cyprus

Sun, sand and centuries of history in Pafos

Sun, sand and centuries of history in Pafos

There’s more to Pafos than the beach. The ancient Greeks certainly knew that, which is why they founded their sacred city well inland, overlooking the sparkling Med from the headland at Kouklia. Modern Pafos, sitting pretty beside the sea, is a relative newcomer, dating back a measly 2400 years.

The majority of travellers to Pafos today are lured by sea, sand and sun, and Cyprus certainly gets a lot of sun – 326 sparkling, sunshiny days per year, on average. But on this island you can’t walk more than a few paces in any direction without tripping over an ancient ruin or real-life setting for a Hellenic myth. And Pafos is no Agia Napa or Protaras – this is a proper Mediterranean city, down to the veg-stacked grocers’ shops and courtyards full of potted geraniums.

Cultured Pafos

With more than 3000 years of uninterrupted history, Pafos was an obvious candidate for the European City of Culture 2017. Performers have been gathering on the stage of its ancient odeon (amphitheatre) since at least the 2nd century BC, and the cult of fertility worship has been active in these thyme-scented hills since Neolithic times. It was no accident that the ancient Greeks chose this stretch of coast as the birthplace of Aphrodite, goddess of love.

Every July and August, dramas by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes and others get the full amphitheatre treatment in the Pafos odeon for the International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama (greekdramafest.com), while opera takes centre stage in Pafos castle every September during the Aphrodite Festival (pafc.com.cy). In 2017, the culture goes into overdrive, with art exhibitions, public performances and classical concerts amidst the ancient stones of the city’s myriad archaeological sites.

A tale of two cities

The Greek tradition of splitting towns in two dates back to at least 500 BC, when Herodotus and Plato wrote of cities divided into parallel communities – a kato (‘below’) part on the coast, and an ano (‘upper’) part inland. In an ancient Mediterranean teeming with the battleships of squabbling empires, it made sense to have somewhere to flee to in the hills, and in Cyprus the tradition is still very much alive.

When most visitors talk about Pafos, what they actually mean is Kato Pafos, sprawling around a sandstone harbour guarded by a Byzantine castle, beside a string of beaches that have become a favourite spot for British sun-seekers. Ano Pafos, or Ktima, 16km inland, is where locals prefer to live, enjoying the cooler climate at this higher elevation, and the peace and quiet away from the beach bars and touristy tavernas.

At beach level, Kato Pafos is the classic Med, complete with sun umbrellas and all-day breakfast cafes, but you don’t have to wander far to find ancient history. The rocky headland to the north of the harbour is one big historical adventure playground. The ruins scattered across the Pafos Archaeological Site were once the capital of Cyprus, before an earthquake toppled the columns and cracked the arches in the 4th century.
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Your Family Holiday: What to Pack for the Weather in Cyprus

Your Family Holiday: What to Pack for the Weather in Cyprus

If you and your family are planning a trip to Paphos, Cyprus, you’ll definitely want to check out our handy guide to the weather in Cyprus and what to pack for Paphos to make the most out of your holiday!

If you’re after plenty of sunshine and blue skies, the time to visit is between April and October. These months see the best of our long Mediterranean summer, making it the perfect family holiday time. There are summer activities to suit everyone and plenty of entertainment for the kids!

January
In January, the weather in Cyprus is at its coolest — even hail and snow are possible. There’s a high chance of the slippery stuff falling from the sky, so make sure to pack nice and warmly. The evenings are at their coolest and frosts can be frequent, though not harsh. Average temperature: 08°C-17°C
 What to pack for Paphos: Warm jackets, warm clothing and hiking boots to explore.

February
February’s temperature remains pretty cool for the most part, and there’s still a fairly high chance of the wet stuff. The rocky February climate means there’s fewer things to do with your kids in Paphos than in the summer, but the sights are still pretty awesome. Average temperature: 08°C-17°C What to pack for Paphos: An umbrella, warm jumpers and medium coats.

March
Come March, the weather in Cyprus is still quite cool, but days are beginning to get longer. It’s still not great for spending much time by the beach, and most waterparks are being prepared for next month when they open. Average temperature: 09°C-19°C What to pack for Paphos: Clothes that give you a medium level of warmth and light jumpers.

