Was a focal point during the Great siege of 1565 and also during World War II. This historic port has been the economic lifeline of Malta ever since the awn of history
Is historically and artistically one of the most important monuments of the islands: “the most striking interior I have ever seen” declared Sir Walter Scott. The building of the Conventual church began in 1573 by Grand Master Jean l’Eveque de la Cassiere. Four hundred memorials slabs cover the floor, all inlaid with soft coloured mosaic or marble. The Beheading of St John the Babtist by the mercurial Caravaggio can be seen in the Oratory, as well as a set of 28 Flemish tapestries woven in Brussels.
The Grand Master’s Palace
It is sited half way down Republic Street. It has two lovely courtyards. There is also the armoury of the Knights where arms and armour of various periods are displayed. In the Tapestry Chamber can be seen the priceless Gobelian tapestries.
The National Museum of Archeology
In the Auberge de Provence, in Republic street, was one of the inns of the knights. the museum contains several excellent collections of objects found at the main Neolithic and prehistoric sites on the island (pottery, sculpture, statuettes…).
The National Museum of Fine Arts
This museum is in South Street just off Republic Street. It is housed in the former Admiralty house. Although modest in size it offers the visitors an interesting collection of paintings of such masters as Guido Reni, Jusepe Ribera and Mattia Preti together with a selection of the foremost schools from the 14th century to the beginning of the 20th century.
The National War Museum
It Is located in Fort St.Elmo, Valletta. The fort itself played a significant part in the Great Siege of 1565 as well as against an Italian E-boat attack in 1941. The museum has exhibits relating mostly to World War II, including weapons, uniforms and war vehicles. You can also see a large selection of war relics from the plane “Faith” to the George Cross, awarded to the Maltese in recognition of their bravery in the Second World War. Also, In Guardia! are historical re-enactments at Fort St.Elmo, spectacular military parades dating back to the times of the Knights of St. John.
The National Library
This library is housed in the colonnaded and classical building dominating Republic Square. It is the depository of the original documents dating from 1107 recording the administration of the Order of St. John over the first seven centuries of its existence up to 1798 – some four million documents.
Is Malta’s National theatre, built by the Portuguese Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena “for the honest entertainment of the people”. The first-ever public performance took place on January9, 1732, making the Manoel one of the oldest functioning theatres in Europe. Performances are held regularly. Just sitting in the theatre for a live performance is an experience in itself.
Were designed by the brilliant Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar. In Valletta one can still see the Auberge d’Aragon, Auberge de Castille et Leon, Auberge d’Italie (now the general post office) and Auberge de Provence (national museum of Archeology).
There are the most prominent of Maltese architecture. The main ingredient used is a soft limestone. Mile upon mile of fortified curtains and bastions rise solidly from the ground and seem an integral part of the scene. One can see them in Valletta, the Three Cities and Mdina.
Is the Valletta open market which sets up for trade in St.James Ditch on Sunday mornings and in Merchant street during the week. Its name is derived from the Monte de Pieta – an official pawn broking house whose proceeds went for the ransom of slaves during the rule of the order.
The Mediterranean Conference Centre
Or the Sacra Infermeria, referred to in the past as the Knight’s Hall, is a good example of the Renaissance architecture in Valletta. The original nucleus of the Sacra Infermaria became operative in 1578 during the reign of Grand Master La Cassiere. The Sacra Infermeria was restored in 1979 and has since been housing the Mediterranean Conference Centre. The conference and exhibition facilities of the centre have hosted a wide variety of international meetings and events. The Malta Experience an excellent multi-vision show introducing visitors to Malta and its people, can be seen in Fort St Elmo just across the street from the Mediterranean Conference Centre.
For a memorable view of the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities go to the upper Barracca, or the lower Barracca Gardens with its well-known monument to Sir Alexander Ball. Hastings Gardens are set on the bastions overlooking Floriana. Before entering the upper Barracca visit The Sacred Island the latest multi vision show at Dar l-Emigranti, Valletta. This gives an insight into the folklore and culture of the Maltese in six different languages. The Argotti Botanical Gardens are also worth a visit, as are the historical Sa Maison Gardens. Near Verdala Palace, outside Rabat, are the Buskett Gardens.
The Three Cities
Across the Grand Harbour, to the South of Valletta, are the three historic towns of Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea, commonly referred to as Cottonera or the Three Cities. When the Knights first arrived they chose Vittoriosa (Birgu) as their home because of its vicinity to Fort St Angelo. Valletta was built after the Great Siege of 1565.
The Maritime museum
This museum, once a bakery belonging to the Royal Navy, highlights the most important moments of Malta’s maritime history. Exhibits include two ceremonial barges (Wignacourt’s and Vilhena’s), several models of sailing ships and galleys of the Order, as well as a number of authentic guns and cannons.
