Malta: the island paradise that's waiting to welcome you back
We survived over a year without travel, but now it is official — British travellers can finally emerge bleary-eyed into the sunshine. Travel restrictions are slowly easing, the government is expanding its green list, and Malta is ready and waiting to welcome British holidaymakers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
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You'll appreciate every grain of sand on Malta's 12 Blue Flag beaches (and you'll have the added novelty of almost guaranteed sunshine)
Malta gets a dazzling 3000 hours of sunshine per year, and its capital, Valletta, is officially the sunniest city in Europe. The island is famous for its rugged coastline, but it also has plenty of broad sandy beaches perfect for basking. Pictured is Ramla Bay on the island of Gozo — and, yes, the sand is that golden in real life.
You can make up for a year of lost adventures by trying something brand new every day
Go kayaking through limestone sea caves, hike between vineyards on the island's winery trail, or test your strength on one of 1500 natural rock-climbing routes. If you're dying to feel the wind in your hair, plan a leisurely cycling trip along Gozo's simple SIBIT route, or go off road on a rented quadbike.
You can dine al fresco at the island's Michelin-starred restaurants, and explore a wealth of open-air vineyards, farms, and apiaries
North African, Sicilian, and Middle Eastern flavours combine to make Maltese cuisine as rich and varied as the island itself. You can try your hand at milking goats on peaceful rustic estates, sample hundred-year-old wines from palace wine cellars, or head to one of the island's critically acclaimed restaurants, like De Mondion, Noni, or Under Grain.
You can hop over to Gozo, Malta's sleepy and unspoilt sister island, which is full of wide open spaces and secluded hideaways
Gozo is a 25-minute ferry ride from Malta, and is so pretty that it is thought to be the home of the nymph Calypso in Homer's Odyssey. You'll find rolling hills dotted with dozens of tiny apricot-coloured villages, and its Liliputian capital, Victoria, is the perfect spot for a long, lazy lunch.
You can discover a whole new planet in the surrounding waters, which are said to offer the best scuba diving in Europe
The coast of Malta is famous for limitless underwater visibility and boasts excellent conditions year-round. There are quirky dive sites to suit both beginners and more advanced divers, including three shipwrecks, which are now home to tiny seahorses. Other species you might encounter include flying fish, parrot fish, and stingrays.
You'll feel like a real-life Indiana Jones as you explore ancient temple complexes older than the Pyramids
Despite its small size, the Maltese archipelago crams in an impressive number of world-class historic sites. Local folklore says the island's megalithic temple complexes were built by giants — they date back to 3600 BC, and are now UNESCO World Heritage-listed. History buffs will also be enchanted by walled cities unchanged since the Middle Ages, and romantic castle ramparts once patrolled by the Knights Hospitaller.