Walking the Victoria Lines

The Victoria Lines (also fondly called Malta’s Great Wall) are lines of fortification left over from British occupation. The lines, which are some 12 km long, stretch from Madeline to Mosta, essentially dividing the north and south of the Island.

The lines were finished during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and so derive their name from the British monarch.

The fortifications built during the 19th and 20th century are reinforced with four prominent forts, batteries, entrenchments and so on.

Much of the Victoria Lines are broken but you can still follow along across the island’s natural fault line. The view is amazing and a must see for anyone interested in hiking.

I would so advise taking a map with you, because the Victoria Lines are quite remote and difficult to even find. We started our journey near fort Madeline (beside the entrance to the Melita building), and had to pick through bushes and trees before finally setting upon the correct path.

The scenery is picturesque and it’s easy to get carried away taking pictures and forget that there are some quite dangerous parts of the wall. You definitely need to keep your wits about you.

Bring snacks, water and wear proper walking gear because you’ll need a good grip on some parts of the wall.

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There’s a section of the wall that is interrupted by Mosta’s large quarry. We ended up trying to pick up the trail on the other side and ended up scaling a very steep hill to do so. Once at the top (and a bit scared to go back down), we realised that we’d ended up at another fort with guard dogs salivating and lots of barbed wire!.

Needless to say we don’t recommend emulating that particular route…

For more information on the spectacular Victoria Lines visit www.victorialinesmalta.com.

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Exploring Dingli Cliffs

Dingli is a beautiful little village nestled in the northern region of Malta. The famed Dingli Cliffs, a short distance from the village, rise a staggering 253 meters above sea level.

A walkway and visitor centre has been erected along the cliff side with frequent bus stops dotted along the route.

The panoramic views from the cliffs are absolutely breathtaking. You can actually see Filfla-one of the uninhabited Maltese archipelago from the cliff walk. Filfla has been turned into a nature reserve and is protected by the Maltese government.

Aside from walking, there are a some really interesting things to do along the Dingli Cliffs such as take part in a segway tour, cycle along a specially marked route or visit Malta’s Famed Blue Grotto.

Most people who visit Malta only see the Blue Grotto from a boat but if you continue walking along the cliff side towards the south of the island you’ll find the Grotto.

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Top 5 Gozo Destinations

Ramla Bay

Ramla Bay is so unique because of its ‘red’ coloured sand. Ramla bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Maltese Archipelago.

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Calypso Cave

Calypso’s Cave is currently not stable enough to enter but you can see it from a viewing platform in the Ramla Bay area. The mythology behind the cave can be read below:

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Ggantija Temples

Gozo’s Ggantija Temples are some of the oldest free standing structures in the world.

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Ta’ Kola Windmill

The Ta’ Kola Windmill has been turned into a museum showcasing an older, simpler way of life. Features inside the windmill include a full sized loom and beautiful spiral staircase.

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Azure Window

The Azure Window located in Dwejra, Gozo is one of Malta’s best known tourist sites. On a hot sunny day if one looks through the arch it looks as though the sea is shining through it.

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Gozo Sightseeing Tour

Being accosted by tour operators who won’t take no for an answer isn’t always such a bad thing as I found out a couple of weeks ago…

One sunny Saturday, I decided that I was going to take the ferry over to the beautiful island of Gozo and go sightseeing. Gozo, a tiny little island that forms part of the Maltese archipelago, is famed for its unspoilt beauty.

The ferry leaves from a place called Cirkewwa and is easily accessible from anywhere on the island. The beauty of living in a country so small is that you can get pretty much anywhere in an hour or so.

The ferry over to Gozo doesn’t take particularly long and strangely you pay on the way back not going over. The ride itself takes approximately 20 minutes and allows you to take in the beauty of the Maltese islands and ocean.

When we arrived we were strongly encouraged to use the Gozo Sightseeing hop on hop off bus to ensure that we’d get to see as much of the island as humanly possible during our day trip.

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Tickets are typically €20 for adults and €13 euro for children (which I think is outrageous!), however if you walk away the ticket seller will more than likely drop the price. We ended up purchasing two tickets or €25 collectively, which considering  the price of a standard bus ride €1.50, we thought was good value.

We hopped on the tour bus and were promptly given a fresh pair of in-ear headphones each that we could plug into a little radio at the back of the chair in front of us.

There were 12 channels available, each in a different language. English was channel 2, so we happily sat back and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine on the open top bus.

