If you fall in love with the cruise port of Paphos, Cyprus, it's for a good reason: You're very close to the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty. An ancient city, archaeological findings date it to the Neolithic period (anywhere from 10,200 B.C. to 2,000 B.C.) with a temple dedicated to Aphrodite erected in the 12th century B.C. The area known as New Paphos is found on the western end of the island on the Mediterranean coast. Stories have it that it was founded by Agapenor, the Arcadians' chief during the Trojan War. This part of the city is more modern, and its excellent harbor is important in fishing and trade. With many different places to explore – the entire town is on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List – it’s hard to know where to begin. That said, here are some of our favorite experiences when cruising to Paphos, Cyprus:
- You don't have to be a die-hard archaeology buff to enjoy the Kato Pafos Archaeological Park. But if you are, this is a fascinating spot. Not far from the harbor, there are sites and monuments dating from prehistoric times through the Middle Ages. The Roman mosaics alone are worth a visit, but the remains of the House of Dionysos, the House of Orpheus and others are enough to make one swoon.
- The nearby Tombs of the Kings are different from what the name suggests. Although this was a burial place of Paphitic aristocrats up through the 3rd century, no kings were found here. Carved from solid rock, some of the tombs have Doric columns and frescoed walls.
- The original church at this spot was visited by St. Paul around 45 A.D., and the Ayia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa (Church by St. Paul’s Pillar) was built in its place around 1500 A.D. Eventually, it became the Byzantine Cathedral Lower Paphos and is now an Anglican church, full of beauty as well as history.
- For a break and a beach, lounge at Coral Bay. Paphos' popular resort area, it has white sand, nearby sea caves, and carries the highly-sought Blue Flag beach designation.