It has to be one of the Mediterranean’s greatest gems! Spoilt for choice, doesn’t begin to describe the vast treasures to discover and enjoy in Malta. With historic buildings on every street corner, and quiet, sandyget-away-from -it-all coves and fishing villages, plus a wonderful «live life to the full» atmosphere, this tiny island had everything we would want from a holiday.
After a week, the only regret was that we hadn’t booked for a fortnight.
Seven days is barely enough time to get a taste of all that Malta has to offer the first-time visitor. We stayed in Sliema, the island’s biggest resort. It proved an excellent base from which to explore the rest of the island, and was just a short taxi ride away from the stunning capital, Valetta. The resort merges with St Julian’s and picturesque Spinola Bay. All three are linked by a broad promenade which comes to life at night, with walkers of all ages taking in the fabulous scenery.
Traditional Maltese villas and town houses, covered with bougainvillea and jasmine, sit comfortably beside modern apartment blocks overlooking the open sea. Fishing boats bob in the bay, and the tranquil atmosphere remains unspoilt by the masses of people visitors and locals who come out at night to enjoy the beauty of the promenade. Restaurants are designed to make the most of the fabulous scenery, with open air dining on several levels, allowing you to take in the calming view over the bay.
Sandy beaches are rare in Malta and Sliema’s shoreline is a rocky outcrop, which does not put sun bathers off. The rocks are surprisingly soft to lie on, and there are several purpose-built swimming areas like natural pools along the seafront. One of the busiest resorts in Malta, Sliema is surprisingly quiet, especially at night. But for those wanting a bit of music, there is a nightlife centre which is jumping with clubs, bars, cafes and casinos.
In fact the nightlife has been one of the main attractions in recent years for a number of A-list celebrities. Elizabeth Hurley, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are among the many famous visitors who have made the Maltese islands a regular haunt. Most captivating though, is the islands unique 7,000 years of history, which is evident at every turn.
The Maltese islands have been described as «one big open-air museum» and what makes them unique, is that so much of it is still visible today. The ancient buildings in Valetta are truely breathtaking, and you’ll find a historical site on virtually every corner votive statues, fountains and coats of arms high up on parapets. You can’t visit Malta without taking a trip to its medieval capital, Mdina, known as the silent city, because cars not belonging to residents are banned. Built like a fortress, dating back more than 4,000 years, a walk around this walled city is like a step back in time.
Eating out is another of Malta’s pleasures. A number of Maltese restaurants serve up traditional dishes. Rabbit and fresh fish are popular, as well as pasta dishes. The bragoli parcels of mince, chopped eggs, breadcrumbs and parsley wrapped in thin sheets of beef, simmered in gravy is a must. For first-class food at reasonable prices, visit the Snoppy bar and restaurant in Sliema a real find and our best meal of the week. We stayed in the four star Hotel Park in Sliema, centrally situated just a five -minute walk from the main shopping area, the harbour and the promenade. The hotel was clean, and the staff were welcoming and friendly. The pool on the roof was a real haven.
However, the Maltese ratings are not like our own, and for a four-star hotel, we found the accommodation quite basic.
Belfast Telegraph Newspapers / Sunday Life, August 29, 2004