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"Great place to go on a family-friendly activity holiday…"
If you're looking to go on a family-friendly activity holiday, Malta and its neighbouring island Gozo come highly recommended as a destination.
We began our holiday in Malta itself, staying a night at the Marina Hotel Corinthia Beach Resort (http://www.marinahotel.com.mt/). Rooms facing St George's bay have a lovely view, and there are numerous swimming pools just beneath to enjoy. Breakfast had everything you could want. Some of the rooms could do with redecorating, but regardless, this felt like a luxurious stay.
Malta is so small (122 square miles; in good traffic you can get from one side to the other in little over half an hour!) that it doesn't take long to get anywhere, so exploring is very easy. Architecturally and culturally, former colonial influences are heavy, from the Ottoman Empire to the island's connections with the British military. There has been a lot of redevelopment in recent years, so certain areas of the island are beginning to resemble a sort of Mediterranean Dubai, but the historic parts are well preserved - the capital, Valetta, is a case in point.
Gozo is even smaller and more rural - its inhabitants even leave keys in their front doors! You'd be hard pressed to find a safer holiday destination - crime seemed to be virtually non-existent. Gozo Adventures (www.gozoadventures.com) is run by two really lovely guys - a Gozitan and a Frenchman who moved to the island several years ago and loves it even more than his homeland! The activities on offer should be varied enough that there's something for everyone - we tried segwaying (more commonly known for city tour use, but brilliant fun swooping along coastal paths it turns out), horse riding, mountain biking (on a route that included fab quarry-like terrain - think natural velodrome - and some salt pans) and abseiling, and they also offer sea kayaking, snorkelling, diving and various exhilarating but terrifying-looking high rope feats! We also visited the Blue Lagoon of third island Komino by speed boat, which was beautiful if a little touristy, as was the case with the Azure Basin.
As well as the sort of classic Mediterranean food you'd expect in such a place (especially delicious fresh fish and seafood), the islands are also doing a really good job of capitalising on the more rustic produce inland - we ate at several farm-restaurants that grew their own produce, one of which you can tour as part of the Gozo Adventures package. We walked through the citrus groves and strawberry patches, which was lovely, and you can also have a go at milking a goat and making the local cheese! Here we also played some traditional games (similar to French boules), which was great fun. The Gozo Adventures guys make a real effort to enable families to bond over all activities. The islands produce their own wine too, all of which that we tried was really good, and there are vineyards you can visit for tastings.
Rather than a hotel, we stayed in one of Gozo's 'houses of character' - essentially large farmhouses converted into villas. Our particular house, Il Vigneto - Inzolia (www.abrahamgozofarmhouse
s.com), was nice but we had a few minor complaints - the en suite of one double room, for example, didn't have a wall fixture to hold the shower, so you had to either run baths or crouch down; not what you really want after a hard day's activities!
The weather was perfect for us in mid-May; sunny with clear skies but not too hot - think carefully when booking about what sort of activities you want to do, as things like mountain biking are simply not possible in peak season.
Everyone we met was lovely too - genuinely friendly and helpful. Arriving back at Heathrow Terminal 4 and getting on the Piccadilly Line home was quite an unpleasant shock really!
Mumsnet was invited on this press trip for the purposes of review. For more information go to www.visitmalta.com. Flights were provided by Air Malta - www.airmalta.com.Read moreLess
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