The beautiful islands of Malta manage to hide away from the glare of the Mediterranean tourism limelight, their rich traditions, picturesque villages and fascinating history a welcome surprise to visitors. Malta packs in a huge amount to see and do, from its historic sites to its rugged coast. Here we take a look at 5 of the must-see destinations in Malta. 1 – Visit the ancient, hilltop capital of Mdina While the grandeur of historic Valetta might captivate with its seafront location and winding alleys, the ancient capital of Malta can be found in the heart of the island. Spend a day exploring hilltop Mdina and its impressive fortifications as you discover a history which dates back over 4000 years. It is even said that St Paul the Apostle once lived here after getting shipwrecked. One of Europe’s finest walled cities, Mdina is a delightful maze of palaces, narrow streets and charming cafes. 2 – Take a day trip to the island of Gozo Just 20 minutes by ferry from the main island, Gozo is a step back in time. On this smaller and more tranquil isle – believed to be the legendary Calypso's isle of Homer's Odyssey – fishing and agriculture prevail. Quaint fishing villages dot the rugged coastline, wild beaches await exploration and the diving is some of the best in Europe. Locally sourced produce has given way to some excellent restaurants and wineries, and for history buffs the megalithic temples at Ġgantija – older than Egypt’s pyramids – are a must. 3 – Peruse the vibrant daily market in the quaint fishing village of Marsaxlokk In the south east of Malta, the picture-perfect fishing village of Marsaxlokk (pronounced marsa-schlock) is famed for its vibrant and authentic daily market and its aromatic fish restaurants. The port is the heart of the village, ringed by traditional houses and adorned by brightly coloured fishing boats – it is home to 70% of Malta’s fishing fleet. While the Sunday market can get busy, for the rest of the week Marsaxlokk is a relaxing place to explore, and the smells wafting out of its restaurants mouth-wateringly irresistible. 4 – Explore the waterfront and alleys of the capital Valletta No trip to Malta is complete without a day spent in the miniscule capital of Valletta. Built by the Knights of St John on a peninsula between two harbours, it is today a living museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site. At every turn 16th century Baroque buildings line cobbled streets and there are churches and museums squeezed into every corner. Spend a day getting lost in the lanes, head down to the beautifully preserved Pinto Wharf or head up to the Upper Barrakka Gardens for panoramic views of Grand Harbour. 5 – Go Scuba Diving or Snorkelling off Comino Located between Malta and Gozo, the mostly uninhabited island of Comino offers day-trippers glorious natural beauty and some of the best scuba diving and snorkelling in the Mediterranean. Once a base for marauding pirates, today tiny Comino dazzles with glittering turquoise seas, an abundance of marine life and fascinating underwater geology. When it’s time to dry off, the golden sands and iridescent waters of the Blue Lagoon are one of the prettiest spots in all of Malta.
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