Ten reasons to visit Malta this summer
Malta is an ideal holiday destination for UK travellers who can enjoy all the delights of the Med alongside a feeling of being home from home, thanks to the island's British colonial heritage. The Maltese speak English so you don't need to panic about packing your phrasebook and you'll find a host of things to do to suit all tastes and budgets.
Stay in Valletta at the historic Phoenicia Hotel, which overlooks the Grand Harbour and and you'll be perfectly positioned to explore. The hotel is located by the city gates, close to the new bus terminal offering easy access to all areas of the island.
Here are ten top tips for making the most of your visit:
1. Taste local wines at the Delicata Wine Festival, from 9th to 12th August in the splendid Upper Barakka Gardens, with views over the Grand Harbour and live entertainment. Entry is free but buy a souvenir glass for 12 Euros and you can try as many as you like of the 22 varieties of local wines on offer, along with delicious Maltese food.
2. Take a trip to Golden Sands beach and enjoy bathing in waters classed as amongst the best in Europe*. Many hotels, like Phoenicia, will offer complimentary shuttle services from June to September, or you can take Bus 47 from Valletta.
3. Sail to the Blue Lagoon on neighbouring Comino. This is one of the jewels in the Mediterranean's crown and is a day-trip from holiday heaven. Depart from Mellieha Bay for just 12 Euros per adult, 6 Euros per child, available any day except Wednesday and Sunday, leaving at 10.30am and returning 4.30pm**.
4. Discover the delightful wine bars of Valletta. Led by Trabuxu, an intimate wine-bar and the first of its kind, set in a 350 year-old cellar, Valletta offers some great wining and dining at the wine bars on Strait Street. A bottle of wine and a platter of delicious local food to share costs from 25 Euro for two.
5. Travel by ferry to Gozo. Malta's little-sister island is famed for its eco-credentials and is guaranteed to slow you down a gear or two. Take the 25-minute ferry ride for just 4.65E return, departing every 45 minutes in summer from Cirkewwa in the north of the island which can be reached by bus or taxi. Once in Gozo, take the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus from the ferry terminal to visit the Azure Window, the Ggantija Temples, Ta Kola Windmill, Calypso Cave, Victoria - Gozo's capital, and the seaside resort of Marsalforn.
6. Take a carriage-ride through the walled town of Mdina. Once the capital of Malta, the medieval city of Mdina will delight visitors with its cobbled pathways and historic buildings. Get there by bus route 80 or 81 from Valletta for just 47 cents, and then complete the holiday experience with a carriage-ride (or karozzin) from the gates for 30 Euros for a one-hour tour.
7. Visit the Casa Rocca Piccola. Take a peek into the customs and traditions of the Maltese nobility over the last 400 years at Casa Rocca Piccola. Although it remains a family home, over 50 rooms are open for public viewing at this stunning residence, where you will also see a collection of furniture, silver and paintings. Located at Republic Street, Valletta, the house is open daily from 10am to 4pm. Admission costs 9E for adults.
8. Charter a yacht and explore from the sea. The Malta Sailing Academy and Royal Malta Yacht Club offer advice and information and visitors can find yachts of all sizes; from 29ft to 64ft and more, with prices from £204 including fuel.
9. Enjoy sophisticated clubbing at Gianpula. Discerning party people will love this nightclub in Rabat situated in an old farmhouse with grounds of over 30 acres, including gardens, a swimming pool and seven bars. The complex also incorporates the Groove Gardens and the Marrakech Club. Entry prices vary depending on guest DJs but start from 15 to 20 Euros.
10. Shop for authentic Maltese gifts at the Ta' Qali crafts village. Located in the centre of Malta, on the site of an abandoned World War 2 airfield, this craft village offers great local products including jewellery, glassware, leather and linen. Open from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 4pm.
Rooms at the five-star Phoenicia Hotel start from just £51 per person, based on two adults sharing for three nights, with advance purchase internet booking***. To book, visit phoeniciamalta.com.
Fly to Malta from a host of UK departure airports, with airlines including Air Malta, easyjet and Ryanair and prices in August from £206.69 return.****
*A recent report published by the European Commission stated that 97.7% of Malta's bathing waters were of excellent quality
** Based on travel with English Rose Cruises
***Based on City Breaks Advance Purchase rate, with a minimum three-night stay for two adults sharing a classic room. Available for internet booking only and subject to availability. Changes are not permitted and full prepayment is required at time of booking
****Based on Ryanair flights from London Stansted to Malta, departing 31 August and returning 3 September, including taxes and charges