Malta’s Grand Harbour is the most majestic in the Mediterranean. Its vast fjord of azure water is ringed by medieval city walls. But the vacuous visitors associated with the island offer a perennial PR problem. The cruel may claim that Malta’s traditional holidaymakers think Jimmy Choo is their local Chinese takeaway. Or that raw fish is the root of salmonella, not of sushi or ceviche.
Tourism has moved on: and so has Malta. Enveloping this cosmopolitan port is the UNESCO-protected capital of Valletta. This sandstone city is adorned with tumbling vines and alfresco bars. Benjamin Disraeli claimed it was: “comparable to Venice and Cádiz, full of palaces worthy of Palladio.”
St John’s Cathedral is a gilt-lined masterpiece replete with haunting paintings by Caravaggio. Across the Grand Harbour, the ancient suburb of Vittoriosa has been remodelled to take superyachts of up to 100m. Hip clubs offer a place to play, while a score of Mediterranean restaurants line the quay.
A 30-minute sail north lies the island of Gozo, Malta’s beach-lined little brother. Its seashores are empty, the pace is slackened: it’s like the 21st century never happened. Jacques Cousteau stated that some of the Mediterranean’s finest scuba spots could be found around Reqqa Point. Marlin, amberjack and scorpion fish ply the shallows, as Gozo rises up from a mid-ocean ridge. Breaking out the scuba gear has never been more fun.
For more information, guides and itineraries, click here for the full insight into Malta through the new Y.CO sponsored Destination Guides.