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Experience the many sides of Malta – words Al Woods
Malta has a long and illustrious shared history with the UK. You feel this as soon as you land in the country.
It is because of that common history that Brits have been holidaying here for decades, and you can see and hear signs of this relationship as you travel around the island.
It’s a perfect place for a long weekend and great out of season too as it stays warm here for longer than most of Europe. The sixties saw a massive influx of summer tourists mainly from the UK and there are some highly developed resorts. Alongside these, there are atmospheric villages, the small but stately capital of Valetta, some important Neolithic sites and the glorious beaches.
Talking of beaches, Malta has a few sublime sandy ones. Ghadira bay, situated below the understated village of Melliaha, is one of those gems. It’s a great beach in a wide sheltered bay. There’s no sign of high-rise development here, just a couple of organised beach clubs and a great snorkelling centre at one end of the beach. The main hotel is the modern all-inclusive db Seabank Resort + Spa with its vast outside pool which is one of teletext holidays all inclusive resorts.
You can base yourself here and still get to see all that Malta has to offer. It’s such a small island and getting around is easy. The roads are modern and well maintained and the local buses run on time. One of the must-see places to visit is the atmospheric capital and port of Valetta. The grand streets, palaces and historic buildings give this city a stately atmosphere. There are loads of high quality restaurants where you can eat out even in October. It’s the castle area though surrounded by the sea that makes this city stand out. There are regular knightly performances too, referencing the island’s historic links to the Knights Templar, which are enjoyed by adults and kids alike. It’s a great place to visit and to stay for a few days. If you want to splash out try The Phoenicia, a 5 star historic hotel with a glorious outside pool amongst its gardens, located just beside the main gateway into the central core of Valetta itself.
Valetta is also a great place to locate yourself if you want to visit the ancient Neolithic sites. A good place to start are the temples of Mnajdra and Hagar Qim. Built from 3600 to 2500 BC these are monumental constructions using massive limestone blocks and weighing up to 20 tons. Another great site to visit is the Hypogeum, an underground burial complex situated under an unassuming modern street. The 5000-year-old room the ‘Holy of Holies’ is quite stunning.
Another wonderful place to explore is Mdina, the original capital of Malta. This medieval walled city was where the original nobility lived (and some still do). Some of the grander streets are lined with palaces, whilst narrow shady streets have an atmosphere all of their own. It’s known as the noble city and also the silent city and is a great place to wander.
Visiting Malta is easy throughout the year with regular flights from all major UK airports. For more information go to www.mta.com.mt