In the year that naming British storms became fashionable, a ‘winter sun’ holiday became all he more inviting. Located between Sicily and North Africa in the Mediterranean, the islands of Malta are famed for both their history and their beauty, making it a cracking destination at any time of year. After heading to this archipelago for 4 nights in early February, this is our handy guide to some of the best things to do.
Watch the midday cannon firing in Upper Barrakka Gardens
Valletta, the Maltese capital, boasts narrow streets and sensational harbour views on North and South shores. Accessible by passenger ferry from Sliema or by road, any trip worth its salt should incorporate a couple of hours to exploring the city’s perimeter, including the Barrakka gardens (upper and lower) and Fort St Elmo. Note that in Upper Barrakka Gardens a large cannon is fired by the military to mark noon and 4pm and is worth a watch if you’re passing by!
Gaze through the Azure Window on the island of Gozo
This island is fantastic and should be a cornerstone of any visit. Gozo and it’s tiny sister-island Comino is situated 5km from the North of the main island and can be accessed by car/passenger ferry from Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal. Once on Gozo, roads are good for driving and there is also a decent bus service. The ferry crossing itself provides some spectacular scenery and once you reach the island you won’t be disappointed with the beauty. Key spots to visit are the Azure Window and Inland Sea in the West, which although attracting an abundance of tourists, are breathtaking.
Explore fishing villages in the South of the island by car
Hiring the car in Malta is a cost effective way of getting around and is especially necessary on short trips. At the risk of sounding like Jeremy Clarkson the roads feel like they are some of “the best to drive on in the world”, rolling and winding through coastal and cactus lined dirt tracks. The most notable village to stop at is Marsaxlokk, which is home to hundreds of colourful hand painted fishing and waterside eateries.
Stroll around the ancient walled city of Mdina
Like something from Assassin’s Creed (a favourite Xbox game growing up) this walled city really has lasted the test of time since Medieval the period. Mdina cathedral, found in the centre blends an ornate church with an interior fit for a palace and is well worth a respectful slow mosey around. The high walls of the city also present an incredible view of the surrounding area, including one of the only views of both coasts.
Eat in Celiema then stroll North to St Julian’s Bay
The region of Celiema presents the most vibrant nightlife of the island, and as such, offers great places to eat and drink. Check TripAdvisor or ‘follow your nose’ to get a great bite to eat, then take a long stroll North along the coast to the stunning St Julian’s Bay.
A fantastic mini-break that we would recommend to anyone regardless of the season – we look forward to returning again, perhaps for longer! Enjoyed this piece? Why not read about about visiting the Isles of Scilly or a road trip in Europe. We’d also like to hear about your budget winter sun experience – get in contact to let us know.