Malta International Airport (MIA) welcomed the first two flights from Zagreb and Parma, which will be operated on Tuesdays and Saturdays throughout winter by Lauda Europe and Malta Air respectively, both of which are part of Ryanair Holdings. While Italy is one of Malta International Airport’s most popular markets, connected by flights to 16 out of its 20 regions, the Zagreb route is the first direct link between Malta and Croatia.
The capital of Croatia is characterised by red-roofed buildings, narrow cobbled streets snaking through the old Upper Town, and grand architecture dating to the times of the Habsburgs dominating the busier Lower Town. While the city brims with charm and activity all year, as Christmas rolls around, Zagreb’s festive attire and renowned street markets heighten its appeal as a winter destination.
By venturing just outside the city, visitors can also enjoy a spot of adventure down one of Mount Medvednica’s five ski runs. Other interesting places which are easily reachable from Zagreb and ideal for a day trip include Plitvice Lakes, which turn into a winter wonderland after snowfall, the sleepy town of Rastoke, and Karlovac where one of Croatia’s top beers is brewed.
While Croatia’s go-to tipple is beer, with the country producing 90% of all beer sold locally, Parma is well known for Lambrusco wine, Parmesan and prosciutto, making it a top destination for artisanal food tours. The time spent sampling Parma’s satisfying delicacies can be balanced with sighteeing tours of the city’s stunning monuments, including the Romanesque Cathedral and the medieval baptistery, both of which boast splendid frescoes, Palazzo della Pilotta, and the wooden Teatro Farnese.
Visitors can discover more of the Emilia-Romagna region by travelling to Bologna and Modena, both of which are a train ride of just under an hour away from Parma. The area between these two cities is often dubbed ‘Motor Valley’ due to a concentration of manufacturers of luxury cars and motorbikes, the likes of Ferrari and Ducati. Travellers who are more impressed by the sounds of opera than the purrs of fast cars will be happy to know that Modena also gave birth to Luciano Pavarotti, where his house has been turned into a museum.