Cyprus has been producing wine for almost 5000 years - small wonder then that the island is home to numerous grape varieties (some of which are indigenous) and delicious vintages to sample at one of many “wine villages”. Six different wine routes run throughout the island offering a unique glimpse into many small and enchanting wineries, three of which run near to Paphos.
Route one (Laona – Akamas) heads Paphos itself down to Paphos and back, encompassing the famed wine region of Kathikas. As well as five wineries on this route you can enjoy the stunning scenery of the unspoilt Akamas region.
Route two (Vouni Panagias – Ampelitis) has in excess of 20 vineyards, such as Ezoysa winery, Vouni Panagia winery, Kolios winery and Shoufas winery, and is a loop including Paphos and northeast as far as Pano Panagia. This ancient wine trail climbs towards the Troodos Mountains in an ages-old landscape where wine has been made for thousands of years.
Route three (Diarizos Valley) runs eastwards from Paphos and covers the river valleys of Ezousa, Xeros and Diarizos, where you will discover two small yet fascinating wineries , as well as mountain villages, intriguing legend and beautiful scenery.
There are a number of boat trips on offer from the little harbour at Latchi, with its waterfront promenade just over 5 minutes’ drive away, whether you’re looking for short trip or a longer, leisurely full-day voyage.
Glass bottom boats offer a glimpse of the underwater world, while diving and sea fishing trips are also available. If you are looking for more of a pleasure cruise, wonderful trips take you out along the unspoilt coastline of the Akamas nature reserve, taking in sights such as the sea caves of Manolis Bay, the incredible blue lagoon at Chamili Bay, the wild and beautiful Fontana Amorosa region and Cape Arnaoutis – the most westerly point of the island. To enjoy this beautiful region in the seclusion it deserves, you can even hire your own boat for the day from Latchi harbour.
Natural areas of beauty
The Akamas peninsula is the most westerly point of Cyprus and is just a 15 minute drive from Polis. The unique geography of this region provides a dramatic natural beauty, enveloped by myth and untouched by development or tourism. Here undulating limestone forges deep, narrow valleys, caves and islets run down to the crystal clear waters of the coast, where it is said that the goddess Aphrodite swam before making her way up the hill to a nearby freshwater mountain spring to bathe. Habitat to an abundance of flora and fauna, walking and mountain biking trails cross the region allowing you to get up close to nature, trace the footsteps of myth and legend and enjoy some spectacular views.
Regions to visit
Enjoy a leisurely day exploring the wild beauty of the Troodos Mountains. Your time will be well-rewarded in this wonderful, rugged landscape and many tours and excursions run from neighbouring Latchi, guiding you through the region’s treasures, particularly traditional villages with a unique charm, the great Mount Olympus – Cyprus’ highest peak – as well as the beautiful Kykkos Monastery. Keen ramblers will find various hiking trails with varying lengths and degrees of difficulty.
Located in Polis, the small Archaeological Museum of Marion – Arsinoe, which houses the archaeological treasures from the ancient cities of Marion and Arsinoe, the present day Polis.
The Steni Museum of Village Life, Steni Village – dedicated to the villagers of Steni who lived during the difficult and challenging years from the day of its creation to the end of the Second World War. Exhibits include scenes of loom weaving and ploughing, tools and equipment, handicrafts, kitchenware, pots and jars and traditional period clothing.
Byzantine Museum of Arsinoe, Peristerona Village – this museum houses one of the largest collections of icons dating from the 13th to the 19th centuries, as well as wood carved ecclesiastic items, local and imported silver and metal artifacts, as well as local textiles. Rare books and manuscripts are also on display.
Weaving Museum – Fyti Village – the village has been known for its own style of weaving since medieval times and the textiles made in the village stand out for their variety of design and rich colours. Examples of such textiles are exhibited in this small museum and nearby one can see a working loom in the shop called ‘The Loom’, which sells useful items hand-made in the Fyti style.
