Mediterranean holiday highlights: Malta
For a Mediterranean break away from the hurly-burly of modern life, a holiday in one of the Maltese Islands is a great choice.
Lying in the middle of the Med with Sicily to the north and Tunisia to the south, these small but picturesque islands enjoy a warm but fresh climate all through the season.
While the islands’ capital Valetta has all the excitement and facilities of a major European city, you don’t have to go far to find peace, tranquility and some of the best Mediterranean scenery Malta has to offer.
Malta’s unique culture
This group of diminutive islands have enjoyed a unique position in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea.
Over time the rulers of Malta have included the Romans, the Moors, the Greeks, the Knights of St John, the French and the British, leading to a cultural blend of European, Middle Eastern, African and British influences.
English is the official language alongside Maltese and the local cuisine is a mixture of Sicilian, Spanish, French and British flavours.
Malta’s Islands of history
Ancient churches, castles, historic remains and Megalithic temples are in evidence all over the main island of Malta.
World Heritage Site the Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni, is the only known prehistoric subterranean temple in the world.
The quietest and smallest of the islands is Comino situated midway between Malta and Gozo. Just 3.5 square metres, it’s a haven for wildlife.
Regular boat trips run for visitors to view the caves of the spectacular karst or limestone landscape which includes the world famous Blue Lagoon offering a unique swimming experience.
Gozo can be reached by car ferry or helicopter. This quieter and smaller island offers peaceful villages such as the small fishing port of Xlendi which is a popular scuba diving spot, delicious local seafood, and the vibrant local centre Victoria.
Malt’s Art and contemporary life
Malta itself has mainly rocky but beautiful beaches, delightful walks and interesting architecture such as St John’s Cathedral in Valetta where original paintings by the Italian baroque painter Caravaggio can be seen.
The strong Catholic culture of the islands can be seen in plain sight around Valetta’s bountiful Baroque cityscape, but it’s also a city of modern whims.
The capital is noted for its shopping, fine restaurants and even a nightclub or two.
With a flying time of just over three hours and regular flights, a holiday of contrasts on Malta is within easy reach.
Despite their small size these islands have a huge amount of interest packed in that won’t fail to impress the most world-weary of travellers.
When in Malta, dance the night away
When I started packing for my two-week holiday in Malta I did not have my ‘party’ clothes in mind.
Yet, when I went on my first night out (of many) I quickly realized my mistake.
When my friends and I arrived at the hotel, exhausted from our journey, we ventured out to Paceville with the innocent intent of returning home early.
However this rather sensible decision was soon lost in the abyss, as we were quickly swept away by Malta’s dangerously alluring nightlife.
From pubs, to bars, to nightclubs, techno, to hip-hop, to Rnb, there was something for everyone and none of us could resist.
A typical night would usually begin with a few cocktails, we particularly liked the bar Footloose as it was relatively cheap and played great 80’s music.
Then we would sometimes go to one of the Salsa bars (Fuego is a lively one) to get us in the mood for dancing.
The music would instantly get us on our feet, and soon we were attempting (‘attempting’ being the operative word) to imitate the moves of the more professional dancers. If we hadn’t exhausted ourselves here we would usually head to Gianpula.
This is a MUST for club lovers. Although it is a taxi ride away from Paceville, the experience is well worth the travel.
Gianpula is an open- air club situated in the middle of a field (a clubbers paradise in the middle of nowhere!) There are seven bars with a stunning sound and lighting system.
Not only that but in the early hours of the morning you can even take a dip in the pool!
The next day, when the hangover sets in, and your worst thought is alcohol, there is no better way to spend the evening then in the fully air conditioned cinema, which has a screen dedicated to older, popular movies.
If you’re feeling a tad more adventurous than there is also ten-pin bowling alley which is great fun and inexpensive.
For a night of decadence one should head to the casino, which is held in a 19th century palace, built by the Marquis Scicluna.
Even the plush casino, which is well worth a visit even if you don’t gamble.
For a casino, it is truly picturesque and even has a terrace that connects directly to the sea.
Much of its architectural character has been retained from the original build, and there is a true feel of glamour to the place.
After two weeks of frolicking, without my party wardrobe, I’m exhausted. I never expected that we, or Malta, had it in us!
But Malta is the type of place that will have you mourning over sunrise.