"Paphos revisited" Paphos by TheWanderingCamel
Paphos Travel Guide: 448 reviews and 996 photos
Ten and a half years, 20 degrees C, and a massive amount of new development seperated our visits to Paphos. I must confess our hearts sank as, coming from Larnaca in the late winter afternoon gloom, we drove west towards the town centre, past shopping malls and housing developments that seemed to engulf what we remembered as distinct little towns on the outskirts. The hotel we had stayed in back in 2000, a few kilometres from the centre, wasn't even there - instead there was a hoarding telling the world a new Paphos palace was going to be built on the site and what had been open land across the road was now a strip of restaurants and shops that stretched all the way into the centre of town.
Our hotel for this stay was on the north side of town; a new-looking road system of roundabouts and filters swept us through the centre and out again, past more shops and restaurants, most of which were either empty or closed for the winter season. Our faces grew longer and longer and we not-quite-jokingly said to each other "This was a mistake!"
A friendly welcome at reception, a delicious dinner in a gem of a small restaurant back in the all-but-deserted town centre, a good night's sleep in an equally deliciously comfortable bed, a veritable feast laid out on the breakfast buffet next morning and bright sunshine when we stepped outside all went a long way to lift our spirits and we set off to see just what had happened to Paphos in the years since that first visit.
Despite a huge spurt of development to cater for the ever-increasing demands of tourism, Paphos seemed to us to retain more than a modicum of its original self. Mind you, we were there in late winter - what it's like in the height of the summer season is probably very different, but something I'm not likely ever to see.
So just what is it that brought us to Paphos?
The layers of history evident in the impressive archaeological sites within the town limits are just the beginning. Leaving aside the sprawl of development all around the town, Paphos itself has two identities - Kato Paphos, the tourist-focused lower town and magnificent Archaeological Park, sits guarded by a diminutive fort around the sweep of Paphos Bay while, up the hill, Ktima Paphos, with its civic buildings, parks and museums gets on with the business of being a proper town. Nearby locations lay claim to links with Greek mythology. The wild Akamas peninsula, serene Byzantine monasteries, a scattering of unspoilt villages are all close at hand.
Much of our interest in Cyprus lies at a distance from Paphos in the Troodos mountains and exploring from there made for some long hours of driving. Even in summer, a single day trip would not be long enough to take in more than a small area. Shorter days meant we couldn't explore quite as far into the mountains as we had on our first visit and the drive through dense cloud as we made our way over the top to the valleys housing the island's UNESCO World Heritage listed painted churches might not be everyone's idea fun. Next time, we'd allow for at least a couple of nights spent in a mountain village or perhaps Nicosia, in the centre of the island
Not everyone is as enamoured of ancient churches as we are. For them, the pleasures of Paphos lie closer to base. Summer visitors will find this western end of the island has the best beaches and the town itself offers the biggest choice of hotels and apartments as well as pubs, clubs, shops and family fun galore. Winter offers different pleasures. In the town itself we found we had places such as the Archaeological Park with its stunning mosaics virtually to ourselves and the nearby monastery of Ayios Neophytos, where in June the visitors pack the tiny frescoed caves and fill the graceful courtyards and gardens with chatter, is a haven of tranquility. Walking towards the exit of the Archaeological Park after our Sunday morning visit, we heard the strains of Mozart, outside the entrance a string quartet was giving a free concert - charming.
Despite the initial dismay at the changes we found, we ended up thinking: Yes, we'd come back to Paphos again - out of season.
- Pros:Lots to see and do in the town and vicinity
- Cons:Unchecked development
- In a nutshell:Not where I'd stay in summer, but a good base to explore from
Polis, some 30 kilometres north of Paphos is a pretty little town with far less development and a much more laid-back... more travel advice
East of Paphos, the ancient village of Yeroskipou has been entirely swallowed up the bigger town to such an extent that... more travel advice
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