Malta wins Lonely Planet’s top destination to unwind award

Global travel authority Lonely Planet has unveiled its top destinations to visit next year with the release of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023, and Malta has been awarded the “Top Destination to Unwind” Award, alongside destinations such as Halkidiki in Greece and Jordan, The Malta Tourism Authority said.

Lonely Planet said that Malta has been ‘much-loved by European visitors for decades,’ adding that it ‘is attracting more visitors from around the world, beckoned by its prehistoric temples, fantastic scuba diving and buzzy Valletta, its beautiful capital,'” the MTA added.

Lonely Planet’s annual marquee moment celebrates their expert predictions for where to go in the year ahead, the MTA said. “Showcasing 30 incredible destinations around this globe, Best in Travel 2023 is Lonely Planet’s 18th annual collection of the world’s hottest destinations and the must-have travel experiences for the year ahead. Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023 recommends 30 must-visit locations around food, journeying, connection, learning and unwinding. It offers a comprehensive set of itineraries aimed at helping travellers to explore the world – while following along with some seriously knowledgeable locally based experts along the way.”

The award was presented to Clayton Bartolo, Minister for Tourism; Gavin Gulia and Carlo Micallef, Chairman and CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority, during last week’s World Travel Market in London.

“Malta’s profile in the tourism world is rapidly gaining the strong reputation it truly deserves. In the past months, the Malta Tourism Authority has been a proactive catalyst in making sure that the splendour of the Maltese Islands is shared and outreached around the globe,” outlined Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo.

“Each year, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023 lists start with nominations from Lonely Planet’s vast community of staff, writers, bloggers, publishing partners and more. The nominations are then whittled down by our panel of travel experts to just 30 destinations. Each is chosen for its topicality, unique experiences, ‘wow’ factor and its ongoing commitment to sustainability, community and diversity,” the MTA said.

Article credits: https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2022-11-16/local-news/Malta-wins-Lonely-Planet-s-top-destination-to-unwind-award-6736247525
10 hidden gems in Malta

From finding secret beaches on which to enjoy Malta’s stunningly clear waters to knowing the best places to find a cup of coffee with a view or tuck into a late-night pastizzi-fest, this guide has got you covered when it comes to discovering hidden Malta.

1. Valletta
The capital of Malta is, of course, a popular place to begin your visit to the islands. But for the authentic Maltese experience, stray from the busy thoroughfares and get lost in the winding, pretty backstreets of Valletta. Here family-run cafes, tiny restaurants and kitsch little shops are dotted around, just begging to be explored.

2. Ghasri Valley
Malta has no shortage of beautiful coastal spots for a swim, but the Ghasri Valley on Gozo is a must-visit. Here crystal clear, turquoise waters gently run through a steep-sided winding valley to create a secluded, natural s-shaped swimming pool complete with a tiny pebble beach. It’s also a great place for snorkelers and divers, as the creek hides several impressive underwater caves.

3. The Secret Passage at St Gregory’s Church
Malta has its own secret tunnel to rival Paris’ spooky catacombs; the thick stone walls of St Gregory’s Church in Zejtun have a hidden passageway inside, filled with human bones. With the skeletons believed to date back to the 1600s, the passageway was hidden for centuries before being re-discovered in the 1960s. Watch out for holidays and events when the church is open for visitors.

4. Fontanella Tea Garden
When visiting the city of Mdina, there’s only one place to stop for refreshments. The Fontanella Tea Garden is situated up high on the city’s stone bastions, meaning these al-fresco coffees come with the best views across Malta. Oh, and it’s also famous on the island for its delicious selection of home-made cakes – yes, please.

5. Il-Hofra L-Kbira
If you’re looking for a private slice of coastline, Il-Hofra L-Kbira will not disappoint. From the parking lot on the cliffs above, the beach is almost completely hidden below. Shallow warm waters and a flat, rocky beach with a little cave area providing some shade await visitors who find it. It’s not far from the super popular St Peter’s Pool in Marsaxlokk, so you could enjoy its hidden beauty after visiting the touristy site.

6. Crystal Palace Pastizzis
Pastizzi, a soft filo-pastry filled with mushy peas or soft ricotta, is Malta’s go-to snack. You’ll find them on sale pretty much everywhere, from bars to street food vendors, but Crystal Palace Tea and Coffee Bar has become a bit of a pastizzi icon. On the outskirts of Rabat, this cafe is open pretty much 24/7, so you can get your fix any time of the day or night!

7. Mnajdra Temple Complex
Malta has a long and rich history so the country boasts some incredible Roman ruins and beautiful crumbling architectural sites from different periods of its past, many of which get very busy with visitors. One hidden gem amongst these sites is the Mnajdra Temple Complex, near the village of Qrendi, where one of the three beautiful neolithic temples was built and designed around the movements of the sun. If you can, plan your visit during an equinox or solstice when special events are held.

