Gay Cyprus: the best things to see and do in Gay Paphos and its surroundings

Weaving together diverse cultural threads to create an intricate tapestry that’s distinctly its own, Cyprus is an enigmatic gem in the Mediterranean—well befitting of its unofficial tagline “where the East meets the West.” This is the birthplace of Aphrodite (Venus), the mythical goddess of love and beauty, and a discernible sense of romance permeates the island. Then there’s Cyprus’ tumultuous past, made evident in the many architectural ruins that punctuate the countryside and provide a compelling look at the legacies of countless conquerors throughout the ages. Add to the mix an illustrious winemaking region, luscious cuisine, and a spectacular setting, and you’ve got all the trappings of a one-of-a-kind gay getaway. Now, from the alluring architectural ruins of Paphos to the sun-soaked natural wonders just outside the city’s edge, uncover the perfect Cyprus itinerary with this guide to gay Paphos and beyond.

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Beyond the allure of its mythical past, the pristine coastline around Aphrodite’s Rock is enchanting, especially at sunset when the sky is awash in pinks and yellows

Gay Cyprus

While locals tend to be socially conservative (especially in Northern Cyprus), the nation has a stand-out reputation among gay travelers. Homosexuality is legal, and there are some anti-discrimination laws in place, though gay marriage and gay adoption are yet to be recognized. Tourism is big business in Cyprus, and the island becomes a multicultural melting pot welcoming one and all during peak summer months. You’ll find a smattering of gay bars and Cyprus gay clubs in Paphos, along with some of the island’s most fabulous gay sunbathing and nudist spots. All in all, gay travelers to Cyprus can expect a warm, welcoming environment but consider dialing-down overt displays of public affection outside gay-popular venues.

Photo: Ameer Basheer

1. A Culinary Feast

The cuisine in Cyprus is as unique as its multilayered history, with Turkish, Greek, and Middle Eastern influences all playing starring roles. The best introduction to the local culinary scene is through a Meze, a quintessential Cypriot experience. In contrast to other European countries that view the Meze as an appetizer, in Cyprus, expect a feast of small platters served in a carefully curated order. Hunker down at a local taverna for a journey of the senses, typically starting with creamy dips like hummus and taramasalata, moving on to savoury kebabs and grilled vegetables, and culminating rose water and pistachio desserts. While you’re tantalizing your taste buds, don’t miss Halloumi, Cyprus’ most famed cheese that’s been traditionally produced on the island for centuries. We love it grilled or served fresh alongside watermelon and local bread.

2. Aphrodite's Rock

Cypriots are fiercely proud to call their island the birthplace of Aphrodite. A visit to Aphrodite’s Rock—where the goddess is said to have arisen from the waves—is a must on any Cyprus gay itinerary. Beyond the allure of its mythical past, the pristine coastline around Aphrodite’s Rock is enchanting, especially at sunset when the sky is awash in pinks and yellows. There’s a pebble beach for strolling, but the sea is only advisable for strong swimmers due to a steep pitch.

3. Kato Paphos

With its palm-lined harbour, sun-bleached ruins, and spirited seafront bars and restaurants, Kato Paphos (or Lower Paphos) is a lively port town set amongst archeological marvels. Potter along the waterfront, leisurely making your way to the Paphos Castle, host to regular cultural and musical events. Then explore the maze of medieval fortresses and ancient sites at the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park. Relics date back millennia and reveal a glimpse of Cyprus’ storied past. Of particular note are the four timeworn villas from the year 100 and their incredibly intricate mosaics depicting Roman mythology scenes. Round out your exploration of Kato Paphos’ age-old wonders with a visit to the Tombs of the Kings, an underground burial complex, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The monumental necropolis is carved out of solid rock and one of the most important cultural sites on the island.

Paphos Castle | Photo: Nicholas Demetriades

Tombs Of The Kings | Photo: Dimitris Vetsikas

4. Ktima, the Old Town

Continuing our list of the best things to see in Paphos is Ktima, the recently restored Old Town that’s as charming as can be. Spread across a gently sloping hill in Upper Paphos, this jumble of colonial buildings and elegant outdoor restaurants is where you’ll rub shoulders with most local Cypriots. It’s an excellent spot for an easygoing afternoon spent hopping into boutiques or stocking up on picnic supplies at the colorful farmer’s market. There’s also the Paphos Archaeological Museum, a fascinating documentation of human activity in Cyprus from the Neolithic age to the 18th century. The Bust of Aphrodite is remarkable.

