Melissa Barker discovers what the island of Cyprus has to offer.
I arrived in Paphos after a four-and-a-half hour flight, where I was whisked away to the luxurious five-star Annabelle Hotel. As soon as I saw the impressive reception I fell in love with the decor; its grand chandeliers, stunning views and marble furnishings made me feel like royalty.
An ancient civilisation
I awoke after the best night's sleep I'd had in a long time feeling refreshed and ready to explore. Venturing to the main restaurant for breakfast I found that there was definitely something for everyone, from pastries and fruit to cooked options. Following my morning feast, I headed down to the lobby where I was greeted by my lovely tour guide, Antonia, who took me to see the Roman mosaics located just a 10-minute walk away. I've always had a strong interest in history, so I was really excited to see the sights and learn more about the island's rich heritage. The artwork depicts the stories of the gods and goddesses throughout Greek mythology. Discovered by archaeologists in the 1960s, it was fascinating to see. Later in the day, the wedding manager, Christiana, gave me an in-depth tour of the venue's facilities before departing for lunch at Yiannis Tavern. Expecting a small brunch, I was shocked when they served at least 15 different dishes. Make sure you visit on an empty stomach!
That afternoon I was lucky enough to visit Vasilkon Winery. The staff took me on a tour of the establishment and explained how they make and store the wine. While I'm not much of a drinker, I couldn't turn down the opportunity to taste the offerings – every flavour was truly delicious. I love being pampered so I was really excited to try the facilities at the Almyra Spa. Located next door to the Annabelle Hotel, the Almyra Hotel looks out over the sea and has a wide range of treatments to choose from. I was lucky enough to enjoy a relaxing massage. The masseuse talked me through the process and escorted me to a candlelit room that smelled divine. Lasting for half-an-hour, I didn't want the experience to end. That evening I enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant called Koutourou Ouzeri. The quirky décor was really imaginative with a wall full of typewriters and giant props. Foodwise, it had something to suit everyone – my personal favourite was the chicken.
The following morning I visited the Theatre of Kourion. Here, I saw the impressive amphitheatre that was built in the 2nd-century BC. Due to the intense earthquakes in the area, it's been damaged and restored several times over the years but is still breathtaking. Close by is the popular tourist destination Petra tou Romiou. Known to locals as the birthplace of the goddess, Aphrodite, it's extremely peaceful and is a must-see if you're in the area.
For the second part of the day I visited Aphrodite Hills Hotel for lunch. This has to be one of the biggest resorts I've ever seen, with an on-site Costa, golf course and several impressive pools. After a tour, I tucked into a light lunch, which went down a treat.
Every year Paphos holds a carnival that hosts thousands of people. As I arrived back at the venue, it was in full swing, with hundreds of people dressed to celebrate. It was an amazing atmosphere and was great fun singing and dancing with the locals.
A thing of beauty
I'd heard about Paphos Castle throughout the trip and I couldn't wait to see it for myself. Just a short walk away from the Annabelle Hotel, it's located on the docks and is surrounded by charming restaurants and shops. It was a sight to behold and was a great way to end my trip. Everything was perfect from the amazing staff to the luxurious hotels and I'm planning to visit again very soon!