Enriched with thousands of years of history - the Maltese Falcon, the Knights of St John and the George Cross, there is just so much to experience in Malta.
Selected departures May to October 2017
You should arrive at the airport to take your flight. On arrival a coach will take you to your four-star hotel in St Julian’s, the Golden Tulip Vivaldi, ideally located on a scenic stretch of coastline with one of Malta’s few sandy beaches 400 metres away. It has an extensive lobby; restaurant, offering a full international buffet; a gymnasium and roof top swimming pool; plus all the facilities you would expect from a four-star hotel. Accommodation includes breakfast and dinner.
You may wish to upgrade to the superb five star Le Meridien St Julian’s. This excellent hotel in central St Julian’s overlooks the stunning Balluta Bay, and is one of Malta’s finest. The superior rooms are modern and spacious, furnished in a contemporary style. All rooms are air conditioned and offer a balcony with a town view, tea and coffee making facilities, minibar, safe plus all of the facilities you would expect from a hotel of this quality.
Today you visit the wonderful 16th century city of Valletta where you enjoy a guided walking tour.
Built by the Knights of St John after a huge siege by the Ottoman Turks, it was Europe’s first planned city since Roman times. Valletta, one of the world’s strongest fortresses, is located on a magnificent natural harbour and has changed little since it was built. St. John’s cathedral is remarkable, with overwhelming decoration and colour, an intricate marble floor, a wonderful ceiling covered in gold leaf and fine paintings with the high point being Caravaggio’s masterpiece ‘The Beheading of John the Baptist’.
You will visit the Malta Experience which tells the story of this wonderful island using the latest audio-visual techniques. In the afternoon you may want to visit the archaeological museum, the Grand Master’s Palace or the National War Museum at Fort St Elmo which houses the replica of the George Cross. Valletta has a typical Mediterranean atmosphere and appearance, with quiet squares lined with restaurants and intricate wrought iron balconies adorning the tall honey-coloured houses bedecked with geraniums and given life by the constant chatter of the Maltese greeting each other in the street.
Today you visit the nearby sleepy island of Gozo and its capital, Victoria, a charming medieval town with twisting streets and alleyways with almost completely intact battlements. The pace of life is very relaxed here and what can be better than sipping a coffee whilst watching the world go by? We visit the largest and best preserved of the island’s prehistoric temple sites, Ggantija - even older than the pyramids and Stonehenge. Some of the stones weigh several tonnes and stand 6 metres high: legend says they were brought here around 3,600BC by a female giant! It may be small but Gozo’s countryside with its low hills and fertile valleys creates a feeling of spaciousness, especially when the terraced fields turn into a patchwork of wild flowers and thyme.
The coastline is simply dramatic and sheer cliffs plunge into deep blue waters: especially at Dwerja where geology and the sea have together formed a huge natural arch in the cliffs known as the Azure Window, with an inland sea, a cliff-bound lagoon behind.
Today you have a free day for you to explore as you wish. A wander around St Julian’s perhaps, with its picturesque quayside lined by excellent fish restaurants. One thing in Malta we really recommend but cannot organise for you is a visit to the Hypogeum, a series of underground burial chambers and temple dating from 3,500BC. Visits need to be reserved well in advance and are very limited.
After breakfast, you take the short drive to ancient Mdina, the jewel in the crown of the entire island and until medieval times Malta’s capital. During your guided tour you will see St Paul’s Catacombs at Rabat - a maze of early Christian burial chambers dating from the 4th century complete with over 1,000 tombs, plus an ancient Roman villa complete with its fantastically preserved mosaic floor. After some free time you visit the church of Mosta, with the third largest dome in the world, amazingly decorated, but principally famous as the unfortunate recipient during mass, of a direct hit by a bomb – fortunately failing to explode, establishing the legend of a miracle.
Today is a free day to explore as you wish.
After breakfast you visit the amazing Neolithic temples at Tarxien, which date between 3,000 and 1,800 BC and offer important evidence of the ancient cultures that once inhabited Malta. You also have a short walking tour of Vittoriosa, so named to commemorate the Great Siege victory of 1565, before continuing to the pretty waterside village of Marsaxlokk where for centuries fishermen have landed their catches and repaired nets on the picturesque quayside, which has changed little over the years. Today, lined with cafés and simple restaurants it is an ideal spot to relax.
At the appropriate time you will be taken to the airport for your return flight.
For 6,000 years Malta has been at the crossroads of almost all the ancient Mediterranean civilisations and on mention of the island, the immediate thoughts are of the Knights of St John, the Maltese Falcon and the George Cross. With a long and turbulent past and being the mid-point between Africa to the south and Sicily to the north, with a language bearing influences of Latin, Arabic and Semitic dialects, it is a unique destination with so much of its past on display. Its temples are the world’s oldest buildings, pre-dating the pyramids by 1,000 years.
Many visitors to this wonderful island never experience its undiscovered side, but on this tour we feel we have created a superb balance of interests ranging from a wonderfully varied history, unique scenery and atmospheric old towns, all in an ideal destination in which to relax.
A Maltese we once met, remarked that the island is like an extended family, which may be a romantic vision, but often that’s just the way it is!
The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at a supplement of £89 per person in the Golden Tulip Vivaldi and are £359 per person in the Le Meridien. The price includes return flights to Malta, airport departure taxes, seven nights with breakfast and dinner, return transfers, all tours as mentioned, ferry to Gozo, all entrance fees, executive coach travel and the services of a Riviera tour manager. Where hotels feature a swimming pool, pools are open in the summer months weather permitting.
Not included: Should you wish to visit to the Hypogeum on a free day, you must book well in advance on the internet site http://www.heritagemalta.org the cost is €30. Sundays will always be a free day unless your tour departs on a Saturday or Sunday, in which case Friday will be the free day. Please note that due to a conservation project at the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, the site will be closed to the public from January 2016 until approximately 1st June 2016.