calendar calendar Rates from €180

New Airline routes flying to Malta

In Maltese, the term used for ‘thank you’ derives from the Italian language, the term used for ‘please’ derives from Arabic, and the word used for ‘hello’ is, most surprisingly, hello. There are multicultural forces at work on the sun-drenched Mediterranean island and there's no better time for a visit than now, even if the not-yet-complete project that superstar architect Renzo Piano has designed for the entrance to the capital city - which includes a new parliament building, a restored opera house and a gate reminiscent of a Mesopotamian ziggurat -  built of two types of Maltese limestone. Whilst walking around the city after dark, one can experience the typical stone glowing with splashes of light from trendy bars and tempting restaurants, illuminating the fact to why Valletta has been selected as European City of Culture 2018.

 

The good news is that it's never been easier to get to Malta and low-cost carriers such as Ryanair, EasyJet and Clickair serve the island as does the national airline Air Malta who have recently introduced a new schedule with new flights from the UK. Summer will start early this year with Air Malta by serving an array of UK regional airports from April in time for the spring and Easter period. Flights to and from Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Exeter and Norwich will be begin on April 8th until October 28th. Air Malta has just been ranked the sixth best short-haul airline in the world, in a survey conducted by UK reviewing company Which?.

 

Norwegianair has announced two direct flights per week from its Oslo base to Malta International Airport running on Tuesdays and Saturdays. In the meantime, British Airways, BA to you and me, are re-kindling their love-affair with the Maltese Islands, starting from the 30th of March with a daily flight to and from Gatwick. Hand-baggage only tickets in economy will start from £55 one-way, including all taxes and charges. Seats in economy for passengers who opt to take a checked-in bag, including all taxes and charges, start at £67 one-way. The company originally embarked on operations to and from Malta in 1947, with Hotel Phoenicia acting as the check-in point for BEA and BOAC passengers.

 

Not to be outdone by their cousins in the North, low-cost Italian airline Volareweb will offer three direct flights a week from Milan Malpensa Airport to Malta, with services running on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Ryanair and Lufthansa brought an additional 220,000 tourists to Malta between them in 2013 whilst Air Malta increased its passengers by almost 100,000. As more travellers see the benefits of visiting the country with one of the mildest and friendliest climates, according to luxury publisher International Living who conduct an annual survey, Malta has the world's third best climate, and the leading climate in Europe; a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters.

 

Nothing gives a better sense of how geography has affected history here than looking out from your Hotel Phoenicia room across the Grand Harbour. The two-mile-long inlet with deeply indented shores has made a dream home for numerous naval powers. Today its waters are traversed by everything from brightly painted wooden row-boats called dgħajsa, which have curved prows that recall their Phoenician forebears, to super yachts owned by the world's elite , like Roman Abramovich's 78-metre super yacht ‘Titan’ gracing its calm waters or Elena Ambrosiadou's mega-yacht ‘The Maltese Falcon’, the largest private sail-boat in the world.

 

Those gentle and placid waters belie a brutal past. On a Sunday morning in June of 1565, just over a month into the Great Siege, the bodies of four Knights, decapitated and nailed to crucifixes, washed ashore at the base of Fort St. Angelo. Not to be outdone by this gift from the Turkish commander Mustafa Pasha, Jean Parisot de la Valette, Grand Master of the Knights, decapitated all of his Turkish prisoners and used cannons to lob their heads from Fort St. Angelo back across the harbour. Throughout Malta's chequered history this is what all those vanquishing forces were after: An imposing and well-defended harbour in the middle of a busy sea.

 

However history is not the only thing on during the spring season on the island. As a part of the celebrations for the 35th Anniversary of Freedom Day (31st March), Brian May, Queen’s legendary guitarist and song-writer, will perform at a concert in Valletta. Tickets may be obtained from the official site. This will be followed by a concert on the 8th April starring legendary “grand-mother of punk” Patti Smith. 

See What's On