Valletta's waterfront

Start the Valletta Trail at the waterfront to stroll in the footsteps of the Knights of St. John, the ancient order that ruled Malta back in the 16th century. The area has long been pedestrianised, so take a leisurely saunter past the historic warehouses, and stop by one of the many lively bars and restaurants for a coffee or a cold Cisk lager beer. The views out across the natural deep-water bay of Grand Harbour are some of the most beautiful in the city.


Upper Barrakka Gardens

Further along the coast, discover the 17th-century colonnaded Upper Barrakka Gardens, created as a place of retreat for the Knights. This cool, leafy escape suffered major damage during the Second World War, however the gardens have since been fully restored and remain steeped in a sense of romantic history and charm. Be sure to bring a camera: the panorama across the Three Cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua makes a stunning shot. Time your visit for noon, when you're invited to witness the pomp and ceremony that comes with the daily firing of the guns.


Is-Suq Tal-Belt

The city's 19th-century covered market has been rescued and renovated from an abandoned structure into a thriving, vibrant culinary destination. From the stalls on the basement level, stocked with fresh, local produce, to the bustling restaurants and bars on the ground level, there's plenty to see, eat, drink and enjoy here. For those looking to linger a while, a table on the outdoor terrace is the place to be.


Casa Rocca Piccola

A private family home that doubles as a museum, the Casa Rocca Piccola showcases the life of the Maltese nobility over the past 400 years. Visit to admire the elegant early-20th-century summer dining room, its table laid ready for a feast, the golden sedan chair crafted for a French Knight of Malta and the impressively tough bomb shelters cut into the solid rock beneath the house.


Malta's sibling is the smaller island of Gozo, with beautiful beaches and ancient sites.

Though it's just a quick ferry-hop from the mainland, Gozo has a personality all of its own. Less urbanised and developed than Malta, the island fosters a beautifully languorous pace of life – think of it as a window into the country's more peaceable past. In our guide to Gozo, you'll find rugged Mediterranean coastlines, farm-fresh cuisine and a few architectural wonders while you're at it. From the ancient Ggantija Temples (1000 years older than Stonehenge!) to the tangerine sands of Ramla Bay to the stalactites of Xerri's Grotto, Gozo may not be big or bustling, but make no mistake: this is no second fiddle.


Rabat

Also known as Città Victoria, Rabat may be Gozo's capital and largest city but that's all relative: its population hovers at just around 7000 people. You'll be well able, then, to soak up its manifold charms while kicking off your guide to Gozo. A stroll to the famous Citadel offers views across the city and much of the Gozitan countryside.


Ggantija Temples

It's hard to overstate the magnitude of Gozo's famed Ggantija Temples. A full millennium older than Stonehenge, the temples – a UNESCO heritage site – were said to have been made by giants, such is the scale of their construction. One of the most famous archaeological sites in all of Malta, the Megalithic temple complex is still in remarkably good repair.


Xerri's Grotto

Like the Ggantija Temples and Ninu's Cave, another impressive subterranean spectacle, Xerri's Grotto, is located in the small village of Xagħra – when it comes to impressive landmarks, this is one well-endowed town. Discovered by accident when resident Antonio Xerri was digging a well, today the expansive, stalactite-filled cavern is a popular tourist site.


Ramla Bay

Ramla Bay, located at Gozo's northern end, isn't like any other Maltese beach. For one, its sand is more rust-red in colour than golden. For another, it's flanked by Calypso's Cave … as in, the cave where Odysseus was held captive in Homer's Odyssey. It is, quite literally, an epic beach. Thinkstock


Oleander Restaurant

Gozo is considered the breadbasket of Malta, thanks to its fertile soil and ample farms. That also means that it's home to more than its fair share of top-notch restaurants, many of which have been serving farm-to-table fare many years before it became a global trend. One of the best eateries in Gozo is Oleander Restaurant, which looks onto Xagħra's Victory Square and is famous for its traditional rabbit stew.


The Rotunda of Xewkija

Gozo is positively brimming with beautiful, Baroque churches and shrines, but perhaps the fairest of them all is the Rotunda of Xewkija (also known by its more pronounceable alias, the Church of Saint John the Baptist). Home to the third-largest unsupported dome in the world, it's quite the impressive architectural site.


Gozo Museum of Archaeology

Round off your touring of millennia-old temples with a trip to the Gozo Museum of Archaeology, which traces the history of this tawny island from the Neolithic era up to the Early Modern period. A number of impressive Bronze Age relics are on display here, but this pretty townhouse, located in Rabat's Citadel, is an architectural landmark in its own right.


Diving in Gozo

Strap on those flippers and shimmy into that wetsuit: Gozo just so happens to host some of the best snorkelling and dive sites in Europe. Locations such as the Blue Hole, the reef at Reqqa Point and the famous Fungus Rock are best explored from beneath the water's surface.

Article by Corinthia Hotels, which has two properties in Malta, Corinthia Palace and Corinthia St. George's Bay, plus Corinthia Hotel Budapest.


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