From Larnaca to Paphos in the footsteps of Aphrodite
If you fancy following in the footsteps of Aphrodite, then head to her mythical birthplace, Paphos. This is the most famous destination for worshipping the Greek Goddess of Love. Today, thousands of visitors come to enjoy the beautiful beaches and gorges of Pafos (Paphos) and at the same time learn about the city's ancient history. Take a look at our 2-day itinerary featuring the must-see archaeological and historic sites of Cyprus.
Petra tou Romiou
Sanctuary of Aphrodite at Palaepafos
Kouklia Snake & Animal Park
Stay overnight in Paphos
Start your first day early in the morning to avoid the crowds. It can get very hot by mid afternoon so the earlier you start your tour the better. Our first stop will be the ancient former port city of Amathus (or Amathoús in Greek) , just over 10 kilometres east of Limassol Cyprus.
This historic cult sanctuary is said to be Aphrodite’s homeland and the second most important site in Cyprus, after Paphos. Here you will visit the remains of Agora and Acropolis by following the footpath along the sea. The Amathus site offers various attractions that include tombs dating back to the Iron Age and the Temple of Aphrodite ruins. The next stop is Limassol city.
Limassol is the largest coastal resort located south of Cyprus. It is famous for its centuries old castle and home to the Medieval Museum, which has a collection of tombstones and pottery. If you started your tour from Limassol, I recommend that you don’t spend too much time there as it’s not exactly the prettiest resort in Cyprus. The new harbour is quite nice and worth a visit though. However, if you are under time pressure, you can give Limassol a miss.
Now take the motorway westwards to Petra tou Romiou. When you see the Avdimou exit sign, come out of the West motorway and continue on the coastal road towards Kouklia. You will reach your destination within a short drive to Petra tou Romiou, which is also known as the Aphrodite's Rock. The best place to park the car is at the Tourist Pavilion next to Petra tou Romiou. This historic sea stack in Paphos Cyprus offers breathtaking views from above the white limestone cliffs. You can take a walk on the pebble beach and take the opportunity to capture some great photos of where, according to legend, Aphrodite had emerged from the sea. Aphrodite’s Rock is located just off the shore along the main road. Its mythology status as Aphrodite’s birthplace has made the site one of the most popular Cyprus tourist attractions. The unmissable village of Kouklia is your next stop, which is not far from the Aphrodite's Rock.
Kouklia village is located in the Paphos District, just 16 km from the city. Here you will see one of Cyprus’ most important kingdoms which is the very first Cypriot site included in UNESCO’S World Heritage list in 1980. The village is home to the Sanctuary of Aphrodite at Palaepafos, one of the most famous Greek Goddess' sanctuaries in Kouklia and a place of worship up until the 3rd century AD. Its remains of the Aphrodite Cult date back to the 12th century BC. This interesting museum is located in a manor house and exhibits many interesting and unique finds including the Mosaic of Leda and the Swan and the Kato Alonia sarcophagus, Polyphemus coffin. The museum is open all year round and the entrance fee is 4.5 euros.
The mosaic that depicts Leda and the Swan was found in the vicinity of the sanctuary. It dates back to the early 3rd century CE and there is an interesting story behind it. According to the Greek mythology, the god Zeus (who was in the form of a swan) seduced Leda, the mortal woman on the same night she slept with her husband. Leda laid two eggs from which her children from Zeus hatched, (one of the hatched eggs became the beautiful Helen of Troy) while at the same time she had 2 children with her husband, the King of Sparta.
The other fascinating highlight is the beautiful sarcophagus that was discovered south of Kouklia nearthe Sanctuary of Aphrodite. This 2,500 year-old stone sarcophagus dates back to approximately the 5th century and features very well-preserved carvings of the ancient warrior, Homer. The tomb, which had pottery inside of it, was accidentally found by construction workers near Kouklia village.
