Gozo & Comino
Gozo, called Għawdex (aow-desh) in Malti, is a gloriously pretty island, with what the 19th-century nonsense poet Edward Lear called a 'pomskizillious and gromphibberous' landscape. He coined the words to describe the island's fairy-tale hillocks topped by enormous churches, its hidden, glittering coves, and its sculptured coastal cliffs.
For such a small island, Gozo packs in a wide variety of experiences and attractions. Travelling history fans shouldn't miss the megalithic temples at Ġgantija, and the recently restored il-Kastell fortress towering above Gozo's compact capital of Victoria is one of Malta's finest sights.
Sandy beaches, water sports, boat trips, birdwatching, horseriding, and walks along the dramatic coastline – Malta's north is a prime location for holiday fun. Buġibba and Qawra form Malta's largest resort area, and the area has the added attraction of the fabulous Malta National Aquarium on the beautifully landscaped Qawra promenade.
Sliema, St Julian’s & Paceville
Malta's cool crowd flocks here to eat, drink, shop and party, and if you're looking for a base that mingles cosmopolitan sparkle with quiet backstreets, this is the perfect choice. Connected by a lovely seafront promenade, with shimmering Mediterranean views, this collection of districts merge into one another, and are packed with shops, restaurants and bars.
Buġibba, Qawra & St Paul’s Bay
St Paul's Bay is named after the saint who was shipwrecked here in AD 60. Despite being a built-up area, there's a scenic view across the bobbing boats of the harbour. Although there are hotel developments, the promenade along the Qawra part of the coast is stunningly pretty, with the fantastic Malta National Aquarium at its tip.
Several of Malta's most extraordinary historical sites lie in the less-visited southeast of the country, including its most breathtakingly located prehistoric temples (Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra), which date back over 5000 years, and the Għar Dalam cave, full of fossilised remains of prehistoric animals.
Sliema & Around
Once a summer bolt-hole for Valletta's movers and shakers, Sliema is one of the island's most sought-after neighbourhoods, a melange of golden-stone townhouses and swish apartment blocks. Covering its own peninsula, it merges into the district of St Julian's to the northwest, and Gżira and Ta'Xbiex to the south, and is separated from Valletta by narrow Marsamxett Harbour.
St Julian's & Paceville
St Julian's, on a prong of peninsula just north of Sliema, is as frenetic as it gets in Malta, a hubbub of restaurants, bars and language schools (many overseas students come here to learn English). Glitzy developments, such as Portomaso Marina, are ideal settings for cocktails with a view, and the area has Malta's highest concentration of five-star hotels.
Vittoriosa is only 800m long and 400m at its widest, so it's hard to get lost – it's a sheer pleasure to wander aimlessly through its flower-bedecked alleys. There are several interesting sights, and stunning views across to Valletta. Fort St Angelo, on the tip of Vittoriosa's peninsula, has been restored and is now open to the public.