Paphos Holidays – A Brit home from home
Paphos (Páfos in officialese), at the far south western tip of Cyprus, has long been the most popular resort on the island for Brits of a certain age, with also a resident expat population in the district well into five figures. The place is divided into the inland, bluff-top ‘real’ town of Ktíma Páfos, with its elegant neoclassical administrative buildings and lively market, and the purpose-built, post-1974 resort development of Káto Páfos, extending mostly east from the little port with its square medieval castle.
The two in-town must sees are the superb, UNESCO-rated Roman mosaics conveniently by the port, only discovered in 1962, and the eerie, Hellenistic, rock-cut Tombs of the Kings 2km north. Point a car towards the foothill monastery of Áyios Neófytos and the vividly frescoed 12th-century cave hermitage of the saint. Holidays in Paphos are suitable for all tastes and ages, with plenty of organized activities (scuba, paragliding, a water park, nearby golf courses, a bowling alley) and moderate nightlife on a single ‘bar street’ in Káto Páfos.
When to go to Paphos
Paphos is best during late spring or mid-autumn. The sea can be brisk in early spring, but usually has warmed up enough for most tastes by early May. The late May/early June Pharos International Chamber Music Festival at nearby Koúklia (www.thepharostrust.org), and the early September Paphos Aphrodite Festival (www.pafc.com.cy/), featuring a performance of a classic opera at the port castle, are the formal-event highlights of the year. Much of the accommodation along the Káto Páfos resort strip closes down from January through March inclusive – you’ll have to search hard to find the exceptions.
The weather in Paphos
Paphos, especially near the beach, is typically a bit cooler in summer than the rest of the island, thanks to sea breezes from the southwest which occasionally bring major storms at any time between October and May. Count on summer daytime temperatures in the high 20s°C to low 30s°C, night time ones around 20°C. As most everywhere in Cyprus, late spring and mid-autumn have the most pleasant conditions. Winter days average about 17°C, with moderate rain and night time temperatures often dipping into single figures. www.cyprus-weather.org/paphos-weather-forecast/ has the most accurate and complete summary of conditions.
Getting the best deal to Paphos
Peak season for Paphos has traditionally been May through October, but each tour operator (and accommodation establishment) seems to have its own rationale for assessing this. 2012 –and probably 2013 – are not typical tourist years for economically fraught southern Cyprus, whose banks are badly exposed to the Greek crisis. With arrival numbers down sharply from past 2-million-plus annual figures, it could well be a buyer’s market in the near future.
Booking a package is usually the most cost-effective strategy, though with operators pricing pre-emptively against possible air-fare hikes, you need to be quick to get a bargain for 2012. Flight prices, quoted separately, vary considerably; anything under £250 return, at shoulder seasons, is doing well, while summer prices soar above £300 (as against £150 in winter). Departures from regional airports can be advantageous compared to the biggest UK hubs.
Airport and transport need to know
Paphos airport (Páfos; PFO) lies 15km southeast of the town, was upgraded in 2009 and is now adequate to demand except for a limited number of luggage reclaim belts. Paphos is especially popular with no-frills airlines like easyJet, jet2, Thomson and Monarch.
From Paphos airport, inexpensive (€1) urban bus number 612 heads through the resort area as far as the main waterside terminal in Káto Páfos almost hourly from 7am to midnight (much less Nov–April), but as accommodation is scattered over a wide area of the resort, it will be less hassle to have a pre-booked transfer or hire car awaiting you at the airport. Driving is on the left in Cyprus, as in Britain.
It’s best to be at the airport at least 75 minutes before your scheduled departure. There are few eating or drinking options at PFO (all pricey), so fortify yourself beforehand. Car-hire parking areas lie a reasonable (300m) distance from the terminal entrance.
The best beaches near Paphos
Most of the resort-zone coast, from the airport northwest towards Áyios Yeóryios, is resolutely rocky, with a handful of sculpted-out sand-and-gravel coves or longer stretches. To its credit, the municipality has blazed a pedestrian and cycling way from Káto Páfos harbour east all the way to the municipal boundary at Yeroskípou, which ensures public access to the entire shoreline and actually separates ‘beachfront’ hotels from the water. But for substantial beaches you’ll have to drive some distance away.
Yeroskípou beach, about 3km from the little port, with a shingle shore but sandy bottom underwater, is the closest proper beach to town. It has two active beach-bars/snack cafés, and something of a night time nude-bathing scene (largely gay) in summer, especially around the full moon.
A favourite photo-op and sunset-watching beach is the pebble-and-coarse-sand one at Pétra tou Romioú, some 24km southeast of Paphos. In legend, the evocative rock monoliths looming offshore are missiles hurled at pirates by the Byzantine folk hero Dhiyenis ‘Romios’ Akritas. The place can be crowded at dusk, with limited parking.
For pristine, undeveloped, sandy beaches, point a hire car (preferably 4WD) towards Lára, nearly 30km north of Paphos, just inside the Akámas wilderness area. Here, a cape separates two sandy coves, to be selected according to the day’s wind direction. The northerly cove, with low dunes, is a noted, protected sea-turtle nesting area, with a seasonally staffed monitoring and information post. No activities incompatible with turtle-hatchling survival are allowed, which means no sunbeds, umbrellas, or after-dark visits during summer. The sea is gently shelving and warms up earliest in the year of all Paphos area beaches.
Take a look at a selection of our 5 star luxury hotels in Paphos
Cheap holiday deals to Paphos
This neat little apartment complex has amazingly spacious self-catering accommodation and makes an economical base for a richly rewarding resort. The Kefalonitis is right in the heart of the Tomb of Kings area of Paphos and has instant access to a bar and restaurant scene that is a good deal cheaper than the romantic harbour and old town tourist centres.
This is one of the largest and most impressively equipped resort hotels in ever-popular Paphos. The Avanti Hotel has instant access to a sandy beach and combines stylish four-star standards with the atmosphere of an upmarket holiday park. This is a great place for kids and is also good for teenagers. Amazing sports facilities include three tennis courts, six floodlit bowling greens and a hotel-owned football pitch.