If your Polis holiday takes you the 40 minute drive to Paphos for the day you can’t fail to spot the Medieval Fort of Paphos in its commanding, defensive position at the edge of Paphos’ harbour. With Byzantine origins, the fort has been reconstructed several times over the centuries after destruction by both man and nature, from invaders and earthquakes. This dominating structure provides a striking viewing platform and backdrop to the waterfront, as well as a venue for various events throughout the year, including the open-air Paphos Cultural Festival, which takes place every September.
Other Places of interest
Baths of Aphrodite
If you explore the westerly Akamas Peninsula you can visit a site allied with ancient myth. The Baths of Aphrodite is a cool, shady pool surrounded by lush foliage and fig trees, overlooking the bay of Polis just 15 minutes’ drive from Polis itself, where the goddess reputedly came to bathe and first met her lover, Adonis.
Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Birthplace)
Petra tou Romiou, or the Rock of the Greek, is just under an hour from Polis past Paphos. Better known as Aphrodite’s Rock, curiosity may well draw you to this iconic landmark. The site is associated with the Byzantine hero Digenis Akritas, who apparently threw a great rock into the sea with his phenomenal strength to destroy the ships of enemy invaders. It is here legend would have it that the goddess Aphrodite was born and emerged from the foamy sea on the back of a scallop shell. Myths aside, this area has a staggering natural beauty, particularly at sunset, so you may find the journey a fair trade off for such an experience.
Kato Pafos Archaeological Park
For lovers of history, the 40 minute drive from Polis to Paphos will be rewarded by a wealth of fascinating sites for a pleasant day’s exploration. Here the lines between fact and fable frequently blur to create a fascinating aura of mystery amongst its historic treasures, many of which can be found at the Kato Pafos Archaeological Park.
One of the most famous sites to discover is the Tombs of Kings, about 2km north of Paphos harbour. Here a vast network of underground tombs has been carved into solid rock. You can walk freely among these tombs, some of which date back to the 3rd century BC. Although no kings are actually buried here, the name has emerged from the sheer magnificence of the spectacle you will discover here.
Another treasure to explore is the House of Dionysus, situated by the harbour in Paphos. These remains of a 2nd century house would have been the ultimate in luxury in its heyday. The decorated walls and mosaic floor are still preserved in some of the rooms, depicting mythological scenes including Dionysus - the Greek god of wine - riding a panther, earning the house its name. Other mosaics can be found at the nearby Houses of Orpheus and Aeon, as well as the Villa of Theseus, which together form a site known affectionately as the Paphos Mosaics. Still wonderfully preserved, these are generally considered to be the finest mosaics in the Eastern Mediterranean.
A celebrated site of the Kato Pafos Archaeological Park is the Paphos Odeon. This exquisite 2nd century theatre was built out of limestone blocks that have stood the test of time. It has been partially restored since its excavation so visitors can still enjoy live spectacles, including the Choir Festival every June and the Rhythms of Light festival, held each Wednesday throughout the summer, bringing this ancient treasure to life again with music and dance.
Nearby to the Paphos Odeon you can also explore the remains of the Roman Agora – a marketplace, as well as the remnants of the city walls, the Panagia Limeniotissa Basilica and an ancient building known as the Asklepieion for its dedication in its day to Asklipeios, the god of medicine.
Also nearby is the Paphos Lighthouse; a beloved local landmark, those fit enough to climb its staircase will be rewarded with wonderful views out over Paphos.
The remains of the Saranta Kolones (the Castle of Forty Columns) – named for the forty vast granite columns that made up its original construction – is another popular attraction. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1223, the building has origins dating back to the 7th century as a fortress to protect Paphos from invading Arabs.
Your little people will love the selection of animals on show at the Paphos Zoo, which is located between the Coral Bay and St George areas, about 30 minutes outside of Polis. There’s plenty to see, including its petting area, monkeys, giraffes, goats, bison and tortoises, as well as one of the largest private collections of birds in the world. From exotic parrots to birds of prey – and everything in between – there’s a nice balance between variety, entertainment and the ability to see everything and do all the creatures justice. Upon your visit, look out for the daily owl and parrot show.