The Maltese Islands namely Malta, Gozo and Comino are situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, 93 kilometres south of Sicily and 288 kilometres north of Africa. Malta is well indented, providing numerous harbours, bays, creeks, sandy beaches and rocky coves. The population in Malta is around 400,000. Malta is just a few hours flying time away from most European cities. Malta is serviced by direct flights operated by the major international airlines and various low cost airlines.
Comino is the smallest island. It has no traffic and only one beach resort hotel namely, The Comino Hotel which runs a ferry service to the Island with departures to and from both Cirkewwa, Malta and Mgarr, Gozo. The service is free to hotel guests but there is a small charge to non-residents.
You can also take a day trips on a cruise boat leaving from Sliema or Bugibba in Malta and from Xlendi in Gozo. These excursions generally head for the Blue Lagoon, but take you also in other bays on Comino.
The Maltese Islands have a very sunny climate with a daily average of 5/6 hours sunshine in mid-winter to around 12 hours in summer. Winters are very mild. Summers are hot and sunny with nice cool sea breezes. Annual rainfall is very low, averaging under 60 cm a year (20 inches) for the whole year. Swimming is quite possible well into the winter months, and the peak beach season can last until October / November.
Malta has a very low cost of living when compared to other countries in Europe. Living in Malta is fairly cheap. Normal utility services like water, electricity, gas and telephone and are also very reasonable.
Driving in Malta is on the left. The speed limit on open roads is 80 km per hour and in built- up areas 50 km per hour. All national and international driving licenses are recognized. Comprehensive insurance is advisable.
The Euro, is Malta's legal currency. However the majority of hotels, shops and restaurants also accept payment in the main international currencies and international major credit cards.
Banks, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and exchange bureaux can be found all over the Maltese Islands. Banks are normally open until early afternoon from Monday to Friday, and until mid day on Saturdays.
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The public transport service in Malta and Gozo is efficient, very reasonably priced and a very good way to get around and see the Islands.
The main bus terminus in Malta is in Valletta whereas the one in Gozo is in the capital, Victoria. The bus terminus in most towns and villages, is generally found near the main square.
Malta’s bus routes leave from and go to Valletta. A few operate circular routes. An express bus service links the principal resorts with Sliema, Marsaxlokk, the Three Cities, Mdina and the main sandy beaches.
The average length of a bus trip in Malta is around 20 to 30 minutes, the longest trip takes around 50 minutes.
Cable Television is very popular in Malta. There is a varied choice of around 50 channels including BBC, CNN, NBC, the major Italian channels, Spanish, French, and German channels. There is also a selection of movie and entertainment channels.
Satellite reception is also very popular in Malta and the choice there is even greater. They are also very reasonably priced.
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The telecommunication infrastructure is among the very best in the EU with varies products and services available at very favorable rates. This together with the proposed Smart City would make Malta a telecommunication hub in the Mediterranean.
Malta has an excellent health service. There is one major general hospital in Malta and a smaller hospital in Gozo. They are also supported by a regional network of health centres which are open day and night. Hospitals are equipped with very modern facilities. Private medical care is also available, both in private hospitals and in a number of small private clinics where minor surgery may also be carried out.
Travellers do not normally require certificates of vaccination or immunization to enter the Maltese Islands.
EU member states citizens resident in Malta having a European Health Insurance Card are entitled to FREE Public Health care.
It is advisable that all visitors, irrespective of their nationality, take out a personal medical insurance policy.
Visitors receiving special medical treatment should bring a medical prescription or a letter of introduction from their family doctor, in case they need to purchase particular medicines.
Pharmacies are found throughout the Islands and are open during normal shopping hours. On Sundays, chemists open on a roster from 09.00 until 12.30 in Malta and from 07.30 until 11.00 in Gozo
Malta has a free state school system with an optional private education where fees are very reasonable.
The standard of education in Malta is very high. English is the language of instruction for most subjects at all levels of the education system. In Malta, English is the official language together with Maltese. Italian is also very widely spoken. Furthermore at secondary level students may take up French, German or another language.
Malta has a University which provides education for more than 9,000 students in all the major disciplines. There is also a technical education systems offering courses in applied electronics, IT, design etc.
English language teaching is well established on the Maltese Islands. There are over 40 language schools in Malta and Gozo offering a wide selection of courses and leisure programs (personalised, one to one, tuition also available by fully qualified tutors including specialized language for business and finance).
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There are over 350 churches around the Maltese Islands. The majority of the Maltese are Roman Catholic, but other religious denominations are also represented . Most services during the week are either first thing in the morning or in the evening and all day on Sundays. Please remember that churches are places of worship when visiting please show respect to others and dress accordingly. Shoulders must be covered.
St John’s Cathedral (Valletta),
Mdina Cathedral (Mdina),
Mosta Church (Mosta)
There are beautiful beaches all around Malta and Gozo. The most popular sandy beaches are Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay in Malta and Ramla l-Hamra in Gozo. Although the beaches are relatively small, they are amongst the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean.
The Maltese waters are very clean and safe for swimming. Some bays are exposed to north and north-easterly winds which sometimes may produce some strong undercurrents. So if you are new to the Maltese Islands it is best to swim where the Maltese do.
The Maltese Islands lie virtually in the middle of the Mediterranean. You are therefore advised to take precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun. Children and especially babies need that extra protection from the sun. If you are sunbathing, it is advisable to avoid the strongest sunlight between 11.00 hrs and 15.00 in the summer months.
