Hagar Qim Mnajdra

The megalithic temples of Hagar Qim (adge-ar eem 'standing stones') and Mnajdra (mm-nigh-dra) are perhaps the best preserved and most evocative of Malta's prehistoric sites, especially at dawn or sunset when the ancient stones are tinged pink and gold. The temples are fenced off and the gates are locked at these times but it's worth the effort, especially around the winter solstice (21 December) at some of the supposed solar alignments. It costs a steep Lm2 to visit just one temple, Lm3 to...

History

Malta has a fascinating history, and the island is crowded with physical and cultural reminders of the past, most of them easily accessible to visitors. The fossilised bones of animals found in Ghar Dalam cave (pl39) in the southeast suggest that Malta was once linked by a land bridge to Sicily and southern Europe. But Malta was not big enough to support a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and the earliest evidence of human habitation - the remains of primitive farming settlements - has been dated to...

Budget

Coronation Guesthouse ( s 2123 7652, 9940 6080 10E Triq M A Vassalll B& B per person with shared bathroom Lm5-6) The warmth of the welcome here and the bargain prices should help overcome any concerns you may have with the occasionally problematic plumbing. Rooms (with washbasin bathrooms are shared) are bright and airy and simply furnished try for one with Mar-samxett views. We were assured by amiable Charlie, the owner, that new plumbing and a guest kitchen were in the pipeline. Midland...

The Culture

Anthropologists, Ta rcisio Zarb's book, Folklore of an Island-Maltese Threshold Customs, covers Maltese traditions related to all of life's big occasions, including birth, puberty, marriage and death. An estimated crowd of 100,000 people (one quarter of the population) attended the Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II on his visit to Malta in 2001. When Malta gained its independence in 1964 it was the first time since prehistory that the islands had been ruled by the native Maltese, and not by...

Edward Lear On Gozo

Edward Lear (1812-88), an English landscape painter and nonsense poet (Lear popularised the limerick as a form of comic verse), spent much of his life travelling around the Mediterranean. He visited Gozo in 1866, and described the scenery as'pom-skizillious and gromphiberous, being as no words can describe its magnificence'. To Cornucopia 1 1 Hotel (400m) w . To Cornucopia 1 1 Hotel (400m) w . r-'< *> '- < ' 1 sc'oo complete with stalactites and stalagmites, are unusual in that they are...

Index

Accommodation 166-8 farmhouses 150 palazzos 64, 68, 91 activities 168-9, iff also diving & sports S swimming bird watching 118,164,168,183 rock climbing 169 sailing 169 ten-pin bowling 96,118 yachting 185 Air Show, Malta International 173 airtravel 180-3,185 airfares 181-3 airports & airline offices 180-1 to from Malta 180-3 within Malta 185 Alarme 64 alcohol 52-3 Beer Festival 173 animals 41 birds 41 fossils 139 marine life50, 111 seals 98 archaelogical sites 14,iff also temples 'cart...

The Founder Of Valletta

Jean Parisot de la Valette (1494-1568) was a French nobleman from Provence. He joined the Order of St John at the age of 20 and served it faithfully for the rest of his life, holding the title of Grand Master from 1557 until his death. He was a hardened fighter who had been captured by Barbary pirates in 1541 and spent a year as a galley slave and was a natural leader whose greatest achievement was the defence of Malta against the Turks in the Great Siege of 1565. In the aftermath of the Great...

Q

Qala 164 Qawra 99-114 Qbajjar Bay 159 Rabat (Gozo)see Victoria (Rabat) Rabat (Malta) 128-9, 128, 106 rabbit dishes 53,116 radio 167 Ramla Bay (Ir-Ramla) 163 religion 32, 33-4 restaurants 51,53-4 rock climbing 169 Rolex Middle Sea Race 169 Roman antiquities Domus Romana 128 St Agatha's Crypt & Catacombs 128 TasSllg 138 Rotunda 154, 108 Rundle Gardens 148 running 169 San Anton Palace & Gardens 133 seals 98 St Agatha's Crypt & Catacombs 128 St James' Cavalier Centre for Creativity 63, 66,...

Jeep Safaris Bus Tours

As well as its extensive programme of boat trips, Captain Morgan Cruises ( 2346 3333 www .captainmorgan.com.mt) runs popular 4WD jeep safaris exploring the more remote parts of Malta and Gozo. Alliance Cruises & Tours ( 21 33 2165 www.alllancecruises.com) also offers land tours, including bus tours to major landmarks and a jeep safari to get off the beaten track. See pl91 for details of the offerings of both companies.

Tourist Offices Abroad

The Malta Tourism Authority www.vlsltmalta.com has overseas representation that can help with inquiries from potential holidaymakers information on the official website is available in 10 languages . Contact the following Australia 02-9321 9154 offlce.au vlsitmalta.com World Aviation Systems, 403 George St, Sydney NSW 2000 France 01 48 00 03 79 info visitemalte.com Office du Tourisme de Malte, 9 Cit Tr vise, 75009 Paris Germany 069-285890 info urlaubmalta.com Fremdenverkehrsamt Malta,...

