Malta & Gozo

by Ben Poole

   

My recent travels took me on a whirlwind trip to the Maltese archipelago where I sampled the best of what Malta and Gozo has to offer.

Malta and Gozo are often overlooked as a holiday favourite due to their popularity with elderly travellers and Malta's lack of natural beauty. I have to admit Malta has never been a destination on my ‘wish list' but with open eyes I ventured into the depths of Malta with the ambition of eradicating these stigmas.

A majority of Malta's makeup is exactly what I had envisioned, over crowded tourist resorts consisting of weathered, tired buildings accompanied by rocky coastal jetties and a distinct elderly tourist feel. However a closer investigation would reveal a complete contrast.

Portomaso is an exclusive development within St Julian's consisting of the 5* Hilton Malta, luxury penthouses, designer boutiques, upmarket cafes and restaurants and the tallest building in Malta, the Portomaso Tower.  A Majority of Malta's finest hotels such as the Westin Dragonara and the Intercontinental are located in the St Julian's district, each are havens to their own wealth of facilities and appeal to completely different types of travellers. Excellent hotels for families would be the Hilton Malta and the Westin Dragonara as these hotels offer superb children's facilities and various room options to suit all family requirements.

What surprised me about Malta was the vibrant nightlife on offer ranging from energetic bars and nightclubs to the sophisticated Portomaso Tower cocktail lounge, Malta is sure to cater for all nightlife preferences.

Malta is home to numerous churches and historical interest. Mdina is the old town perched on the highest point of the island where you will find a labyrinth of intermingled streets and ancient buildings reminiscent of a scene from the blockbuster movie ‘Troy'.  Valletta is the capital and cruise terminal made up of grand historic buildings and churches intermingled with a fantastic range of shops, bars and restaurants.

Other islands in the Maltese archipelago are the islands of Comino and Gozo. Comino is a small unspoilt gem populated by just 4 inhabitants and graced by the infamous blue lagoon.

Gozo is the second largest of the islands and can be reached via a 20-minute ferry journey from Malta. Gozo is a rugged island made up of farmland, tranquil villages and due to its deeply religious community an abundance of churches. Gozo boasts several areas of natural beauty such as the spectacular ‘Azure window', which has been pictured by the likes of national geographic magazine. The aura of Gozo is relaxing making it a perfect holiday combination with Malta. Popular hotels to consider in Gozo would be the rustic Ta'Cenc and the luxurious Kempinski Hotel & Spa.

My conclusion to my Maltese experience is that it simply is what it is. Malta is not a beautiful island, however, it does offer excellent value for money and even though the islands operate on the Euro the prices locally still seem to be considerably cheaper than other European competitors. There are regular flight services from regional airports with a flight time of just 3 hours. The climate is pleasant year round with winter lows averaging 10ºc and summer highs of 30°c. Taking these factors into account and the current economic climate I think Malta might just be the answer to a lot of people's questions for a holiday that provides value for money, convenience and variety.

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