Bathed in Mediterranean waters, Malta is a place like no other. With its 7,000-year history, stunning vistas and warm, welcoming culture, it is a mecca for the discerning tourist. Neolithic temples, which are some of the oldest stone buildings in the world, dot the archipelago. Meanwhile, the Maltese Islands also boast impressive churches, the remains of Roman occupation and the fortifications of the Knights of St John, along with reminders of the country’s role in the World War II. Indeed, this small nation has one of the highest densities of historical sites anywhere around the globe.
When planning trips here, people need to think carefully about how they will divide their time between the three main islands. The largest, Malta, is home to the capital Valletta and its airport is no more than a 45-minute drive from anywhere on the island. Valletta now boasts a gateway designed by Renzo Piano, along with a new parliament building and open-air auditorium.
Comino, meanwhile, is the smallest island and it is sandwiched between Malta and its north-western neighbour Gozo. It may only feature one hotel, but with its Blue Lagoon and turquoise waters, it makes for a memorable trip. Water lovers can spend a day snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming or sailing around its edge and the island is also great for walkers and photographers. There are no cars or urban areas, meaning noise and pollution are virtually non-existent.
Gozo is larger and houses baroque churches, old stone farmhouses, historical sites, forts, a rugged landscape and a breath-taking coastline. It is also home to some of the Mediterranean’s best dive sites. Those with a love of legend may be interested to note that the Gozo is thought to be Calypso’s isle in Homer’s Odyssey. The island has a traditional feel and it is not uncommon to see horses and carts on its country lanes. Meanwhile, its quiet villages are testament to Malta’s intricate history, featuring Italianate architecture alongside English red post boxes and blue police lamps. While on Gozo, holidaymakers can check out Ä gantija, which is one of the archipelago’s best-preserved prehistoric temples.
Holidaymakers on Gozo and Malta will notice the dominant influence of Roman Catholicism. Its impressive churches tower over the islands’ small villages.
It is also worth bearing in mind that Maltese residents speak English and Malti, a language that sounds Arabic but is peppered with Italian, French and English words. Meanwhile, Maltese cuisine includes Sicilian and Middle Eastern flavours and it makes the most of local ingredients such as honey and rabbit.
Writer Rob Miller spent the last year backpacking around Europe, and now covers all the places he visited in his blog posts for various online publications.
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