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The Alternative Guide to Malta

The Mediterranean island of Malta is an increasingly popular holiday destination with travellers of all ages. It has great beaches, stunning scenery and resorts of all sizes. Like many holiday destinations, visitors often tend to stay close to their accommodation, and only venturing out on a couple of day trips to the best known attractions. That’s a mistake, as Malta has many hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Most visitors to Malta will make it to the capital, Valletta, a tiny city bursting with historic sites, and a UNESCO world heritage site. Most will probably also find themselves either staying in, or playing in the Silema and St Julians area. This is the heart of Malta’s tourist industry, offering a great nightlife and a friendly atmosphere. It can also get very busy.

While these bustling places have their own appeal, Malta offers many opportunities to get off the beaten track and explore the island’s quieter side. Here’s where to head for if you want to see the real Malta:

Fomm Ir-Rih

On the island’s western coast, Fomm Ir-Rih is a world away from the Silema crowds. In an isolated area with no public transport, this secluded bay lies on a fault line, creating some unique rock formations. These form a backdrop to its quiet, horseshoe shaped bay. The rugged beach can be reached by a rough footpath, and is always quiet. It’s a great place for swimming, diving and snorkelling, as the water is crystal-clear. Visit at the end of the day, and you will be treated to a spectacular sunset.

Gozo

The island of Gozo can be reached by boat from Malta. Visits there take you back in time to the Malta of old. Much more rural than its neighbour, Gozo’s population is only 30,000 – while Malta’s is 400,000. A visit could be spent hiking or cycling through its countryside, exploring the tiny villages and admiring the views. There are also historical attractions to explore, such as the Neolithic Ä gantija temples, some of the oldest religious buildings in the world. There are similar temples on Malta itself, but those on Gozo are likely to be quieter.

Zejtun

Zejtun is a small town in the south of Malta, which is little-visited by tourists, and is also one of Malta’s oldest towns. A visit to Zejtun will give you a great insight into what Maltese life is really like away from the busy resorts and beaches. There are some interesting churches to explore, and it is also a great place to try some traditional Maltese food.

Mdina

Although it does get a few tourist visitors, Mdina is off the main tourist trail. It is also a great example of a Medieval walled city, with narrow streets, beautiful palaces and an other-worldly atmosphere.