5. Hit the Beach

You’ve had your fair share of ancient monuments. Now it’s time to laze away a day on one of Paphos’ 27 eye-catching beaches—12 of which boast the coveted Blue Flag award for cleanliness and facilities. Blue Lagoon is a smart choice for sparkling cerulean water and an off-the-beaten-track vibe (this beach is only accessible via boat or a bumpy dirt road.) Gays in Cyprus won’t want for gorgeous spots preeminently popular with the boys. Governor Beach is perhaps Cyprus’ most famed gay beach. Kermia Beach is smaller but undeniably lovely—and an almost exclusively Paphos gay beach in Cyrpus. To bronze up in the nude, try Sea Caves Beach in Coral Bay or Pissouri Beach. Wherever you go, we recommend combining the sun and sand with a scenic yacht cruise to best appreciate Cyprus’ stunning coastline.

Photo: George Lemon

Photo: Angelo Pantazis

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Graced with terraced olive groves, bucolic vineyards, and bubbling streams, the foothills of the Troodos Mountains are a perfect base to discover the highlights of Cyprus’ countryside

6. Troodos Mountains

Graced with terraced olive groves, bucolic vineyards, and bubbling streams, the foothills of the Troodos Mountains are a perfect base to discover the highlights of Cyprus’ countryside. Carpeted with pines and composed of numerous nature reserves, it’s a quiet escape just calling out for long strolls and unhurried picnics. Come winter, the higher mountains transform into ski trails, a snowy sanctuary pulled straight out of a storybook. That said, the stand-out reason to visit the villages surrounding the Troodos Mountains is for the UNESCO-listed Byzantine churches and their incredible frescoed interiors.

Troodos Mountains | Photo: Dimitris Vetsikas

7. Adonis Baths

For a nation as riddled with myth as Cyprus, it hardly comes as a surprise that one of the island’s natural gems doubles as the legendary site where Adonis and Aphrodite had many of their children—and, tragically, where Adonis would die in the arms of his lover. Today, this two-level waterfall is considered a healing spot where women bath to become more beautiful and men grow stronger. It’s also just a fantastic spot for a swim in a peaceful watering hole surrounded by rocky cliffs.

8. Go wine tasting

Often overshadowed by more distinguished European wine regions, Cypriots have been in the winemaking business for some 5,000 years—and they’ve gotten quite good at transforming the humble grape into a celebratory masterpiece. You’ll find dozens of family wineries around the island, along with a handful of bigger operations. Tsangarides, Vasilikon, and Vouni Panayia wineries are all excellent spots to sample the local libations. The headliners of the red varietals are Maratheftiko, Yiannoudi, Lefkada, and Mavro. Morokonella is a showstopper of a white. In many cases, it’s best to call ahead to schedule your Cyprus winery visit.

Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Sorin Sirbu

9. Scuba Diving

While Cyprus might not be an obvious choice for top scuba diving locales, the warm sea waters off the coast of Paphos are home to dramatic seascapes punctuated by sheer cliffs and ravines—and a bonafide treasure trove of ancient artifacts and wrecks that lie hidden beneath the surface. Diving in Cyprus is suitable for all levels. The Wreck of Zenobia is one of the most popular subaquatic attractions, a 1980 sunken ferry with some 100 trucks still chained to the cargo deck. If you’re not a certified diver, you can still witness the striking site via a glass-bottom boat tour. Diana Wreck is beloved by photographers, a dive site with excellent visibility and vibrant schools of fish. The Liberty Wreck is the spot to encounter turtles, rays, and octopuses. Lastly, there’s the Amphorae Caves, home to ancient pottery that’s still completely intact and pretty coral reefs.

Photo: Pixabay

10. Akamas Peninsula

Reachable from Paphos in just about an hour’s drive north along the coastline, Akamas Peninsula is an undeveloped region full of craggy peaks and breathtaking gorges. Here lies a third of Cyprus’ endemic plant species, along with one of the Mediterranean’s most important loggerhead and green turtle nesting areas. Explore the highlights of Akamas Peninsula via quad bike, making a stop at the remote golden sands of Lara Beach for a chance to spot hatchling green turtles on their way out to sea. From here, head to Avakas Gorge. A trekker’s delight, walk the 5.1mile out and back trail for what is arguably one of the most picturesque settings in all of Cyprus.

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Photo: Dimitris Vetsikas

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