This tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean has commanded the attention of invaders for centuries. Romans, Turks, Knights and even the British have all had a foothold on Malta’s shores at one time or another.
Now invaders of a different kind flock to Malta - tourists!
Drawn by the year round warm weather, the fact that most of the islanders speak English and drive on the left (after a fashion), Malta is a haven for the British sun worshipper.
But, there is so much more to do here. Despite the arrival of the 5 star luxury resorts, it remains a living slice of history. Famous for its two sieges, the first in 1565 when Soleyman the Magnificent was resoundingly beaten by The Hospitallers (or Knights of St. John).
The second came during World War II when again, the Maltese and their Allies drove off the German attempt to capture the island. History faces you on every corner, making the capital city Valletta a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Maltese are a friendly enough people, if a little gruff. They do seem to welcome the British more readily than any of the other visitors that descend on their shores annually. The attractions are obvious and the new resorts on the island are springing up continually.
Five star recommendations include,The Portomaso Hilton, Dragonara Palace and The Corinthian. There are plenty more, however, including some wonderful boutique hotels.
Gozo, Malta’s smaller sister island is an altogether quieter neighbour. The hotels here are smaller and more Spa orientated. Well worth a visit.
If you have the time, why not take a day trip to Sicily? There is a catamaran that visits daily or why not travel in style and use the helicopter service?
Maltese restaurants are doing their best in a world where fine dining is king. While they still have a lot to learn, fish is where they excel. Also, local specialties are worth trying. Hobz biz-zejt with fresh Maltese bread, tomatoes, olive oil and (depending on the maker) capers, olives, tuna and salt and pepper. The cheesecakes (savoury rather than sweet) stuffed with ricotta cheese are delicious whilst the cannolli from the Busy Bee bakery are stunning. The bread too is a wonderful treat.
Being the jewel of the Mediterranean, don’t forget the beaches. The only sandy ones are in the north of the island. The rest of Malta is rocky outcrops straight into deep water. No children here!
Snorkelling along these shores is a must as is a visit to the Blue Grotto. So called because of the turquoise blue of its waters and because it’s a erm...Grotto. Other attractions include Malta Glass, a visit to Comino and the capital Valletta. Malta has survived the centuries relatively unscathed by foreign invaders though all have left their mark. After visiting Malta yourself will it have left its mark on you?
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