FACT FILEMalta — The Island at the heart of the Mediterranean Gozo – The Island of love and honey
MALTA:Like a Kaleidoscope of different civilisations, Malta has preserved all the traces of its extraordinary past. From its first inhabitants, who built the colossal temples close to 7000 years ago to the Knights of St.John ,whose Order created the first visionary state of victorious Europe, Malta must have been an impressive island. It is still today, so many centuries later, a very special place thanks to the warmth of its people, who radiate the typical Mediterranean spontaneity and joie de vivre. It is now your turn to be seduced by its breathtaking seascapes, its bays and the myriad leisure activities it offers for a truly relaxing stay. As you step into its history, you step into the timeless magic of a truly unique destination.
The Maltese Islands have been described as one big open-air museum. What makes them unique is that so much of their past is visible today. Delve into the Islands' mysterious prehistory, retrace the footsteps of St Paul or see where the Knights of St John defended Christendom.
But Malta is no regular museum. Here life is lived to the full, so make time for some living history and action. Visit locations where Oscar-winning blockbusters were filmed or go off the beaten track into ancient villages. Marvel at the fireworks and revelry of the summertime festas and enjoy a packed calendar of events all year round.
Population 2006: 398,534
Land Area: 316 Km2
Valletta — The Capital
The Fortress City, Citta' Umilissima, "a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen". Valletta has many titles, all recalling its rich historical past. It is the "modern" city built by the Knights of St John; a masterpiece of the baroque; a European Art City; and a World Heritage City. But these are just some of its faces and fortunes.
Valletta is also Malta's capital city: a living, working city, the administrative and commercial heart of the Islands. Nowhere in Malta is the life of the Islands reflected more than here. The city is busy by day, yet retains a timeless atmosphere. The grid of narrow streets house some of Europe's finest art works, churches and palaces.
Valletta hosts a vast cultural programme. Street events are staged against the city's magnificent baroque architecture and floodlit bastions. There is theatre and music and all manner of things to see and join in, from avant garde art to traditional church festas. The city is a delight to shop in: narrow side streets are full of tiny shops selling antiques, maps, books, prints and jewellery. For top quality fashion, music and much more try Valletta's main streets – Republic Street and Merchant Street.
Getting to Malta
Travelling by Air
The Maltese Islands are only a few hours away from major European cities by air. The national airline, Air Malta, operates flights to and from all the major airports in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf States. Information on Air Malta flight schedules is available online at www.airmalta.com or by contacting Air Malta's Head Office. Other international carriers operate regular scheduled flights to and from Malta. Charter flights from various cities in Europe are also available.
Air Travel Service
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Travelling by Sea A regular ferry and catamaran service links several Italian and Sicilian ports to Valletta, Malta's capital city
Information regarding entry into Malta can be obtained from the nearest Maltese Embassy. Where a stay longer than three months is envisaged, an application should be made while in Malta, shortly before the three months expire, to the Immigration Police, at Police Headquarters, Floriana (Tel (356) 21 224001-7; Fax (356) 21 247777 or 21235308).
No customs duty is paid on personal belongings. Adults, are allowed to import up to 200 cigarettes or the equivalent in cigars or tobacco, one bottle of alcohol, one bottle of wine and a reasonable quantity of perfume or eau de toilette. If in doubt, consult Customs Services upon arrival.
Malta is a member of the EU
Language The official languages are Maltese and English. Maltese is a language of Semitic origin written in the Latin script. Over the centuries, it has incorporated many words derived from English, Italian and French.
Currency — Euro (€)
Banks are normally open between 08.30 a.m. and 12-30 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and up to 11.30 a.m. on Saturday. Some banks work longer hours. Summer and winter opening hours may differ. Exchange Bureaus at Malta International Airport are open 24 hours a day. International bankcards are accepted and foreign currency is easily exchanged. Banks, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and exchange bureaus can be found all over the Islands.
Most hotels and restaurants, as well as many shops, accept Access, American Express, Carte Blanche, Diners Club International, Mastercard and Visa.
Malta is on Central European Time (CET) which is 1 hour ahead of GMT in winter and 2 hours ahead between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October. Malta is 6 hours ahead of EST in winter and 7 hours ahead between the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.
The electrical supply is 240 volts, 50 hertz. The three-pin rectangular plug system is used, as in Britain. Adapters are very easy to find.
Telephones Country code: 356Emergency Telephone number: pan-EU Emergency 112 Can be used in all EU Countries and it can be dialled from a locked mobile or a mobile with no sim card.
