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Malta - An Introduction
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"Malta - We Have It All™" - is a very appropriate sum up of what the Maltese Islands are all about. Malta, the largest island of the archipelago also comprising Gozo, little Comino and miniscule Filfla, is quite possibly unique in the world in the variety of offerings for the visitor. Put simply, whatever your interests, you will almost certainly find a good reason to holiday in Malta. Plus, being just 17 miles/27 km long, the ratio of "tourist attractions per square mile" is exceedingly high - a short drive makes every corner of the island accessible, and thus even on a short holiday break quite a lot of ground can be covered.

But Malta is not just about sightseeing - unlike some other Mediterranean small island destinations, Malta is quite a highly developed country with a busy economy, a high population density and a well educated people, with many varied interests, however arcane - thus the activities that one can participate in when on holiday in Malta are also many and varied - be they sporting, hobbies, or other. As far as entertainment goes, be it the family type or the nightlife, a full schedule can be organised after sundown too.

And let us not forget the weather - Malta's weather makes it the ideal "Sun and Sea" holiday destination for at least 5 months of the year.

As far as sightseeing goes, the traces of Malta's history go back to when Malta was still connected to the European mainland - evidenced by the multitude of fossilized remains of long-extinct animal species found at Ghar Dalam - through to the dawn of civilisation, with the temples at Hagar Qim and Mnajdra - the oldest free-standing temples in the world - and naturally one must mention the Phoenicians, the Romans, St Paul, the Arabs, the Knights of Malta, Napoleon, the British, World War 2 - all left more than just their mark on Malta and the Maltese Islands - they shaped its present. View the forts and castles, the fortifications, Mdina, the Citadel in Gozo, the numerous richly decorated churches and chapels in every town and village, some centuries old - and of course Valletta, the city built by the Knights of Malta for the Knights of Malta - Palaces and museums with priceless art treasures, the Armoury, the majestic buildings at every corner, and the stunning views over the Grand Harbour. A stroll around the Three Cities of Cospicua, Vittoriosa and Senglea takes one back in time - the scars of the Second World War are still in evidence on the bastion walls, the so-called inner harbour area was the most heavily bombed during this period.

Especially in the West and North of Malta, the cliff-edge and countryside vistas are similarly breathtaking, the rugged Maltese coastline is the result of the battering of seas, earth movements and weather over the millennia - and watch-towers built by the Knights of Malta still silently guard the coves and beaches against invaders - though nowadays the "invaders" are more likely to carry a beach towel rather than a musket.
The visitor to Malta may for convenience also choose to join a guided day tour visiting several of the attractions - both on land and at sea. Air-conditioned coach tours, at very reasonable prices, are organised daily - ask at your hotel in Malta or any of the numerous booking offices in the major tourist areas. In the summer months, unofficially "Festa" (village patron saint's feast) season, the evenings may often be spent mingling with the crowds and the brass band at the village square, visiting the traditional food stalls, partaking of some wine or local lager, and being amazed at the elaborate, never-ending fireworks displays filling the clear night sky, illuminating the entire village. Boat trips, taking in the stunning Grand Harbour and its creeks, Comino, or a full round Malta tour, are also extremely popular. Or if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, and don't mind the occasionally bumpy ride, go for a Jeep Safari to check out the bits that no tourist coach or hire car will get you to.

Sports and activities which may lure you to Malta - Practically all water sports are practiced in the Maltese Islands - Yachting and sailing is very popular, well organised marinas and yachting facilities servicing all your needs are available, scuba diving, snorkelling, and of course the typical beach-type watersports often offered by hotels in Malta - Parakiting, water-skiing, canoeing, rental of jet skis and speedboat rides, and to a limited extent, windsurfing. Swimming is also possible without any protective wear, until around late November, when the sea temperature normally would be around the 21˚C mark. A water fun park is also open during the warmer months - an ideal family outing, with large water chutes, a wave pool and lido, and animal attractions. Malta has a number of sandy beaches, the largest being Mellieha Bay, but a lot of bathing is also possible off the rocky coast, especially for those with an aversion to sand!

