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Malta: A pocket guide

The Maltese Archipelago is a beautiful, undiscovered gem in terms of Mediterranean tourism. Consisting of a number of islands, only three are inhabited: Malta, Gozo and Comino, the latter being home to only one hotel. Found just 60 miles south of Sicily, the islands have a history as fascinating as its neighbour and the same clear blue seas that have attracted travellers for centuries. In 2018, the capital city of Valletta, located on the main island of Malta, will be a European Capital of Culture and will be hosting cultural events throughout the year.

A Culturally Rich Destination

Although Malta’s history goes back to ancient times, it was in the 17th Century that the island became the focus of Europe when the Pope set about building the city of Valletta from scratch – as a fortress to protect Europe from invaders and to become a cultural masterpiece. An exceptional number of buildings survive today, including the magnificent baroque Cathedral of St John, which has led the city to be classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In contrast, the fortified city of Mdina is much earlier (dating back to Roman times) and is a ‘silent’ city, meaning you can walk through the narrow lanes to palaces and chapels without being disturbed by cars and traffic. Fort Rinella is another great destination, demonstrating the island’s role in the defense of Europe with daily re-enactments of traditional swordsmanship and cavalry including live artillery displays.

Stunning Nature, Coastline & Authentic Villages

In contrast, Gozo is a peaceful little island with small towns focusing on their elaborate churches – usually sitting on a hill, and surrounded by the main square with open air cafes, restaurants and bars. The cuisine has many influences but like most of the Med, dishes often feature fresh fish and seafood, tomatoes and olives. The coastline is varied, with small coves for swimmers and sun worshippers and dramatic cliffs for walking and mountain-biking. The beautiful seas are perfect for exploring by boat, with pleasure trips to the Blue Lagoon or private chartered day trips to Sicily.

Excellent Weather Year Round

Malta offers some of Europe’s best weather, with the sun shining most of the year. Like its Mediterranean neighbours, the warm weather starts in May and lasts until September/October – but even the winter is mild with temperatures averaging around 13º C/55º F in the coldest months.

Reaching the islands is easy, with regular international flights to Malta and 24 hour ferries from there to Gozo. Both Malta and Gozo are the ideal destination for travelers seeking to enjoy the stunning beauty of the Mediterranean while evading the crowds found on many of its other islands and seaside resorts.

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