Cospicua or Bormla
Here one can admire, among other landmarks, the Cottonera Lines (1670), the Santa Margerita Lines (1638) and the St Clement’s Retrenchment (1854). The magnificent Collegiate Parish Church and its artistic Oratory (1731) is full of unique masterpiece.
Named after Grand Master Claude de la Sengle, had to be most completely rebuilt after the Second World War Worth visiting are the Church of St.Philip and that of Our Lady of Victories as well as the vedette behind the church.
Fort St Angelo
At Vittoriosa, built around the 21st century AD, was enlarged and strengthened by the Knights who made it their headquarters. The Grand Master refashioned the residence to serve as his Magisterial Palace. It is very similar to the Knight’s Crusader Castle and the citadel they raised at Rhodes. The Fort is open to the public and guided tours are available.
The Folklore Museums
This museum is housed in the Inquisitor’s Palace in Vittoriosa, formerly the seat of the Inquisitor in Malta. A section of the building contains interesting specimens of tools and objects of devotion of a bygone age. Of special interest to visitors are the judgement hall, the private apartments and the dungeons.
It is the old capital of Malta and is a typical medieval town situated in the centre of the island. The “silent city” as it is known, commands a magnificent view of the island.
It was rebuilt on plans by Lorenzo Gafa following the earthquake of 1693 which considerably damaged the late medieval cathedral. The altarpiece and several other paintings are by Mattia Preti. Other treasures include the two chapels of the Blessed Sacrament and the Sculptures. The Sacristy door and the Baptistery. The Cathedral Museum is a fine baroque Palace (1743) with various works of art, including Durer woodcuts and a fine picture gallery.
The Museum of Natural History
Situated at Vilhena Palace, houses seven sections, comprising of both local and foreign collections, including skeletal anatomy, fish, insects, birds, shells and fossils alongside with a number of geology exhibits.
Norman House or Palazzo Falzon
Is the most complete of Mdina’s Medieval buildings. It stands at the end of Villegaignnon Street, named after the Knight of Malta Nicolas Durand, Seigneur de Villegaignon, who organised the defence of Mdina against a threatened Turkish attack in 1955. Norman house is a private house whose owner generously bequeathed it to the nation.
St.Agatha’s and St.Paul’s catacombs
These are typical of the underground Christian cemeteries which were common in the 4th century AD. The characteristic feature of the Maltese catacombs is the presence of “agape tables” hewn out of rock, on which mourners reclined to partake of the funeral wake.
St. Paul’s Church and Grotto
St Paul’s Collegiate Church is one of the earliest parishes built in the form of a Latin Cross. It was designed by F.Buonamici and completed in 1683 by Lorenzo Gafa. The main altar piece is by Stefano Erardi. Beneath the sanctuary is the celebrated St. Paul’s Grotto, where St.Paul is reputed to have stayed in A.D. 60. Above the Grotto is a chapel dedicated to St.Publius, which houses various are treasures.
These austere cliffs in the limits of Rabat are as impregnable as the fortifications built by the Knights of St.John. As you stroll along them you will come across the most characteristic types of natural landscape. From here you can have a spectacular view of the tiny, uninhabited island of Filfla.
Is another legacy of the Knights and this was begun in 1586. a semi fortified villa, it was built by Fra Hugues de Verdalle on high ground as a summer residence for the Grand Master.
It is found in the vicinity and definitely worth a visit with its exhibits of Roman Malta. Evidence of Malta’s wealth and magnificence during the Roman rule (218 BC – 870 AD) may be seen here due to the fact that it contains many valuable remains, like lamps and glass and glass and gold objects. Look out for the beautifully preserved mosaics.
As you enter Mosta you immediately recognise the Rotunda the parish church dedicated to the Assumption of the Vitgin Mary. This church was built in the classical style in the middle of the 19th century mainly through the efforts, both technical and financial, of the villagers. It was designed by George Grognet de Vasse. His plan was closely based on that of the Pantheon, in Rome. The foundation stone laid on May 30th, 1933 and the church took 27 years to complete. Apart from the size of its dome, it is well-known because on April 9th, 1942 at 4p.m. the Rotunda’s majestic dome was pierced by a 500-lb enemy bomb whose shell is now exhibited inside the sacristy. The bomb fell in the centre of the church without exploding. Nobody was hurt
Is a 144m long natural cave located about 500m from St.George’s bay, Birzebbugia. The cave is a veritable depository of semi fossilised remains of a number of animals such as dwarf elephants and hippopotami. This proves that Malta was attached to Sicily and the European continent. This cave provided shelter to the island’s first inhabitants, when they landed here in 5000BC.
