Malta: Come and explore the past

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Since gaining independence from the British in the 1960s, Malta has become an exceptionally popular holidaying destination thanks to its superb beaches, fantastic weather and invitingly warm, crystal clear waters. It is an island which enjoys an extraordinarily fascinating heritage including an enthralling selection of baroque buildings and some of the oldest prehistoric stone structures in the entire world.

Although Malta is a remarkably small Mediterranean island, there is still plenty of excitement on offer for tourists, particularly in the busy capital city of Valletta. Here you will find a wonderful mixture of cultural influences which still remains from its unique history of past inhabitants including the French, Spanish, Italian, British and Arabic. This is particularly evident in the wonderful cuisine which the Maltese are renowned for.

Nowadays, Malta is equally famous for its street carnivals, fabulous nightlife and party atmosphere although the more discerning holidaymaker is also catered for as there are plenty of secluded beaches and bays where one can avoid the hustle and bustle of the more heavily built up areas.

The Islands hold a variety of attractions for the whole family, including the children, who can often get bored visiting cultural and historical sites.

For crafts, the Islands hold two main villages, one in Gozo and one in Malta. Visitors can see craftsmen making lace, silver filigree, pottery, fabrics, knitwear, baskets and clocks. Also fascinating to watch are the glass blowers; cased behind a sheet of glass, visitors are encouraged to witness the craftsmen making the unique Maltese blown glass by hand.

Besides the beaches and pools, there is a marine and water park available for water fun. Not to be missed by the kids is the Sweethaven Village – the film set of the 1980 Musical Production “Popeye”.

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The combination of sheer cliffs, caves, wrecks, shelves and sandy and rocky sea beds, means there is a large variety of fauna and flora to see in the Maltese waters. Wrecks, as artificial reef habitats, have provided a home for a greater number of species in recent years and make excellent dive sites.

Species you are likely to see include groupers, amberjack, various bream, octopi, squid, flying fish, gurnard, stingrays, meagre, bogue, red mullet, parrot fish and the occasional moral eel.  Although the rocky structures and underwater coast seem ideal living conditions for eel, you tend to see them mostly during night dives.

The calmness of the sea makes for excellent visibility and the wildlife danger risk is extremely low, creating an ultimate location for first time divers and beginners. For the more experienced divers, there are various sites that include archaeological artefacts, some from WWII, some even dating back to the Roman era.

The depths of the dives vary, from the very shallow 12-metre Ghar Lapsi dive to Lantern Point, which takes divers to an underwater tunnel that leads down well over 50 metres.

Typical of the Mediterranean lifestyle, the Islanders’ approach to life is to enjoy and celebrate it as much as possible.  Nightlife on the Islands is always bustling. there are always scores of clubs to visit, excellent wine bars and first-rate restaurants to try.

The Islands have an effervescent calendar of cultural events to see, such as the Summer Malta Arts Festival, the Valletta Baroque Festival, the Opera Festival, the Choir Festival and the International Jazz Festival held in July.

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