As we listened to the pre-recorded tour telling us what the different sites were and where we could hop off, we took loads of photos from the top of the bus.

The sites available on tour included:

Pick up from Mgarr Habour, Ramula Bay, Savina Creativity Centre (10 min stop), Ggantija Temples + Ta’ Kola Windmill, Calypso Cave (viewing platform only), Marsalforn Bay, Victoria Bus Station, Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary, Ta’ Dbiegi Crafts Village, Azure Window (Dwejra), Fontana, Xlendi Bay, Xewkija Square, Drop off at Mgarr Harbour.

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Here’s the kicker, in order for you to see each of the sites on the tour you’d have to begin the tour at 09:40 in the morning otherwise you just won’t have time.

Each bus gives you 45 mins to view each sight before you need to be back to hop on the next bus to bring you to the next site. So in terms of value for money, in short it wasn’t.

But in terms of time it was. If we hadn’t paid for the hop on hop off tour the we’d have had to get public transport, which would have been more relaxed but would have forced us go back to Victoria station as the central point to get the bus to each tourist site.

 

 

 

 

Ghadira Bay

Ghadira Bay, also known as Mellieha Bay, is home to one of largest beaches in Malta. The sandy beach is extremely popular with both tourists and locals due to its blue flag status.

The beach is located in the northern part of the island is readily accessible from Mellieha town. The crystal clear shallow water is a huge draw for young families particularly as it makes the beach very safe for those with young children.

You could walk out roughly 50 meters and still only be calf deep in water. That coupled with the fact that there are no underwater currents to pose a threat, makes Mellieha the perfect swimming beach.

Ghadira beach offers a huge range of activities from snorkelling to canoeing and water skiing, and best of all these activities are reasonably priced!

Lots of Malta’s beaches tend to get crowded during the summer months, but due to Ghadira’s large size it tends not to get too overrun with tourists.

Give the beach canoes a go if you visit, they are approximately €6 for an hour and are great fun. Just make sure you pack the sunscreen because your back will be facing the sun for extended periods of time on the water.

I’m quite a nervous swimmer, having only learned in my late teens, but I definitely give Ghadira Bay a huge thumbs up!

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Beautiful Day in San Anton

If you’re looking for somewhere beautiful to spend your Saturday afternoon look no further. San Anton gardens, located between Attard and Balsan, are home to some of the most beautiful flora to be seen anywhere on the island of Malta.

The large leafy park is filled with turtles, peacocks, carp, swans, rescued birds and a whole host of wonderful creatures. Several water features are dotted around the gardens creating a relaxed ambiance.

The gardens, which were built by Grand Master Antoine de Paule in the 17th century, were first opened to the Maltese public in 1882. The Grand Master wished to complete his summer residency, the residency which is now home to the Maltese president.

Strolling around the walled garden are several exotic species of trees, some of which are as much as 300 years old!

Apparently San Anton Palace (located in the gardens) is where Queen Elizabeth stayed in 2005 on her royal visit to the beautiful isle of Malta.

Along side the gardens are a number of beautiful restaurants and play areas specifically designated for children.The public gardens are wheelchair accessible featuring wide pathways and ramps.

The gardens are open every day from 7.00am till 6.00pm June to September, and from 7.00am till 5.00pm October to May. Entrance is completely free!

 

 

Anchor Bay, Malta

Anchor Bay’s probably best known for playing host to the 1980’s musical Popeye starring the late Robin Williams. The small bay, located just 1km from the town of Mellieha,  was eponymously named after numerous anchors washed up in the bay.

The stunning bay isn’t particularly popular with swimmers but is known as a great diving/fishing spot. The water is amazingly clear and is a stunning aqua green colour.

Popeye Village or Sweethaven as it’s alternatively called is a film set built into the side of the cliff above Anchor Bay. I was actually told my some of the locals that the film set exists illegally as it was only ever intended to be a temporary structure. That being said it’s a great tourists hot spot that offers something a little different.

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The set offers everything from mini golf to wine tasting for adults and at Christmas time is apparently turned into a grotto!

The construction of the set began in June 1979 and took 7 months to build. Some 165 workers were involved in the building of the 19 wooden house set.

Interestingly enough a huge breaker was built in the bay to protect the set from high seas. The breaker, which still remains intact today, is a favourite barbecue spot with tourists.

Anchor Bay is at the edge of the shelf so the water is incredibly deep on either side of the breaker. I definitely wouldn’t recommend swimming off it but it is a beautiful place to go to have a picnic.