ADVERTORIAL • April 2019
History-steeped and blessed with over 300 days of glorious sunshine a year, Malta is perfectly poised for summer frolics in the Mediterranean. Pining for postcard-perfect beaches, prehistoric ruins and artisanal gelato, frequent visitor Madévi Dailly tells us there’s something for everyone in this pretty archipelago
Get your bearings in Valletta, Malta’s compact and charmingly Baroque capital. Renzo Piano’s imposing city gates, part of the starchitect’s grand designs to breathe new life into the city, make for a suitably dramatic entrance. A stroll down Republic Street takes in many of the local must-sees, from the ostentatiously gilded nave of St John’s Co-Cathedral to the 16th-century ramparts of Fort Saint Elmo. Hop across the Grand Harbour to the Three Cities (pictured) and get lost in the postcard-worthy tangle of awe-inspiring churches, sun-kissed piazzas and sleepy streets. Come dusk, make the most of balmy evenings at Cafe Society, where alfresco tables come with sea views and the barman mixes a mean mojito.
Happily for gourmets, Malta’s cuisine draws Mediterranean influences from a rich and colourful past. Pastizzi (flaky pastries traditionally filled with ricotta or mushy peas) are a popular street snack; try them fresh from the oven at Crystal Palace, a Rabat hole-in-the-wall that’s been churning them out for some 100 years. Book a table at Risette (pictured) for more elegant fare – veal sweetbreads with pink grapefruit, say, or tender guinea fowl with chicory and pear. Seafood lovers should make a beeline for the picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk. Rustic Tartarun makes the most of the locally landed bounty – feast on fresh oysters, soft-shell crab and pitch-perfect lobster tagliatelle.
From the golden sands of Ghajn Tuffieha to the photogenic salt pans close to Marsalforn, there’s a cove for every taste on the Maltese islands. A day trip to the crystal-clear waters of the Blue Lagoon is an absolute must – splash and float an afternoon away, or strap on a snorkel to explore the coastline and its otherworldly marine life. Divers are spoilt for choice, too – explore the atmospheric Imperial Eagle shipwreck, or head to Gozo for a descent into the Blue Hole, an impressive sinkhole harbouring large fish in its reef. If you just want to get away from it all, linger on the red sands of San Blas, or dive head first into St Peter’s Pool (pictured), a natural swimming pool off the beaten path with rocky perches just made for sunbathing.
Fresh from its spell as European Capital of Culture, Valletta packs in plenty for the curious, from the bijou Manoel Theatre to the high-tech, immersive experience of Malta 5D. On a balmy summer evening, catch an open-air performance at Pjazza Teatru Rjal (pictured) in the ruins of the old Opera House. Caravaggio’s rebellious antics brought him to Malta in 1607; he left behind two moody masterpieces, which now hang in St John’s. You’ll need to book well ahead for a visit to the Hypogeum, a mysterious underground structure from the Neolithic period a stone’s throw away from the equally impressive Tarxien Temples.