Hypogeum (Circa 2400 BC)
This is a fascinating prehistoric underground burial ground 12 metres below street level situated in Paola. It consists of a system of caves, passages and cubicles cut in the rocks, and considered to be an invaluable site within the framework of world archaeology. The famous “sleeping lady”, now exhibited at the Museum of Archeology in Valletta, was found in the Hypogeum.
Megalaitic Tarxien Temples
Malta can boast of a number of megalithic temples sited all over the island. The Tarxien complex consists of three linked temples. These temples were erected in the fourth and third millennium BC. Several decorate objects, statuettes, pottery items and bas reliefs were discovered there. The most striking are the superb spiral motifs. Professor Renfrew referred to the megalithic temples of Malta as “the earliest free-standing stone monuments in the world”.
Is to be found in the south of the island, near Hal Far. It is a huge cave with a large window in the cliff-face rising perpendicularly out of the water.
These are mostly found on the exposed surface of outcrops of the harder coralline limestone. The most widely accepted dating for our ancient cart cuts is the Bronze age, roughly between 1500 and 700BC. Some archaeologists tend to believe that they are intended for the transport of heavy rocks of stone from the quarry face.
It is unique among the Maltese temples because globigerina limestone was used throughout its construction. There are complicated decorations carved on some of the stones, an oracular chamber and altars and the massive walls are particularly impressive. It’s position overlooking the sea make it one of the most spectacular megalithic temples in Malta.
Is a short walk down the Hill of Hagar Qim, and like its twin temple occupies a site of exceptional beauty. Its circular spaces, chambers, pediments and passage-ways of pitted stone prove that the builders of these stones marvels left nothing to chance when they planned and built them in circa 3200BC.
Is Malta’s largest fishing village. You stroll here to watch the fishermen, their boats and nets or to have a meal or snack. On Sunday mornings there is a lively market.
This fishing village is on the southern shores of Malta and is a mass of formidable and unassailable cliffs, ravines and gorges. As far back as 1417 the promontory at Wied iz-Zurrieq already served as a lookout station.
Lying beyond the cliffs of Wied iz-Zurrieq, is compared to Capri’s Grotta Azzurra. The Blue Grotto can only be reached by sea either on a motor boat or a rowing boat. It is an attraction with locals and visitors particularly in the summer months when the sea is shimmering and still. The cavern is 40 metres in circumference and reaches a depth of 26 metres. The Blue Grotto faces east and in the early morning, the rays of the sun floodlight the entire grotto, revealing its incandescent beauty. There are stalactites on the roof and its clear waters are like an aquarium full of fish.
Sliema, St.Julians, Paceville
This is a lively area all year round but particularly in summer. With a wide promenade overlooking the seam in both summer and winter many come to breath the fresh air and watch the sea. Restaurants, snack-bars, pubs, pizzerias, and cafes are to be found in this pleasure centre of Malta. There are discos, comfortable cinemas, a bowling centre as well as a casino in a fairytale palace. Just walking around watching others is fun in itself.
Malta is a dream destination for underwater photography. The extraordinary clarity of its deep waters is ideal for the observation of marine life. For more excitement try a night dive to discover something totally different. Colours appear to be much more vivid by torchlight. A unique experience, certainly worth trying, and one which most diving schools include in their programme.
Beaches in Malta
The Mediterranean has virtually no tide and the beaches are generally safe for children. The sandy beaches are largely concentrated in the northwest of Malta. Among the most popular are Ghajn Tuffieha, Mellieha Bay, Golden Bay, Gnejna Bay, Paradise Bay and Armier Bay. Armier Beach is situated in the extreme northeast of Malta with few facilities and occasional rough swells but lots of sand. Ghajn Tuffieha Bay is sandy and less crowded than Golden Bay Beach yet only a short walk away and reached by steps. Golden Bay is the most popular beach on the island after Mellieha Bay because of its extensive stretch of sand. Mellieha Bay, which is 2km north of Mellieha, is entirely suitable for children due to its shallow water and the large amount of sand.
(Ghadira) Bay, Mellieha. Malta’s largest sandy beach, facilities for bathers and watersports options. Can get very busy, especially weekends, June – September. Good for children.
Mgiebah Bay, Limits of Selmun, Mellieha.
A small secluded bay set in stunning natural scenery. No facilities at all, good for snorkelling.
Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha Bay.
