Pafos district, which takes up the whole of the western end of Cyprus, is probably the single most varied and most attractive region on the island. Wild and remote in parts, it was long regarded in the rest of Cyprus as something of a rural backwater, its inhabitants frequently lampooned as clueless country bumpkins. This situation changed substantially in the 1980s with the opening of Pafos Airport and the development of motorway links with the rest of the island. Suddenly the Pafos area became a magnet for developers keen to exploit its natural riches.
For a start, it has the longest coastline of any district, swinging around from Aphrodite’s birthplace in the south to Aphrodite’s Baths in the north and beyond, with beaches facing south, west and north along its length. It has, in the Akamas Peninsula and the forests of Tilliria, two of the island’s great wilderness areas, crisscrossed with trails and dotted with picnic sites. And inland stretch beautiful sunny uplands, carpeted in vineyards and dotted with wineries, monasteries and pretty villages. Pafos town itself might at first appear to be the archetypal beach-and-booze resort – no different, you might think, from hundreds of others across the Mediterranean. Yet look more closely and, laced through the maze of bars and restaurants and hotels are a number of fascinating historical remains, some of which have been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. And in Polis on the north coast, with its beach, little fishing port and hinterland villages and unspoilt stretch of coast, it has a relaxed, away-from-it-all feel.