8. The Jesus Tree
Yep, this is literally a tree that looks a bit like Jesus on the cross. Local legend says that the tree changed shape after being struck by lightning and locals now place flowers and gifts in homage at its feet. After being uprooted during a storm, it unfortunately lost its “head” and roots but the trunk was afterwards secured into a concrete base, so its holy shape can still be admired. If you’re after a quirky afternoon activity, set off to find the tree just outside of Mdina.

9. Seafood in Marsaskala
It’s no surprise that the seafood in Malta is famous for making travellers’ mouths water – with a huge array of Mediterranean fish and shellfish caught offshore each day, dishes here could hardly get any fresher! A great place to sample local dishes is in the small, relaxed fishing village of Marsaskala. Tuck into a swordfish steak or try traditional spaghetti with octopus sauce, before wandering along the promenade to spy the colourful fishermen’s houses and the boats that bob in the harbor.

10. Coral Lagoon
This perfectly-circular sea cave with an open roof is B.E.A.utiful. Either swim or kayak through what looks like a small cave from the sea next to Little Armier Bay and you’ll find yourself in a little round lagoon, harboring bright blue, clear waters. It’s worth getting there early before the tourists arrive – this highly Instagrammable hideaway isn’t going to stay a secret for much longer!

Article credits: https://www.ef.com/wwen/blog/language/10-hidden-gems-in-malta/
Holiday Inn set to land in Malta in 2024

Holiday Inn is set to launch at the heart of St Julian’s, adding to Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Eden Leisure Group’s growing list of hotels in Malta.

IHG and Eden Leisure Group are targeting an opening date at the start of 2024, after a management agreement between the two companies was signed in 2019, Eden Leisure Group CEO Simon De Cesare confirmed.

Plans for the 168-room hotel were “put on hold for a little while during the COVID-19 pandemic,” yet after building permits were granted in January, Eden Leisure Group has been “demolishing and excavating since,” Mr De Cesare said.

While Malta already has a high amount of bed stock, so much so that Mr De Cesare would “in most instances” advise against new hotels, this is Eden Leisure Group’s third hotel under IHG’s management, with the two companies already having the three-star limited-service Holiday Inn Express hotel, as well as the five-star luxury Intercontinental Malta hotel.

“This four-star Holiday Inn hotel would allow us significant flexibility and synergy between our brands and our management,” he added.

“The proximity of the properties and the economics of scale will be immeasurable,” Mr De Cesare continued.

Given the wide array of hotels in Malta available for visitors to choose from, establishing a key target market is a must, and while Holiday Inn is “traditionally a family hotel,” through the “synergies mentioned, it will also cater to the corporate market”, he concluded.

IHG Hotels and Resorts is one of the world’s leading hotel companies, with over 6,028 hotels from several brands currently under its control in more than 100 different countries.

Eden Leisure Group has been the “forefront of hospitality and entertainment in Malta” since the country’s early days of tourism more than 50 years ago, and now operates several entertainment and leisure venues, including the Eden Cinemas and the Eden Superbowl.

Mr De Cesare was named CEO of the company in 2018, using his vast experience in the entertainment industry to help Eden Leisure Group progress even more.

Article credits: https://whoswho.mt/en/holiday-inn-set-to-land-in-malta-in-2024
9 beautiful beaches in Malta – Lonely Planet

The beaches in Malta tend to be dramatic, rocky and sea-sculpted, with fewer soft and sandy curves of Mediterranean coastline than you might expect. Despite this, the Maltese make the most of every swimming spot, and on these compact islands, water sports abound, and you’re never far from the sea.

With crystalline waters, historic wrecks, and interesting underwater formations, Malta is also Europe’s best diving destination, but even snorkeling from the island nation’s coastline offers a remarkable insight into an underwater world.

Whether you’re keen on splashing around in the waves, spending an afternoon relaxing on the sand, or enjoying a leisurely lunch of local seafood, here are the beaches to head to in Malta, and its smaller sister islands of Gozo and Comino.

View the Lonely Planet top 9 beaches in Malta here.

The best beaches in Gozo and their pros & cons

It’s no secret that Gozo offers some of the best beaches to visit. Unlike main island Malta, where beaches can get crowded pretty quickly in summer, beaches in Gozo rarely get too busy at this time of the year.

If you’re considering staying in Gozo or planning a day trip to Malta’s sister island, here are a few personal suggestions for the best beaches around. Quiet, few man-built structures and clean.

Ramla l-Hamra
Ramla l-Hamra is the largest and most popular (sandy) beach in Gozo, and for good reason. With an almost red-coloured sand, and surrounded by mostly undeveloped countryside it’s an obvious favourite for both locals and tourists alike. It’s clean, there’s plenty of space for sunbathers and its shallow waters and easy access makes for a very family-friendly beach.

If you plan to visit Gozo, this beach should be at the top of your list.

San Blas Bay

San Blas Bay is a beautiful little beach on the North coast of Gozo, which isn’t particularly difficult to reach but which discourages people who aren’t in very good shape to head down there. It’s not necessarily getting there that requires being in shape physically, it’s the steep hill climb that forms the biggest challenge.

