Malta crams a lot into its three small islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino, from prehistoric monuments built a thousand years before the Egyptian pyramids to Roman ruins and art by Caravaggio.
And when you stand above Calypso’s Cave on the Maltese island of Gozo, you realise that Malta also has something else to offer travellers – the Great Outdoors.
Carmen Bajada, office manager at Gozo Prestige Holidays, which sells ten properties on the island through TUI Thomson and Simply Travel, said: “The scenery is spectacular here and in spring it’s very green and great for walking.”
Bajada recommends visiting Gozo for the colourful festival held in the village of Nadur in February. “You can enjoy the scenery; it is very green and great for walking. You will certainly enjoy the countryside more then, although the weather can be more variable,” she said.
Accessible by ferry, the two islands of Gozo and Comino are less built up than the island of Malta and work well for groups wanting to experience a greener less-built up landscape. Between April and June the countryside is carpeted with beautiful wild flowers and the cliffs are reminiscent of the north Cornish coast and are ideal for walking and cycling holidays.
With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, the island of Malta, 60 miles south, is traditionally known as a sand, sea and sun destination, but it is also a popular hub for less sedentary activities ranging from the Malta Marathon at the beginning of March to the 606-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race in October.
The spirit of activity also spills over into people’s holidays. Doug Mathieson, director of product and commercial at Cadogan Holidays, said: “Malta is becoming a great destination for people looking for active breaks.
“Many hotels and resorts offer windsurfing but the best is probably on Mellieha Bay, the island’s largest sandy beach, as it’s safe for children and caters well for beginners. Relatively new to the island is the Malta wakeboarding school in Xemxija.”
The waters around the three islands have some of the best visibility in the Med and it is understandable why scuba-diving aficionados rave about Malta. What the Mediterranean lacks in natural coral reefs, it makes up for in wrecks including the HMS Maori and HMS Stubborn.
Natural sites include the Blue Hole and Double Arch; all of which are serviced by a number of certified PADI dive schools.
The British legacy also means that the Royal Malta Golf Club, close to the capital Valletta, is still alive and kicking. Established in 1888, the course recently underwent a major refurbishment.
Rounds of golf on the course can be booked through Malta specialist Belleair Holidays (belleair.co.uk) as part of its packages.
Other activities available on Malta include horse riding, jeep driving, sea-kayaking and rock-climbing. The variety and beauty of the crag hopping options here make it one of the top spots in Europe. The rugged coastline has wide stretches of limestone cliffs with over 1,300 established routes, each reachable by car within half an hour.
Unsurprisingly, with all these activities and options, UK holidaymakers are increasingly extending their holidays to the islands.
Erica Collins, product and commercial manager for Malta at Cosmos, said: “We are finding that customers are now looking for total flexibility and variety in departures dates, airports and durations.”
Flights to Malta
From March 29, the country’s flag carrier Air Malta has double daily flights from Heathrow and Gatwick, a daily service from Manchester, three flights a week from Birmingham and one flight a week from Glasgow. Economy class fares start from £99 return.
The airline has also just signed a codeshare agreement with bmi. Ryanair, British Airways and easyJet also fly to Malta
Headwater offers walking and cycling holidays on Gozo. A seven-day package costs from £899 per person including flights and transfers, buffet breakfast and evening meals (0870 066 2650).
Ramblers Holidays offers a 10-night walking holiday on Malta and Gozo leading in at £576 per person. Price includes flights, ferry crossing, guided walks and half-board accommodation at the Ramla Bay Resort, Malta and hotel Calypso in Marsalforn, Gozo (01707331133).
Get detailed destination information and hotel reviews on Malta at Gazetteers.com – freephone 0800 731 0163 or +44(0)208 652 4526 to subscribe
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