To take a break from ancient Greek history, head to the nearby Kouklia Snake & Animal Park for a completely different experience. Don't expect to see a zoo as this animal park only has a few snakes, lizards, and a couple of other animals. The super friendly owner showed us around the park and told us a little about the animals there. All the snakes are from Cyprus and there is a poisonous viper from Greece. None of the snakes from Cyprus are poisonous or dangerous. At the animal park, you can meet the locals from the island and even hold a snake in your hands. After the mini tour around the park is over, the proud owner will invite you to his garden, where you can relax and drink a fresh glass of orange juice or enjoy a cup of Cypriot coffee. We tried some of the fruits in his garden and he explained about the ones that we had never seen or heard of. The entrance fee to the park is only 2 euros and all the drinks are around 1 or 2 euros so it's definitely worth a visit.
Your next stop on the itinerary will be the coastal town of Geroskipou, east of Paphos, which is the second largest municipality. Geroskipou isn't anything special so you can skip it if you don't have much time left in your day. Don't forget there is the beautiful harbour in Paphos that you still need to check out before the night falls.
It's a 10-minute drive from Geroskipou to Promenade Paphos. This old part of Paphos is perfect for walking and recreational activities. We will end our first day here by exploring the embankment that runs along the coast of Kato Paphos. The promenade has a length of 1 kilometre along the harbour, with lots of restaurants, shops, souvenir stalls, and refreshment stops on both sides. Much of the promenade runs along the hotels that boast direct access to beaches and are lined up along the sea almost next to each other so you can stay the night in a nice Paphos hotel and enjoy a drink by the sea.
Tombs of the Kings
The Edro III Shipwreck
Start your second day early in the morning and head towards the Tombs of the Kings Paphos. This ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site is only 2 km north of Paphos harbour and one of the most popular attractions in Cyprus so it’s best to go there early in order to avoid the crowds and have the place to yourself. If you are visiting Paphos in summer, it can get very hot so early morning tours are more enjoyable than later on in the day.
The Tombs of the Kings are underground coffins that are carved out of rock and date back to the Roman period. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the kings that were buried here, but rather high-ranking aristocrats. After your tour around this ancient site, it’s time to get away from the heat of the sun and go hiking at the Avakas Gorge, where temperatures are much cooler.
On your way to the Avakas Gorge, just a few kilometres from Peyia, you will spot the Edro III shipwreck on the shore. This is an 83-metre-long abandoned ship that has been stranded on the sea rocks since 2011. Edro was built in Norway in 1966 and now it’s become an amazing photo opportunity, especially during sunsets.
Now head to the Avakas Gorge, which is around 18 km from the coastal resort of Paphos. The trail that leads to the gorge is approximately 2.5 kilometres long with a rocky path on both sides. Note: you can park the car along the dirt road that leads to the gorge. Some people will park their cars at the start of the gorge but we recommend driving all the way down and parking the car on the dirt track. The road condition isn’t ideal but if you drive slowly it won’t be a problem driving down. Once you get there, you will find parking spaces and that where the track to the gorge starts.
To explore the gorge, you have 2 options: either walk through the gorge, explore it, and walk the same way back. This will take around 1-1.5 hours. Or you can walk through the gorge all to way to its end before walking up the hill and back to the dirt road. If you’re not the sporty kind, it’s best to just walk to the main part of the gorge and back since the loop is long and more suitable for experienced hikers. You can get further tips about the Avakas Gorge by referring to our article.
Deep inside the canyon, you will spot rare flowers, reptiles, and even wild goats. During spring it tends to rain quite a lot resulting in the water level rising in the gorge. It’s best to wear comfortable non-slip walking boots or shoes, but never flip flops. Don’t forget to bring drinking water with you. On the way out, walk up the hill to your right. You will find a dirt road, which will lead you back to where you parked your car within an hour. Before reaching the dirt road, you will pass through the field and then the beautiful sea views will appear right before your eyes.
Now take a look at our pick of the best Paphos Cyprus hotels and one of the best Paphos restaurants for sampling the local food:
Where to Stay in Paphos Cyprus
Elysium Hotel is a 5-star luxury hotel located on Paphos beachfront and adjacent to the famous Tombs of the Kings.
