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The Maltese Islands have long proved a hit with holidaymakers and it’s not hard to see why. These jewels in the Mediterranean Sea are unique, with their ancient temples, beautiful coves and dramatic cliffs. Malta also boasts one of the world’s finest diving sites.
When planning a holiday to Malta, remember it is very easy to get to. The country has regular sea links with Italy and is also well connected to Europe and North Africa by air. All flights arrive and depart from Malta International Airport, which is located around 8km south of the capital Valletta. From the UK, it’s a three-hour flight and departure hubs include Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Luton, Bristol, Edinburgh and East Midlands – so it’s very easy to get to! During the summer, there are also flights from Glasgow. Once you land in Malta, you can rest assured you’re no more than a 45-minute drive from anywhere on the main island.
Because of the small size of this tourist destination, getting around is easy. The public bus service on Malta and Gozo, the smaller of the two main islands, is good and all the major tourist areas are served. For those who want a bit more freedom and flexibility, renting a car can be the best option. All the road signs are in English and driving is on the left. Holidaymakers can also rent scooters, motorbikes and bicycles, but it’s worth noting that bicycle lanes on major roads are limited. In addition, there’s a white taxi service that can pick passengers up from anywhere, except bus stops. Meanwhile, a ferry service links Malta to Gozo and the trip takes around 20 minutes each way.
On January 1st 2008, the Euro replaced the Lira as the country’s national currency and all major credit cards are now widely accepted in Malta. The best places to change money are the banks as they almost always offer better rates than hotels or restaurants. Tourists should also be aware of the fact that it’s advisable to round up taxi fares and restaurant bills to leave a small tip.
When planning a holiday to Malta, you should make sure you include a sightseeing trip to Valletta in your itinerary. Surrounded on three sides by the sea, the capital is a World Heritage Site and highlights include St John’s Co-Cathedral, the Museum of Archaeology and the Grand Harbour, which is best seen from a cruise in a traditional boat. The temples of Mnajdra and Hagar Qim are also well worth a look. Malta is ideal for scuba diving too, offering reefs, caves and wrecks, and the calmness and clarity of the sea make for excellent visibility underwater.
Food lovers won’t be disappointed either. Maltese cuisine packs in flavors from Sicily and the Middle East and the very best is made of local ingredients such as rabbit and honey.
Image by Matthew Boyle used under creative commons licence