7000 years of history, rugged Mediterranean scenery, and more than 300 days of sunshine per year combine to make Malta one of Europe’s most alluring destinations, particularly in the summer. The smallest country in the European Union, Malta sits to the south of Sicily. It’s an archipelago, with only the three largest islands in the chain populated: Comino, Gozo, and the isle of Malta itself. Although it’s perhaps best known for its winning combination of balmy weather and beautiful coastlines, the nation’s culture, architecture and history are equally capable of winning over visitors, turning each casual trip to Malta into a lifelong love affair.
In spring and autumn the weather is warm, but still cool enough to allow visitors to comfortably explore the island’s attractions on foot. During the summer the temperatures soar, and while sightseeing may be off the agenda, the weather is perfect for lounging on the beaches. Malta’s coastline is one of the cleanest in Europe, with the white sands emphasising the deep and sultry blue of the Mediterranean. In winter the temperature rarely drops below 15°C, with the mild weather offering the perfect respite from the snow and ice of northern Europe.
Wow, 320 Monuments!
Valletta, the country’s capital, is made up of a heady mix of architecture evoking Middle Eastern, North African, European and even South American influences. Many of the buildings in Valletta date back to the 16th Century, built by the Knights of St John during their 250-year rule of the island. The city is one of the world’s most concentrated historic areas, with 320 monuments within 55 hectares. Unsurprisingly, it was one of the first cities to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The smaller island of Gozo is famed for its scuba diving, which is considered the best in Europe. Shipwrecks from the Second World War and breathtaking underwater landscapes are ripe for exploration, while the abundant sea life adds bursts of vibrant colour. The rural islands provide lots of opportunities for hiking, particularly from mid-November to mid-May when the countryside is verdant and peppered with wildflowers. In Malta you’re never far from the sea, and can enjoy views of the Mediterranean even while exploring the island’s inland regions.
Explore excellent food!
Dining in Malta is wonderfully varied, with Valletta’s Guze Bistro a firm local favourite for its homemade ravioli and pork degustation. Choose from international eateries along the picturesque harbour-front, atmospheric restaurants set in ancient catacombs beneath the city, and friendly local cafés serving up the country’s national dish of fenkata (stewed rabbit). As you’d expect from an island nation, excellent seafood is also abundant. Head to Tartarun in Marsaxlokk, a tiny fishing village on the south coast of Malta, for perfect swordfish carpaccio, fresh lobster and roasted sea bass.
Given the country’s international appeal, it’s no surprise to learn that tourism rates in Malta are continually surging, with October 2014 arrival numbers showing a year-on-year increase. This popularity shows no sign of waning, making 2015 the ideal time to invest in property on the islands. Whether you’re searching for a second home in the sun or a prime rental property, Engel & Völkers Malta can offer in-depth local knowledge and assistance every step of the way.