Facilities: 4 different types of rooms available including fully equipped deluxe bedrooms, family Cyprian maisonettes, royal studios, royal garden villas, royal suites, and 6 luxury suites from double to family sized rooms. Conference rooms. There is an outdoor and an indoor pool. 2 tennis courts, a gym, restaurants and bars, spa, and a scuba diving centre.
What's special about this hotel? It has its own beach. Ideal for wedding receptions. 6 restaurants offering Italian, Japanese, Cypriot, and other international cuisine. Spacious maisonettes and unique interior decor throughout the hotel. Every room has its own balcony or terrace with breathtaking views of the sea. Conveniently located close to all the famous Paphos sites and attractions.
Min price: 230 euros
Max price: 1200 euros
Does the hotel offer any activities? Yes, the hotel can arrange family activities, such as trips to the Paphos Zoo, cycling, scuba diving, a personal trainer, the Paphos Aphrodite Water Park, the Pirate Ship, the Archaeological Park, Paphos Karting Centre, wine tours, pottery tours, walking tour through the Pafos old town, visits to museums, tour of the Ancient Odeon, tour of the Tombs of the Kings, tour of Medieval Castle. Baths of Aphrodite tour, Sanctuary of Aphrodite tour, visits to monasteries, Coral Bay Karting, horse riding, golfing, cruising, and Adventure Club (for kayaking and boat Safari tours). They also offer a wedding specialist and photographer for couples who wish to get married at this hotel.
Swimming pool available? Yes
Spa available? Yes
Booking.com reservation possible? Yes, here
Anassa Hotel is a luxury 5-star retreat with spectacular sea views in a cosy village-style setting, less than 3 km from Baths of Aphrodite.
Location: Polis Chrysochous
Facilities: Double rooms with sea views, 47 sqm studios, junior suites with or without private pool, Aphrodite suites, 3 bedroom villas with private pool, fitness centre, massage rooms, tennis courts, and various wellness treatments.
What's special about this hotel? 8 restaurants and bars to choose from. Perfect for families with small children or groups. Kids can enjoy their own pool and mini club. Has direct access to a secluded beach.
Min price: 420 euros
Max price: 3500 euros
Does the hotel offer any activities? Yes, sailing lessons, fishing, tennis, and cruises. and Yoga.
Swimming pool available? Yes
Spa available? Yes
Booking.com reservation possible? Yes, here
Where to Eat in Paphos
The Moulia Fish & Seafood is one of the best restaurants in Paphos town. Located in Poseidonos Avenue, this popular restaurant provides outdoor seating and serves fresh fish from Cyprus and the nearby countries. It offers beautiful views of the sea and the menu features every type of fish and seafood you can think of as well as homemade desserts.
What to Pack for Cyprus
The clothes to pack will depend on which time of the year you are visiting Cyprus. Summers are very hot so you may want to wear shorts and sleeveless top.
In spring a rain jacket / or umbrella is recommend, as it can rain at times.
Take a hat with you as the sun is burning hot in summer.
You will need a sturdy pair of non-slip walking shoes or boots for the Avakas Gorge. When we visited the canyon in spring, the gorge had a lot of water because of all the rain. The rocky surfaces can get very slippery too. It’s best to bring a second pair of shoes and socks with you in case your shoes get wet. It would also be a good idea to take some spare clothes to change into if you get muddy at the gorge.
Travel Hacks South Cyprus
You will need a rental car for this trip. You can hire one from all major car rental companies at Larnaca or Paphos Airport.
Start from early in the morning in order to avoid the crowds and the summer heat wave. This way you will be able to explore all the sites on your itinerary and have some time left in your day to relax and drink a cocktail or two. :)
Continue your journey to the Akamas peninsula after you have finished exploring the Avakas Gorge and stay overnight at Anassa Hotel.
If you are flying to Larnaca Airport, you can start your trip from there or from Paphos Airport, where you can hire a car from either of the airports. When you start from Paphos, the tour will work the other way round.
If you are starting from Larnaca, visit Ayia Napa first. This way you can make a nice round trip.
2 days are enough for exploring all the sites, however, you can add an extra day to your trip and just relax on the beach. The luxurious 5-star Elysium hotel has its own private beach and spa so after spending one night at this hotel, you won’t want to leave at all!
