The sightseeing problem in Malta is not a lack of places to see but perhaps a surfeit. With 7,000 years of history and a central Mediterranean location that has over the centuries enriched its culture, the island draws much from the surrounding regions. As Valletta celebrates 450 years as capital and looks forward to being European City of Culture in 2018, it can take satisfaction from substantial spending to restore its historic sites, aided by European Union assistance.
Eat, drink and be merry in St Julian’s
For Malta’s liveliest nightlife, drinking, dining and smiling are permanent features of the St Julian’s area, full of restaurants and life along the coastline and in Ballutta Bay and Spinola Bay. A stone’s throw away, Pacceville is a positive paradise for party animals.
Early evening dining at St Julian’s
Happy 450th birthday to Valletta
One of the best views of the capital Valletta comes not from the street but from the sea. Take a boat ride from Sliema Ferries and enjoy the view as it gets closer to the impressive capital city, with the Dome of the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel dominating the skyline. Once on land, finding examples of the island’s ancient heritage means only keeping your eyes open – they are all around. However, the most renowned sight is St Johns Co-Cathedral, home of Caravaggio paintings, and the Great Master’s Palace and its museum. This year, 2015, is the 450th anniversary of the adoption of Valletta as the capital.
The Grandmaster’s Palace, built in the 16th century
One of Malta’s more famous residents was the artist Caravaggio
The Maltese capital Valletta viewed by boat
Painting and poetry on Gozo
Known for picturesque diving spots and the prehistoric Ggantija temples, Gozo also has many niche attractions. These include painting holidays and, when the muse strikes, reciting poetry (both in conjunction with local people). Ggantija – ‘giant’ in Maltese – is the largest freestanding monument in the world. Gozo is a 20-minute ferry ride from the main island and a meal in a fishing village like Xlendi or Marsalforn is a gentle way to complete the day.
The Azure Window, a natural limestone arch which has served as a setting for several films and television series
The small fortified city of Cittadella overlooks Rabat in Gozo
The village of Xlendi, on the south west of the island of Gozo
Magic and marvels in Mdina/Rabat
Walking around Mdina/Rabat is like taking a time machine to the middle ages. By day, tourists can check out the co-cathedral and the nearby Palaeo-Christian catacombs, while by night, they can enjoy dinner or a sumptuous cake at Fontanella, with one of Malta’s most beautiful views.
The Mdina ditch, which separates the Silent City from Rabat
A panoramic view of Mdina