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Malta - unique in its diversity
October 3, 2015, 5:57 pm

The Maltese Islands are like nowhere else. Here you will find great prehistoric temples, fossil-studded cliffs, glittering hidden coves, thrilling diving opportunities and a history of remarkable intensity.

You are never far from the Mediterranean here; in Gozo you can see the sea from almost everywhere you go. The islands' beaches are small and perfectly formed; there are also some breathtakingly beautiful coves to swim in. This is also one of the world's finest places to go diving, with a wealth of sites ranging from sunken WWII bombers to dramatic undersea caves.

Gozo is rural in a way Malta no longer is. Terraced flat-top hills punctuate fertile valleys, mosaics of tiny fields surrounded by dry-stone walls. The local limestone — honey-colored and glowing — is everywhere, the island’s building material for everything from Neolithic temples and farmers huts to the towering Medieval Citadel that rises dramatically from the centre of the island, popping up in almost every inland view.

Take your time: In Gozo take time to sit beneath the citadel in It-Tokk – literally ‘the Meeting Place’, the main square of Gozo’s charming little capital, Victoria, chat in the shade of an oleander tree or the oversized Parish church that dominates every village square.

The secluded Mgarr Ix-Xini is just one of Gozo’s many coastal attractions — a narrow path, flanked by sweet-smelling wild fennel and rich aromatic thyme, winds up the rock above clear waters. The sea here is perfect for swimming, snorkeling and diving, protected from the prevailing northwesterly winds.

Extra-virgin olive oil tasting tour: Set in Mgarr, one of the most beautiful rural areas of Malta – more than just a patch of olive trees, it is an open-air museum of aromatic herbs and trees overlooking stunning views, the tour is a unique opportunity to discover extra-virgin olive oil. Savor the exclusive estate extra-virgin olive oil produced from the same trees, with crispy fresh Maltese bread complemented with some local nibbles and refreshments.

Ta’Cenc cliffs: The landscape, from the dramatic Ta’Cenc cliffs plunging 145m into the sea to a strange clay hill like a giant grey doorknob, and the rich red sands of Ramla Beach – arguably the best beach in the country, are amazing.

Get salty: The stretch of coast just west of the little resort of Marsalforn is where scooped out cliffs of smooth golden sandstone, like desert dunes, form the backdrop to chequer-boards of seaside salt pans.

A few families still produce salt here as it has been made since Roman times, storing it in rock-cut rooms behind bright-painted doors tucked into the cliff face. You can buy salt at Jubilee Foods in It-Tokk, which also offers tastings of other local produce like sweet prickly pear jam and tangy dried Gozitan goat cheese.

Go back in time: The best remains of sophisticated Gozitan stone temples, with monumental facades, semi-circular rooms, plastered walls and carved decoration can be seen at Ggantija, pronounced ‘Ji-gan-tee-ya’ – as in, ‘gigantic’. Constructed of limestone blocks up to fifty tonnes in weight, it is little wonder that locals long-believed the temples were built by giants.

Valletta is Malta's Lilliputian capital and retains its decreed elegant status of 'a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen' and UNESCO World Heritage Site described as 'one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world'.

Although, lately having undergone more changes than it has for centuries, with the brand-new Renzo Piano–designed main gate and parliament building, as well as the renovation of the bombed-out Opera House, as well as plenty of bars and restaurants, Valletta's tranquility is a large part of its charm.

Comino's biggest attraction is the Blue Lagoon, a sheltered cove between the western end of the island and the uninhabited islet of Cominotto (Kemmunett in Malti). Its incredibly inviting white-sand seabed and clear waters are known for top-notch swimming and snorkeling.


Birgu Fest: Three days of cultural activities including music, dance and pageantry in Vittoriosa, culminate in ‘Birgu by Candlelight’ when the electric lights are switched off and the historic streets are lit by thousands of candles.
Fireworks Festival: A noisy and colorful festival of fireworks, folk music and entertainment, set against the awesome views of Grand Harbour’s bastions. Prime viewing is at Valletta Waterfront - Pinto Wharf.

Malta Jazz Festival: An increasingly popular event, with outdoor performances for jazz cats held beneath the bastions of Valletta on the third weekend in July.
Malta Arts Festival: A three-week summer festival from late July into August, incorporating music, dance, theatre and literature performances, as well as art exhibitions, at various venues in and around Valletta.
Powerboat Grand Prix: Grand Harbour hosts the first grand prix of the annual Powerboat P1 World Championship – a spectacular sight against a great backdrop – join the rev-head crowds lining the Sliema waterfront for a glimpse.





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