The Maltese Islands clear blue Mediterranean sea with reefs, caves and wrecks is a real paradise for divers. The calmness of the sea gives an excellent underwater visibility to admire the large variety of wildlife, flora and fauna. There are many licensed diving schools offering several types of diving courses for first time divers, beginners or experienced divers. The leasing of equipment is available at very favorable rates.
Divers need to complete a medical statement form prior to any diving indicating their fitness to dive.
We highly recommend that any diving, even the very experienced divers, is done through a licensed diving school in order to ensure that all the administrative and safety procedures are all adhered to.
With such a great climate, it is no wonder that there is such a wide variety of land and sea sport facilities available in Malta.
At the Marsa Sports Club (Malta’s largest sports centre) there is an 18-hole golf course, miniature golf, 30 tennis courts, 5 squash courts, 5 turf pitches, a rugby pitch, a baseball pitch, 2 netball pitches, 2 basketball pitches, full size sand football ground. bowling, mini golf , polo, gymnasium. cricket and swimming pool. While on vacation in Malta tourists can join the club on a weekly basis. With regards to golf, non-members are also welcome and clubs may be rented out from the club.
Apart from that many hotel facilities often include tennis courts and squash courts, gymnasium, saunas etc. These hotels would also normally offer water sport facilities, including scuba diving, water skiing, windsurfing, paragliding etc.
One may also find facilities for boat rentals and yacht charters throughout the Island.
There is also a wide selection of other sports available both indoor and outdoor including football, basketball, volleyball, cycling, table tennis, lawn bowling, tenpin bowling, clay pigeon / skeet shooting, hockey, waterpolo, wrestling, judo, karate and most other martial arts, fencing etc.
Wellness, spa and fitness facilities abound in Malta and may be found in most of the five star hotels as well as well as in other private outlets. Most wellness centres offer a variety of amenities and services like gymnasiums, indoor heated pools, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, body massage and treatments, beauty and slimming salons, dance studios, aerobics etc. They may also arrange tailor-made programmes to suit your individual needs. Many hotels offer packages, which include specialist treatments along with unlimited use of the fitness facilities on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly membership
The traditional Maltese dishes are Aljotta (fish soup), Minestra, (thick vegetable soup), Ross fil-forn, (baked rice), Imqarrun il-Forn (baked macaroni) or Timpana (baked macaroni in a pastry case), Bigilla, (broad beans and garlic pate’), Zalzett (maltese flavoured sausage), Hobz biz-Zejt (slice of crusty Maltese bread dipped in olive oil, rubbed with tomatoes and filled with a mix of tuna, tomatoes, onion, olives, capers and garlic), Pastizzi (mashed peas or ricotta filled pastries), Lampuki (locally caught fish), also served as lampuki pie, Rabbit Stew, Bragioli (beef olives), Octopus in garlic, etc.
Obviously one also finds a wide variety of restaurants specializing mainly in the Mediterranean cuisine whilst other restaurants specialize in other traditional cuisine including Italian, French, Greek, Chinese, Malasian, Indian, Turkish, etc.
One may also make use of the large variety of fast food restaurants where one may have the typical hamburgers and fish & chips.
Both Maltese beer and Maltese wine are excellent quality and extremely good value for money. However foreign beers and wines are also available in most places.
There are various excellent casinos in Malta. One may choose from a restored 17th century palace, an elegant colonial-style villa or an ultra modern hotel complex. They are open most days from around 12.00 hrs till early morning. They all offer slots machines and various table games with the traditional roulette and black jack. Entry requirements are that Foreign Nationals must be over 18 years of age and must present some sort of identification on their first visit. The dress code is smart casual.
The Maltese Islands have a large variety of nightlife entertainment ranging from cultural events, exhibitions, theatres and open-air venues offering plays, musicals, operas of both classical, jazz and modern music.
Very unique to the Maltese Islands are the lively summer village festas (at least one a week in the summer) where one can mingle with the locals and enjoy the village band marches, procession of the saint being celebrated together with the creative and colourful fireworks.
The Maltese Islands have also become a hub for the clubbing scene. Internationally renowned DJs, top singers and performers like Duran Duran, Bryan Adams, Elton John, Sting, Michael Bolton, U2, Sean Paul, Enrique Eglesias, Liza Minelli, Alan Parsons, Bob Geldof, Roger Waters, AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, The Wailers, The Characters, Roger Hodgson, The Blues Brothers, Australian Pink Floyd, The Searchers, Gerry & Pacemakers, Swinging Blue Jeans, Andrea Boccelli, Jose Carreras, Eros Ramazzotti, Zucchero, Claudio Baglioni, Lucio Dalla, Gigi d'Alessio, Massimo Ranieri, Orietta Berti, Pupo, Toto Cutugno, Riccardo Muti, Tony Dallara, Jimmy Fontana, Scialpi, Nina Ferro, Alessandro Canino, Ricchi e Poveri, Black Eyed Peas, Laura Pausini, Lady Gaga, Boy George, Ronan Keating, La Toya Jackson, Joseph Callejja, Lydia Caruana, Winter Moods, Ira Losco, Chasing Pandora and many others have all performed in major music concerts here in Malta.
Other alternatives are pubs, clubs and discos which Malta is reknown for, where both youngsters and older people alike flock to, especially on weekends
Alternatively how about a romantic evening in a wine bar or al fresco restaurants enjoying either the local, Mediterranean or foreign cuisine.
Whatever your mood might be you are sure to have a great time in Malta.