Situated in the heart of the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea Malta is an island country that is a hugely popular sun and sea destination.
With more than 300 sunny days each year, Malta can be visited in any season. Summers are hot and dry and the beaches are busy from April right through until October. The risk of wet and windy weather rises during the winter months, but prices are much lower and daytime temperatures remain comfortable enough to explore. A strongly Catholic country, all the major Christian holidays are widely observed. The harvest festival, Mnarja, celebrated at the end of June is a major event across the island with music, folk dancing, feasting and donkey races galore. Smaller festivals celebrating the patron saints of individual villages take place throughout the year.
Malta is the largest and most-visited of the three islands that make up the Maltese Archipelago. Comino is mostly a nature reserve while Gozo is quieter and has stunning landscapes. Malta is so steeped in history that its capital, Valletta, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Transport and food costs are significantly lower than those of most other countries in Europe with an inexpensive restaurant meal available for around €10.
Comfortable, air-conditioned express buses, all denoted by the letter "X", link the airport to the rest of the island. The X4, X5 and X7 all serve Valletta. Official Maltese taxis are white and operate from the airport for a fixed tariff that varies between €10- €30 depending on the final destination. The centre of Valletta is best seen on foot. For anything further afield, a network of buses are available. Tickets are valid for a period of two hours and can be purchased directly from the driver. They cost €1.50 in the winter, €2 in the summer and €3 if you travel at night. A seven-day prepaid card is also available for €21. If you want to see as much of the island as possible at your own pace, a hire car is a good idea.
Malta has a good selection of accommodation to suit all budgets, from rooms in hostels during the off-peak season for as little as €15 to double rooms in 3 star hotels for around €70.