Malta, the hidden gem of the Mediterranean


Malta is more than just an archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea; it is holding more adventures than most people know. It is also famous having the best weather in the world. It is always sunny, even in winter the temperature never drops below zero. Lies just 93 km (58 miles) South of Sicily (Italy) in Southern Europe and roughly 300 km (186 miles) north from the North African coast, the island of Malta is a small independent nation and the EU’s smallest member state. The archipelago consists of three main islands: Malta Island (the largest in geographical size at around 246 square km and most developed island), Gozo (67 sq km) and Comino (26 sq miles). Malta’s capital city is Valletta, which is centrally located on the island’s North coast and has the island’s largest harbor. Its sister island of Gozo is idyllic and peaceful and mostly rural, offering breathtaking views and great opportunities for outdoor activities; such has hiking, biking and rock climbing. Comino is the smallest island of the three and is inhabited by only a few people. The island is the location for one of Malta’s most beautiful bays: the Blue Lagoon.

When asking the question, ‘what is Malta famous for?’ the most generic answer provided is: sun, sea, and beautiful beaches. There is so much more to Malta than golden sands and blue waves, but it is undeniable that Malta’s beautiful coast is one of the Mediterranean’s most stunning landscapes. But lying on the beach is not the only way to appreciate this Mediterranean’s unique charm; getting a ride in a wooden boat inside the caves with the blue water of Blue Grotto (series of naturally formed sea caves includes a 30-foot stone arch and some of the loveliest emerald and cyan-hued waters) is another experience that have successfully attracted more than 100,000 visitors a year. The archipelago’s famous, crystal clear waters especially make for great diving too. Frequently voted one of the world’s best diving locations, the archipelago is home to some impressive, underwater geological features as hundreds of reefs, caves, and ancient wrecks can be found lying just off its coast. Recently, Malta’s celebrated Azure Window sea arch collapsed in a severe storm. Although this event caused grief across the island of Gozo, the arch’s submersion still provides a stunning spectacle for thousands of eager divers.

But Malta’s ancient wonders are not all under water. Despite being so isolated, civilizations have flourished on Malta for thousands of years. Malta’s most historic claim to fame is the 5,000 year old Hagar Qim. This limestone beauty is one of Malta’s celebrated Megalithic temples, many of which predate the pyramids and even Stonehenge. These temples are all designated UNESCO Word Heritage sites, but they are not alone on the prestigious UN list – Malta’s capital city of Valletta, where the site of the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Barrakka Gardens and the prehistoric Hypogeum located, are also UNESCO World Heritage sites. According to UNESCO, the city is ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world‘.

Valletta was the first ever planned city in Europe, with the designs being drawn out by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1565. Completed in just 15 years, Valletta holds a record as one of the quickest scaled cities in the world, and looks absolutely beautiful at sunset. The original building plans resulted in a pretty spectacular city, but Valletta has only grown more beautiful with age. Taking turns under the rule of the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginian, Romans, Byzantine, and Arabs, Valletta boasts an eclectic range of architecture and a unique medieval charm that any visitor to Malta needs to experience. As well as being famous for its diving and architectural sites, Malta is also a popular film location in its own right. Malta’s dramatic cliffs, stunning landscapes, and ancient buildings make it the perfect backdrop for many feature films and TV shows, particularly those aiming for an antiquated feel. The films ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Troy’ both take advantage of Malta’s classical charm, while the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise passed off a few Maltese landscapes as Caribbean beaches. ‘Game of Thrones’ also contains several scenes filmed around the intensely photogenic capital of Valletta.

Malta archipelago strategically lies at the cultural, financial, and geographical crossroads of the Mediterranean Sea. At the confluence of the major sea-lanes linking Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Malta’s unique position affords easy access to these markets and beyond. Malta’s coastline is well indented with natural harbors as well as established ports. Historically, these ports have established the Islands as a centre for Mediterranean commerce, combining old world charm with modern port facilities. Maritime activity centers on 2 main ports, Valletta, and Marsaxlokk, although a number of other ports occasionally host ships on international voyages, usually passenger vessels. At the centre of countless shipping routes, these ports provide a wide variety of professional shipping services of value to major commercial entities. The Grand Harbor of Valletta, Malta’s main port is one of the most spectacular natural deep water harbors in the Mediterranean. This port, girdled as it is by an uninterrupted line of historic fortifications of massive proportions, is becoming an increasingly popular port for cruise passengers and the related growth in the cruise industry. The other main Port, Marsaxlokk, consists of the container terminal and industrial storage facilities which are operated by the Malta Freeport Terminals.

One of the excellent things about Malta is that the climate is generally terrific as it does not suffer from extremes of temperature. It usually has pleasant warmth because the sea breezes help to prevent the heat becoming too stifling. However, there is some variation to look at, the summers are generally dry and warm with the temperatures peaking at their highest around the 30°C mark, and this high is usually around July. In the winter, the temperatures drop to around 15°C with January as the coldest month and there is an increase in rainfall at this time, although there is not much rainfall in Malta year-round. The summer months are the best time to visit for visitors looking for uninterrupted sunshine then. However, Malta is also an excellent winter destination for a walking or activity holiday, although November and December tend to be the months with the most rain.

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