Limits of Mgarr. Two very attractive, adjacent beaches set within the cliff face. Some more facilities at Golden Bay but both beaches are very popular. Great for snorkelling, exploring the little inlets and coves at the sides. Although illegal, a small inlet at the far left of Ghajn Tuffieha Bay seems to be frequented by nude bathers, but you are unlikely to notice as this is out of the way and quite a walk or swim. There is quite a descent (and obviously ascent) to Ghajn Tuffieha Bay via stairs, which may be worth noting. Again can get very busy on weekends, you may have to park your car quite some distance away. Good for children.
Limits of Mgarr. Possibly not quite as nice as Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha, though you do get the option to choose a quieter spot at this beach. Again, a long and rough possibly dangerous walk along the right hand side of the beach takes you to an area popular with nude bathers. Good for children.
Cirkewwa. Limits of Mellieha. Possibly the most attractively set beach in Malta, set within a natural cove, which more than justifies the name. Some facilities for bathers available. The actual beach is quite small however. Good for snorkelling.
Armier Bay and neighbouring bays.
Limits of Mellieha. Quite small beaches, but with some well known lidos and facilities. Weekends can be noisy, and a hot tip is to avoid Mondays in summer – Typically Monday is the post-village-feast outing day, and Armier Bay is a hotspot for the revellers, of whichever village in Malta whence they carcade with much noise and fanfare to Armier. Good for children.
Fomm Ir-Rih Bay,
limits of Rabat. If you really want half the beach to yourself, even though the beach may not be that large, then Fomm Ir-Rih is a good choice. Be warned that the reason for this is that the walk down to the beach is a good 15-20 minutes via a tricky and sometimes steep and slippery pathway, so you have to be determined – especially bearing in mind the return climb in 30-degree-plus heat and sun. Absolutely no facilities for miles, as might be expected. Very good for snorkelling.
Along the coast road from Qawra to St Julian’s, are a couple of very small sandy beaches. Never so busy and parking is usually available close by, thus convenient to escape to from St. Julian’s. Good for snorkeling. Good for children. Splash and Fun and Meditterraneo.
St George’s Bay, St Julian’s.
A recent major improvement on the previous tiny patch of sand that used to be St George’s Bay, this beach is now larger and properly managed. Facilities are available, and one is less than a minute’s walk from the restaurants, etc of St. Julian’s. Good for children.
Rinella Bay, Kalkara.
A very small sandy beach, pretty but not always recommended due to possible pollution from ships.
St Thomas Bay, Marsascala.This beach is listed under “Sandy Beaches” but the actual sandy area out of the water is extremely small, about 20 meters – however flat rock, concrete platforms and seating by both sides of the beach explain its popularity. Facilities available. Good for children.
St George’s Bay, Birzebbugia.
A small, pretty sandy beach. No facilities on the actual beach, but in Birzebbugia proper. Good for children.
Pretty Bay, Birzebbugia.
Considering the actual expanse of sand, if not the length, this could be classified as a “medium” sized beach by Maltese standards. Lots of facilites, it being situated at the busiest part of Birzebbugia. Attractively landscaped too. Good for children.
~Malta – Rocky Beaches~Cirkewwa to Ahrax Point, Limits of Mellieha. Apart from some small sandy beaches, there are plenty of places where one may enter the water from the rocks or, in places, concrete bathing platforms.
Selmun, St Paul’s Islands.
Accessible either strictly by Jeep or a 10 minute walk, thus no crowds guaranteed, and great view of St Paul’s Islands which are a few meters offshore. Excellent for snorkelling. No facilities, OK for families if you have vehicular access.
St Paul’s Bay, Bugibba, Qawra.
The entire coastline boasts numerous places ideal for bathing, and is almost entirely open to the public. The inner harbour areas are less attractive however. Qawra Point (referred to as Ta’ Fra Ben) is particularly popular. Good for snorkelling.
Coast from limits of Salina Bay to St George’s Bay, St Julians. Again, the entire coast offers many entry points, which vary in suitability for families and ease of access. The sea water quality here also makes this a good area for snorkelling.
Paceville, St Julians.
By the right hand side of the Casino, is a popular small rocky beach. Approximately 200 m offshore is a well known reef popular with divers, and thus the area is excellent for snorkelling. Facilities on the beach itself limited to the occasional ice-cream vendor, but you are never more than 300m from town.
Sliema’s entire coastline with the exception of Valletta Harbour side is suitable for bathing. Sliema’s rocky beaches are very popular during the summer months, due to proximity to town and facilities available, easy access, plus plenty of flat space to lay down a towel. Sliema’s beaches have a wide appeal to all, you will find families with children, individuals having a dip during their afternoon work break, youths chilling out at a beach cafe’, and tourists from the nearby hotels. Suitable for snorkelling, too.
Not that well known or popular, for this very reason, except with locals, Valletta Point beneath the bastions of Fort St Elmo is also a good place for bathing and snorkelling. Not very suitable for children, as there do not seem to be any shallow areas.
