Going to Malta, I did not have a clear idea of what to expect. Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea and consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Its strategic location has put it at the heart of events throughout history and its heroic steadfastness in WW2 had contributed to the allied forces’ victory in North Africa. Today, Malta is, among other things, the third largest transshipment centre, a distinct yacht destination and a fertile ground for businesses with a convenient and stable environment for investors. There is never a bad time to visit Malta as it offers great all year round weather.
As soon as you exit the airport, it only takes five minutes to realise that Malta will keep treating you to original Mediterranean scenery as you move between the many attractions it offers. The Maltese landscape is dominated by hills and slopes and no matter where you are there will always be valleys, fields and cliffs that serve as constant reminders of Malta’s unique landscape. As you look up, the houses scattered on green rocky hills lead your eyes to breathtaking cathedrals on higher land. Historic fortresses and watch towers overlooking the Mediterranean sea stand as witnesses of acts of heroism and sacrifice dictated by the noble knights who once roamed the land. I have to say, Malta is indeed misrepresented on the Internet as I have come to know that it keeps a lot of secret surprises for its visitors.
48 hours in Malta
8:30 The Three Cities – These small cities go by the names of Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa, popularly known as the three Cities. The Three Cities offer an intriguing insight into Malta and its history. Left largely unvisited, these cities are a slice of authentic life as well as a glimpse into Malta’s maritime fortunes.
11:00 Grand Harbor boat ride – The boat ride gives an interesting perspective and a beautiful view of the Grand Harbour and the surrounding area using small traditional boats.
11:30 End of boat tour
12:00 Lunch recommendation: Giannini Restaurant
15:00 St John’s Co-Cathedral – The Cathedral also houses one of Europe’s most impressive and famous art works – Caravaggio’s Beheading of St. John the Baptist. Also a resting place to the founder of Valletta, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Vallette, his tomb lies in the crypt, a quiet sanctuary and place of contemplation away from the busy streets outside.
16:00 Grand Master’s Palace State Rooms and Armory – The State Rooms are the show piece of the Presidential Palace sited at the heart of Malta’s World Heritage capital city of Valletta. The palace today is the seat of the Office of the President of the Republic and the House of Parliament.
17:30 Upper Barrakka Gardens – The Upper Barrakka Gardens are built on top of a bastion, on the highest point of Valletta and date back to 1661. It was not until over 150 years later the gardens opened to the public and today visitors can admire the colourful garden with various flowers and trees that make the gardens a peaceful spot in the otherwise busy city.
19:30 Dinner recommendation: Barracuda restaurant in St. Julian’s
9:45 Ferry to Gozo – Gozo is the second largest island and is considered to be more exclusive than Malta. The island is a perfect destination for Halal tourism as it offers stunning scenery and prime attractions but in a more discrete environment and higher privacy standards. You can visit the following in Gozo:
– Ggantija Temples: The oldest freestanding structures in the world.
– The Citadel or Gran Castello: It has impressive battlements, an imposing cathedral – the only one on the island without a dome – and the quaint remains of old houses.
– It-Tokk: Victoria’s tree-lined main square and also site of Gozo’s principal flea market.
– The Azure Window: An impressive natural arch standing some 20 metres high.
– The Inland Sea: A secluded bathing pool with crystal clear waters and surrounded by sheer cliffs. A small tunnel connects it to the open sea.
– Fungus Rock: Atop this 60-metre monolith, also known as the General’s Rock, grows a rare tubular plant that was believed to cure dysentery and many other illnesses.
14:00 Lunch recommendation: Il-Kantra restaurant
15:30 Boat departure from Mgarr harbour, Gozo
17:00 Mdina Tour of the Silent City (as Mdina is known) – The history of Mdina traces back more than 4000 years. According to tradition, it was here in 60 A.D. the Apostle St. Paul is said to have lived after being shipwrecked on the islands. Mdina is fascinating to visit for its timeless atmosphere as well as its cultural and religious treasures. Mdina is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture.
19:30 Dinner recommendation: Paranga restaurant
20:30 Chill out recommendation: Fuego Shisha bar
Emirates Airlines is the only carrier that flies to Malta from the GCC. The business class ensures a more personalised approach to the passenger. The seats are roomy and come second to none in terms of comfort.
The in-flight entertainment system is worth a mention and has also received the Skytrax “best entertainment system in the world” award nine times in a row. The in-flight WiFi is a plus, conveniently catering to the business traveller.
The business class experience does not stop there. Further services on the ground include Chauffeur-drive service to and from selected airports with lounge access, dedicated business class check-in desks, priority baggage handling and fast track immigration on arrival and departure from Dubai and most airports around the world.