Island Crossroads in the Heart of the Mediterranean
Malta’s glorious waterfront settings, its views, the historic cities and towns, and amazing buildings combine to make a visit here an essential experience. In our two days here, we’ll have a chance to explore some the main island of Malta’s most essential places, and we’ll stay at the classic Hotel Phoenicia, just at the entrance to the old city of Valletta.
Depart on overnight flights to Valletta, Malta.
Arrive in Valletta, Malta’s capital, and transfer to the Hotel Phoenicia, a classic hotel located by the city walls at the entrance to the old city. The rest of the day is free for you to explore on your own or just enjoy the grounds and amenities of the hotel, until we gather for a welcome dinner at our hotel. (D)
We spend the morning touring Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage sitestarting with the “Malta Experience” film, a captivating 45-minute presentation of Malta’s history. Then drive to the Upper Barracca Gardens, located on the highest point of the 16th-century walls that the Knights of St. John built to protect their city. Take in the remarkable views of the Grand Harbour, along with Three Cities and Fort Ricasoli. Continuing through Valletta’s historic streets, you’ll visit St John’s Co-Cathedral, complete with elaborate inlaid marble tombstones and monumental artwork. Pass the Grand Master’s Palace, which today houses Malta’s Parliament and President’s Office.
Then take a scenic drive through Malta’s countryside before reaching one of the island’s largest natural harbors, Marsaxlokk. Enjoy this fishing village with its colorful fishing boats, known locally as luzzu. Take some free time to absorb the atmosphere of this lovely village.
Lunch will be at a palace: the fantastic Palazzo Parisio, in the heart of picturesque Naxxar. This 18th-century place is a trove of artifacts and also a stately home.
Then drive to Malta’s old capital, Mdina, a walled medieval city that’s been inhabited for thousands of years. Much of the architecture dates from the Norman and Baroque periods. Walk through the city's streets and enjoy the fantastic view from the bastions. See the outside of the impressive Mdina Cathedral before the short drive to Mosta. Mosta’s dome is the fourth-largest unsupported dome in the world. During World War II, a bomb pierced the dome and landed, unexploded, in the church. Return to our hotel. Dinner is on your own this evening. (B,L)
The morning is at leisure at our hotel. We check out in the late morning and drive to the town of Vittoriosa. We have lunch at a local restaurant, then explore the town. The Knights of St. John came to Malta in 1530 and stayed for 268 years, transforming what they called “merely a rock of soft sandstone” into a flourishing island with mighty defense and a capital city coveted by the great powers of Europe. They settled in Vittoriosa, across the harbor from Valletta. Walk through this ancient city's narrow streets, which are shaded by historic buildings including the early Auberges of the Knights, the hospital, the armory, the Treasury and palaces connected with the Order's administration.
In the late afternoon we drive back to Valletta and embark Sea Cloud. This becomes Day 2 of the main itinerary. (B,L)
Extension Cost Per Person
Airport arrival transfer if traveling on the recommended flight; accommodations as shown in the itinerary, or similar; meals as shown in the itinerary; local guides on all excursions; tips to local guides, to porters and to waiters for included meals.
Tips to waiters for meals that are not included, items of a personal nature such as laundry, Internet access and alcoholic beverages.
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