Tourist Information Local Tourist Offices

The head office of the Malta Tourism Authority 2291 5000 www.vlsltmalta.com Auberge d'ltalle, Trlq il-Merkanti, Valletta is for postal and telephone inquiries only. Your best source of information is the comprehensive website, with directories, interactive maps and loads of holiday and practical information. There are local tourist information offices at Valletta and Malta International Airport for their contact details and opening hours see p57 , St Julian's p85 , and Victoria on Gozo pl46 .

Walk Facts

Start cnr Triq San Lawrenz amp Triq 79 Finish base of Fort St Angelo Distance approx 2km Duration P 2 hours After doing a circuit of the Sacra Infermeria head back onto Triq Hilda Tabone. To your right lies a small maze of charming alleys, collectively known as II Collachio 8 , with some of the oldest surviving buildings in the city. Wander up Triq it-Tramuntana North St to the so-called Norman House 9 at No 11 on the left and look up at the 1st floor. The twin-arched window, with its slender...

Any Way The Wind Blows

In Malti, the points of the compass are mostly named for the winds that blow from that direction. These are versions of the old Latin names used by Roman sailors. Xlokk is the Maltese equivalent of the Italian sirocco, both of which derive from the Arabic word sharg, meaning 'east.' The xlokk is a hot, humid and oppressive wind that blows from the southeast, usually in spring, bringing misty conditions to the island. It derives its heat from the Sahara and picks up its humidity passing over the...

Horse Riding

Horses have long played an important part in Maltese life, and you can often see owners out exercising their favourite trotting horses. The quieter back roads offer enjoyable riding - instruction and horse hire can be organised through most major hotels. Riding schools in Malta include Bidnija Horse Riding School j 2141 0010 www. bldnijahorserlding.com Trlq il-Bdlewa, Mosta Golden Bay Horse Riding 2157 3360 Gtiajn Tuffieia See pi 15 for more details. Pandas Riding School 2134 2506 Triq Tobruk,...

Openair Clubbing

There are lots of reasons to visit this part of Malta, and refined pastimes such as museum-going and architecture-admiring are major drawcards. After dark, however, it's another story. In summer June to September , the area around Rabat is home to some of Malta's best nightlife. The Ibiza-styled Gianpula 9947 2133 www.glanpula.com , a few kilometres east of Rabat signposted en route to Zebbug , is a huge open-air club that kicked off in 1980 and is still going strong. It hosts big-name events...

Pop

Atmospheric Vittoriosa is only 800m long and 400m at its widest, so it's hard to get lost - but aimlessly wandering its old, plant-filled alleys makes for a pleasant diversion. However, street signs are in Malti, while most tourist maps are in English only, which can be confusing. From the Poste de France, Triq il-Mina 1-Kbira Main Gate St leads to the town's main square, Misrah ir-Rebha Victory Sq . From the square, the marina and Maritime Museum are downhill to the left, while Triq San...

Gay Lesbian Travellers

Homosexual sex was legalised in Malta in 1973, and the age of consent for males and females is 16. Attitudes towards homosexuality in Malta are much the same as in most of southern Europe. Younger people and women are usually more tolerant than older people and straight men - and remember that it's a very Catholic country, and public affection straight or gay is generally frowned upon. Still, although Malta is not a very 'out' destination, it is gay-friendly. Although there are only a handful...

Golden Bay Grain Tuffieha

The fertile Pwales Valley stretches 4km from the head of St Paul's Bay to Ghajn Tuffieha ayn too ee-ha, meaning 'Spring of the Apples' on Malta's west coast. Here, two of Malta's best sandy beaches draw crowds of sun-worshippers. Golden Bay - the sand is more grey-brown than golden - is the busier and more developed of the two beaches, with caf s, water sports and boat trips, and a huge new hotel rising above the shoreline. There is talk of a golf course being built behind the Radisson hotel -...

Xemxija

The small, south-facing village of Xemxija shem-shee-ya , on the north side of St Paul's Bay, takes its name from xemx, meaning sun in Malti. There are a couple of private lidos along the waterfront, but Pwales Beach at the head of St Paul's Bay is just a narrow strip of gravelly sand. The town itself is desperately in need of some TLC - along the main road is a collection of derelict buildings creating a serious eyesore. Back from the water is Is-Simar Nature Reserve Map p102 2134 7646...

Food Drink

Like Malti, Maltese cuisine is influenced by the many foreign cultures that have ruled the country in its long history. The food is rustic and meals are generally based on seasonal produce and the fisherman's catch. Malta is not known as a destination for gourmets, but the food is generally good and cheap. The most obvious influence is Sicilian, and most cheaper restaurants serve pasta and pizza there are also upscale places serving more creative Italian specialities. English standards eg...

