Days 1 & 2 Valletta
During today's tour of Valletta, our Local Guide will unfold the history of this magnificent city which was built by the Knights of St John during the 16th and 17th centuries. Valletta is often referred to as 'one big open air museum', and this is evident as you start to explore and discover something different around every corner.
We start our walking tour of Valletta at the Upper Barraka Gardens, which offer stunning views of the Grand Harbour and its magnificent fortifications. You'll also enjoy the amazing experience of the saluting battery, which is fired every day at noon. A VIP talk by enthusiastic, costumed guides who explain how the cannon is loaded and fired is not to be missed, and visitors can even help load the cannon. We'll then walk down the main street where you can admire numerous historical buildings built by the Knights of St John including the Auberges, Palazzos and St John's Co. Cathedral – home to Caravaggio's masterpiece 'Beheading of St John' amongst other treasures, before returning to the hotel.
Day 3 Gozo
Today is free for you to explore at your leisure.
Alternatively, there is an optional excursion available. In the morning, we'll travel to Cirkewwa in the north of Malta where you'll board a ferry for a short crossing to the island of Gozo.
You'll notice that Gozo is much greener than Malta and has certain differing characteristics. On arrival, we will be met by a Local Guide and start our tour with a visit to shrine of Ta' Pinu. This important church is set in a stunning location on the edge of a ridge in open countryside, and provides beautiful views of the surrounding area.
We continue the tour to our next stop and the area known as 'Dewjra'. Here, you'll explore interesting geological sites including Dwejra Bay and the Inland Sea – a lagoon of seawater accessible to the open sea via a small tunnel through the cliff. Another of Dwejra's geological delights is the Admiral's Rock or as it is better known, Fungus Rock. A special plant is said to grow here which has various medical cures for conditions such as dysentery, bleeding and impotence.
Just before our lunch break, we will visit the Fontana Cottage Crafts Village where you can view local handmade pottery, mouth-blown glass, Gozo lace and silver filigree. This short stop is ideal if you want to pick up a souvenir or take a short rest stop before settling down for lunch.
Lunch will be served at a private estate with breathtaking views of the medieval village of l-Għarb. Here, you will enjoy tasting four different wines served with authentic Gozitan finger foods.
After lunch, we will take a short walk through the busy little city of Victoria, known locally as Rabat and the Cittadellla - a small walled city within the city, where only a small number of families still live.
The final part of our Gozo tour will take us through some small villages, stopping at Qala Belvedere where there is an amazing scenic view of the landscape cascading down to the coast, with the smallest island of Comino in the distance. Head back to the ferry for our return to Malta and transfer back to the hotel.
Day 4 Blue Grotto & Marsaxlokk
Our first stop on today's tour includes a visit to Wied iz-Zurrieq (valley of Zurrieq) and a visit to the Blue Grotto. This picturesque grotto and its neighbouring system of sea caverns mirrors the brilliant phosphorescent colours of underwater flora.
We then continue to our next stop and an opportunity to experience the quaint fishing village of Marsaxlokk, which is characterised by low lying buildings and colourful traditional fishing boats known as 'luzzu'. Here, you can also enjoy some free time at the local market which lines the full stretch of the seafront from one end to the other.
Today's lunch is in the beautiful area of Malta Dingli, where you'll have a unique opportunity to be guests at the Diar Il-Bniet Estate, a third generation family-run agrifarm of 600 acres. Take a tour with the owner and discover the home-grown produce and Maltese cuisine that has been at the heart of this family estate for decades. Explore the vegetable plot and orchard of ancient olive trees where olives are organically grown, pressed and bottled on the spot, producing a thick unfiltered olive oil. We then head back to the hotel for a free afternoon.
Day 5 Historical tour by Vintage Bus
Today's tour takes us by rare vintage bus to the picturesque town of Naxxar, home to Palazzo Parisio. Touring this 18th century stately home offers a great insight to Malta's historic nobility and their enchanting way of life.
We then drive to The Buskett Gardens, located in the fertile valley of Wied il-Luq, Siggiewi. A light lunch is included in this tour where you will taste the delicious "Pastizzi", a traditional savoury pastry.
Next, we'll visit Mdina, Malta's ancient capital that sits majestically on the hilltop at the centre of the island and which is considered to be one of the jewels of Malta. This ancient walled city is one of the best examples of medieval fortifications, and the quiet, narrow streets are full of atmosphere and are great for exploring. The city provides some magnificent views of the entire Maltese landscape and you will have some time to relax and enjoy the area.
The last stop of the tour is the city of Mosta, home to the Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady, that boasts one of the largest unsupported dome roofs in the world.
Day 6 St Paul's Bay - at leisure
Today is free to explore Valletta at your leisure or enjoy the hotel facilities. There is an optional excursion to The Three Cities of Senglea, Cospicua and Vittoriosa, located to the south of Valletta, which form part of the magnificent Grand Harbour.
The Three Cities are located inside fortifications known as the 'Cottonera Lines', built by the Knights of St John to protect these cities during the 17th and 18th centuries. We start our tour with a visit to the city of Senglea, built on a peninsula surrounded by the sea on three sides and only accessible by a bridge.
As soon as you leave Senglea you will immediately arrive in the second of the three cities, Cospicua. The history of this ancient maritime city can be traced back to the Phoenician era of 600 BC. The Knights of St John built the first Dock Yard during the 18th century, however it was during British rule in Malta (1800 to 1964) that Cospicua was used extensively by the Royal Navy. Today, the old dock yard area has been transformed into a beautiful marina and a new university.
The last of the Three Cities, and undoubtedly the oldest and most important, is Vittoriosa, commonly known as Birgu. In 1530, the Knights first arrived they made Birgu the capital. They fortified the area and built their Palazzo's, churches and the castle of St Angelo – a large fortification separated from the main city and only connected by a draw bridge. Today, it is known as Fort St Angelo and it still commands a prominent place at the heart of the Grand Harbour.
Day 7 St Paul's Bay - at leisure
After a free day to explore and relax at your leisure, we head out for a farewell dinner and an evening of folklore dancing presented by the charming Muscat family, featuring six dancers who lure you into a jovial story of Maltese history told through dance. At some point, you may be hand-picked to join them on the dancefloor - a truly unforgettable night!
Day 8 Malta to UK
Today we'll fly back to the UK