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Malta is home to miles of blonde coastline that brushes against imposing fortresses and medieval villages. Spend days switching between leisurely beach-hopping and culture-rich expeditions as Europe’s history is played out in churches, palaces and winding alleyways. Ticking all the boxes, this small European island is a trending holiday destination for summer 2019 – here are eight reasons why you should go.
1. The beaches are among the cleanest in Europe
Avoid the burnt tourist brigade in Golden Bay and instead head to neighbouring Ghajn Tuffieha, which is a lot more peaceful due to a flight of stone stairs acting as a deterrent to lazy sunbathers. Truly off-the-beaten track are the rocky flats of Peter’s Beach. You won’t find an ice-cream shop or a sun-lounger here, nor will you join hoards of holiday makers. Pack a picnic, stretch out on the rocks and dare to bare, as you’ll likely be the only people there.
2. Days are sun-drenched
Due to its southern location, Malta’s climate offers year-round sun. While summer temperatures are scorching, June has manageable highs.
3. It’s the second-best place to scuba dive in the world
Avid divers have waxed lyrical about the quality of diving in Malta for years but few people know have latched onto it. The narrow bay of Wied il-Għasri is popular with experienced divers due to its staggering underwater caves, as is the Inland Sea and Tunnel.
4. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time
Those seeking a culturally rich break will find that Malta’s history is intricately woven into its honey-coloured fortress and craggy coves. Towns seamlessly blend old and new; the megalithic temples of Malta are some of the oldest freestanding structures in the world, while the imposing fortresses of Valletta conceal baroque cathedrals and the theatrical Grandmaster’s Palace. Delve deeper into the island’s 4000-year-old history in the charming former capital Mdina (nicknamed the “Silent City”) where you’ll discover the impressive palaces of Malta’s nobility and archaeological relics dating back to the Roman Empire.
5. Village celebrations last all summer
Stretching from April through to September there is a friendly rivalry between villages that spurs them on to create bigger, bolder and louder festivities than their neighbours. Every village has a patron saint that serves as the basis for their fiesta and streets are perpetually overrun with food stalls (always pick up a bag of artisan nougat), marching bands and an electric firework display. Naxxar’s (situated in the north) celebrations are among the wildest and often roll into the following afternoon.
6. But you can also seek solitude in Gozo
Locals will tell you that this is their hidden secret. The other Maltese island, Gozo boasts the same historical credentials and unaltered beaches as its sibling without the sudden surge in tourism. Take the ferry over from Ċirkewwa to soak up the rays on the sprawling red-sand beaches of Ramla Il-Hamra, where you won’t have to battle for a sunny patch. Pack a snorkel as there’s plenty of underwater life to explore.
7. The nightlife is a welcome alternative to Ibiza
In-the-know partygoers will know about the rampant late-night scene thanks to Lost and Found festival. Aside from up-all-night weekenders, the nightlife spans everything from open-air mega venues attracting international DJ talent to hidden cove cocktail bars.
8. It has its own Blue Lagoon (and it’s much less crowded than in Iceland)
Situated in the northwest of the archipelago, the cyan waters are so clear you can gaze right to the bottom of the bleached seabed. Surrounding the southeast of Malta are a network of deep caves and impressive rock formations, also known as the Blue Grotto caves. Best explored by boat, spend an afternoon diving in and out of the cobalt waters and rocky inlets.
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