Family Holidays in Malta
Malta: ideal for a Mediterranean family holiday
As a classic Mediterranean island, Malta has top credentials as a safe and sunny bucket-and-spade destination that's just a short flight from the UK. But it also has plenty of other attributes that appeal to family travellers. For a start its local tourism industry is well-run, with modern family hotels, up-to-date facilities and some great tours and attractions available. Plus the islands' tiny size and excellent infrastructure means it's also easy to get around and explore on land or out on the brilliant blue water.
From spooky Mesolithic tombs and crusader castles to baroque palaces and WW2 air-raid shelters, Malta's history and heritage is on full display with places open to the public and hugely accessible. Families who like to get a feel for a country's past and learn about its culture can choose from a wide range of excursions and attractions.
Malta's famously crystal-blue inshore waters are the focus of much fun around the islands. From exploring shimmering blue sea caves by boat and swimming in a natural lido to visiting the bay-side film set from Popeye the movie and gawping at fish in the thrilling national aquarium, Malta's seashore has a great deal to offer family travellers.
Fun for all the family
Families visiting Malta can take the opportunity to become immersed in a Mediterranean island steeped in history that stretches back to prehistoric times. The enchanting fortified island capital Valletta makes an ideal location for a day out sightseeing, with around 320 historic monuments packed into a small but perfectly-formed city. The city is crowned by St Elmo's fortress sitting on a high headland between two harbours, part of which now houses the National War Museum. Don't miss a trip to the Grand Masters Palace's State Rooms and Knights Armoury, with suits of armour and crusader regalia that's sure to capture children's imaginations. Also make time for the Auberge du Provence, built to house the Knights of St John, now an archaeological museum with exhibits dating back to pre-historic times including a remarkable 5,000-year old figurine uncovered on the islands.
In fact the Maltese archipelago has several World Heritage Sites not including the medieval walled city of Mdina, which was the island capital before Valletta and has remained pretty well intact with palaces, a cathedral and fortifications overlooking the rest of the island. To journey even further back in time, visitors can explore Malta's astonishing Megalithic Temples, which are among the oldest free-standing structures in the world. The temple of Tarxien is the most accessible, being just a short distance from Valletta. The Unesco-listed Hal Saflieni Hypogeum underground burial chambers are just nearby, which are one of Malta's most atmospheric and ancient sights. If you are planning to visit, though, keep in mind that children under six years old are not admitted.
One of the pleasantest ways to enjoy some sightseeing in Malta is to board a boat trip. There are tours of the Valletta's Grand Harbour that offer the best vantage point of its magnificent baroque seafront facade. You can also find multiple tours to the Blue Grotto's famous phosphorescent waters in the south of the island, with little vessels departing from a natural narrow inlet in the shore. It's easy to experience the delights of Mediterranean island-hopping in the Maltese archipelago with regular ferries and smaller boats leaving from the northern port of Cirkewwa for the 15-25 minute voyage to the tiny islands of Comino and Gozo. Most travellers visit Comino for a day splashing about in its crystal-clear Blue Lagoon surrounded by flat rocks, while Gozo's main highlights include its spectacular Azure Window, Calypso's Cave and Ggantija megalithic temple that sits atop a high plateau.
Two classic family attractions not-to-be-missed in Malta are the recently-opened National Aquarium off the seafront promenade in the Qawra and Bugibba area, and Popeye Village in Anchor Bay, close to Mellieha in the north. The rambling timber houses and picturesque bay were originally a film set for the 1980s Popeye movie and have been maintained as a theme park. Visitors can explore the mock town, meet Olive Oyl and Popeye, go to nautical school, enjoy the water-based rides and activities, and take a 20-minute boat trip to view the beautiful coastline. There's a cinema screening a programme about the making of the movie, and parents can relax on the lido or swim in the turquoise sea while the animation team takes care of the kids. The village also features a winery where adults can indulge in some wine-tasting on a terrace overlooking the pretty cove.
Kid-friendly hotels and resorts
Family travellers are spoilt for choice in Malta when it comes to choosing a hotel that's suitable for children as well as adults. If you want to be close to the island's longest strip of golden sand, then staying in the family rooms or four-person suites at the Seabank Hotel in Mellieha is an excellent option. The hotel is right by the beach with shallow calm waters perfect for youngsters, and the grounds include a gigantic lido and a kids club hosting fun activities for different age groups. On top of that, the resort features its own bowling alley, evening entertainment and a rainforest-themed American buffet with a play area that particularly appeals to kids.
For a dedicated family beach holiday, the Radisson Blu Golden Sands Resort is difficult to beat. It's the only hotel overlooking the wide glittering Golden Bay that is known as one of Malta's prettiest beaches. A huge pool terrace sits above the beach and there are extensive watersports facilities plus plenty of other activities for all the family. For small children there's a kids club and for picky eaters there's a kids menu available at the on-site restaurants and cafes.
If you prefer a location with a wealth of dining options, fast food outlets and plenty of shops to browse, the five-star Dragonara Resort hotel may be the ideal option. It's close to the lively centre of Paceville but manages to maintain a peaceful atmosphere, and its large rooms are spacious enough for up to four people. Qawra is another good spot for families with a huge range of family-friendly facilities in the resort including the fantastic Malta National Aquarium. The Dolmen Resort Hotel and Spa is particularly suited to families with young children, featuring spacious family rooms and babysitting and child care services.
Family holidays in Malta
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