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Attractions outside Valletta
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The most precious thing about the Maltese archipelago is the variety of landscapes and sites that one encounters. With a rich history going back seven thousand years, the archaeological and historic sites open to the public are numerous. House museums also offer the opportunity not simply to understand the development of art and architecture, but also to glimpse into the way of life of Maltese wealthy families. On the other hand, some of the small villages still portray a rural way of life which has been little affected by the hustle and bustle of city-life. And the best thing about Malta is that no place is too far! 
Find below some of the most interesting attractions outside Valletta to visit during you stay in Malta:

Mdina

Visiting Mdina is like going back in time. The old capital city of Malta is the ideal place for a romantic stroll or for a photography excursion. Being one of the highest points of the Maltese Islands, the views from Mdina’s bastion walls are mesmerizing. The narrow winding streets boast splendid buildings, many still retaining some of their original Medieval architectural features. The Cathedral and its Museum are worth a visit, especially for the numismatic enthusiasts as the museum exhibits one of the largest collections of coins on the islands.  One may also visit Palazzo Falson Historic House Museum and the National Museum of Natural History, housed within Palazzo Vilhena. A modern garden has been set up in the ditch which surrounds the city, with an older garden, Howard Garden, situated on the street level. For those interested in archaeology, and ancient roman history in particular, the ruins of a Roman domus (house) may be visited, right outside one of the side-gates of Mdina (Greeks’ Gate).  


San Anton Palace and Gardens

Built by Grandmaster Fra Antoine de Paule in 1623-1636, San Anton Palace and Gardens are situated in Attard, a few minutes’ drive from the city of Mdina. When Malta became a British colony in the beginning of the 1800s San Anton became the Governor’s residence and since Malta became a Republic in 1974 the building has served as the President’s official residence. The gardens were opened to the public in 1882 and from then on visitors can admire the variety of flora and fauna which can be found in the space. Apart from species typical of the Mediterranean area, one may also encounter unusual plants and trees typical of Asia, America, Africa and Australia. Some of these specimens were planted by the foreign dignitaries who came to Malta and resided at San Anton, a practice which was a very popular one in order to commemorate their stay.  In the past few years, the President’s Kitchen Garden has also been inaugurated. This new section has a herb garden, an area with animals, a recreational area for children as well as a cafeteria. Money generated by purchases at the cafeteria is donated to the President’s charity organisation, the Malta Community Chest Fund.  


The Three Cities

When the Knights of St John came to Malta in 1530, they decided not to settle in the existing capital of Mdina. Instead, they chose the Grand Harbour area as their headquarters namely to be close to their precious navy. This decision affected the harbour area immensely. The three localities of Birgu, Bormla and Isla soon developed into proper cities and were soon to be given the titles of Città Vittoriosa, Città Cospicua and Città Senglea respectively.  Birgu is the home of both the National Maritime Museum, situated on the waterfront, and of the Inquisitor’s Palace, which also serves as the National Ethnographic Museum of Malta. The rehabilitation of the dock area has also provided a pleasant walk from Birgu to Bormla and Isla, allowing the visitor to glimpse at what used to be the life-blood of Maltese economy for the largest part of the 19th and 20th century. The area also boasts some of the best restaurants and wine-bars in the southern part of Malta, all of them housed within historic buildings which provide the perfect atmosphere for that special evening meal. 


Ħagar Qim & Mnajdra Archaeological Park

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ħagar Qim and Imnajdra are two prehistoric temple complexes overlooking the south-western coast of Malta.  The archaeological park is also composed of an interactive visitors’ centre, with displays which are enjoyable by adults and children alike. Apart from the beauty and atmosphere of the temple structures and their surroundings, the site is also of significant importance because of a mysterious yearly occurrence. In fact, one of the prehistoric chambers at Ħaġar Qim holds an elliptical hole which is hewn out in alignment with the Summer Solstice sunrise. At sunrise, on the first day of summer, the sun’s rays pass through this hole and illuminate a stone slab inside the chamber. This archaeological park is one of the most beautiful sites in Malta and is situated next to Zurrieq Valley and the Blue Grotto, a splendid scenic spot for geology and photography enthusiasts. 


Mellieħa

Overlooking the famous sandy beach of Mellieha Bay, the small town of Mellieha offers some of the most beautiful views in the Maltese Islands. Interesting spots include the Sanctuary dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, World War II shelters, and fortifications. The surrounding fertile land along with cave formations is the perfect spot for countryside walks, picnics and camping trips.  


Gozo

Malta’s sister island, Gozo is the perfect place to visit for those looking for a slower pace of life. Having a smaller percentage of population than Malta, Gozo is an extremely fertile island, accounting for the larger amount of agricultural activity present. A visit to the capital Victoria and its citadel is a must. Here, one may visit the Gozo Archaeology Museum, the Folklore Museum, the Old Prisons as well as the Cathedral. Other interesting sites to visit include the Ġgantija Prehistory Temples and Ta’ Kola Windmill in Xagħra, Dwejra Bay and its Azure Window, and Ta’ Pinu Church. 


Comino

A tiny island situated between Malta and Gozo, Comino is a spot loved by locals and foreigners alike, especially because of its tranquillity and the clear blue waters of the Blue Lagoon. Comino is also very popular with film-makers and St Mary’s Tower featured in the film The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) as the Château d'If. The island has a permanent population of only four persons and has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International. 


   

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Last Updated: 2 February 2015

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