Fancy a Malta visit — here’s our guide to the tiny capital of Valletta — effectively one giant castle


THERE is no harm in planning a break for when we swap locking down for touching down.

That is why we are taking a look at some of our readers’ favourite destinations – and revealing why they deserve to be your next holiday hotspot.

Malta’s tiny capital, Valletta, is effectively one giant castle

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Malta’s tiny capital, Valletta, is effectively one giant castle

This week, Malta.

THE CLASSIC SIGHT

Malta’s tiny capital, Valletta, is effectively one giant castle.

The fortifications wrap around the coast, with the best views coming from the Upper Barrakka Gardens.

This perch, flanked by impressive stone columns, looks out over the deep blue water of Grand Harbour.

They’re also home to the Saluting Battery, where every day a ceremonial cannon is fired at noon.

See cityofvalletta.org.

THE WOW MOMENT

Valletta was built by an order of knights, and they had a real thing for intimidating stone buildings

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Valletta was built by an order of knights, and they had a real thing for intimidating stone buildings

Valletta was built by an order of knights, and they had a real thing for intimidating stone buildings.

But imposing on the outside often mixes with lavish on the inside.

St John’s Co-Cathedral and the Grand Master’s Palace are ablaze with decoration.

In the palace, check out the Council Chamber, which is covered in 300-year-old tapestries.

The Palace Armoury, with hundreds of suits of armour, is rather cool too.

NEW FOR 2021

You will not find Maltese wine on our supermarket shelves, which is all the more reason to taste it at source.

The new wine trail strings together the island’s wineries, many of which are open to visitors for tastings.

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The newest is Ta’Betta, which offers tours and private wine tastings from 75 euros.

See tabetta.com and maltauk.com/winery-trail.

THE TOP TOUR

The small island of Comino is home to the Blue Lagoon — a gorgeous swimming spot surrounded by caves

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The small island of Comino is home to the Blue Lagoon — a gorgeous swimming spot surrounded by caves

The small island of Comino is home to the Blue Lagoon, a gorgeous swimming spot surrounded by caves.

Oh Yeah Malta is among several operators that run boat trips to the Blue Lagoon, charging 13 euros.

This tour has the added bonus of time snorkelling in the caves at the slightly quieter Crystal Lagoon.

See ohyeahmalta.com.

A CULTURAL FIX

The walled city of Mdina has heritage going back 3,000 years, although the Arabic influence is strongest.

Nowadays, it looks like an expensive film set, and is crammed with museums and historic buildings.

Top choices are the art-packed St Paul’s Cathedral and medieval mansion, Palazzo Falson.

Audio tours of the highlights can be downloaded at myguide.com.mt.

THE FUN NEIGHBOURHOOD

The walled city of Mdina has heritage going back 3,000 years although the Arabic influence is strongest

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The walled city of Mdina has heritage going back 3,000 years although the Arabic influence is strongest

The St Julian’s area is home to many of Malta’s plushest hotels, plus a good selection of wine bars and restaurants.

But the tiny Paceville ’hood in the north-west of St Julian’s is where the action really happens.

The vibe is young, the nightclubs are loud and there’s not an awful lot of sleeping going on.

The main street is Triq San Gorg.

Follow the noise to the northern end.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Malta is hardly the most mountainous place on Earth but what its peaks lack in height they make up for in ruggedness.

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The Dingli Cliffs on the west of the island rise 220m above the crashing sea, and there are some fabulous walking trails.

Enjoy the clifftop scenery, while stopping to go “aww” at the lonely but photogenic Chapel of Mary Magdalene.

A FANTASTIC FEAST

Malta has a strong claim to being Europe’s best diving destination with a great mix of dive sites

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Malta has a strong claim to being Europe’s best diving destination with a great mix of dive sites

The fishing village of Marsaxlokk is a huge draw for tourists, and it’s undergoing a big revamp.

New pedestrian areas and modern facilities should be in place by the end of 2021.

Until then, though, there’s still a wealth of harbourside seafood restaurants to choose from.

The fish is about as fresh as it’s possible to get at the likes of Tartarun.

See tartarun.com.

WITH THE KIDS

Popeye Village was built as a movie set for the largely-forgotten Popeye film starring Robin Williams.

Nowadays, actors in Popeye costumes still roam between the wooden buildings, but there’s plenty more for kids to enjoy.

These include water trampolines, boat rides and Santa’s toy town where Santa’s elves can be watched making toys.

See popeyemalta.com.

DEEP THINKING

The Dingli Cliffs on the west of the island rise 220m above the crashing sea

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The Dingli Cliffs on the west of the island rise 220m above the crashing sea

Malta has a strong claim to being Europe’s best diving destination, with a great mix of dive sites.

These include reefs, caves and World War Two shipwrecks.

Diveshack in Sliema is one of many dive schools offering to get the Scuba-curious out underwater.

Ariel view of Malta

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Ariel view of Malta
The stunning waterfront at Valetta

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The stunning waterfront at Valetta

It offers a three-wreck diving trip for certified divers, costing 111 euros.

If you are not certified, you can soon change that by taking the PADI Open Water diving course for 395 euros.

See divemalta.com.

GO: Malta

COVID: Holidays are not allowed in lockdown.

All passengers returning to the UK must present a negative Covid test and self-isolate for ten days, cut to five with a second test.

GETTING THERE: Ryanair flies to Malta from several UK airports.

These include Birmingham, Luton, Edinburgh, East Midlands, Liverpool and Stansted.

See ryanair.com

MORE INFORMATION: visitmalta.com.

Lost WW2 Brit submarine HMS Urge found sunk off the coast of Malta 77 years after disappearance

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