Forming a bridge between the European and African continents, the island nation of Malta is rich with Mediterranean culture, history, and natural sights. With over 300 days of sunshine each year and mild temperatures even during the winter months, Malta is a sound choice for a winter sun destination. While you can undoubtedly fill a week in Malta, my recommendation is to visit the island as a side trip from Italy.
Located 58 miles (93 km) from mainland Italy, Malta is easily accessible thanks to its international airport which is well connected to European, North African, and Middle Eastern destinations. As travelers from the US will need to transfer via an Italian airport, this is why planning a vacation to both countries is an attractive idea. Alternatively, you can travel to Malta from Sicily via ferry. Crossings take between 2 and 7 hours subject to your route you will need to factor additional time into your travel schedule.
Where to stay in Malta
Rather than one island, Malta is an archipelago. Malta, Gozo, and Comino are the largest islands. Malta’s main island is tiny; spanning 95 square miles (246 square kilometers) it takes less than an hour to drive from one end to the other. You can access Gozo and Comino via a 25-minute boat crossing from Cirkewwa.
It is therefore possible to select accommodation on the main island and arrange day trips to the sister islands. Both Malta and Gozo offer a mix of luxury hotels, boutique spa resorts, and unique farm stays. Accommodation is limited to a handful of guesthouses and camping sites on the smallest island, Comino.
What to do in Malta
Malta’s capital city, Valletta, is located on the main island. The smallest capital in Europe is awash with galleries and museums, historic palaces, grand fountains, and photographic open spaces. Take a wander through the Barrakka Gardens for scenic ocean views and head to the Valletta Waterfront at dusk to experience the city’s dining and nightlife spring into life.
History fanatics will appreciate taking the time to visit the old capital, Mdina. This fortified city is located in the heart of the island and picks up where Valletta left off with ancient churches, museums, and excellent places to eat.
In terms of where to swim in Malta, the islands offer a wealth of options. Għadira Bay is popular due to the amenities, dining, and water sports available. With soft sand and shallow, calm water, Għadira is an excellent spot for families with children. Ghajn Tuffieha Bay is an offbeat alternative that requires a steep walk down 100 steps. Once there, you can enjoy dramatic coastal cliffs and fewer crowds. On the island of Gozo, head to Dwejra Bay where you can see natural rock pools and the arched cliff known as the Azure Window.
With its dramatic cliffs and coastal caves, Comino is a joy to explore by boat. This is the only way to access the Crystal Lagoon however you can swim or snorkel safely in the pristine Blue Lagoon.
When you are ready to plan your trip to Italy, consider extending your vacation with a side trip to Malta. Contact me and we will devise your perfect itinerary.
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