Visit Malta to escape Winter

If you’re thinking of escaping the British Winter for a spell this year, why not visit Malta for a relaxing break in the Mediterranean.

This friendly destination is a delight to explore, with a rich history and culture, as well as delicious Mediterranean cooking, clear blue waters, a thriving nightlife in some parts, and neighbouring islands for a spot of even more secluded isolation.

The distinctive bright yellow, open-air mini-buses are an absolute must in order to get around, and although the ride will certainly be a bumpy one, it’s also great fun. The locals crowd on, standing up and filling every available space, and you’ll probably be surprised there aren’t more accidents along the way.

Malta_iStock_000006659353XSmallA visit to Malta has to begin with the capital, Valletta. This harbour town is built on a defensive mound, and the stone fortifications and walls point to the island’s chequered history as the target of frequent invasions and attacks owing to its strategic placement at a cross of civilisations.

There are many highlights in Valletta, but be sure to visit the market on a Sunday, and sample a local speciality: the pastizzi. These are pastries that come in only two flavours: pea and ricotta cheese, but are nonetheless delicious.

Elsewhere in Valletta there is the vast military bell, which still rings on the hour, and this is located near the “Malta Story” exhibition.

This takes the viewer on a multimedia tour of the island’s history, including the tenure of the Knights of St John who successfully fought off the Ottoman Turks and defended the island against all odds.

St John’s Cathedral is a baroque masterpiece, and the tomb of the city’ s founder, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Vallette. It also houses one of Europe’s most important works of art: Caravaggio’s disturbing “Beheading of St John the Baptist”.

The criss-cross, stepped streets are also great for shopping, with lace, jewellery and filigree all local crafts that have been passed down form generation to generation through the ages.

Walking anywhere in Valletta is going to involve a bit of a climb, either on the way or on the way back, so if fitness isn’t your forte it may also be worth paying the price of one of the horse and carts that will dart past you every now and again.

The old mediaeval capital of Mdina is also worth a visit, and is at its best in the early evening when its narrow streets conjure an atmosphere at once romantic and slightly eerie. Stray cats are abundant all over Malta, but Mdina seems particularly prone to the feline hordes.

If the Maltese fancy a break, they head to neighbouring Gozo or Comino: two beautiful islands with only a handful of shops, houses and hotels between them. Take a motorboat out to Comino, and spend a day snorkelling and swimming in the cool, crystal waters of the aptly named Blue Lagoon.

The town to head to for the nightlife is Paceville, which is located near St Julian’s on the coast. This is a complete contrast to the relaxed pace of the rest of the island, and is where many of the younger locals themselves head on a Friday or Saturday night when the sun goes down. Many of the bars and clubs charge no entrance fee, and there are also more shops, as well as a number of cinemas.

If visiting during the summer months, you may be lucky enough for your trip to coincide with one of Malta’s village “Festas”.

These are a source of great pride to the inhabitants of each village, and unsurprisingly can get quite competitive, with each trying to throw the best party.

Each village has its own patron Saint, and on the evening of the Festa, his statue is removed from the church and paraded ceremoniously and joyfully around the streets for all to see.

This is accompanied by hours of fireworks and streamers, and plenty of goodies on sale from stalls lining the streets, including another Maltese special: sticky nougat.

Malta is perfect for families with young children, being both safe and friendly, with every corner offering a different insight into its colourful past. Although it was pleased to join the other EU member states in the last round of accessions, it is equally proud of its roots in what can truly be termed a crossroads of history.

Malta’s Julian in the Crown

It’s a few years since I last visited Malta but I was impressed with the history, especially Valletta. Driving around the island was a little tricky though as the island is so small it thinks it doesn’t need road signs ! I stayed in a villa just outside the popular tourist town of St Julian’s so here is my assessment on what St Julian’s has to offer.

The village of St Julian’s on the island of Malta is still a hot spot for holiday makers wanting to enjoy the sights the Maltese islands have to offer.

Situated on the coast, in the middle of the island’s entertainment district, this resort village has a unique mix of modern conveniences and historic culture.

During the day, the village offers a host of activities. Swimming and sunbathing are often the most popular past-time at swimming areas just walking distance away.

Others take full advantage of the famous Mediterranean waters for diving, fishing and boat tours.

A short bus ride brings you to the capital city of Valletta, its narrow streets filled with market places and historical outings.

