Malta and Gozo draw over a million visitors a year. Tiny though it is, Malta has an extraordinarily rich historical and cultural heritage. Set at the crossroads of numerous Mediterranean sea routes, it has been coveted and colonised by many different maritime powers. The most glorious phase in its history was the 268-year reign of the Order of St John, whose legacy can still be seen in the fine buildings that survive. The first impression, if you come in summer, is of a dry, barren, treeless rock. The other striking factor is the scale of the development which spreads out in all directions. Conscious of this, the island is now working hard to boost its image. The 1990s saw major renovations of hotels, particularly those in the 4- to 5-star category. Gozo, meanwhile, carries on at its own gentle pace. If peace and solitude are priorities, this smaller, greener island provides the perfect escape.
The Maltese islands lie in the centre of the Mediterranean, 93km south of Sicily and 300km north of Libya. The archipelago is made up of the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino, plus the tiny uninhabited islets of Cominotto in the north and Filfla, about 5km off the southern coast. Together, the islands make up a mere 316sq km. Malta, the largest of them, is only 27km at its longest point from northwest to southeast, and 14.5km at its widest point, from west to east.
Malta’s climate is typical of the Mediterranean, with long hot summers, warm and sporadically wet autumns, and cool but unpredictable winters. Malta has an annual average of eight hours of sunshine a day.
Good to know about Malta:
- The official languages are English and Maltese which is a Semitic language that sounds like Arabic.
- In Malta they drive on the left.
- Malta’s Megalithic Temples are the oldest free-standing monuments in the world – older than even the pyramids of Egypt or Stonehenge.
- Malta has been used as a film-location shoot for many huge Hollywood productions, from ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Troy’ to ‘Captain Philips’ and TV’s Game of Thrones.
- Some believe that Malta was part of the Lost City of Atlantis. Read more here.
- Visit ‘The Three Cities’ of is a collective description of the three fortified cities: Senglea, Cospicua and Vittoriosa. The term ‘Three Cities’ was coined by Napoleon during the French occupation.
- Take a typical Maltese gondola-shaped boat ride from Vittoriosa to the Valletta Waterfront.
- Attend a concert at one of the oldest theatres in Europe The Manoel Theatre.
- Explore Malta’s Dingli Cliffs on a Segway.
- Sip the local Cisk beer and eat imqaret – a traditional Maltese sweet made with pastry and a filling of dates mixture.
- Go clubbing in Paceville until the early hours, it is an informal district heavily populated with nightclubs, bars, stripclubs pubs and restaurants.
- Visit the famous fishing village Marsaxlokk with many markets, fresh fish and insiring atmosphere.
- Take a coffee break at Cafe Cordina. It is one of Malta’s oldest coffee shops
- Have lunch at Cafe Sicilia whilst enjoying the sensational view over the Grand Harbour. It offers all kinds of seafood specialties, numerous pasta dishes, authentic Sicilian pizza and typical Sicilian sweets such as the traditional Cassata Siciliana.