Pluck up some courage and make your way down, it’s well worth it. Clean, clear waters, secluded and only blemished by the small structure of a kiosk selling some drinks and snacks. Public transport (buses 304 – quickest – or 302) will take you to the top of the hill at San Blas, at the limits of the nearby village of Nadur. You’ll need a 15 min walk down to the beach.

11 local beaches awarded Blue Flag for 2021

11 beaches in Malta and Gozo have been awarded the Blue Flag for 2021. This year the International Jury took into consideration the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on beaches all over the world and noted that the beaches in Malta and Gozo followed these restrictions in a good manner, keeping in mind the safety of beach users in mind.

The Blue Flag Beaches in Malta and Gozo are:

Malta’s Top Hidden Beaches

The Maltese Islands are home to some beautiful beaches such as Golden Bay, Ramla Bay in Gozo, Mellieha and Paradise Bay to mention a few, however it’s also home to some fascinating hidden gems, and what better time to explore them than now? If you’re not lucky enough to own a boat (or be friends with someone who does), be prepared to go for an adventurous trek – but it will be worth it! Just remember to pack food and water because none of these beauties will have a snack bar.

Here’s a list of our favourite secret beaches:

Fomm Ir-Riħ
Unless you can access it by boat, getting to this beautiful beach is an adventure in and of itself – featuring a fifteen-minute trek through Malta’s wildlife. Practically untouched by man, this is one of Malta’s few beaches which is covered in pebbles. Featuring steep cliffs on either side – it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Fomm Ir-Riħ is found towards the limits of Mġarr.

Slug’s Bay
We all know the popular beaches of Għadira Bay and Armier Bay – but nestled in between these two iconic beaches lays one of Malta’s hidden gems: Slug’s Bay. This small bay accommodates ten people, at the very most so it can get very crowded – but the views are absolutely stunning, and well worth it!

Il-Majjistral
Did you know that Malta has a vast expanse of open land, known as the Majjistral Nature Park? A short trek down the steep cliffs brings you to an expanse of gorgeous, untouched sea – the perfect site to spend a day sunbathing or snorkeling. For the less adventurous – it is highly advised to visit the beach at Il-Majjistral by boat, as the 45-minute trek can be quite exhausting!

Mġarr Ix-Xini
Found in our sister island of Gozo, this small beach is the perfect get away from more populous beaches like Ramla bay.

Wied L-Għasri
Another hidden gem in our sister island – you can’t get here by boat, and you’ll have to walk a fair bit AND climb a lot of stairs – but this valley, found just off the Gozitan town of Għasri is most definitely worth the hassle!

Coral Lagoon
Have you ever wanted to jump into open waters and swim out through a cave? You can do just that at Coral Lagoon – found just off Little Armier bay. You may not be able to get here on your boats though – the passageway is very narrow and can only be accessed by kayak. Coral Lagoon is a short, 30-minute kayak ride away from Little Armier – ensuring you get your cardio fix AND get to swim in one of Malta’s most hidden gems.

Mġiebaħ
If you’re looking for a nice sandy beach to hang out with your four-legged friend, Mġiebaħ is definitely one of the beaches you should visit. Drive up to Selmun palace, take a left and follow the winding road and you’re there.

Santa Maria & St. Nicholas – Comino
Comino is synonymous with the Blue Lagoon, but there are other, less crowded beaches on the island too! A short walk along Comino’s main road will take you to either Santa Maria bay or the bay of St. Nicholas – both gorgeous. Both worth visiting.

Qarraba Bay, Mġarr
Have you ever taken a walk through the clay slopes near Għajn Tuffieħa? Once you reach the plateau, you’ll notice another sandy beach paralleling the more accessible Għajn Tuffieħa, that looks impossible to get to – but it isn’t! It’s the lesser visited Qarraba Bay – which can be reached either by hiking down through the wilderness behind the plateau, by climbing down the clay slopes – or by visiting with your boat.

However you choose to visit this idyllic beach, be prepared for an afternoon of peace and quiet since very few people try to get there!

 

 

Eleven beaches gain Blue Flag status

The Malta Tourism Authority welcomes with satisfaction the announcement by the Foundation for Environmental Education in which eleven beaches in Malta and Gozo were awarded the coveted Blue Flag status for this year. For the beaches to qualify for this prestigious award, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety-related and access-related criteria must be met and maintained.

The beaches that have obtained the eco-certificate this year are Buġibba Perched Beach, Fond Għadir (Sliema), Golden Sands Beach, Għajn Tuffieħa Bay, Mellieħa Beach, Qawra Point Beach, St George’s Bay (St Julian’s) and Westin Dragonara Beach Club St Julian’s (managed by Westin Dragonara Resort) in Malta, and Ħondoq ir-Rummien Bay, Marsalforn Bay and Ramla Bay in Gozo.

Let's go that extra mile!
Colours of Malta Quality Assured