Paphos, Cyprus, paradise of my childhood. A tiny little island, Cyprus still has much to offer travelers whether they are seeking sunshine or sensations.
Siam Park in Tenerife is regarded as one of the world’s best waterparks but Aphrodite waterpark in Paphos has numerous fun, family friendly rides. Perhaps the proudest moment of my life to date is managing to conquer the Super Volcano (I’m only being mildly sarcastic…) As a child, I was always too embarrassed to try so this was one tick for my inner five-year-old. There are also plenty of ring rides including Racer, Twister and the Raging River. There’s the customary Lazy River and the very fun Wet Bubble.
Baths of Aphrodite
As the birthplace of the legendary Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty and fertility, practically everything in Paphos is named after her. There’s the waterpark, restaurants, Aphrodite McDonalds (okay I made that one up) but her moniker is most suitably attached to the baths from which she is alleged to have sprang.
Aphrodite’s origin story is rather gruesome. Allegedly when Cronus threw the severed genitals of Uranus into the sea, they began to bubble and foam, and from them Aphrodite was born. How could someone so gorgeous come from something so gory?
The spring of Aphrodite’s origin is small but beautiful. I had memories of going into the spring as a child and splashing myself with water but this was never true. You have never been and are still not able to get into the baths. That said, you can splash yourself with spring water, which is what we were doing when this picture was taken, all under the watchful eyes of a guardian eel. To come into contact with water from the spring is said to bestow eternal beauty on the visitor.
The highlight of our trip was Adonis Baths, a unanimous number one amongst our group. The birthplace of the mythological figure Adonis, the bottomless waters are achingly cold but so refreshing once you manage to get in! You can jump into the water from the rocks or tree overlapping the water but you do so at your own risk. There is also a rope that you can climb and from which you can fling yourself into the calling waters. We spent hours here, re-enacting some kind of Lord of the Flies camp for adults, complete with mud face paint dredged from the sides of the lagoon.
The trip to the baths is perilous. We rented a car and drove. To get there, you drive along endless reams of dusty track. I think the only living soul we passed was a donkey. If you persevere, you will find the baths, watched over by the tallest statue of Aphrodite.
Paphos harbor is bursting with bars and restaurants and the options for fresh fish are plentiful. We went to Theo’s and ordered platefuls of seafood. The quality was amazing and we were well looked after. If you go, let Andreas know that I say hi!
The harbor is the perfect place for a night-time stroll. You can see lights playing on the water as diners knock back their drinks. Although bustling and busy, there’s a serenity to the harbor. Perhaps it’s the feel of the moon hanging overhead or the gentle lapping of the waves.
For us, a pitstop at Gemens (formally Yemens), the restaurant opposite the Alexander the Great Hotel was a necessity. I have come here since I was a child and the brothers who own the restaurant, Andreas and Costas, are welcoming and wonderful. If you want to stop in and see them, please say I sent you! They do not serve traditional Greek fare, but plenty of tasty dishes and cocktails to keep you full.
When I looked at Trip Advisor, I saw a review that stated that visiting Aphrodite’s rock was a waste of time. It was, after all, just a rock in the sea. Essentially that is all it is but this was one of my favourite things to see. It’s a calm quaint beach although it is pebbly!
Kourion Archaeological Site
Kourion is home to some of the most impressive excavations. The kingdom that once flourished here was destroyed in 365 AD. Coming here as a child felt more impressive and I think we had freer rein to explore and delve into the mysteries of the place. It’s still interesting and worth coming to although I would recommend a morning visit as the dead heat of the day is devastating.
Day trips to Nicosia, Limassol or Ayia Napa
From Paphos, you can rent a car and explore other areas on the island.
Nicosia, Cyprus’s capital city is segregated, divided between the Greek south and the Turkish north. It’s an interesting city with a rich history and well worth a visit.
Limassol, located on the southern coast, is renowned for its castle, tombstones and pottery.
Ayia Napa is well known as a party town and for its beautiful beaches but it also offers pockets of sanctuary.
Trips to Egypt and Israel
Cyprus is surrounded by Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Egypt and there are opportunities to visit some of these countries by plane or cruise ship. Trips to Egypt and Israel depart frequently. Although I’ve never been on either of these tours, I would like to go in future. Both places are fascinating from a cultural and historical perspective.
So, as you’ll see there is plenty to do when visiting Cyprus. For a small island, there are endless amusements and equally, plenty of serenity and peace if that’s what you prefer.
All my love