Paphos or Protaras: Which Part of Cyprus Should You Visit

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When it comes to visiting Cyprus, there may be more choices to make than you’d originally suspect. Cyprus is a 9,251 km2 island – almost thirty times the size of Malta, another popular Mediterranean island destination. You’ll find lots of variation across Cyprus, so consider where to choose to stay carefully. One common dilemma is choosing between Paphos or Protaras. 

Paphos and Protaras are both popular destinations in Cyprus. Paphos is a city in West Cyprus, while Protaras is a resort in the East. Aside from these obvious differences, both areas can appear quite similar. Whether you choose Paphos or Protaras, you’ll have nightlife, beaches, and sunny weather. However, each destination gives a different experience, so it is good to examine them more closely. 

To save you time, we’ll evaluate whether you should choose Paphos or Protaras for you. We will weigh up a winner for each important holiday factor, from beaches to things to do. 

Paphos or Protaras: Things to do

Nea Paphos.
Nea Paphos via Unsplash.

When choosing Paphos or Protaras based on things to do, be aware that they offer different styles and types of attractions. Paphos is best to visit if you want history and archeology, while Protaras is best if you want lighthearted entertainment like watersports.  

Paphos has the Archaeological Site of Nea Paphos, which is full of Roman mosaics and ruins. It also has the Tomb of the Kings, a necropolis where important officers and their families were buried over 2,500 years ago.

Paphos does have Luna Park and a Go-Karting Center for lighthearted entertainment, so it isn’t just historical attractions! You’ll be able to try out some watersports too, as the town is set on the coast and has a handful of good beaches. 

Protaras has one historical site called Profitis Ilias, a small stone church with scenic views over the ocean. Otherwise, the resort’s things to do are more fun than informative. You’ll find a mini-golf course called Star Leisure, a Blue Lagoon for swimming, more watersports than you could try out, and sea caves for pretty pictures. 

Our Winner: It depends on what you are interested in and what you want from your trip. However, our winner for this round is Paphos, as it has more impressive historical attractions to visit.

Paphos or Protaras: Beaches

An aerial view of a beach in Cyprus.
Beach via Unsplash.

To put it briefly, if you want a destination with stunning beaches on its doorstep, go to Protaras. 

Paphos has beaches, but its beaches are smaller and get crowded much quicker. In Paphos, the sand can also feel quite gravelly and appear greyish in color, so its beaches are functional but lack that beach holiday aesthetic.

While both require traveling to reach, Coral Bay and Aphrodite’s Rock are the best beaches to visit. Lara Bay is also worth traveling to and has loggerhead and green turtles hatching on the beach from May to August. 

On the other hand, Protaras is surrounded by long stretches of spacious sand beaches. You’ll find plenty of clear water for snorkeling (with turtle sightings if you are lucky), loungers to rent, and soft, bright-colored sand. Plus, there are party beaches like Nissi Beach in nearby Ayia Napa. Here, you’ll find foam parties and daytime DJs throughout the week.

Winner: Protaras is our clear winner for this round.

Paphos or Protaras: Nature

A sea turtle.
Turtle via Unsplash.

Choosing Paphos or Protaras based on nature is a little more difficult, as both destinations have forest parks and dolphins and sea turtles in their waters.

Protaras is a short drive from Cape Greco National Forest Park. In this national park, visitors have bike paths and trails to explore woodland and coast – which could entertain users for a whole weekend, never mind just as a day trip.

Paphos is also just a short drive from nature, with Akamas Peninsula National Park just north of the town. Akamas Peninsula National Park is also full of woodland and coast, perfect for those wanting a natural experience of Cyprus. The park is also known for its turtle nesting and has a serene, quiet atmosphere.

Paphos Forest is also north of Paphos, with Mount Olympos, the Troodos Mountains, and tiny villages to visit. In Paphos Forest, you’ll find lots of native and migratory animals– so keep your eyes peeled and bring a camera!

Our Winner: This round is close, but Paphos narrowly takes the win. It has more nearby areas of protected nature to visit than Protaras.

Paphos or Protaras: Atmosphere

A surfer on the beach.
Surfer via Unsplash.

Let’s start by saying that Paphos and Protaras both have friendly atmospheres. Whether you are traveling as a family, friend group, couple, or alone, both destinations will feel safe and welcoming. However, there are some general differences to consider.

