The vast variety of plant and animal life, together with the beautiful unspoiled scenery in the Pafos Region, make it a delight for those who appreciate nature.
The flora of Cyprus – A botanist’s paradise
The island of Cyprus is home to almost 2000 wildflowers, of which 140 are endemic. Considered a floral and herbal paradise, the island compares relatively well to other countries in Europe and the across the Mediterranean since their number do not exceed 2900.
A vast number of the flowering plants have pharmaceutical properties with widespread uses; a large number of herbal products and essential oils are processed and sold locally.
Cyprus’ rich mythological past is associated with its unique flora, particularly when it comes to the goddess Aphrodite. Incorporated as part of Pafos’ beautifully preserved floor mosaics, and revered amongst locals for their natural beauty, flowers hold a significant place in Pafos’ cultural scene with an annual festival held every spring to celebrate their uniqueness.
Varieties of wildflowers are unique to the Pafos area, some of which are extremely rare. The red Tulipa Cypria grows in the Akamas region, and the Sun-eyed Tulip in the area of Polemi. Amongst the most common wildflowers visible throughout Cyprus, these include:
Lapsana (Sinapsis alba/charlock) features rows of small, yellow flowers.
Similloudi (Chrysanthemum coronarium) has yellow flowers resembling daisies.
Lales (Anemone coronaria/crown or poppy anemone) grow in a variety of colours.
Xinidin (Oxalis/Cape Sorrel) have yellow flowers.
Arkoscordos (Allium neapolitanum) or wild garlic has white flowers.
Rasin (Calycotome villosa/Prickly broom) is a thorny bush with an abundance of pretty, yellow flowers.
Ksistarka (Cistus sp. /Rock Rose). White or pink flowers.
Kapparka (Capparis spinosa/Caper). Its eye-catching flowers are white with a pink stamen.
Rare, wild flowers include a species of wild red tulip (Tulipa Cypria) and several kinds of orchids (orchis).
Among the shrubs common to Cyprus are Mersine (Myrtus communis/Myrtl).
The Pafos Region is blessed with the most beautiful and diverse landscape on the island of Cyprus. Stunning scenery, magnificent rock formations, fabulous beaches, spellbinding shades of sea blues and fragrant forests. Adventure seekers and natural lovers should incorporate the following diverse nature attractions when visiting the region:
Petra tou Romiou
A large rock located on the southern shore of Cyprus, and the mythological birthplace of the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. Legend has it that Petra tou Romiou is also the site where Dighenis Akritas, a Byzantine epic hero with formidable strength, hurled a large rock from the top of the Troodos Mountains in an effort to protect Cyprus from invading Saracens.
This popular tourist attraction is one of the most cherished parts of Cyprus, where endless beauty meets legend and tradition. The view from the clifftop on the old road connecting Pafos and Limassol offers the most spectacular sunsets.
Popular amongst locals and visitors, Kantarkastoi is a collection of sea-grottos grouped around a small bay. Created by erosion, these naturally formed wonders offer an incredible experience. Located northwest of Pafos, near the small island of Agios Georgios in Pegeia. Both Coral Bay and Akamas are also home to smaller grottos.
An unspoiled paradise located in a protected area in the Akamas Peninsula, and home to a turtle hatchery – one of the world’s few remaining havens for green and loggerhead turtles. The deserted beach has clean, calm water and pristine sands for those who want to escape people and parasols.
The Akamas Peninsula
Located in the northwest, the Akamas Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places on the island of Cyprus. A mountainous, and relatively inaccessible area that supports and incredible collection of biodiversity, the Akamas Peninsula is home to hundreds of animal species and plants within a stunning locale. As one of the least inhabited places, it is a paradise for hikers, and those wishing to explore the area by jeep or four-wheel drive. Follow the dirt tracks or footpaths and explore the area’s crystal-clear bays and endless beautiful landscapes.
Read more about Akamas Peninsula
The Avakas gorge
The remarkable Avakas Gorge stretches across two kilometres, between three and ten metres wide, and reaches over 80 metres in height. It follows the course of the Avgas River, from where the gorge gets its name. Accessed from a country road on route to the village of Arodes, this amazing masterpiece of nature features an impressive boulder suspended within the canyon. The most scenic views are visible from the top. Getting there, however, can be a challenge.
The Fontana Amorosa (Love Spring)
An enchanting spot within the Akamas Peninsula, Fontana Amorosa is a fresh-water spring surrounded by rich and wild vegetation. It is one of the most alluring sites in Cyprus, located in small rocky bay and therefore not easily accessible by land. Its name is attributed to Italian Renaissance poet, Ludovico Ariosto.
Situated to the west of Neo Chorio, and in the nature-protected area of Akamas, lies the beautiful site of Smighies. Legend has it, that this is where Byzantine epic hero Dighenis Akritas reunited with Rigaina, a beautiful yet mysterious queen of Cypriot origin. The ruins of a medieval watchtower, believed to be the castle of the legendary queen, are evident on the top of a hill, west of site. Both scenic and blessed with an abundance of flora and fauna, the views from this site are extraordinary.
The Baths of Aphrodite
Located at the northwest peninsula of Cyprus known as Akamas, an area that was once inaccessible to mere mortals, the Baths of Aphrodite is today a popular tourist attraction and one of the most important ancient sites related to Aphrodite. The goddess’ secret hideaway and the place where she would meet her lover, Adonis, the Baths of Aphrodite is a small grotto, shaded by an old fig tree, renowned for its sweet climate, fertile soil, natural springs and green foliage.
The Akamas Peninsula is a wild, uninhabited region featuring picture-postcard landscapes, flawless beaches, deep valleys, cave islets and gorges. Visitors can explore the unique flora and fauna of the peninsula, on foot through one of the many adventurous hiking trails, riding a trail bike, or even bumping along in a sturdy four-wheel drive. The Akamas Peninsula is part of the Aphrodite Cultural Route.
Stavros tis Psokas
Located within the heart of the Pafos forest, this scenic wonderland is where scented pines reign supreme. Remote and peaceful, the area is one of the most important habitats for the Cyprus mouflon, an endemic subspecies of wild sheep found only in Cyprus.
The Cedar Valley
Cedar Valley is a site of eternal beauty. Every turn exposes amazing ridges and vistas en route to the valley itself, where a paradise of distinct and unique cedars reveal their imposing presence. Accessible by car on the road leading to Panagia Village and the Monastery of Kykkos, Cedar Valley features a variety of interesting landmarks ideal for photographers. The remains of three of Pafos’ historic bridges (Skarfos, Kelefos and Roudia) are all nestled within the valley and are extremely popular amongst locals and visitors.
The Pafos Region is home to environmental protection centres that work tirelessly to conserve and protect the region’s natural heritage, and provide an education platform for both locals and visitors in their approach towards nature conservation and interaction. The centres of Episkopi, Salamiou and Kritou Terra feature botanical gardens where significant plants of the area are arranged in thematic groups (habitats, endemics, bulbs, rare plants etc.), making them visible to visitors. In addition, the centres also afford visitors the opportunity to acquire information about the flora and fauna of Cyprus, nature trails available throughout the island, and general information about the natural beauty of Cyprus.
The Environmental Study Centre at Kritou Terra is an ideal place to study the natural environment, and offers a wide range of educational programmes that include forest and freshwater ecology, landscape processes, and the impact of tourist development on the environment.
Located to the east of Pafos, in a Natura 2000 nature-protected area, the Salamiou Environmental Protection Centre features an ecosystem, and offers onsite environmental education programmes.