After sunset, the St Julian’s bay area is filled heritage fishing boats which locals and holiday makers use as a picturesque setting for warm evening walks, complete with vendors selling ice-creams and traditional delicacies, seaside cafes and restaurants.

The new Portomaso estate is a chic addition to the entertainment district offering stylish wine bars and restaurants overlooking the marina.

For the younger at heart, the adjoining nightclub district of Paceville, which ironically means “peaceful town”, offers a mixed range of both outdoor and indoor entertainment venues operating till all hours of the morning.

For many a holiday on the island of Malta offers a mixture of nightlife and culture.

Malta – a small but beautiful island

Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta is small but beautiful, with total area of just 316 square kilometres. Its position in the Med, bridging the gap between southern Europe and north Africa, means it is
no stranger to visitors, both in terms of present day tourists and colonial settlers.

Inhabited at various points within its lifetimes by settlers including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and the British among others, the island’s eclectic architecture has been sculpted accordingly and features a blend of styles from varied cultures. Magnificent baroque castles exist alongside religious sites, with evidence suggesting the island’s history stretches back to at least 3,500 BC.

A trip to Malta will not leave lovers of the great outdoors disappointed. Comino, one of the seven islands comprising the Maltese archipelago, offers completely vehicle-free rugged terrain ideal for rambling, as well as spectacular views over the Mediterranean.

Neighbouring island of Gozo is a popular destination among divers, keen to explore its hidden depths.

Mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers give the island an enviable climate, with locals organising outdoor concerts, carnivals and festivals throughout the summer months. The feast of Santa Marija is celebrated in mid August, with harvest festival, L’Imnarja at the end of June, with copious amounts of food and drink offered to everyone, including visitors.

Gastronomes are also certain to enjoy Malta’s varied culinary offerings. The nation’s colonial past has had an enormous impact on its food with a marriage of tastes – typical Mediterranean fare cleverly mixed with African and British influences.

The country’s official languages are Maltese and English and the country is the only in the world that has collectively been awarded the George Cross for conspicuous gallantry in World War II as a part of the British
Empire. The island regained its independence in 1964, becoming a member of the European Union forty years later in 2004.

A truly unique place successfully merging many cultures, Malta now attracts over 45,000 British holidaymakers a year. Several airlines fly to Malta and this is good news for people travelling on a shoestring budget.

Malta – Good for Winter Warmth & Diving.

It’s many years since I had a holiday on Malta. I haven’t been back since but that’s not because I didn’t like the island. Far from it, as I had a really good time, so maybe it’s time I went back to see how Malta has changed? If you are trying to think of somewhere different to go for a winter holiday then Malta could be a destination worth considering.

Here is a bit of information for you about Malta. It is worth a try if you haven’t been before or maybe it’s time, like me, to visit the place again!

Malta has a warm climate for most of the year and it is only a 3 hour flight from the UK and also easily accessible from a range of regional airports such as Manchester or Birmingham. Winter sun activity breaks are becoming ever more popular and many hotels on Malta and the nearby islands of Gozo and Comino are now catering for activity holidays as they have tennis and squash courts as well as spa facilities and watersports such as windsurfing, paragliding and water skiing.Valletta, Malta from the Grand Harbour

You may want to attend one of the big sports events in Malta such as the Malta marathon in February or the Middle Sea Race in October.

Malta has 125 miles of coastline to explore and the island is brilliant for cycling, hiking, horse riding, sailing and lawn bowling. Also, the islands rocky south coast offers extensive climbing walls suitable for all levels of expertise.

Scuba diving is also a popular activity on Malta as there is a huge variety of marine life and the tideless waters are full of wrecks, caves and grottoes. According to experts, the sea around Malta has diving to rival better known dive destinations such as the Red Sea. You can obtain your PADI certificate at dive schools on Malta with competent English speaking instructors as well as go night diving and deep sea diving up to 40 metres. The main dive sites include Marsamxett Harbour, where the World War 2 wrecks HMS Maori and Carolita Barge lie. Then there is Dwejra on Goz’s southern coastline, which has the Inland Sae underwater tunnel and the famous Blue Hole.

Golf is available on Malta at the Royal Malta Golf Club which was established in 1888.Valletta is the capital of Malta and the harbour at Valletta is an amazing sight and it is of great historical interest especially if you are a fan of World War 2 history.