Malta - Charming Island Country in the Mediterranean
Malta was already a place of refuge, happiness and tranquillity for the Romans. Today the island still attracts romantics with its historical towns and streets. Wonderful sandy beaches, hidden rock grottoes and the azure blue sea create the perfect island experience in the Mediterranean Sea.
Geography - The island archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea
The Republic of Malta is a microstate and lies about 80 kilometres south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. The island country consists of three greater inhabited islands and several smaller uninhabited ones. Malta's main island is divided into two regions, which are again divided into five districts. Arriving by sea, you see the archipelago from afar, which has inspired many writers and film-makers. The climate is temperate and warm and there is not a lot of precipitation. August is the warmest month with an average temperature of 26 °C.
Nature - Of sea gods and sandy beaches
Due to the subtropical Mediterranean climate, the whole archipelago is very dry. There are hardly any natural freshwater springs, no rivers and no natural lakes. Nevertheless, the islands are home to 800 different plant species, which have adjusted to these conditions. Examples are fig trees, carob trees, thyme, orchids and the sandarak tree - Malta's national tree. In general, the islands are very flat. The highest peak is Ta'Dmejrek in the Dingli Cliffs with a height of 253 metres. The majority of the archipelago consists of steppes with shrubs and bushes, which brave the sun. A particularly impressive sight is offered by Malta's diverse coast. You find magical rocky shores with beautiful grottoes and caves at the seaside as well as wonderful sandy beaches and lagoons in hidden bays.
Natural sights - The Azure Window
No doubt, Malta's most appealing features are its stunning beaches and the azure blue sea. Comino Island was named after the plant which you see everywhere here: caraway. However, most travellers visit this island because of the famous Blue Lagoon, which is a real adventure playground. Small and grown-up explorers can go on expeditions in the caves and grottoes. Another natural highlight is located on Gozo Island. The locals call it "Azure Window" and are referring to a rock arch in the sea, which emerged when one of the caves collapsed. The bays of Marsalforn and Xlendi on Gozo Island or the rocky island of Cominotto are equally impressive.
Culture - Maltese pride
The Maltese islands have been settled for about 6,000 years. The Romans named the archipelago "Melita", the Greeks called it "Melite", which both means "refuge". Great megalith complexes and age-old tombs bear witness to the country's past. In addition, numerous museums and temples are part of Malta's rich cultural heritage. The inhabitants are proud of and passionate about the heroic chivalric tales of their ancestors and pass them on to their children. Malta was a British crown colony for a long time and first gained independence in 1964. However, they did not lose their own identity. The Maltese are very active regarding politics, believes and sport and prove to have a sense of humour and self-irony. Tourists perceive this charming lifestyle as very positive.
Cultural sights - Palace islands in the sea
Troy, Monte Cristo, Gladiator and Alexander - these and many other box-office hits have one thing in common: they were all filmed in Malta. That is not surprising because the country is characterised by remarkable architecture on a small area. There are over 300 churches on the islands, most of which are located on the main island of Malta. The capital of Valletta is a spectacular Baroque city with stone palaces, beautiful gardens and an impressive harbour. This architectural beauty made Valletta a World Cultural Heritage site of the UNESCO. Not far from it you see the town of Mosta. The unsupported dome of its cathedral (Rotunda of Mosta) has a diameter of 39 metres. Another fascinating attraction is the dome of Xewkija Church on Gozo, which is also called the "Island of Joy". Its citadel, the capital of Victoria (also known as "Rabat"), the megaliths and the Ġgantija Temples are very popular with tourists. One last sight which needs to be mentioned is the impressive Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni, a sacred Neolithic burial ground. It is another World Cultural Heritage site on the Maltese islands.
Experience - The life of the Maltese
Lampuki is the name of the Maltese national dish, which refers to a mahi-mahi dish. The Maltese cuisine tastes of Italy, France, Greece and Spain - it is a delicious combination of influences from different countries. Examples of popular dishes are the rabbit dishes fenek moqli (fried rabbit) and stuffat tal-fenek (stew). People with a sweet tooth love the torta tal-marmurat, a cake which is stuffed with almonds. A common refreshment is Kinnie, a fizzy lemonade which consists of bitter orange and wormwood. In the middle of Malta's quaint streets, you find many great shopping facilities. There are shopping centres in Sliema and Valletta is considered a shopping paradise with its fashionable boutiques and the great markets. The most popular souvenirs are limestone miniatures of the islands' architecture or Maltese sweets. The town of Sliema is known for its vibrant nightlife and St. Julian's (San Ġiljan) is considered Malta's entertainment centre. Night clubs, bars, pubs and restaurants attract both locals and tourists, especially in summer. One special attraction are the luzzus, colourfully painted, traditional fishing boats, which holidaymakers can use to explore the archipelago.
Activities - On the water, in the water and on shore
There are scenic beach sections all over the islands - some of them frequently visited, some of them untouched and hidden. The longest bay is Ghadira Bay, where sun-worshippers can relax and swim in the sea. Golden Bay and Paradise Bay are equally popular. There are lots of opportunities for going sailing, water skiing and wakeboarding. Divers and snorkellers get their money's worth in the underground caves and grottoes. If you want to explore the islands by land, you can walk along the wonderful hiking trails on Malta or Gozo. They are also used by cyclists. The locals prefer rugby and football and the highlight of the year is the sailing regatta of the Rolex Middle Sea Race.
The Maltese claim they "neither drive on the right nor on the left; they drive in the shade". This is a rather ironic way of describing the chaotic road traffic conditions. If you dare to drive yourself, you should mind the left-hand traffic, which is British heritage.
As part of a cruise, during your honeymoon or to brush up on your language skills - there are many reasons for visiting the fairy-tale island archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. Both culture enthusiasts and active holidaymakers get their money's worth in Malta.