I think it’s pretty clear from my other posts that I just love the Mediterranean, but I am also a sucker for warm weather in non-summer months. While Germany in October is rainy and gray, Cyprus is dry and sunny with highs between 70 and 80 degrees. That made it the ideal second stop on our four-stop, 12-day journey.
The southern part of Cyprus is its own independent country, and while it is not part of Greece, it shares the culture: language, food and ancient history. The northern side is under Turkish control. We stayed in the Greek part in Paphos in an Airbnb apartment about a 10-minute walk from the water and all the restaurants. We weren’t thrilled with the apartment itself (air conditioning that only runs for 2 hours at a time, nonexistent shower pressure, useless host), but the complex was very nice with a quiet pool area that we enjoyed on multiple hot afternoons. We would have loved to stay right on the beach, but this was the best location we could get within our tight budget, so we were satisfied and didn’t mind a little walking. Plus, there were lots of stray cats hanging out in our complex, including one I unofficially adopted who waited for us outside our door every day.
The city beaches of Paphos weren’t among the nicer ones I’ve seen on the Mediterranean, but that doesn’t mean the island doesn’t offer spectacular natural landscapes. On one of our days, we took a boat trip that included stops for swimming, a surprisingly delicious lunch buffet and an open bar. I had been feeling sick—probably from dehydration and exhaustion—so I drank unlimited cold water, which honestly is a much-appreciated luxury after spending more than 2 years paying for water all the time in Europe. The views of the coast as we cruised by were mesmerizing, and the two swimming spots were equally as beautiful. The water was unbelievably clear, and at the second stop, we got to explore some small cliffs and sea caves. The boat provided floats which was an added bonus.
We also did a Blue Lagoon boat tour, which was part of a day trip around the Akamas Peninsula. Our first stop of the day trip was at some stunning sea cliffs and caves—my favorite kind of view—and a banana plantation, where we got to walk among the gigantic leaves of banana trees. It was quite a unique experience!
Then, our bus dropped us off at Latchi Harbor where we boarded our boat for the Blue Lagoon. There are a lot of beautiful bodies of water in the world named “The Blue Lagoon,” and I’ve decided it’s my goal to see as many of them as possible. I missed one in Croatia, but my first Blue Lagoon was in Malta. In November, I’ll be warming up in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. This one in Cyprus certainly had the fluorescent blue color I was expecting, but I don’t think it can compare to Malta’s, which is much bigger and is accompanied by the pretty much uninhabited Comino island. It was definitely still worth seeing, despite the clouds that partially blocked the sun, altering the color of the water. The boat trip was very relaxing, and we even got to see the legendary birthplace of Greek goddess Aphrodite, where she is said to have appeared out of the sea.
The Aphrodite legends continued when we arrived at Aphrodite’s Bath. A short walk through the woods led us to a magical little pool with supposedly healing waters where Aphrodite used to hang out (please forgive the picture, this was really difficult to capture).
We had a stop for lunch at a restaurant with pretty views looking out on the water, and then we were off to a winery for the classic tour stop where they try to make you buy things and the tour company gets a kick-back. By that point we were tired and just wanted to go home! Regardless, I was glad we booked this trip because it was affordable (only about €35, not including our €15 lunch) and it was a really great overview of this southwestern region of Cyprus.
One of my favorite parts of our Paphos trip was riding horses at sunset from Eagle Mountain Ranch. A driver picked us up from our accommodation and took us high into the hills behind Paphos, where we met our horses and guide for the two-hour ride. My sister and I both rode horses when we were little, and we’ve done some scenic rides in Colorado and the Bahamas, so this wasn’t a new experience for us, though the ranch does allow riders of all skill levels. My horse was a lazy but sweet boy named Angelo, who was born to be a racehorse but had a hole in his windpipe and couldn’t race. The animal shelters didn’t have any space for him, and he was going to be euthanized, but luckily, Eagle Mountain Ranch rescued him. The horses took us all through the trails of a nature reserve where we peacefully were able to enjoy the landscape, and our ride ended on a hill looking out over Paphos and onto the Mediterranean, where the sun was meeting the horizon. It was the first of six amazing sunsets we had each of the nights we were in Paphos, and enjoying it while on a horse was something I’ll never forget.
Paphos is also the home to ancient Greek archaeological sites. At the Paphos Archaeological Park, a €7 ticket got us access to a bunch of different ruins. We saw ancient catacombs, 1700-year-old mosaics that were still mostly intact, and an amphitheater from the second century AD. It was a super hot day with little to no shade to escape the sun, but I loved getting to see such incredible history from so long ago.
I was disappointed by the food in Paphos, though I guess I shouldn’t have had high expectations for a resort town that is basically controlled by tourists—mainly all British or Russian (and we got mistaken for both many times). The most frustrating part was that so many of the restaurants had 4.4 stars or above on Google maps, which is usually how I decide where to eat, but not all of them were 4.4-plus-star quality. The highlights were the ones the locals (a.k.a. British people who live in Paphos working in the tourism industry) had recommended. Suite48 is a cool bar and restaurant right on the path that runs parallel to the coast, meaning it has a prime view of the sunset. We went two nights because we were so impressed with the food and extensive cocktail menu. Who knew a club sandwich could taste so good! Estrella had really amazing brunch dishes, with about 10 different kinds of pancakes, macaroni and cheese, breakfast pizza and more. We also loved their frappes, a Cypriot classic of blended coffee with milk and ice. The Moorings seemed touristy and a bit hit-or-miss to me, but luckily we had some hits. I got a huge plate of ribs for dinner, so I felt like I was back in America. And what’s more American than apple pie? This dessert was served warm and more like a cobbler, but I am not complaining because I devoured ever crumb of that streusel topping.
After going to every other Mediterranean country in Europe, Cyprus was the last one to check off the list. I am so happy I did because my sister and I had a relaxing five days of beachy activities and perfect weather. Then, we were off to Estonia where it would be raining and 40 degrees colder!