Why not celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Malta this year?

by Sylvia Pownall

This year why not do something a bit different and celebrate our patron saint on the Mediterranean island of Malta?

The archipelago might be smack bang between Sicily and the North African coast but it also has a strong Irish connection which can be traced back to the turn of the 20th century.

The Royal Dublin Fusiliers were stationed in Floriana and would celebrate St Patrick’s Day in the area. For them, the day became a reason to get together and remember home.

St Patrick’s Day is always a fantastic celebration in Malta.

A street party will take place in Floriana on the day and there is certain to be a great festive atmosphere.

Make sure you call into The Dubliner – Malta’s one and only true Irish Pub – to toast St Patrick.

March 17 festivities aside, Malta has an excellent nightlife and has emerged as a hub for the clubbing scene. If large clubs are not your scene it also boasts an array of quieter bars where top notch house DJs entertain, and the admission is usually free.

Paceville, on the coast near St. Julians, houses the majority of Malta’s nightclubs, along with a wide selection of bars.

The nation is known for historic sites dating back to a succession of rulers including the Romans, Moors, Knights of Saint John, French and British.

There are a huge range of fortresses, megalithic temples and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, a subterranean complex of halls and burial chambers dating back to circa 4000BC, to discover.

Fort St Elmo, Saint John’s Co-Cathedral, Upper Barrakka Gardens, and Manoel Theatre make for the best places to see.

Visiting Malta in the springtime offers the best climate for enjoying its picturesque natural landscapes.

With plenty of trails and outdoor excursions, Malta is a great place to hike. One of the most popular hiking spots is the Dingli Cliffs which stands at an impressive 220 meters and is the highest point on the island.

From rugged cliffs to crystal clear waters, Malta is blessed with contrasting landscapes and a breathtaking coastline.

It has some of the best spots for scuba-diving worldwide, not to mention snorkelling at the historic Blue Grotto cave and diving in the Blue Lagoon of Camino.

For the sunbather the charming islet of Comino is your ideal retreat. Spread over just 3.5sqkm it enjoys the title of being the tiniest island between Gozo and Malta.

Being a bird sanctuary and a nature reserve, it attracts many tourists throughout the year. Beside the famous blue lagoon, other places to visit on the island include the Saint Mary’s Tower and the Comino chapel.

The Grand Harbor, or the Port of Valletta, dates back to prehistoric times and is a place to fall in love with.

Over the years it has undergone significant renovations with docks, wharves, and fortification. Besides being a place dipped in rich history, the extensive views offered from the harbour are simply breathtaking.

Getting there

With Concorde Travel you can depart Dublin on March 12 and stay seven nights at the five-star Corinthia St Georges Bay, St. Julians, (B&B basis) for €579 pp or at the four-star Waterfront Hotel, Sliema, (B&B basis) for €539 pp.

With Budget Travel you can depart Dublin on March 16 and stay seven nights at the four-star Ramla Bay Resort, Mellieha (B&B Basis) for €395 pp or you can depart Dublin on March 28 and stay seven nights at the four-star Pergola Hotel & Spa Mellieha (room only) for €349 pp.

With Mercury Holidays you can depart Dublin on March 30 and stay a week at the four-star Qawra Palace, Qawra (half board basis) from €325 pp.

More details at www.maltaireland.com.

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