Zonqor Point to St Thomas Bay.Apart from the inner harbour area, all the area is suitable for bathing and snorkelling. Zonqor Point and the St Thomas Tower area are particularly good for snorkelling. There are some watersports facilites at the Jerma Palace Hotel, by St Thomas Tower.
Xrobb L-Ghagin Bay,
a not very well signposted left turn from the road leading to Delimara Point, limits of Marsaxlokk, is a highly scenic area offering clear water of varying depth, a little island just 20 – 30 metres offshore, and the possibility for the more adventurous to go seriously off the beaten track. Access to the main beach is relatively easy, and families do frequent the place. Great snorkelling. No facilities at all.
St Peter’s Pool,
Delimara, limits of Marsaxlokk, and nearby coves. Another area of natural beauty offering crystal clear waters. Popular, but never crowded and you can have as much space for yourself as you need. Also very good snorkelling, OK for families. No facilities.
Limits of Birzebbugia, to Marsaxlokk,St Lucian Tower area. Some limited bathing areas available.
Wied iz-Zurrieq (Zurrieq Valley).Just by the Blue Grotto (although the Blue Grotto is only accessible by boat), the area is quite popular with locals and visitors. Water is somewhat deep, therefore not so suitable for young children. Very popular with divers, thus also some excellent snorkelling. The bathing area is just a short distance away from the restaurants and snack bars and other facilities such as public toilets.
(Lapsi Cave) – Limits of Siggiewi. A unique bay within a cave, OK for children, and clear water for excellent visibility while snorkelling. Facilites available, but not too much space in the main bathing spot so best to avoid weekends. Or walk a short distance and find your own secluded spot, but this option is not child-friendly.
By the right side of the main sandy beach, there is also a stretch of flat rock ideal for bathing and sunbathing, if you prefer to avoid the sand. Some facilities available, and also watersports rentals.
How to Get to Gozo?
To get to Gozo you take a 30 minute ferry trip from Malta’s northern most tip, during which you sail past Comino with its glorious Blue Lagoon, just visible through a narrow entrance in the rock coastline. Ferry Fares for the return journey are the cheapest way to Visit Gozo is via Gozo Channel ferry from Cirkewwa.
The short trip from Malta to Gozo is in itself a pleasant experience especially on a fine day. Mgarr Harbour is picturesque and full of all kinds of sea craft. It has seen slaves and corsairs and pirates who have carried population away. The neo-Gothic Lourdes Sanctuary, built in 1888, watches over it. In Victoria, the capital, go up to the Citadell or Gran Castello and walk around. Lanes, dwellings, alleys, bastions exude an aura of mystery and date from medieval times. The late medieval houses are unique in the Maltese Islands. There is the magnificent Cathedral and various museums, all worth a visit.
Public transport: All busses in Gozo radiate to Victoria
Internet Cafes: In Victoria – Republic Street between the HSBC and Bank of Valletta
Getting Around in Gozo
The state of the main thoroughfares is generally good, although some of the lesser roads tend to be a bit bumpy. With Rabat basically in the center of the Island with roads radiating to most of the outlying villages, navigation is quite easy and an adequate road sign system exists. The local bus service provides transport from Rabat to most of the outlying villages. However, Car is recommended as it enables one to explore the more picturesque places, mainly found off the beaten track.
The Maltese have a medium height, black hair, and dark eyes like most Mediterranean peoples. The most catching aspect of the Maltese islands would be The Maltese people themselves; being lively, warm hearted, typical Mediterranean with a touch of British humour, and a unique sense of welcome. It is a mix of natural tranquility and traditional hospitality. Most of them speak Maltese, a west Arabic dialect with some Italian words (mainly Sicilian), reflecting a host of different influences. Maltese and English are the official languages, although, Italian is widely spoken, along with German and French to a lesser extent. Consequently, communication is never a problem when you are travelling around the islands.
The Museum of Archeology
This museum is housed in Casa Bondi, a 17th century house inside the Citadel in Victoria.
It contains the oldest remains found in Gozo (4000BC), as well as Punico-Greek vases, Roman amphorae and Arab funerary tables.
In Xaghra were built and developed between 3600 and 2400 BC making them among the earliest architectural planned facades in the world, older than the Pyramids in Egypt and Stonehenge in England. The stone slabs weigh several tons and the outside walls are up to six metres high. According to local legend, a giant called Sansuna carried them on her head all the way from Ta Cenc, a fair distance away. In Xaghra, too, are two underground caves with strange forms of stalactites and stalagmites. Other sites worth visiting are the menhir at Qala and the ones at Tal-Qighan and Ta Marziena.