April
Score! Compared to March, April sees much warmer weather in Cyprus, and it’s a great time for getting out and about over the Easter break. Everywhere is lush, green and exciting. Our waterpark officially opens for the long summer ahead and there’s plenty of things for both you and the kids to do in Paphos. Top tip: Book your family waterpark tickets online and you’ll automatically save 15% Average temperature: 11°C-21°C What to pack for Paphos: Medium-light clothing, beach towels and a swimming costume!

May
May starts the long Mediterranean summer of fun in Cyprus. All outdoor beach restaurants and bars will now be open, and the weather is perfect for swimming and splashing around with the kids. 
Average temperature: 15°C-24°C What to pack for Paphos: Summer clothing, swimwear and a light jacket for the evenings.

June
The hot June weather in Cyprus means it’s definitely time to treat the family to lots of ice cream! If you’re having a day of family fun in our waterpark, remember there are plenty of shady spots for you and the kids to make use of. Top tip: Why not check out all of our park facilities? We’ve got plenty to keep you entertained! Average temperature: 18°C-28°C What to pack for Paphos: Light clothing, sun protection and some long-sleeves for the evenings.

July
July and August are the wall to wall sunshine months in Cyprus, so it’s a great time to cool off and have fun in the waterpark! We recommend bringing lots waterproof sunscreen, and if you’re on holiday with young children, you may want to avoid sightseeing between 12-3pm, when the day is at its hottest. Average temperature: 20°C-30°C What to pack for Paphos: Plenty of light summer clothing, sunscreen, hats and sunglasses.

August
Hot summer temperatures, clear blue skies and lots of water-based activities is what your August holiday to Paphos is all about. It’s also a lot quieter on the roads as this is when local Cypriots tend to take their summer break. The evenings are lovely and warm, and it’s a great time to laze by the pool. Top tip: Check out these seven really cool things to do on your summer holiday to Paphos. Average temperature: 21°C-30°C What to pack for Paphos: Plenty of light summer clothing, sunscreen, hats and sunglasses.

September
The sunshine and warm weather in Cyprus continues throughout September and the water is still a perfect temperature for swimming in. Just like in June, July and August, we recommend taking plenty of sun protection and a bottle of water when sightseeing. Average temperature: 19°C-29°C What to pack for Paphos: Summer clothing, sun protection and long sleeves for the evening.

October
In October, the weather in Cyprus is still nice and warm, so it is perfect for young families planning a holiday in half term. There’s still plenty of activities for kids and families to do, and we remain open until the end of the month. Average temperature: 16°C-27°C What to pack for Paphos: Light clothing for the day time and jackets for the cooler evenings.

November
Around the middle of November, Cyprus becomes cooler and it can rain. Sunbathing is still possible, but not nearly as nice or comfortable as in the summer months. It’s still good weather for outdoor activities or excursions. Average temperature: 13°C-22°C What to pack for Paphos: Light jumpers, an umbrella and medium clothing in general.

December
The month of December welcomes our Mediterranean winter. The temperature drops and meteorological statistics show that December is considered our wettest month of all. Mild frosts can be frequent, but it is still a pleasant month to go hiking and see the cultural sites. Average temperature: 10°C-19°C What to pack for Paphos: Warm jackets, mostly winter clothing and don’t forget an umbrella!

Tombs of the Kings

Tombs of the Kings

Imagine yourself surrounded by ancient tombs in a desertlike landscape where the only sounds are waves crashing on rocks. The Tombs of the Kings, a Unesco World Heritage Site, contains a set of well-preserved underground tombs and chambers used by residents of Nea Pafos during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD. Despite the name, the tombs were not actually used by royalty; they earned the title from their grand appearance.Located 2km north of Kato Pafos, the tombs are unique in Cyprus, being heavily influenced by ancient Egyptian tradition, when it was believed that tombs for the dead should resemble houses for the living.The seven excavated tombs are scattered over a wide area; the most impressive is No 3, which has an open atrium below ground level, surrounded by columns. Other tombs have niches built into the walls where bodies were stored. Most of the tombs’ treasures have long since been spirited away by grave robbers.Pafos Buses 615 route to Coral Bay stops right outside the entrance (€1.50, 5 minutes), departing roughly every 15 minutes from the Harbour Bus Station.