The Maltese islands are one of Europe’s undiscovered holiday hotspots. Its pleasant climate means that Malta and its nearby islands are the perfect location for a winter break.
The capital city of Malta is Valetta and will, in fact, be the European Capital of Culture in 2018. Valetta is very pedestrian friendly, so you can freely walk about and look over the city walls. Enjoy the ambience of the shopping streets and enjoy a Cynar, a local aperitif, or a coffee in one of the many pavement cafes, without worrying about traffic. The city is an architectural wonder with Centuries-old limestone buildings, beautiful gardens and harbour walk offering plenty to see and do.
Outside Valetta, Malta has a number of other places worth visiting. Its towns and villages are quintessentially Mediterranean and offer a unique window into their relaxed way of life. Sliema, a resort town on the east coast of Malta, is a hub for shopping, entertainment and nightlife. Just a street or two away, you’ll find more traditional Maltese streets, with narrow paths and balconies which give a traditional feel to the buildings.
About a 30-minute drive west from Valetta you will find the walled city of Rabat. With significant vantage points, in Rabat visitors can see a 360° view of the entire island. Given the strict Maltese planning and building laws in place, you’ll see the centre of the island is a sea of green with many of the island's villages found on hilltops.Each village has a church at its heart and that building is found alongside the village police station and a red English-style phone box.
Mdina, a walled city in the Northern Region of Malta, is a stunning place to visit. The history of the city can be traced back around 4000 years and its lamp-lit streets are full of culture, religion and architecture. Visitors can see St.Paul’s Catacombs, a typical underground compound of interconnected Roman cemeteries, St Paul’s church and Grotto and a mix of Elaborate and Medieval architecture.
Gozo is a hidden gem, a Maltese island north of Valetta. It can be reached by ferry from the northern tip of Malta. The Gozitan people make their livelihoods from agriculture and fishing, though many also are involved in the tourist industry. The island is steeped in history. For example, the Ggantija Temples are noted as the world's oldest free-standing structures, and are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whilst they are older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge, the temples are not as well-known, and it is possible you could yourself as the only visitors.
When in Gozo, make sure you head to Ramla Bay, easily one of the finest beaches in the Mediterranean; In fact it’s so stunning, it’s used as the backdrop for many postcards. Make sure you head to Calypso Cave, a cave which overlooks Ramla beach.
The smallest Maltese island is Comino, which is located between the island of Gozo and Malta itself. Whilst there isn’t much to do there apart from totally relax, it is somewhere worth visiting. The small island, which is car free and virtually uninhabited, is renowned for The Blue Lagoon, a secluded white-sanded cove where the water literally glows with a stunning blue colour. The island is an easy day trip from both Malta and Gozo
Malta is simply stunning and with Ryanair’s twice weekly flights to Malta from Belfast International, a long winter weekend in the sun might not be out of the question!
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