Home to millennia-old ruins and landmarks—and itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site—the coastal city of Paphos feels only slightly removed from the ancient world. From temples devoted to Aphrodite and ancient tombs to mosaic-strewn villas, here are some of Paphos’ key historical sights.
Paphos Archaeological Park
The crown jewel among Paphos’ historical destinations, the sprawling Paphos Archaeological Park—also known as Nea Paphos—stands on the site of the ancient city of Paphos, founded in the fourth century BC. Be sure to seek out the park’s Roman villas (the House of Dionysos, House of Aion, House of Theseus, and House of Orpheus), which are home to some of the ancient world’s most exceptional mosaics.
Tombs of the Kings
Also part of the Paphos Archaeological Park, the Tombs of the Kings are an extensive series of monumental, subterranean burial sites. The excavated landmarks are renowned for their scale, and were designed to imitate the houses of the living. Despite the name, no kings were buried here—instead, the necropolis served as the final resting place for members of the local aristocracy and important officials.
Sanctuary of Aphrodite
Paphos was famously home to the cult of Aphrodite, and the UNESCO-listed Sanctuary of Aphrodite was created as a place of worship in the 12th century BC. The hilltop site offers enviable seaside views. In addition to its ruins, there is also an on-site museum full of ancient artifacts. Round out your trip with a jaunt to Aphrodite Rock, where, according to legend, the goddess of love was born.
Roughly a 20-minute drive from Paphos proper, Agios Neophytos traces its origins to the 12th century AD, when a reclusive monk first carved a dwelling space into the mountains. Today, the monastery is particularly renowned for its Byzantine frescoes.
First built as a Byzantine fort, Paphos Castle was later dismantled and rebuilt by the Venetians and the Ottomans. Poised right on the harbor, the castle’s heavy, block-like architecture hints at its defensive past and lends it an appealing grandiosity.