One of many churches scattered around the island
Where and What is Malta?
Malta is a shy little archipelago suspended in the middle of the Med. Its modesty is part of its charm, but boy does it have a lot it could brag about. One of its islands is home to what is thought to be the oldest free-standing building in the world. The Egyptian pyramids and Britain’s Stonehenge are youthful in comparison.
If America were lucky enough to find the Ġgantija temples on its soil, it would have turned them into a prehistoric theme park, transporting visitors back to its creation in around 3200 BC. If they turned up in the UK they would be crawling with tour guides, covered in do not touch signs and have a gift shop on every corner. Either way you would pay through the nose to get a glimpse.
As it is they are found at the bottom of a dusty dirt track on the Maltese island of Gozo. And, after handing over an entrance fee that equates to the cost of an ice-cream, you can wander right up to the ancient stones and reach out and stroke them, or attempt to pick them up as my six-year-old did as she tried to figure out how the prehistoric locals managed to schlep the five ton blocks of limestone up the hill.
Inland sea on Gozo
Things To Do in Malta with Kids
Malta’s laidback approach to its past opens a door into history that is too often shut and kids love that they can just peek through it for a couple of hours and then jump back into the pool.
Take them for a stroll around the walled medieval city of Mdina, ending up with a tour of its dungeons, hop on a boat that will take you into the Blue Grotto one of a serious of caves on the coast of Comino; or go for a swim in the inland sea in Dwejra, Gozo, created millions of years ago when two limestone caves collapsed.
The islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino are easily accessible from each other by ferry and once on the islands most attractions are just a short car or bus ride away.
Posing for a photo on the cliffs of Gozo
Loved by snorkelers, Comino is the baby of the islands at just 3.5 square metres. Gozo is the pretty, sleepy little sister to Malta, which is the largest and most buzzy of the islands. All three enjoy year round sunshine and are surrounded by an often invitingly warm sea.
There are a growing number of resort hotels springing up on Gozo and Malta, from which you could easily enjoy a fortnight without going off site. It would be a shame though. Opting for bed and breakfast, and exploring new places to eat every night is one way of ensuring that you do get somewhere beyond the tourist gloss.
Malta is heavily influenced by its Italian neighbour and kids are welcomed in even the most expensive restaurants at any time of the day or night. So go out late afternoon and take in some of the country before eating some of it, most of what you find on your plate is grown or caught locally.
Bay view from Westin Dragonara Resort
We stayed at the Westin Dragonara, a great luxury family hotel, that is as laid back as the country it resides in. It boasts of having the largest family bedrooms on the island and they are very roomy with large balconies. For those who don’t like sharing with their kids you can opt for the Bay Suites, which also come with a kitchen and living room.
In typical Maltese style, the hotel doesn’t shout about the fact that it actually has two lovely spacious pools. You can’t miss the first one it winks invitingly at you from the reception area. This is the grown-up chill-out pool, but follow a footpath past it that takes you through a tunnel and you emerge blinking at the livelier family pool where kids activities are provided most mornings in the season. It took us two days to discover this.
The so called private beach, isn’t much, there is a much better public one just around the corner, but the sundecks scattered around the hotels rambling peninsular are fantastic and if you don’t fancy the pools you can step into the sea.
There are several restaurants on site. Quadro is lovely for an on-site, fine dining experience expected of a five star. Although the food is good and fresh at The Terrace buffet the experience is more four star than five, it is not exceptional. The hotel is on the doorstep of the increasingly sophisticated town of St Juliens, however, and there are excellent local restaurants just a short stroll away overlooking the harbour at Spinola Bay.
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