Vehicles drive on the LEFT
Local and international telephone calls can be made from hotel rooms. Most hotels also offer fax and internet access. Maltacom provides round the clock international telecommunication, telex, fax and internet access at its offices in St. George's Bay, St. Julians. Its office in South Street, Valletta provides these services during office hours from Monday to Friday.
The same services, as well as the sale of telecards, are available from 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. at Maltacom's offices in Sliema, St. Paul's Bay and Malta International Airport. Coin and card operated telephone boxes can be found allover Malta and Gozo. New communication technologies are widely available. Local mobile phone companies have agreements with the major international operators. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you ask your operator for details before you leave your country of origin.
Malta has an excellent health service. Hospitals are modern and supported by a regional network of health centres. Travellers do not normally required certificates of vaccination or insulation to enter the Maltese Islands.
It is advisable to take out a personal medical insurance policy. If you are looking for a policy visit our Insurance section. Visitors receiving special medical treatment should bring a medical prescription or a letter of introduction from their family doctor, in case they need to purchase particular medicines. Tap water is safe to drink.
Dogs and cats may not be imported into Malta, without authorisation from the Director of Veterinary Services. This should be requested at least 6 weeks prior to departure. Dogs and cats need a government certificate, stating that their country of origin was free from rabies in the six-month period prior the animal's departure and that the country in question follows strict rules, where animal imports are concerned. A period of quarantine applies. This varies according to the country of origin. Further information may be obtained from the Veterinary Service Department of the Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries on (356) 21 239968
Public transport is efficient and reasonably priced. The main bus terminus is in Valletta.From here, buses go to practically every corner ofthe Island. The average length of a bus trip is 20 to 30 minutes and the longest trip takes 50 minutes.
Most international car hire companies have a branch in Malta. Local companies, too, offer this service, with or without a chauffeur. Driving.GENERAL DRIVING TIPS:
This information is supplied by HOLIDAY AUTOS Worlwide Car Hire
In Malta,driving is on the left. There are speed limits of 64 kph on the open road and 40 kph in built- up areas. Comprehensive insurance is advisable. National or international driving licences accepted.
Drink and driving: Blood alcohol limit is 80 mg.
It is compulsory to carry a warning triangle.
Seat belts are compulsory in the front and, if fitted, in the rear.
Mountain bikes, bicycles, scooters a nd motor bi kes are all available for hiring.
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Canoes, boats, sailing boats, pedal boats, windsurfers, jet-skis, speedboats and yachts can be hired from the main watersport centres.
Sport, Leisure and Entertainment
There are several sport and waters port centres. Popular water sports practised on the Islands include sailing, water skiing and windsurfing. There are also a number of diving schools. One can find facilities for all types of land-based sports including golf and tennis. There is something for everybody, from the beginner to the expert.
Restaurants, bars and cafes are normally open from g.oo a.m. to 1 o'clock in the morning. Maltese beer is excellent and a large selection of local and foreign wines is available. Night enternainment is at its best in StJulians (Paceville), Sliema, St. Paul's Bay, Bugibba and Gozo. There are also two casinos.
Commercial centres and shops are usually easily accessible by public or private transport. Shops are normally open between 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. and between 4.00 p.m. and 7 p.m.
In tourist areas, many shops remain open till 10.00 p.m. Shops are normally closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.
Once a week, there is a market day in practically all towns and villages. In Valletta, the Merchants Street market is open every day. The biggest market is the one located at St James Ditch,just outside Valletta, while the most picturesque is the one at Marsaxlokk. Both are held on Sunday mornings.
Weaving, pottery, blown glass, copper or brass objects are all popular with tourists. Malta is famous for its gold and silver filigree work, as well as for its handmade lace. There is a craft centre at Ta' Qali in Malta and another at Ta' Dbiegi in Gozo.
Most Maltese are Catholic, but other religious denominations are also represented.
Malta’s climate is typically Mediterranean. In winter, the rubble-walled fields of Gozo are studded with a variety of plants. This is the season for a relaxing visit, focusing on the islands’ rich architectural heritage, a time to enjoy the famous local hospitality. In Spring, the islands are carpeted with wild flowers; so this is the best time for walking & hiking.
After the long, hot summer days, ideal for watersport and outdoor activities, autumn arrives imperceptibly. It is perfectly possible to go for a refreshing swim up to early November. As the sulight gently finds its way into the heart of the ubiquitous Maltese limestone.
