Resplendent with rich history, striking scenery and glorious architecture, Malta’s strategic setting made it a magnet for invading powers. All left their mark in culture, character and cuisine, creating the Med in microcosm in this friendly country.
Set midway in the Med, between the shores of Africa and mainland Europe, Malta’s 6,000 years of history are evidenced in everything from megalithic temples to medieval towns; its culture sculpted by past conquerors, from Phoenician, Greek, Roman and Arabian invaders, to Crusader Knights, French and British settlers; the latter recognising Malta’s heroism by awarding it the George Cross.
Gaining its independence in 1964, the country’s little archipelago has 18 isolated rocks and islets, and just three inhabited islands, Malta, Gozo and Camino.
Its capital is UNESCO listed Valletta, a walled city, tightly packed onto its peninsula. A tiny treasure-chest of fountains, fortresses, fine museums, and fabulous 16th century palaces, it was founded by the Knights of St. John, its centrepiece is the opulent cathedral, its outlook is the aptly named Grand Harbour, and its baroque buildings now house stylish shops, quaint cafés and excellent restaurants.
St. Julian’s rocky shoreline backs a series of small coves with a mix of styles and tempos, from water’s edge eateries and a small-boat flotilla on Spinola Bay, to Paceville (pronounced ‘patchyvill’), Malta’s most vibrant nightlife area; and busy bars overlooking Portomaso marina, tucked beneath the cliffs.
Once a little fishing village, whose name translates as ‘serenity’, Sliema is neither a village nor serene now. First developed as a Victorian resort, and still with a handful of art nouveau houses, it is the premier place for up-market shops and restaurants, with a long promenade and terrific views.
Less famous but fabulously fascinating places include the ancient town of Mdina, the one-time refuge of St. Paul the Apostle, its Norman and Baroque buildings revealing its cultural heritage; atmospheric Vittoriosa, a medieval maze of streets and lanes, facing Valetta across the harbour; the Hagar Qim temple complex, dating from 3200BC; and the photogenic fishing port of Marsaxlokk, with multi-coloured boats afloat in its picturesque harbour.
Gozo is a small island with a huge history. Its Neolithic temples of Ggantija are among the oldest in the world; its medieval citadel, Rabat, can be seen from almost everywhere on the island; and Victoria, with narrow streets and market squares, is Gozo’s capital, cultural and geographic heart.
Basking between Malta and Gozo, Camino is a tiny, tranquil idyll, scented with herbs, sparsely inhabited, liberally carpeted with the cumin flowers from which it takes its name, and classified now as a nature reserve and bird sanctuary.
Mild and rainy in the autumn and winter, from October to March, at around 15°; warm and mostly dry in April and May; and hot and sunny in summers, when rain is real rarity; Malta’s Mediterranean climate can be affected by hot winds from Africa in the height of summer, when usual temperatures of 26 to 33° are temporarily raised by up to 8 degrees. The country’s temperate climate, and the nature of its attractions, make Malta a year-round destination.
Sun and sea, city sights and sleepy villages, ancient and medieval landmarks, and boat trips to bays and islands, all combine to create very varied experiences of Malta, meeting the interests of many travellers, sparking a curiosity in others, and ideally suited to our sociable small-group tours.
With 45 years’ experience and a passion for creating extraordinary adventures, Jules Verne takes you to iconic landmarks and lesser-known sites, with expert tour guides who share their local knowledge, and show you hidden gems. Special touches on our journeys in Malta include a bay boat trip to the old city of Vittoriosa, and afternoon tea at the lavish Palazzo Parisio.
Our guided tours to Malta are ABTA and ATOL protected, and we offer a 100% price guarantee, so you can book with complete confidence.
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