Post written by Laura
Following a fantastic week in Jordan the final destination of my recent 3 country trip was Cyprus where I had two nights in the holiday resort of Paphos. From Amman I flew the short distance for about an hour across Israel and the most Eastern part of the Mediterranean to Paphos.
I had previously visited Cyprus in July 1990 when I had two weeks of partying in Ayia Napa… yes, even then, with its crystal clear turquoise sea, soft white powdery beaches and pulsating nightlife Ayia Napa was a holiday hotspot for 20 somethings… despite the all night parties my ex-husband and I managed to do some sightseeing and one such trip was to the historic sights of Paphos.
I was interested to see what had changed and whether the Tombs of the Kings and the Mosaics were as I remembered them, nearly 3 decades later…
Getting from the airport to my centrally located hotel was straightforward; for 1.5 euros you can get a bus directly outside the Arrivals hall which takes you to the town centre or the harbour. It’s helpful to check where you are staying so you can get the most suitable bus. Bus 612 goes to the harbour and you pay the driver directly. If you prefer, a taxi is around 25 to 30 euros.
Having arrived during the evening, I began my Paphos visit with a delicious Italian meal complete with a glass of local wine and occupied myself by Googling and planning a Paphos walking route to take in these two famous sights.
Duly following Google maps towards the Tombs of the Kings, I called into the ancient site of St Paul’s Column and the Ayia Kyriaki church. The church dates back to the 13th century and is the place where St Paul was allegedly tied to a column and whipped for preaching christianity.
The walk to the Tombs of the Kings in perfect temperatures of about 21 degrees took around 30 – 40 minutes from my hotel, following the path that ran along next to the sea.
Tombs of the Kings
The Tombs of the Kings is a UNESCO World Heritage site located next to the coast about 2 km north of Paphos. Tombs were carved out of rocks and date back to the 4th century BC. Extensive excavation took place in the 1970’s and 80’s.
For a small entrance fee of 2.5 euros the archeological site is fairly extensive and you could spent a couple of hours wandering around and climbing down stone steps into the tombs.
Kings were not actually buried here; apparently the lavish tombs were built for the aristocracy of the day.
With many colourful wild flowers, a backdrop of sapphire blue sea and a wild and remote feel, the Tombs of the Kings was a great place to visit and worth the short coastal hike to get there. If you don’t wish to walk, the bus heading towards Coral Bay stops outside the entrance.
From the Tombs of the Kings I followed the coastal path back towards the Harbour. By now it was around 11:30 and thankfully still around 24 degrees. In the height of summer this path will be incredible hot to walk along however there are shelters dotted along the way and as they are perched up above the coastline you get a decent breeze from the sea. With a huge abundance of spring flowers (as shown in the top photo) this was an enjoyable and colourful walk.
I reached the castle and paid the small entrance fee. Other than geological information and some history explained via posters inside, here isn’t too much to see within the castle although it overlooks the harbour so you get some nice views from the top.
Indulging in a large double scoop of rum & raison combined with Nutella ice-cream from one of the many gelato’s that line the harbour, I grabbed this for en-route sustenance as I walked towards the Mosaics.
Mosaic and Archeological Park
This was the site I was most looking forward to… from my distant memories of 1990 I pictured huge impressive mosaics with wooden walkover bridges… I wasn’t disappointed! The mosaics are some of the best preserved in the World and its amazing to see how colourful they are after hundreds of years.
The mosaic above was made from pebbles!
The mosaic site is extensive and, as with the Tombs of the Kings, you could spend a couple of hours exploring the excavations with many mosaics being outside in the heat. You can buy water from vending machines inside the site if you run out. There is little shade too so might be good to wear a hat!
The above lighthouse is also within the Mosaic archeological site. You can’t get to the top but the base of the site still offers good views of the surrounding area.
From the mosaics, after cooling down with a snack in one of the many restaurants I spent the afternoon walking along the coast to the south of Paphos looking for beaches. Unfortunately the beaches next to the town and marina were tiny and full of huge piles of dried seaweed. With the backdrop bring a strip of modern hotels they were not overly appealing.
For a beautiful sandy beach you would probably need to get a bus or a boat to somewhere like Coral Bay, about 7 miles away. (I remember the soft sands and clear seas of Coral Bay during my 1990 visit).
The harbour offers the opportunity for many boat trips ranging from short 1.5 hour trips along the coastline to full day packages with lunch, drinks and snorkelling.
To relax after walking for around 10 miles during the day I wanted to find a traditional Cypriot dinner. Amidst Pizza Hut, Indian restaurants and many Italian restaurants I came across Windmill restaurant, a short distance from my hotel. The food and service were excellent and while slightly touristy the place had an authentic taverna atmosphere.
A quick shout out to the Pyramos Hotel! I was really pleased with my choice to stay here… a budget hotel but centrally located, it has been refurbished to a high standard where everything worked! My light and airy room had the best shower ever, the AC worked well, a balcony with a door that opened and locked properly, a large laptop size safe that worked well, several UK plug sockets, comfortable bed, exceptionally clean and a basic but decent breakfast. Perfect!
The Mosaic archeological site was much bigger than I remembered but this is not surprising as it is still being excavated! Paphos Town was unrecognisable… there must have been a lot of development in 30 years…
Would I return to Paphos? Short answer: no… not to Paphos the City… it was great to explore the ancient sites for a day however as a bustling resort, for me it was too full of noisy bars and English tourists… I would however return to Cyprus maybe for a future holiday for a week or two, hiring a car and staying at one of the little coastal villages or in the mountains (as my brother did a few months ago).