I just love Malta. And if you go, I bet you will too.
Why? Because it’s groaning with beautiful buildings, bathed in sunshine, has friendly English-speaking locals, fab food and wine and spectacular sights to visit.
All in all, Malta’s pretty much got the lot.
OK, I’ll admit, it might not have the best beaches in the Med, but that really doesn’t bother me.
Its quiet, picturesque landscape and beautiful honey-coloured buildings more than make up for the lack of sand.
The Maltese archipelago consists of three islands Malta, Gozo and Comino with a total population of more than 400,000.
One thing I love about Malta is it’s in a lovely time-warp.
Family and religion are still at the core of society, people are mannerly, and there are so many links with the UK that you feel perfectly at home.
When I visited recently, I stayed at the beautiful Phoenicia Hotel (phoeniciamalta.com).
It dates from 1939 and is situated by the gates of Malta’s capital, Valletta.
It offers a luxurious retreat, with its acres of evergreen gardens and pool deck set into the city walls, yet it’s just a short stroll from the bustling waterfront and Grand Harbour.
This five-star hotel offers 136 bedrooms and suites, and includes a variety of wining and dining options.
It’s played a key role in Malta’s history and has attracted celebrities and royals for decades, including our very own Queen who was a regular during her time living in Malta as a newlywed.
The Phoenicia created its own kitchen garden in 2013 as part of a sustainability initiative, providing herbs, fruit and vegetables for the hotel’s restaurants.
Renowned chef Saul Halevi uses what’s grown in the gardens as well as hand-picked ingredients from various local markets. The result is delicious!
My first morning was spent in neighbouring Gozo. Greener, more rural and smaller than Malta, life on Gozo moves at a wonderfully slow pace.
First stop was the main sight, the Ggantija Temples, one of the oldest freestanding structures in the world.
Excavated in the early 19th Century, the complex comprises of two Neolithic temples dating back more than 5,000 years.
If you’re a beach lover, you’re in luck because Gozo has Ramla Bay, the most beautiful in the Maltese islands Ta’Mena Estate is a great place for lunch and a wine tasting.
It was the first agro-tourism complex in the islands and here you can sample some delicious foods, wines and liqueurs.
Back on Malta, there’s loads to see and do.
Mellieha Village is well known for its historic Marian Sanctuary which dates back to the early years of Christianity, and is reputed to have been one of the places visited by St Paul himself during his three-month stay on the island.
Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage City, is nothing short of an open-air museum.
Dotted with quaint cafes, the city boasts the majestic St John’s Co-Cathedral, imposing bastions and a treasure of priceless paintings.
One of the most interesting places I visited was the Lascaris War Rooms an underground complex of tunnels and chambers where the defence of Malta was conducted during the Second World War.
The Casa Rocca Piccola is Valletta’s lived-in house museum.
Belonging to the noble De Piro family, the small palazzo built in 1850, is a fabulous place, stuffed with treasures and I would say this is the number one place to go in Malta.
Menwhile, you can’t visit the country and not go to Ta Nenu. This famous bakery specialises in typical hot Maltese ftiras with a variety of toppings. Mdina is Malta’s first capital city and a colonial settlement of Imperial Rome.
It is known as The Silent City and its mix of medieval and baroque architecture, fortification walls and location on high ground make it one of the most enchanting places on the island.
Don’t miss it.
Rooms at the Phoenicia start from just £55 per person sharing for a minimum three-night stay on a room-only basis. Call 0800 862 0025 or visit phoeniciamalta.com. For more information on holidays in Malta and Gozo, seevisitmalta.com.
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