There is no best time to visit the southwest coast of Cyprus, however, the Paphos region is especially beautiful during spring when all the trees are blossoming and everywhere is green.
Who was Aphrodite and how did she die?
Aphrodite is a Greek goddess of love, sex, and beauty. According to Greek mythology, Aphrodite was born as an adult when Uranus’ testicles fell in the sea after having been castrated by Cronus. The goddess emerged from the foam and appeared on the water surface of Petra tou Romiou rocks . Aphrodite is immortal and is always referred to be among the Greek gods.
Who did Aphrodite fall in love with?
Zeus married Aphrodite to the ugly and deformed Hephaestus after she refused to become his lover. During this marriage, Aphrodite had numerous lovers and often bragged about how she had the power to make gods fall in love with mortals. This angered Zeus who forced Aphrodite to fall in love with Anchises in order to stop her from any further bragging. The most famous lovers of Aphrodite were Ares, with whom she had a love affair during her marriage to Hephaestus, Dionysos, the god of wine, who was the son of Zeus, Hermes, and also Nerites, the very first sea-god Aphrodite fell in love with, and finally, Poseidon, with whom she had 2 daughters.
Where is the birthplace of Aphrodite?
According to Greek mythology, Aphrodite's mythical birthplace is said to be Petra tou Romiou.
What's the nightlife in Paphos like?
The nightlife in Paphos is more chilled out and stylish than in Ayia Napa. Paphos has lots of elegant restaurants, clubs, and bars by the harbour so you can enjoy a nice meal and beautiful sea views. Every bar in Paphos is unique and you will often find British, Turkish, and themed bars open during the high season. If you want to have the best nightlife experience in Paphos, head to Agiou Antoniou Street. This street is full of bars and discos, with each one offering plenty of entertainment. Paphos is an ideal place for clubbing and having a fun night out in a relaxing way without all the craziness of Ayia Napa.
Does Paphos have a zoo?
Yes. Located in Peyia, the Paphos zoo has more than 100,000 sqm of exotic birds, mammals, and reptile species. The collection of venomous snakes and birds in this zoo is one of the largest in Europe. It will take you up to 2-3 hours to explore the entire zoo.
How long was Paphos the capital of Cyprus?
Paphos was the capital of Cyprus for about 400 years from the 2nd century BC.
Where is Paphos located?
Paphos (Pafos) is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus. It has a population of around 35,600.
How hot is Paphos in December?
The average temperature in December is around 18 degrees Celsius.
How far is Paphos from Larnaca Airport?
About 132 km.
How far is Paphos centre from airport?
About 14 km.
How far is Paphos from Limassol?
Around 67 km.
What do I wear in Paphos Cyprus?
June, July, August and September are the hottest months of the year so make sure you bring your beachwear and sarong, hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Shorts and short-sleeve tops are also needed. You should also wear comfortable shoes for walking, especially at the Avakas Gorge.
In November, December, January, February, March and April, the temperatures are lower at around 18 degrees so you must bring more layers as well as an umbrella in case it rains.
What’s interesting about Paphos old town?
The old town is great for shopping and there are lots of restaurants and cafes dotted around, including an indoor market and souvenir stalls. But bear in mind that most of the shops in the old town are closed in winter.
When does tourist season end in Paphos?
The tourist season in Paphos starts from April and lasts until early October. But even the low season and winter are suitable for holidaying in Paphos. There are fewer tourists from late autumn to beginning of spring and the accommodation prices are lowest.
What is Paphos famous for?
Paphos is famous for being the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. This coastal resort offers many attractions, from the Aphrodite’s Rock, the Avakas Gorge, and the promenade, to the Baths of Aphrodite and the Paphos Castle. The city boasts many UNESCO World Heritage Sites for its ancient Greek and Roman archeological remains. In 2017, Paphos was chosen as a European Capital of Culture.
Can I hire a car in Paphos?
Yes, it’s best to hire a car from Paphos Airport before you start your journey as you will need a car to reach all the attractions.
