Driving Tour: Temples, Sea Cliffs & Gardens
- Start Ħaġar Qim & Mnajdra
- End Fomm ir-Riħ
- Length approx 15km; one hour
In this the island's most traditional region you can experience some of Malta's finest prehistoric temples, some breathtaking stretches of coast, grand palaces and mysterious cart ruts.
Start your tour at the megalithic temples of Ħaġar Qim & Mnajdra, with sweeping views over the coast. From here, drive to Għar Lapsi for excellent swimming, then take the road inland through the Girgenti Valley. Next, veer towards the coast again, along the southern end of Dingli Cliffs. After about a kilometre, turn inland to visit the Cart Ruts – mysterious prehistoric tracks – at Clapham Junction.
From here it's a short drive to Buskett Gardens, Malta's only extensive woodland area. The gardens were planted by the Knights as a hunting ground; today they are a hugely popular outing for the Maltese, and the groves of Aleppo pine, oak, olive and orange trees provide shady picnic sites in summer and orange-scented walks in winter.
Close by you'll see Verdala Palace, which was built in 1586 as a summer residence for Grand Master Hugues Loubeux de Verdalle. It was designed by Gerolamo Cassar in the form of a square castle with towers at each corner, but only for show – it was intended to be a hunting retreat. It became first the British Governor of Malta's summer residence, and is now that of the Maltese president.
Next, double back to the cliffs to rejoin the panoramic road, passing the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene. After travelling a short distance to the north you'll see the outlandish Radar Tower perched on the edge of the cliffs. Right by here is The Cliffs; stop for lunch.
After lunch, drive inland to Rabat, from where you can take Triq Ghajn Qajjet westwards towards the traditional village of Baħrija. Where the village's road splits, take the right-hand fork and follow the road towards the coast. When the road forks, turn right; this will lead you down to a viewpoint over Fomm ir-Riħ Bay.