Midrange

British Hotel 2122 4730 www.brltishhotel.com 40 Triq il-Batterlja s d Lm14 20, with sea view Lm16 25 El Large parts of the 2005 movie Munich were filmed in Malta, and when location scouts wanted a 1970s-styled hotel, they chose the British - and barely needed to do a thing to it. The d cor in the foyer, TV room and bar is so dated it might now be considered retro-cool. The hotel has its fans and its detractors - on the plus side it's affordable and well located, and enjoys great views over the...

Environment

Reqqa Point Gozo Map

Malta, Gozo amp Comino -Off the Beaten Track is an excellent resource by Nature Trust Malta that gives an overview of the Maltese environment including its geology, flora and fauna . It also contains details and maps for walking tours. Malta's built-up surface area stands at 22 compared to the European average of 7 , and in an unpopular move the government announced in 2006 it will extend Malta's development boundaries by a further 2.4 . The Maltese Islands cover a total area of only 316 sqkm -...

Activities

A right turn at the top of the harbour hill leads to a belvedere with a grand view over the harbour to Comino and northern Malta. Triq iz-2ewwiega leads to an even better viewpoint just south of Qala it's worth the effort to get here - it's 1.8km uphill from the harbour to the viewpoint, and once here you can enjoy the magnificent panorama from Xerri II-Bukkett restaurant opposite . Xlendi Pleasure Cruises 2155 9967 www.xlendi cruises.com offers half- and full-day boat trips around Gozo and or...

Mellieha Bay

Adira Sailing entre amp Lido 2152 3190 dinner mains Lm3-6 S lunch amp dinner Inside the sailing centre's Greek Islands-inspired exterior is an alluring caf -bar. Enjoy your meal inside the sky-blue interior or preferably alfresco, with water views everywhere you look. The lunchtime menu is small, with a few baguette and burger selections dinner-time options are greater, with appealing fish and pasta dishes. At the southern edge of the bay, near the roundabout where the bypass rejoins the coast,...

Sleeping

There's only one accommodation option in Marsaxlokk, and thankfully it's a ripper. CHEE3 Duncan Guesthouse 2165 7212 http duncanmalta.com 33 Xatt is-Sajjieda d from Lm14 S Friendly, family-run Duncan's is hands-down the sweetest accommodation deal in southern Malta. It's above Duncan Bar amp Restaurant on the waterfront, and the spacious guest rooms come in family-friendly configurations. They're well kitted out for lengthy stays, each with sitting area, TV, small balcony, spic-and-span modern...

Insect Bites Stings

Mosquitoes are found inmost parts of Europe they may not carry malaria but can cause irritation and infected bites. Use a DEET-based insect repellent. Bees and wasps cause real problems only to those with a severe allergy anaphylaxis . If you have a severe allergy to bee or wasp stings carry an 'epipen' or similar adrenaline injection. Sandflies are found around Mediterranean beaches. They usually cause only a nasty, itchy bite but can carry a rare skin disorder called cutaneous Leishmaniasis....

Carbon Offset Schemes

Climatecare.org and other websites use 'carbon calculators' that allow travellers to offset the level of greenhouse gases they are responsible for with financial contributions to sustainable travel schemes that reduce global warming - including projects in India, Honduras, Kazakhstan and Uganda. Lonely Planet, together with Rough Guides and other concerned partners in the travel industry, support the carbon offset scheme run by climatecare.org. Lonely Planet offsets all of its staff and author...

The Festival Of Limnarja

L-lmnarja sometimes spelt Mnarja , held on 28 and 29 June the feast day of Sts Peter and Paul , is Malta's biggest and most boisterous festival. Its origins lie in a harvest festival dedicated to St Paul - the name is probably a corruption of the Italian luminaria, meaning 'illuminations', after the traditional bonfires that once lit up Rabat during the festival. The festivities begin on 28 June with a huge party in Buskett Gardens, complete with folk music, singing and dancing. Vast quantities...

Travel Agencies

National Student Travel Service NSTS s 2558 8000 www.nsts.org 220 Triq San Pawl Specialises in student and youth travel can arrange budget holiday packages, water-sports facilities and English-language courses for more information see p166 . SMS Travel amp Tourism 2123 2211 www.sms travel.net 311 Triq ir-Repubblika A good general agency, offering excursions, guided tours, currency exchange and plane and ferry tickets. It's helpful to know the names of Valletta's main streets in both Malti and...

Thai Massage

Chao Praya Thai Massage amp Spa Map p88 2137 8666 52 Triq Il-Wllga, Paceville S 9am-10pm Mon-Sat, 9am-7pmSun is a small, surprising piece of Thailand in downtown Malta -from the smell of Tiger Balm as you enter the shopfront to the Thai chatter of the staff. Prices are not direct from Thailand, however-a half-hour massage is Lm8, a full hour costs Lm12, but the benefits to legs sore from sightseeing or clubbing are invaluable. You can also submit to foot massages, reflexology, manicures and...