Experience the magic of the Mediterranean in the Maltese islands…
Words: Lauren Fraser
Land in Malta and you’ll find yourself somewhere that feels more like a city than an island. Chic new hotels and old buildings alike hug the landscape, stretching out to the horizon, and around every bend another harbour rises up to greet you.
Where to stay
For fun-loving honeymooners, St Julian’s is the place to be. You’ll find swanky bars and buzzing nightlife right beside the harbour, which looks incredible lit up at night. Stay at Le Meridien St Julian’s Hotel and Spa and you’ll have all this on your doorstep, with incredible sea views, a rooftop pool and five-star luxury to boot.
The same indulgence awaits in the boutique hotels of Valletta, but in a more intimate setting. These honeymoon retreats are tucked in the many winding streets of the capital and cater to every taste, from choicely curated antique furniture to ultra-modern interiors, all with an exclusive feel.
If you’re more country than city, a 25-minute boat will deliver you to Gozo, your more private Maltese paradise. This slightly smaller island offers a total escape from the hustle and bustle of Malta, with options to stay in luxurious hotels with spas or exclusive converted farmhouses, whichever you prefer.
What to do
The capital city of Valletta offers an enchanting paradox of contemporary and Baroque architecture. Wander the characterful winding streets and you’ll still see the preserved shop fronts and signs from bygone years, with a peeling paint and aged charm that proves irresistible. For preserved grandeur on a magnificent scale, St John’s Co-Cathedral should be top of your visit list – you will never have seen an interior so elaborate or exquisite, I guarantee it.
The small size of Malta makes it easy to visit every area, so make your next stop Mdina. This silent sanctuary of golden stone buildings harks back to the era of the Knights of Malta. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Make time for a stop at Fontanella – not only will you find the best cake on the island, you’ll also enjoy unbounded views for, quite literally, miles.
When exploring the sister islands of Gozo and Comino, there’s just as much opportunity for relaxation as there is for adventure. The Kempinski on Gozo promises sensational spa treatments that will have you relaxing in newly wedded bliss, as will the atmosphere of the sleepy stone villages. Balance these quieter indulgences with the excellent diving around the island and a boat trip to Comino, the third island, to visit its legendary blue lagoon, or take to the many walking trails across these more rural islands.
Eat and drink
Try Kinnie, the favoured drink by the Maltese, for a refreshing drink during the day. The bitter orange flavour is a little like marmite – they say you’ll either love it or hate it – but, being on team love, I’d definitely recommend you give it a try. As night falls and you finish dinner, move on to Bajtra – this super sweet liqueur is made from the prickly pears you’ll see all over the island and makes the perfect post dinner tipple.
Dinner beside the water is a must for honeymooners in Malta. You’ll dine on the freshest of dishes with the water and twinkling lights for company, often with spectacular views. After a day exploring Valletta, choose the The Harbour for an al fresco experience. You’ll sup on sensational fresh fish, seafood and other dishes with the most romantic view past the moored boats to the old illuminated stone fortifications.
Can you marry there?
Boasting warm temperatures, ocean views and a short haul flight, destination weddings in Malta are becoming increasingly popular. Particularly so for religious ceremonies thanks to the abundance of churches and chapels on the island, civil ceremonies are also available. Marry at Le Meridien on Malta for total luxury and an enormous grand hall venue, where they will cater for a wedding as large or intimate as you like.
If you’ll be wedding on Gozo, tie the knot at Ta’ Cenc. You’ll find a luxury hotel with multiple pools and a spa to enjoy before and after the wedding (a spa day hen do sounds fab!), but the real stars of the show are the wedding locations on offer. Marry in their long stone converted building for a romantic atmosphere and a ceiling draped with fairylights; say “I do” beneath a stunning floral arch in the courtyard or garden, or – and this is my personal location of choice – head down to the hotel’s private beach-top restaurant and cove. With sparkling azure waters like I’ve never seen before and an intimate, exclusive setting, this place is as close to magic as you’ll get!
Getting there: easyJet flies from London Gatwick to Malta with prices starting from £36.49 per person (one-way, including taxes and based on two people on the same booking). easyJet also flies to Malta from Manchester and Newcastle, easyjet.com
Where to stay: Le Meridien St Julian’s Hotel and Spa, lemeridienmalta.com
What to do: the expert and friendly licensed guiding by Maria and Anne Marie meant we enjoyed the islands to their fullest; stopped for coffees in the most charming locations, and had a seamlessly smooth trip.
For more information and to plan your dream wedding or honeymoon, visit visitmalta.com