Holidays in Malta

by : J Tillotson

Anyone who has seen the Robin Williams film version of Popeye will be at least a little familiar with the Mediterranean island of Malta. The term 'good things come in small packages' certainly can be applied to this small yet beautiful land. Malta is only 17 miles long end to end and 9 miles across at its widest point, yet has some of the most spectacular views in the Mediterranean.

Malta has a strong Roman Catholic background, and evidence of this can be seen around the island in the form of elaborate cathedrals in two of the main cities of Valletta and Mdina, and by the festivals which take place on Saint's days. Malta has a mixed heritage, comprising of island-born Maltese, Italians and British. The official language is Maltese, but English and Italian are widely understood and used.

Holidays in Malta are becoming more and more popular with British tourists, especially those interested in having a more cultural experience. Malta has a rich history, and the towns of Valletta, Naxxar, Rabat and Mdina all have fascinating evidence of this, many dating from the Renaissance period. There are archaeological remains which date from around 3800BC and it has been established that they were built by prehistoric man. The islands religious leaning comes from the fact that St Paul was said to have been shipwrecked on what is now called San Pawl il-Bahar (St Paul's Bay), and brought Christianity to the inhabitants in AD 60.

The best time of year for holidays to Malta is June-August, when the temperatures are around 29 - 31 degrees Celsius and the sea is like a big warm bath at 21 - 25 degrees Celsius. June and July also have the least rainfall, so they are the ideal months if you want a proper sun holiday. And whether you want relaxation, nightlife or sheer excitement, you'll find something to suit you in Malta. The island has stunning views over the Mediterranean sea, and is surrounded by many sandy and rocky beaches for sunbathing. If you prefer to be under the water than looking at it, Malta has plenty of scuba-diving clubs and underwater safaris for the water-loving.

If your primary reason for holidays is shopping, you may be surprised at the lack of larger shops and malls in Malta. Instead, the Maltese favour small shops and markets. Lace is the nation's primary speciality, and there also plenty of craft shops selling pottery, glassware, filigree jewellery and other expertly crafted goods.

Malta is a unique blend of modern and ancient, and will give you an unforgettable holiday experience in a spectacular setting. Flights and accommodation are reasonably priced, so have a look on the internet to find a good deal before booking.