Paphos is a city, so, unsurprisingly, it has a suburban feel. Paphos is centered around its harbor, restaurants, and shopping opportunities. It is best suited to travelers who want to souvenir shop and enjoy Cypriot food when they are not sightseeing.

In contrast, Protaras has a typical resort atmosphere and a strong beach culture. The heart of Protaras is its beachfront, and you’ll find all you need just seconds away from the beach – whether that be watersports rentals, lunch, or a bar to watch the football. Protaras is ideal for travelers who want to spend most of their holiday on the beach or in the water, perhaps taking one or two-day trips to sightseeing significant attractions.

Our Winner: Atmosphere is a difficult factor to measure. However, Protaras is our winner for this round as it is less suburban and has a great beach culture.

Paphos or Protaras: Nightlife

A foam party.
Foam party via Unsplash.

Cyprus is known for its nightlife, so it isn’t surprising that it is an important factor when choosing Paphos or Protaras. 

Paphos certainly has a nightlife scene. You’ll find plenty of harbor-side bars and some beach clubs further down the coast. However, Protaras really steals the limelight for this round. 

Protaras is only a twenty-minute drive from Ayia Napa, the party hub of Cyprus. Parties last all day and all night in Ayia Napa – from daytime foam, beach, and boat parties to massive clubs that stay open until sunrise. 

Visitors to Protaras have the best of both worlds. You can enjoy the nightlife on your doorstep at local bars and pubs. You can also catch a taxi ride into Ayia Napa and indulge entirely in the wildest Cypriot nightlife possible. Protaras is head and shoulders above Paphos for its nightlife opportunities, and the area is famous for its lively partying. 

Our Winner: Protaras is our clear winner for this round. It has excellent access to Cyprus’ best nightlife.

Paphos or Protaras: Weather

The sun against a blue sky.
Sunshine via Unsplash.

Okay, this is a tricky comparison point. The weather in Paphos and Protaras is mostly similar, so you won’t find a massive difference between the two. However, if the weather is really an essential factor, it might be worth considering these small differences.

For most of the year, Protaras is a couple of degrees warmer than Paphos and experiences fewer days with rainfall. The difference might be slight but could definitely impact your experience of Cyprus, especially if you only visit for a few days.

We’ve compiled a comparison table below using data on maximum daytime temperatures in Protaras and Paphos from Weather 2 Travel.

 JanuaryMarchMayJulySeptemberNovember
Paphos (degrees Celsius)161724302921
Protaras (degrees Celsius)161926323122

We’ve also compiled a comparative table using data on average rainy days per month in Protaras and Paphos.

 JanuaryMarchMayJulySeptemberNovember
Paphos (average rainy days)1493116
Protaras (average rainy days)1183116

Our Winner: Protaras is our winner for this round, as it has fewer rainy days and is warmer for most of the year.

Paphos or Protaras: Accommodation 

An upscale hotel with a pool.
Upscale hotel via Unsplash.

The accommodation choice in Paphos and Protaras is excellent. You’ll find a variety of budget, mid-range, and luxury options in both areas – although they are equally both at risk of being booked up for accommodation, so make your reservations in advance.  

In Paphos, there is a selection of five-star properties, including Elysium Hotel and The Ivi Mare, an adults-only hotel. There is also a range of hostels, which typically include free wi-fi and a pool like the KATKA Hostel Paphos. KATKA has dormitory rooms priced at $46 per night, while five-star hotels range from $250 to $350 per night.

In Protaras, there is also a selection of five-star hotels, with some adult-only properties like Sunrise Jade. While there are no hostels in the center, there are budget-friendly hotels. Some, like Andreotis Hotel Apartments, have rooms for as little as $42 per night.

Our Winner: This round is a draw, as both Paphos and Protaras have a great accommodation selection.

Paphos or Protaras: The Overall Winner

Our overall winner is Protaras.

Protaras is warmer, drier, has better nightlife, and has beautiful beaches. Paphos offers exciting things to do and plenty of history but, on the whole, we believe that Protaras is the best choice.

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Eibhlis Gale – Coleman is a freelance writer from the UK who is driven by a fierce love of adventure, unique cultural experiences, native animals, and good coffee. She is a passionate traveller and has explored Europe, Southeast Asia, North Africa, and Australia.