more than one day) to see the fascinating and well-preserved remains of the beauty which once existed in what cannot now be thought a beautiful place.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Full of ancient history and ancient sites
  • Cons:Tourist-focused and very busy in season
  • In a nutshell:Ignore the tourism....find the history!
  • Last visit to Paphos: Dec 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (21)

Comments (7)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jan 25, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    Thanks for sharing your own virtual tour of Paphos, a very special destination indeed...

    • leics's Profile Photo
      Jan 25, 2013 at 10:47 AM

      Thank you, Victor. It's been a while since I was there. For me, Pafos is a bit too popular with UK & other visitors..but it's archasology is wonderful, and it's worth one visit just for that. Kourion, fairly nearby, is even more wonderful.

  • DAO's Profile Photo
    Dec 24, 2008 at 5:43 AM

    Thanks, all the best over the holidays!

  • roamer61's Profile Photo
    Dec 22, 2008 at 3:33 PM

    Very interesting destination. Great pictures and commentary.

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2008 at 8:15 AM

    I love mosaics and archeology stuff so Ive enjoyed your page here thanks - been to quite a number of xlnt places for their mosaics and this looks like one I should get to too!am trying to make a start on my Ancient Corinth page....

  • ricky52's Profile Photo
    Sep 11, 2008 at 7:48 AM

    Off the beaten path toilets, funny. Great pages and tips.

  • ATLC's Profile Photo
    May 22, 2008 at 11:19 PM

    I enjoyed this as I have been to Cyprus twice but never made it to Paphos. I found the vital information (toilets), hahaha!

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Mar 8, 2008 at 2:46 PM

    We went to Cyprus to see the painted churches of the Troodos - the wealth of other sites and the layer upon layer of history was fabulous. Another place I must get back to one day. Paphos was much smaller then - not sure if I'd like it now. leyle


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