More Information is obtainable from the Malta Tourism Authority
GOZO:The Island of love and Honey Inspired by the superb megalithic temples of Ggantija, built almost 7000 years ago, the Gozitans have adopted and perfected the building tradition Following in the footsteps of the men who built the "giant" temples, Gozitan architects have, over the years, built churches and domes, whose stunning dimensions dwarf the villages in which they stand. The accent here is on the grandiose and the aesthetic.
Past masters in the art of theatre, the Gozitans will stop at nothing to celebrate the beauty of their island, which was, in the past, so brutally attacked. So don't be surprised to find two opera houses in the capital Victoria and two splendid baroque churches St. George's Basilica with its extraordinary main altar a copy of Bernini's at St. Peter's in Rome) is just as important as the beautiful cathedral beautiful cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady.
As you explore Gozo, that mystery will no doubt be solved and even though you can’t possibly stay on for seven years you should have ample time to experience the spell cast by the island. Fertile valleys radiate from its capital in the centre, making Gozo look like a star set against a stunning blue background Right in the centre of the star is one of the most beautiful architectural complexes on the islands. Behind its austere bastions, the Citadel hides a number of fine palaces and, at the very top, its beautiful cathedral designed by Lorenzo Gafa'
Villages and lacework in stone - Villages in Gozo reflect a way of life simultaneously rural and refined: superbly proportioned squares, carved balconies against golden facades... From the old farmhouses, with their typical archways, to the most contemporary houses, the incredible amount of architectural detail is surprising in its creativity. Balconies are embellished with balustrades, Georgian style facades, roof gardens and climbing bougainvillea. The megalithic temples of Ggantija must have inspired the Gozitans in no small way.
The Value of beauty - You can't claim to know a Gozitan before you have seen his church! Often out of proportion to the size of the particular village, the parish church is a precious treasure in the eyes of the community. Make sure you visit the Xewkija church, whose gigantic dome is one of the biggest in the world. Built around the original, much smaller church, it symbolises the faith of the inhabitants, just like the Ta' Pinu Basilica, dedicated to our Lady, and the Xaghra Parish Church, whose interior is entirely covered in marble. The baroque village churches are remarkable. A good example is the one in Ciharb with its unusual concave facade.
Useful information From Malta to Gozo
By Ferry A regular ferry service carries passengers and cars between Malta and Gozo. You take the boat at Cirkewwa at the far north of Malta and land at Mgarr Harbour in Gozo. The crossing takes about 3° minutes. You don't need a ticket to get on the boat at Cirkewwa, but you must buy your two-way ticket either on landing at Mgarr or later on, just before leaving Gozo. The ferry service is available round the clock from July to September and from 5.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m. from October to June.
Another ferry service takes passengers and cars from Sa Maison in Malta (Marsamxett Harbour) to Mgarr in Gozo. There is only one daily trip all the year round.
For passengers only, a hydrofoil service leaves Mgarr (Gozo) and stops at Comino, Sliema (Malta) and Sa Maison (Marsamxett Harbour in Malta). The trip takes between 25 and 3° minutes.
Weather conditions may affect ferry services. The Gozo Channel Company is responsible for the smooth running of these services. For timetables, phone: Mgarr (Gozo): (356) 556114 or 561622 Cirkewwa (Malta): (356) 580435/6 or 571 884 5a Maison (Malta): (356) 243964/5/6
The helicopter service is ideal if you wish to go to Gozo directly after your arrival in Malta. The flight takes 15 minutes. Advance booking is possible through your travel agency. A Malta Comino link is available on demand. You can also do some sightseeing by helicopter. Daily return flights, which include car hire, are available.
Getting around in Gozo
By bus: The Mgarr/Victoria line (Bus No. 25) follows the ferry timetable. A bus leaves Victoria half an hour before the ferry leaves Mgarr (regular service). From the same terminus in Victoria, several buses go to a number of beaches and villages in Gozo.
By taxi: Taxis are white. There are taxi stands at the bus terminus and at Pjazza Indipendenza in Victoria and others at Mgarr Harbour.
By car: This is the best way to discover Gozo. You can rent a car at Mgarr, at Victoria, as well as in several villages.
For Car Rental / Car Hire & Car hire excess insurance- CLICK HEREDriving is on the left. There is a speed limit of 64 kph on the open road and 40 kph in inhabited areas. National or international driving licences accepted. You can also hire bicycles, mountain bikes, scooters or motorbikes.
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Enjoy your visit to Malta and Gozo
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