A blissful tropical climate softened by Atlantic trade winds, pinkish-white, sugar-soft beaches, fabulous scuba diving, and laid-back catamaran cruises… These are just some of the fabulous experiences to be savoured in one of the Caribbean’s most popular and welcoming destinations - Barbados.
Delve into Malta’s culture
Malta is one of our favourite spots in the Mediterranean for a whole array of reasons: just a three-hour flight from the UK, it’s blessed with nearly 300 days of sunshine a year, gorgeous beaches, world-famous diving spots and fantastic food everywhere from cosy little bistros to five Michelin-starred restaurants. But we also love it for its history and culture, evident everywhere including in three UNESCO World Heritage sites, Roman ruins, walled cities and atmospheric forts. We’ve shared our highlights of the top cultural things to do in Malta.
Cities and Towns
Ambling around Malta’s UNESCO-listed capital at your own pace, taking in the historic sights within the impressive bastions of the Old Town, in an absolute joy. This charming walled city – established on a peninsula by the Knights of St John in the 1500s – is a packed with grand churches, palaces and museums, including St John’s Co-Cathedral –home to the only painting ever signed by Caravaggio, The Beheading of St John the Baptist. For more recent history, explore the Lascaris War Rooms with their subterranean tunnels and chambers that housed the World War II headquarters, now a fascinating museum.
We also recommend hopping aboard a five-minute ferry from Valletta to have a wander around 'the three cities' Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua – the place to see authentic local life in action. Having provided a refuge for almost all the settlers who came to these islands, they were the first homes to the Knights of St John, so their palaces, churches, forts and bastions are even older than Valletta’s. Discover them by electric self-drive buggy (Rolling Geeks) which is a brilliant, fun way of navigating their narrow streets, with GPS and historic commentary.
Also just across the bay from Valletta and easily reached by ferry, the buzzing town of Sliema has plenty to see and do, from touring old golden-stone churches and modern art galleries to swimming in Roman-era baths.
It’s hard to believe that Mdina – among the finest examples of an ancient walled city in Europe, with a fantastic mix of medieval and baroque architecture – was once Malta’s capital, given that it now has a population of just 250 or so. Dating back more than 4,000 years, this ’Silent City’ is said to be where Apostle St Paul lived after being shipwrecked on the islands in 60AD. Built on a plateau with views across the island, it’s best visited in the evening when it’s gorgeously illuminated by lamplight.
Festival, Events and Cuisine
Malta is a lively place of colourful traditions that include boisterous village festas (holy days) where you can join locals in a celebration of Maltese culture through processions and music by local bands. One of the biggest festas is the harvest festival of Mnarja at the end of June.
Another unique aspect of Malta’s culture is its love of fireworks displays, which have their origins in the Order of the Knights of St John’s pyrotechnic displays celebrating important feasts. The biggest manifestation of this is the Malta International Fireworks Festival, held at the end of April in Valletta. Another prestigious annual event is April’s Mużika Mużika (Festival Kanzunetta Maltija) bringing together different genres of Maltese music.
Malta’s fabulous food and drink – which can be sampled as regional street food sold from stalls and street carts at the festas, as well as in great restaurants all over the island –is another way of absorbing its is history: it mixes several influences including Sicilian (and other Italian), Arab and North African.
To book your Malta holiday with full financial protection, call your Travel Counsellor today.
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