The Maltese islands offer the traveller a unique range of historical and cultural sites, together with a wide spectrum of activities that make them the perfect, year-round holiday destination.
Blessed with sun throughout the year and set in crystal waters, Malta and its sister islands of Gozo and Comino can offer you a memorable experience, where complete relaxation can easily give way to an urge to discover the islands' many cultural, artistic and natural treasures.
The Maltese islands are a few hours away from major European airports and scheduled and charter flights link Malta to a host of European and other Mediterranean countries. Sea connections to the mainland are also very good. It is difficult to resist the temptation to explore the spectacular seascape, ranging from quiet coves and alluring sandy beaches, to sheer cliffs. Inlets of shimmering sand with evocative names such as Golden Bay and Paradise Bay will provide an intimate spot for a dip. Inland, the baroque spires of Malta's myriad churches and cathedrals dominate the horizon. The islands are dotted with ancient villages, all special in their own way and ideal to enjoy some well-deserved moments of tranquillity.
Malta, Gozo and Comino offer far more than the traditional Mediterranean sun and sea. They present a veritable treasure-trove of heritage, ancient and modern: a living testimony of 7,000 years of civilisation.
The construction of the islands' megalithic temples is the source of an age-old enigma. Who built these great constructions, and why? Moreover, what happened to the civilisation that built these temples?
Through the passage of time, Malta and GOlO have attracted the attention of great powers of the time, some friendly, some warmongering. To varying extents, all of them -the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Castillians, the Knights of St John, the French and the British- have left traces of their influence, a tapestry of cultures for you to discover.
You will find that the Maltese people are a product of the Mediterranean's history and its geography. They speak Maltese, a language of Semitic origin with a heavy Latin influence, and English. However, due to the islands' proximity to Sicily, Italian is also widely spoken, while a growing number of Maltese speak some French and German. With their willingness to enjoy life, especially when participating in local feasts celebrating the village's patron saint, they will be more than happy to have you share in their fun and joy. Hospitality has long been a hallmark of the Maltese character, as documented in the Acts of the Apostles' description of St Paul's shipwreck off Malta in 60 AD.
Having three World Heritage Sites, and more monuments per square kilometre than any other country, the islands have an astonishing concentration of impressive cultural and historical attractions. A stroll through the towns and villages is bound to give you that particular lost-in-time feeling.
Walking through the grid-line streets of Malta's baroque capital, Valletta, described by Sir Walter Scott as "that splendid town, quite like a dream", and admiring its churches, squares and fountains, or taking a late-night stroll along the narrow winding streets of the silent, walled mediaeval city of Mdina, will surely add a special feel to your memorable visit.
GOZO AND COMINO
Accessible from Malta by ferry or helicopter, Gozo and tiny Comino possess their own special charm. According to Greek legend, the temptress nymph Calypso lured Odysseus to Gozo, keeping him there, a prisoner of love, for seven years.
The Gozitans are among the warmest people you will find in the Mediterranean. they are renowned for their open, easy friendliness to visitors, and will go out of their way to make you feel at home. The many Gozitan churches, all as grand as, if not more imposing, than those found in Malta, are also a must for any tourist itinerary.
Gozo offers you a unique variety of cultural sites and natural landscapes. You can visit the imposing Citadel, which towers upon the capital, Victoria, or be subdued by the religious devotion which surrounds the Ta' Pinu Basilica. A typical feature of Gozo's green landscape are its flat- topped hills, but the coastline is equally spectacular.
The Azure Window in Dwejra stands majestically as a gateway to the ocean, while the nearby inland sea provides a shallow and deliciously warm pool for bathers. The isle of Calypso still exercises a special charm and offers visitors a perfect paradise hideaway.
The tiny island of Comino, on the other hand, is the essence of tranquillity. Practically uninhabited, except for a modern hotel and a handful of permanent residents, it is ideal if you want to mix relaxation with practising any water- sport under the sun, be it snorkelling, diving, windsurfing, sailing, and so on. Its superb Blue Lagoon is not only excellent for swimming but is also one of the most wonderful sights of the Maltese islands. In winter, Comino is pervaded by the scent of herbs. As a matter of fact, the island takes its name from the cumin once harvested there.
FARMHOUSES, HOTELS, OR COMPLEXES... THE CHOICE IS YOURS
The Maltese islands offer a wide range of accommodation tailored to meet your holiday requirements. If you seek a hideaway, a traditional charming farmhouse of weathered limestone, clad in vibrant bougainvillea, is the perfect recluse retreat. Farmhouses are normally fully converted to provide modern, self-catering facilities. Many will have private pools set in secluded courtyards. Should you prefer additional amenities, farmhouses annexed to hotels offer a full complement of dining, sporting and social activities.
Accommodation ranges from small, intimate family-run hostels, to the modern sophistication of luxury hotels. If you are looking for a room with a view, hotels along the islands' fashionable seafronts and beach resorts will allow you to sip your sundowners on balconies overlooking the sea. Holiday complexes offering hotel and villa accommodation options, along with sports and social activities, provide a popular way to spend your holiday. While beach hotels give you the perfect excuse to relax, the active visitor will find a range of hotels which offer health and fitness clubs. In Malta, Gozo and Comino, sports facilities are always close at hand.
A SPECIAL BLEND OF TRANQUILLITY AND ACTIVITY
Wherever you decide to go, the atmosphere across the Maltese islands is carefree, relaxed and happy. For lovers of music, theatre, and other cultural manifestations, Malta boasts an abundant year-round events calendar. For the active, the islands also offer golf, sailing, windsurfing, sky-diving, tennis, horse-riding and a variety of water sports. Malta's cosmopolitan seafront resorts offer as stylish a night life and as excellent a cuisine as any European citY. But the advantage of Malta is that rural tranquillitY and a beautiful coastline lie just a short distance away from the hub of entertainment. You can enjoy the best of both worlds in one stay. So whether you seek the ultimate in unspoilt isolation, the buzz of cafe life or a flutter in one of the casinos, Malta and Gozo offer visitors a special blend in one location, of both peace and excitement.