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Situated between Sicily and the North African coast, Malta, Gozo and Comino are small but beautiful, with a great deal to do and see.
Whether you love or hate Malta depends on where you stay, but it has some lovely beaches, both sand and rock, hidden away off the beaten track. Tiny Gozo is the place for a real rest, taking you back to the pace of life in the 1950s. Locals love the British and are very family orientated.
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For sandy beaches, head to Malta's Melleiha, Paradise Bay and Golden Sands. On family holidays, you'll probably want to avoid Blackpool-like Buggibaa and clubby Paceville in St Julian's.
Explore the narrow alleyways and fine architecture of Valletta, the capital, steeped in history from the days of the Knights of St John up to the part the island played in World War II. There are fantastic views from Valletta across to the Three Cities that surround this international port.
Take a drive around Malta or Gozo to discover the churches with their splendid domes and steeples. On Malta, the Rotunda of Mosta's dome had a bomb drop on it during the war, which never exploded and is still in the church.
Explore Malta's silent city of Mdina, with spectacular views and a warren of small passages and streets.
Visit Gozo in spring, for the spectacular flowers alone.
Venture to the Blue Grotto on the southern coast of Malta, with caverns lit by phosphorescent underwater plants.
Take a day-long boat-trip around the coast of Malta, including lunch and stops for swimming.
You might also take a day-trip to Sicily, to see Mount Etna.
Children are welcomed at the vast majority of restaurants on the islands, where you'll easily find something to suit all tastes on family holidays with kids of all ages. The fish, in particular, is good and fresh.
Malta gets very hot in summer, with temperatures reaching 38°F, so this time of year is not best-suited to family holidays with younger children. April, May and June are normally warm and sunny. There is a rainy season that begins about the middle of September. Winters are warm compared with the UK.
Every weekend in the summer months, one or more village will be celebrating its saint's day with a feast, processions, bands and firework displays.
There are many flights to Malta from airports around the UK, some by charter airlines. London–Malta takes about 3hrs.
To see the islands at their best, hire a car – buses are cheap but get overcrowded.
You can get to Gozo from Malta in just 10 minutes by helicopter or 30 minutes by ferry.
Week-long family holidays in Malta start at £300pp, depending on where you stay, but the cost of living is cheaper than in the UK.
Malta has accommodation to suit family holidays on all budgets, with hotels and self-catering options in good supply. The busy resort of Qawra, which merges with Bugibba, can be an acquired taste. The further north you travel, the more tranquillity you will find. From Xemxia Bay at the narrowest point of the island, cross to the sandy beaches of Golden Sands, or continue along the main coast road to Mellieha, where there is good accommodation and Malta's largest sandy beach.
Particularly suited to those travelling with younger kids, there are a couple of organised family adventure trips based around these islands.
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