Is Paphos Waterpark open all year round?
No. The Aphrodite Waterpark is only open during the high season and closed in winter.
What are Paphos’ beaches like?
Paphos’ beaches have all the necessary facilities sunbathers need. There are also lots of water sports activities you can take part in. The lifeguards are on the beaches from mid April to end of October and they have all the lifesaving equipment on hand. One of the main beaches of Paphos is called the Municipal Baths Beach, located in the heart of the coastal strip. For a bigger and cleaner beach, consider SODAP in Kato Paphos. It is located close to the main road. All in all, Paphos has 27 beaches and 57 kilometres of coastline.
Where do I stay in Paphos?
Are there direct flights from Europe to Paphos?
Yes. From London, there are 3 direct flights per day, and from Manchester, 1 direct flight per day. From Berlin, there is 1 direct flight to Paphos Airport per day.
Does Limassol have an airport?
No, the nearest airports to Limassol are Paphos and Larnaca airports.
Does Limassol have a beach?
Yes. Limassol is the 2nd largest city in Cyprus and located next to the Mediterranean Sea. There are in total 28 beaches in Limassol.
Which is better Limassol or Paphos?
Paphos is more picturesque than the commercial looking city of Limassol, although it can get very crowded with tourists during the high season. Paphos' beaches are also better as they aren’t grey volcanic sand and you can relax on the beach without seeing all the tankers and cargo ships that are constantly coming and going in Limassol. All the hotels in Paphos are on the beach or within easy reach, whereas in Limassol, some of the hotels are some distance away from the main town.
Where is Petra tou Romiou?
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also known as the Aphrodite's Rock and located off the shore in Paphos, Cyprus, along the main road. It is said to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of love.
How do I get to Petra tou Romiou from Paphos?
You can hire a car from Paphos airport, take a taxi, or go on a guided tour. You can also take bus number 631 from Kato Paphos. The journey takes around 20 minutes.
How do I get to Petra tou Romiou from Limassol?
You can take a guided tour to Petra tou Romiou from Limassol. The convenient option would be taking a taxi or hiring a car to get to your destination within half an hour. Bus number 631 from Limassol will take 3 hours to reach Petra tou.
Where is Kouklia?
Kouklia is an ancient village in the district of Paphos with a population of around 630 inhabitants.
How far is Kouklia from Paphos?
About 16 kilometres.
What’s so special about Kouklia?
The village is built in the famous "Palaepaphos" area, which is the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of love. The Sanctuary of Aphrodite can also be found here as well as the small animal park that’s home to native snakes. Its unspoilt beauty and the panoramic sea views make this village a popular tourist destination.
Why should I visit Amathus?
Amathus was Aphrodite’s second most important place of worship after Paphos. There are lots of must-see archeological finds and attractions in Amathus, including the Temple of Aphrodite, which sits on top of the hill, the Agora and Acropolis, and tombs that date back to the early Iron Age period. There is also a sanctuary with ancient offerings dating to the mid 8th century BC. The Amathus Archeological Site is open during the tourist season from April to September and entrance fee is 2.5 euros per person.
How far is Amathus from Larnaca?
Around 58 kilometres.
What is the distance from Sanctuary of Aphrodite at Palaepafos to Paphos?
Around 20 kilometres.
Is Kouklia Snake & Animal Park open all year?
Yes, it's a small family-run snake sanctuary open to visitors all year round.
How far is Geroskipou from Limassol?
Around 63 kilometres.
How do I reach Avakas Gorge from Limassol?
You can go with a rental car as most taxis won’t want to drive to Avakas Gorge. The distance is around 86 km.
What should I wear at Avakas Gorge?
No matter which season you are visiting the gorge, always bring comfortable non-slip walking shoes. You should also bring a hat, an umbrella in case it rains, and some spare clothes that are appropriate for the temperatures.
Does the Avakas Gorge spring run all year?
Yes, but in spring and winter the water level is higher due to more rain.
Where is Tombs of the Kings located?
2 km north of Paphos harbour.
How far is Ayia Napa from Paphos?
Around 186 km.