On land, sports and hobbies practiced are countless - many sporting activities are also open to visitors. It is rather beyond the scope of this page to list all the sports and hobbies practiced in Malta and Gozo - one would be much better served making a Malta related Internet search for one's particular interest, prior to travelling. However, to mention a few - The larger hotels often offer tennis and/or squash courts, well equipped gyms, and the like - you may also wish to go horse-riding, or hire a bicycle - or even bring your own if you wish to get into some serious cycling, be it road or mountain biking, though a tip would be that the latter is somewhat more suitable for Malta's roads. Trekking, rock-climbing and sports shooting (clay pigeon shooting) are also options.

Go-Karting is also possible, and for motoring enthusiasts, a bit of research will advise you of the current location where Malta's classic and sports car/motorcycling enthusiasts are meeting up on every Sunday morning. You may be lucky enough to time your visit with a major motorsports event such as a drag race, often attended by overseas competitors and where literally thousands of pounds worth of hardware is "burnt out".

Your evenings out can be many and varied - again, whatever your tastes and inclinations, we've got it here. Meals out? Restaurants are plentiful, Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, Maltese, Mediterranean, pizza and pasta places, steakhouses, fish restaurants, typical village "rabbit houses", diners, family restaurants, up-market and everyday - all cuisines and all prices are (pun intended) catered for. You have no excuse for not eating out well in Malta.

Similarly, pubs and trendy bars, including the latest popular introduction - wine bars, generally located in historic premises in the heart of villages or towns (quite a few in Valletta and Vittoriosa), plenty to choose from, take it as relaxed or as "alive" as you prefer.

Speaking of "alive", this is probably the best description to use when referring the any of the several on Malta's open air night-club venues, open on weekends during the summer months, and usually jam-packed with patrons - and the Maltese summer is also when several dance music parties are held, sometimes on public beaches reserved for the event, and with internationally renowned DJ's and performers brought over to Malta for the night.

All year round of course, nightclubs and discotheques, salsa bars and the like, cater for varying tastes and age groups - just ask upon arrival in Malta for the most "happening" places. St Julians (in particular, the "Paceville" area) is the nightlife capital of Malta, with Bugibba/Qawra trailing closely.

Or just opt to see the latest blockbuster - Malta boasts 4 cinema complexes, one of which includes an IMAX 3D screen, and the latest movies are usually released in Malta concurrently with the rest of Europe - on occasion even before.

And if you're feeling lucky, Malta currently has no less than three casinos, of a high standard and where all typical casino games can be played, and halls offer row upon row of slot machines.

Last but not least - Malta has the Maltese! A long association with visitors, whether of the welcome or maybe not so welcome type in years gone by, has made the Maltese a very adaptable people. Most speak and write English very well, and other languages such as Italian and French are also understood by many. The Maltese are generally well educated, and very helpful with visitors, going out of their way to offer assistance. The same hospitality and genuine concern is also evident should you, for example, unfortunately require health care while on holiday in Malta. You will be offered all the support required - many are those visitors who express their gratitude publicly after such an event. So, yes, maybe you are away from home when visiting Malta - but it feels more like visiting family than travelling in a "foreign" country. This feeling of home-from-home, especially for the British, is reinforced by the familiar sights around the Maltese Islands - Red, pillar-box letterboxes, red telephone booths, road signs and shop signs, adverts, etc, in English, we even have "The Times" and it also seems that half the population supports the English national football team! (The other half supports the Italians!). Apart from the football results, the Maltese are also generally well versed in other world affairs, keeping up to date on the international news, so holding a conversation on matters closer to home will be easy. So, all in all, the Maltese are a feature of Malta just as much as any other.

Well, in conclusion, we are now back to the opening line - "Malta - We Have It All™"!