This Basilica at Victoria was built between 1672 and 1678 and stands at the centre of a patchwork of narrow, winding streets. It houses many works of art from different periods, even as far back as the Roman one, so that it reflects the history of Gozo in miniature. The dome and the ceiling ate by the Roman artist Giovanni Battista Conti. There are also paintings by Mattia Preti, Giuseppe Cali and Stefano Erardi. The solid wood statue of St George, carved in 1841 by Paolo Azzopardi is remarkable.
The church of St.John the Baptist dominates the village of Xewkija and the neighbouring countryside. Its dome is one of the largest in Europe. Building began in 1952 and its architecture was inspired by the church of Santa Maria della Salute in Venice.
This old windmill at Xaghra, known as Ta Kola still functions and is one of the fourteen still left on the island. It houses a folklore museum, where you can discover peasant traditions from the past.
Sanctuary is a 19th century building which is dedicated to the miraculous image of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu at the centre of an important Marian cult. This is a centre of pilgrimages for both the Gozitans and the Maltese.
Some of the most beautiful scenery in Gozo can be found around Dwejra in the southwest part of the island. Hidden behind the towering cliffs is a huge natural pond of shallow water, which is fed through a narrow tunnel in the cliff face. This tunnel links it to the deep blue Mediterranean. When the sea is calm, fishing boats take visitors sown this tunnel to the open sea, where they can see the fungus rock and the azure window. Experienced divers often spend days close to the Inland Sea, from where many of their underwater explorations start.
Also knows as il-Gebla tal-General, rises out of the water near the inland Sea. In the past, this is where a fungus known as “fungus gualitanus” grew. It was considered precious by the Knights, because of its medicinal qualities. Anyone caught picking the fungus illegally was immediately condemned to death. Nearby is the inland sea ideal for bathing. The azure window created by sea-breakers over a period of thousands of years, is the third marvel to be found at Dwejra Point. Two gigantic columns, each some 40metres in diameter, support a horizontal block, which is about 100m long and 20m high, so that the ensemble has come to resemble a giant window, underneath which the azure waves shimmer and sparkle. Generations of Gozitans have referred to it as it-Tieqa (the Window).
Just outside Xaghra, overlooking Ramla l-Hamra is Calypso cave. According to legend, this is where nymph Calypso seduced and kept Ulysses a “prisoner of love” for seven long years. A strange feeling grips you as you approach and enter this cave, from where the view is absolutely stunning. Close to the shoreline are the remains of fortifications built in the middle of the 18th century by the Knights to stop enemy troops landing in the bay. These fortifications hid two stone mortars known as “fugasses”, which used to be packed with loose stones and gunpowder. Since they were at sea level, any boat that got too close to the shore would hit them and be destroyed.
Ramla, Xlendi and Marsalforn
Are the most popular bays in Gozo, though there are others. Ramla Bay is one of the most beautiful sandy beaches of these islands. It is also shallow and safe for swimming. Ramla saw the French troops land under cover of darkness in June 1798. Xlendi is smaller but more dramatic. It has sheer cliffs and some of the cleanest water in the Mediterranean. Marsalforn is relaxed and friendly.
Children at Beaches
Parents should keep an eye on their children while swimming as under currents is quite common.
They should be cautious to prevent children getting badly sun burnt.
An abundance of casual eating outlets serving pizzas, hamburgers, and chips makes eating out with children an easy affair.
The tiny Island of Comino is situated right in the middle of the channel that separates mainland Malta from the island of Gozo. The unspoilt island is a haven for all those who love swimming, snorkeling, diving, and wind surfing and other water sports. The so called Blue Lagoon, with its crystal clear blue sea, provides one of the most spectacular sights of the Maltese archipelago. The natural caves surrounding the Island are also awe inspiring and are not to be missed.
Try the oki-koki
Take the oki-koki speedboat excursion to the Blue Lagoon. It’s great fun and shows you some of the island’s best caves
A Maltese Picnic
Glorious weather invites a picnic so prepare hobz biz-zejt (bread with oil) or purchase it at a coffee shop. Traditionally, the farmer’s packed lunch, thick bread is Dipped in olive oil then spread with pulped tomato before being heaped with olives, capers, garlic, vinegar salt and pepper.
Buy a loaf of Fresh Maltese Bread
hot, direct from the bakery. If you are up at around six in the morning you may hear the loud honking of the bread delivery van announcing its arrival in a street. Be sure to buy your loaf before 11am in the morning. Slice it up, prepare with your favorite fillings, (why not try olive oil, ripe tomatoes, and gbejniet) and eat promptly. Maltese bread tastes like no other bread in the world, but must be eaten fresh, on the same day it was baked.
