Destination of the Week: Malta
Set your watch to Malta time, but know there won’t be enough of it when you visit this Mediterranean jewel. Home to imposing hilltop temples guarding the sea, mouth-watering culinary delights, quaint country lanes and lively pubs, the mix of relaxation versus adventure activities might just mean you’ll have to return, time and again.
What to do
To take your first glimpse of Malta’s history, enjoy a boat trip on the Grand Harbour, used as a habour since Phoenician times. Discover Malta’s vibrant capital, Valletta, to visit St John’s Cathedral, the Manoel Theatre, markets, museums and walk around the city’s great fortifications.
For some medieval magic, stroll through the narrow, winding streets of Mdina and explore the Museum of Natural History, the Palazzo Falzon, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Mdina Dungeons. If you still haven’t quenched your thirst for history, visit the prehistoric temples of Mnajdra and Hagar Qim.
With secluded coves and the sparkling Mediterranean lapping at its shores, you’re never far from a refreshing dip in the ocean. For divers, Malta is a world-favourite with wrecks, excellent visibility and phenomenal underwater landscapes. Jet-skiing, wakeboarding, fishing, yachting and canoeing are adventurous options, and, when you need to chill out, head to the island of Gozo, for tranquility and mythical legends.
Where to stay
Waterfront hotels, self-catering apartments in the country, hostels and beach pads are all available for you to truly sink into your Maltese holiday. To be right in the heart of it all, with easy transportation to the surrounding areas, Valletta is the best pick, as well as Sliema and St. Julian’s.
Grand Hotel Excelsior (£££)
Situated at the foot of Valletta, the Grand Hotel Excelsior is a luxurious haven with a private beach, swimming pools, a spa, landscaped gardens, restaurants and a poolside bar with spectacular views for your afternoon cocktails.
Bayview Hotel and Apartments (££)
A great choice for families or groups, the Bayview Hotel and Apartments offers rooms with 1 or 2 bedrooms and kitchenettes. Overlooking the harbour at Sliema, it’s only a boat trip to Valletta and you can enjoy a rooftop swimming pool, a 24-hour internet café, restaurants and a spa and fitness centre.
Boho Hostel (£)
Known for its friendly staff and social atmosphere, the Boho Hostel, in St. Julian’s, is close to the action but far enough away to sample some tranquillity. There’s a garden and courtyard, organised activities and plenty of help when you want to book tours and travel the region.
Where to eat
Indulging in traditional Maltese cuisine means sipping on local wine with a dish of olives, sheep’s cheeses, Maltese sausages, vegetable soup and, of course, the succulent catch of the day from the Mediterranean.
The Arches Restaurant and Wine Cellar (£££)
This award-winning restaurant in the quaint town of Melieha serves succulent, fresh produce, Mediterranean style, with silver service. Try Salt Baked Potatoes, Local Prawns and Guanciale Risotto, the Fresh Fish of the Day and Seven Veils Gateaux for desert, with matching wines from the extensive cellar.
Located in Valletta, Ambrosia is one of those restaurants that the locals love for its relaxed atmosphere. They specialise in a different menu every day, using local produce to create innovative, Maltese dishes.
The Avenue (£)
When you’re taking the whole family out to dinner and you want great value prices with a huge menu, try The Avenue, in St. Julian’s. You’ll find salads, burgers, meat and fish dishes, pastas and pizzas to suit everyone’s tastes.
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