Paphos / Pafos
Paphos is both the name of the district and the principle city along the west coast of Cyprus. A former capital of the island, it brims with history, which can be absorbed at the Archaeological Museum and the Byzantine Museum. Awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, Kato Pafos (Lower Paphos) is an adventure playground for history lovers. Discover the medieval castle standing guard at the harbour, Roman villas with elaborate mosaic tiled floors, the Roman Odeon where summer concerts are still held and, slightly further out of town, the Tombs of the Kings, an extensive necropolis carved in soft sandstone.
Goddess of love and beauty
The Paphos area is intertwined with the legend of Aphrodite; in the south of the district you can visit a temple dedicated to the goddess as well as her ‘birthplace’ where she is said to have emerged from the sea. In the north, near Polis, you can visit a pool said to have been her favourite bathing spot, and perhaps follow in her footsteps by walking the Aphrodite Nature Trail.
A fusion of flavours
The Cypriots consider their cuisine to be a fusion of Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern flavours: a meal typically starts with ‘mezédhes’ – a platter of hot and cold dishes, accompanied by Cypriot bread and, of course, halloumi – followed by lamb, pork, chicken or fish. Locally produced wines are always on offer and are of excellent quality (after all, the history of winemaking on the island can be traced back nearly 6000 years). Colourful platters of seasonal fruit, such as mango, guava, pomegranate, and orange, always play a part in every meal.
Spring is heralded with the appearance of colourful flowers in the meadows, the slopes of the hills turning green, the streams full of crystal-clear water and the days are warm and sunny. Summer brings high temperatures, lots of sunshine and lasts long into September and October. In fact, Cyprus has on average 11 hours of sunshine per day from April to October!
Easter celebrations and festivals
The biggest event in the Greek Orthodox calendar, ‘Pascha’ (Easter) is celebrated with exuberance by one and all in Cyprus, with processions, Mass and lots of eating and drinking. ‘Kataklysmos’ or the ‘Flood’ festival takes place in many of the coastal towns fifty days after the Orthodox Easter. Events include swimming galas and boat races, not forgetting the traditional custom of throwing water at each other! Throughout the summer, villages hold traditional festivals, often in homage to flowers or fruit, from oranges to roses. Opera concerts take place in front of Paphos Castle and September sees wine festivals, the largest taking place in Limassol.
Keen golfers will be pleased to know there are several golf courses in western Cyprus. Eléa Golf Course is close to Paphos town, and the championship golf courses of Secret Valley and Aphrodite Hills are a little further south near Kouklia. During the hottest months, the higher altitude of Minthis Hills Golf Course may be the most appealing option.