You must try hot “pastizzi”
(“past-itsy”) – also referred to as cheesecakes, although bearing no resemblance to what is ordinarily referred to as cheese cake, available from hot-snack takeaway outlets in most villages, often called “Maxims” or some derivative thereof. Folded pastry filled with either a ricotta-cheese mix, or a pea mash, both equally delicious when eaten straight from the oven. Other similar pastry-based snacks such as “qassatat” (“us-aht-aht”) and pizza slices, macaroni, etc, also available from these little shops.
You must try “gbejniet”
(difficult one, this – try “g-bay-nit”) little soft cheese lets available plain or peppered, made from goat’s cheese. Perfect for any salad, sandwich, or even pasta sauce.
Shop for souvenirs
Maltese handicraft are the best items to take home. Apart from the glass, choose from filigree silver jewellery, Maltese crosses, gold jeweler, lace work, and ceramics.
Diving www.gozodiving.com www.barbarossa-excursions.weebly.com
Diving in Gozo is a must. The seabed is really extraordinary in the range of flora and fauna which inhabit its myriad caves and caverns. You could easily come across groupers, gurnards, octopus, and parrotfish.
Equipment can be purchased or hired locally.
Popular snorkeling spots comprise the west coast just north of Bahar ic-Caghaq, while a more deserted place is the Ghar Qawqla beach neat the Hotel Calypso at Marsalforn, Gozo. Go past the hotel and up the flight of steps next to the public toilets. On the other hand, the north of the island is exceptional for diving sites catering for all levels of experience.
The principal sites are: Tugboat Rozi, a tug deliberately sunk just north of Mtarfa point; Mtarfa Point, a great site with caves, reefs, promontories and tunnels at depths of 15-30m; Cirkewwa Arch, with underwater walls and a magnificent arch where you can find diverse fish; L-Ahrax Point, shallow but stunning, with an impressive drop-off and rich marine life; St. Paul’s Islands, with a reef wall which drop 34m to a sandy bottom; and Anchor Bay, with many caves and passageways.
Experienced divers should check out the unspoiled bays of Fomm ir-Rih and Ras ir-Raheb, both a little south of Gnejna Bay.
Malta has quite a sophisticated range of nightlife for such a small island. This centre’s on the resort areas of St Julian’s Sliema, and Bugibba where the large hotels and self-catering apartment’s blocks have been built. There are various bars and English-style pubs, along with an increasing number of wine bars. Many of these have live music or, at the very least, are equipped with superior sound systems.
Later in the evening you can hit the road to the small area of Paceville. Here you will find scores of discos, pubs, and late-night bars. In summer, the neon-lit streets are chock-full with action-seekers. Discos open early in the evening for the benefit of the young Maltese visiting from the countryside, who have to catch the last bus home between 9pm and 10pm. For the remaining, the music throbs on into the early hours of the morning.The most attractive of all discos on the islands is La Grotta Disco at Gozo which draws many Maltese as well as Gozitans. This is a unique disco in a cave under the streets, with open air dancing in festival summer months and three bars. La Grotta is always packed on Saturday nights.
The older generations of visitors to Malta are usually quite content with the hotel’s schedule of entertainment, ranging from dinner dances to folklore programs.
On the cultural side, Malta has several English-language theatres and cinemas. The delightful Manoel Theatre in Valletta and the Astra Theatre in Victoria Gozo puts on ballet, opera, and concert performances, in addition to plays. One of the most important cultural events in the Maltese calendar is Malta fest – a month of concerts, recitals, jazz performances, art exhibitions and open-air theatre, all of which takes place from mid-July to mid-August.
- Over hundred village feasts or festivals take place throughout the whole year.
- They are part and parcel of the Maltese summer every weekend.
- Before or after the Saint’s feast day, from mid April until September.
- You could never really get to know Malta without joining at least one of the village feasts, in honour of their patron saint.
- One of the major fiestas is The Assumption of Our Lady which takes place on the 15th of August.
- It catches the attention of colonial Maltese from all over the world.
- Another best known of all Maltese feast is Our Lady of Victories held on the 8th September.
- Celebrating the defeat of the Turks at the end of Great Siege of 1565 which coincides also with the end of Blitz in Malta and with the feast of the Birth of the Virgin.
- The highlight of this great day is the Regatta (boat race) held in the Grand Harbour.
Undoubtedly, the village feast is one of the island’s most visual cultural festivities, and various aspects of such celebration would appeal, from food stands selling traditional Maltese nougat to the spectacular exhibition of powerful set-piece fireworks.
The entire village will be decorated with banners and other buildings such as the band clubs will also be lavishly decorated.
The village houses are decorated too, with flags and brightly coloured banners whilst all the streets are brightly lit while the band marches through them during the week, followed by crowds of people enjoying the surroundings and music.
