How to spend 48 hours in Paphos, Cyprus

Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie

Cyprus is a glorious island nation to visit, offering both vibrant cities like Limassol and Nicosia, and then also laidback beach resorts like Ayia Napa and Coral Bay. In Paphos, Cyprus boasts a destination with it all. Paphos (or Pafos) is not 'just' a popular beach resort with all the usual holiday accoutrements, but a fully-fledged small city too, with a real buzz and soul.

How to spend 48 hours in Paphos, Cyprus © kaetana - Fotolia.com
How to spend 48 hours in Paphos, Cyprus © kaetana - Fotolia.com

The fact that both sides of Paphos rest so dramatically on a swathe of striking Greek and Roman remnants make it even more compelling. This is especially true this year when Paphos has deservedly been awarded the title of European City of Culture, with a series of events being staged throughout 2017 in celebration. Visitors are very much being encouraged to join in.

Mix these cultural offerings in with the range of all inclusive deals from First Choice, giving you a one-stop-base from which to explore Paphos, and you can see why 48 hours may simply not be long enough. Strap in now as I share my tips for spending 48 hours wrapped in the bountiful, year round warm charms of Paphos.

Day one

10am

The best place to kick off a visit this year is at Paphos' number one heritage site, the archaeological site in Neo Paphos. It is easy to see why this is one of the main reasons Paphos earned the right to be the European City of Culture, as the centuries peel back at every turn. Close your eyes and it is easy here to conjure up Greek and Roman ghosts living and breathing in this UNESCO World Heritage listed ruined waterfront city. The intricate mosaics are breathtaking.

Roman mosaics from 2nd century, Nea Paphos, Cyprus © Wolfgang Sauber - Wikimedia Commons
Roman mosaics from 2nd century, Nea Paphos, Cyprus © Wolfgang Sauber - Wikimedia Commons

1pm

Ease along to the slew of restaurants that are sprinkled around the picturesque old port - Theo's is my favourite. Choose between the boat fresh fish caught that day or, if you really want to go for it Cypriot style, order a traditional massive multi-course seafood mezze.

3pm

The area around the waterfront is home to lots of tourist friendly shops, with some slick designer stores sprinkled around the streets too. If you are looking for an unusual, authentic souvenir, the government sponsored Cyprus Handicraft Centre sells some fine traditional lacework and striking pottery. If it's a leather handbag or a multicoloured hand-woven throw you are after head to the covered market in Ktima. The market is very much at the heart of local life. Locals come to do their food shopping here too.

8pm

Treat yourself to a touch of fine dining at Gabor. It's a little touch of Paris tucked in Paphos with a real Francophile vibe. Cypriot cuisine tends to focus on simple, strong flavours, but here things are a little more refined and the service suitably smooth. Tremendous steaks and tempting desserts.

Path down to the sea at Paphos, Cyprus © Oleg - Flickr Creative Commons
Path down to the sea at Paphos, Cyprus © Oleg - Flickr Creative Commons

Day two

9am

Time for more history at the evocatively named Tombs of the Kings, another UNESCO World Heritage site. No kings actually lie here, rather these tombs form the lavish last resting place of many local aristocrats from as far back as the 4th century BC. It's a great site to really get stuck into, and learn about Paphos' heritage as you can explore all the nooks and crannies. The tombs are deeply dramatic, from sweeping staircase entrances to vaulting Doric columns.

Tombs of the Kings, Paphos, Cyprus © Leigh Green - Alamy Stock Photo
Tombs of the Kings, Paphos, Cyprus © Leigh Green - Alamy Stock Photo

Midday

Enjoy a cheap and cheerful lunch Cypriot grill style at the characterful old-timer Hondros. The authentic grills are finger-licking good - the Cypriots do grilled meats as well as any country. Look out for the superb kleftiko (slowly roasted lamb) too. If they have it on the grill, don't miss out!

2pm

The Pafos Zoo is a fun alternative to relaxing on the beach for families looking to get out and about in the Paphos region. As it's about a half hour drive away I recommend taking their shuttle service, which operates all summer. This oasis is stretched out across a hillside with views of the distant Mediterranean. My daughters are big fans of this zoo - their highlight was the chance to feed a brace of giraffes. These hulking big creatures ambled right up to us, dwarfing us as their long black tongues swooped down to snare the snacks that are specially suited to their diets.

New found friends at Paphos Zoo, Cyprus © Sergey Galyonkin - Flickr Creative Commons
New found friends at Paphos Zoo, Cyprus © Sergey Galyonkin - Flickr Creative Commons

7pm

Time now for arguably the best mezze in Cyprus at the remarkable 7 St. Georges Tavern. The tantalising and largely organic, homegrown food just keeps coming and coming until you beg them to stop. As well as growing their own fruit and vegetables, they produce their own wine too, which is not bad at all. You will no doubt meet the charismatic family who run this most unique of eateries, as you savour treats such as slow cooked pork and melt-in-the-mouth beef, through to pickled samphire and pickled quails' eggs.

Day three

9am

On the last morning of your 48 hours in Paphos don't just gaze out to sea. Take a boat trip, an exhilarating way to get a real feel for this coastal city and its surroundings. One of the best operators is Paphos Sea Cruises, which hosts many trips, from old sailing ships, through to adults-only escapes. Alternatively, enjoy another thrill ride, this time an Akamas Peninsula jeep safari with Jimmys Jeep Adventures, whose skilled driver will take you deep into the wild heart of this protected nature reserve awash with its hills, forest, and egg-laying turtles.

Boat trip on the San Antonio II, Paphos, Cyprus - Photo courtesy of Paphos Sea Cruises
Boat trip on the San Antonio II, Paphos, Cyprus - Photo courtesy of Paphos Sea Cruises

Whether you're planning a short weekend escape or stopping off in Paphos while on holiday in Cyprus, you can see that there's plenty to do in this stunning seaside resort. First Choice offer all inclusive breaks to Paphos from airports around the UK at great prices when you book online. You can also find out more about the weather in Paphos, and see when we think is the best time to go for ultimate holiday conditions.

Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie
Posted on Thursday 27th April 2017 in: City Culture Europe Summer

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