Hiring a car in Malta is definitely the best way to get around the island. It is the most economic and also most practical way to visit the best attractions. Malta is described as an open air museum with attractions scattered all around the island. Public transport is not exactly efficient (although a public transport reform is in progress and the new transportation system should begin in July 2011) hence it is best to have your own car and drive around freely. Moreover you will be able to explore off the beaten track attractions.
Distances in Malta are very short, at most having to drive 30min to the next attraction. This will leave you ample time to relax and enjoy your holiday. You should always plan your route before leaving your hotel so that you wont loose time deciding and finding your way from one attraction to the other. Nowadays this job is made easy if you have a GPS.
Here’s a list of 5 places you should visit especially if you are driving a car in Malta;
1. Valletta, The capital city of Malta, Valletta is mostly pedestrian and hence you will only use your car to get to the outscirst of Valletta. Valletta is full of attractions and hence the best way to appreciate this is by foot. Valletta is the capital city of Malta built by the Order of St. John during the siege of Malta in 1565. After the great siege of 1565, the Order of St. John decided build a new city on the peninsula know as Ta’ Xiberras with the main objective being to fortify their position in Malta. The city was designed by Francesco Laparelli, while many of the most important buildings were built by Gerolamo Cassar. Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage site and if you are visiting Malta you can’t not visit Valletta. Also in Valletta is the St. John Cathedral which is located in Republic Street, Valletta. Built between 1573 and 1578 it was designed by Girolamo Cassar. The Cathedral is one of a kind, it was designed by Mattia Preti and the carved stone walls are unique.
2. Mdina – The Silent City – The word Mdina is derived from the Arabic word ‘medina’ which means ‘city’. Mdina was the old capital city of Malta up until the arrival of the Knights of St. John in mid 1500. It was built by the Romans. Mdina made part of a larger village which when sperated was given the name of Rabat, which means Suburb. Mdina is also a UNESCO heritage site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Malta.
3. Rabat – St. Paul’s Catacombs Location St. Paul’s catacombs are a fascinating labyrinth of subterranean that were in use up until the 4th century AD. The catacombs are the the earliest archaeological evidence of Christianity in Malta. The Roman cemetery was located on the outskirts of the old Roman capital Mdina, as the Roman law prohibited burials within the city. The catacombs start with an imposing hall which acts as the centre from where passages lead off into several directions which lead to a bewildering series of tomb galleries. In the catacombs there are a few surviving murals which are of considerable interest.
4. Hal tarxien – Hal Saflieni Hypogeum. Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is a subterranean structure excavated around 3,600 B.C. The Hypogeum consists of halls, chambers and passages hewn out of the living rock and covering some 500 square metres. The rock-cut chambers are of diverse shapes and sizes. The complex segregated in three levels – the upper level (3600-3300 BC), the middle level (3300-3000 BC) and the lower level (3150 -2500 BC). The Hypogeum is the only prehistoric underground temple in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage. This site is under very strict conservation rules and allows only 80 visitors a day, hence booking is necessary.
5. Qrendi – Hagar Qim Temples Location: The temple of Hagar Qim (c. 3600 – 3200 BC) stands on a hilltop overlooking the sea and the little island of Filfla. Hagar Qim temple was excavated for the first time in 1839. These temples are estimated to be one thousand years older than the pyramids at Giza. The temples are built of limestone rock, some towering six metres (20ft) high, and weighing around 20 tonnes. The complex is an impressive maze of corridors, chambers, niches and altars, all carved out of stone Other temple ruins stand a few metres away from the main temple.
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