But the attraction is the church with luxurious red damask inside and hundreds of coloured light decorating outside. On the feast day itself, there is more of a religious feeling as the statue of the patron saint is carried shoulder-high by villagers through the streets, whilst the gathering crowds, mostly children, throw confetti from their balconies and roofs. On the night, musicians and singers are united in the village square to perform an outdoor concert on the statue’s way in to the parish church. A lot of cautious preparation is held throughout the year, to get things set for the festa week whilst the events are very much of a spiritual nature. Hotels and local tour operators often arrange evening excursions to the main village festas. After so many years of practice, the celebrations are a superb manifestation of colour and life which will make this living experience not easily forgotten.
Beaches in Gozo and Comino
Gozo – Ramla Bay
Limits of Xaghra. Gozo’s largest sandy beach. Very attractively set within a valley, and still unspoilt. Called Ramla il-Hamra in Maltese, which means Red Beach, referring to the hue of the sand. Some facilities available, good for snorkeling and children.
Gozo – Marsalforn Bay
A small sandy beach in the heart of Marsalforn which is quite popular. Facilities to hand, good for children.
Gozo – Qbajjar Bay
Limits of Marsalforn. A couple of small sandy beaches, pretty and never crowded. Facilities available, also good for snorkeling and children.
Gozo – Xlendi Bay
A small but attractive sandy beach, facilities available, good for children. Not much spacethough.
Gozo – Mgarr ix-Xini
Limits of Xewkija. A small bay within a creek and a steep sided valley. Very picturesque bay, a walk along the valley sides is also recommended. No facilities, but good for children and also snorkeling.
Gozo – Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay
Limits of Qala. A small sandy beach directly opposite excellent views of Comino Island. Some limited facilities, good for children and snorkeling.
Gozo – Dahlet Qorrot Bay
A very small sandy beach (a few meters) but very tranquil and you can bathe off the concrete platform if there is no space on the sand. Good for snorkeling. No facilities however.
Gozo – San Blas Bay
A small secluded sandy beach situated in a beautiful natural location. A short but steep walk to the bay, so not ideal for taking any umbrellas or other heavy items. No facilities, OK for children unless they need to be carried and good snorkeling.
Gozo – Inland Sea
A beach which is more pebbly than sandy, but a very unique bay being more like a little lake connected to the open sea via a natural tunnel. Facilities available, good for children. Popular diving entry point, but visibility inside the actual bay unlikely to be good enough for snorkeling.
Comino – Santa Maria Bay
A small sandy beach, not far from the Comino Hotel. Facilities limited to the Comino Hotel. Good for families.
Comino – St Nicholas Bay
Two small sandy coves, may be reserved for hotel guests during the summer months.
Comino – Blue Lagoon
Strictly speaking this might not be a sandy beach, in that the sea bottom is sand but there is very little sand outside the water. However the water is very shallow in places and Blue Lagoon is uniquely beautiful bay. In a way you get the sand where you want it, under your feet in the water, but none on land where your belongings are. OK for children, facilities limited to what the cruise boat you probably arrived on, provides. Snorkeling a must!
~Gozo and Comino – Rocky Beaches~
Gozo – Dwejra Bay and Azure Window area
Apart from the dramatic scenery, good for bathing off the rugged rocks, and excellent for snorkeling. Unsafe in rough seas. Facilities available, unsuitable for children or unfit persons.
Gozo – Marsalforn Bay to Qbajjar Bay and nearby
This stretch of coastline offers the possibility of bathing from a number of locations, access tends to get more difficult the further west one travels. Apart from the Qbajjar sandy bay area, not suitable for young children as the water is deep. Very good snorkelling, and facilities at Qbajjar and Marsalforn.
Gozo – Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay
Limits of Qala. Apart from the small sandy beach, bathing off the rocks is possible. Some limited facilities, good for snorkeling.
Gozo – Xatt l-Ahmar Bay
Limits of Ghajnsielem. A popular bay with Gozitans, access is via a bumpy road. Good for children, snorkeling, etc, but no facilities.
Comino, Blue Lagoon
Access to Comino’s Blue Lagoon is off the rocks, even though the seabed is sandy. A very beautiful bay featuring a number of islets just offshore within easy reach of swimmers. OK for children, facilities limited to what the cruise boat you probably arrived on, provides. Snorkeling a must!
Comino, General Coastline
There are plenty of places where you may bathe off Comino’s rocky coast, varying in difficulty of access. Where you choose will also be dependent on how you got to Comino – Cruise boats normally set anchor at Blue Lagoon, while the small ferry boats servicing Comino usually tie up by the Comino Hotel.
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