The north-west coast of Malta presents a different landscape from the rest of the island. It is characterised by a succession of low hills which divide into small valleys. This area is bordered by the Victoria Lines, a series of fortifications built by the British in the 19th century on the peaks, to prevent invasions through the side of the island. You should come here to enjoy the beaches, sheltered in the heart of small bays.
In this rural landscape, St. Paul's Bay is the only town to make an exception: this seaside resort is actually a huge tourist complex where there are hotels and various modern facilities.
The best beaches in the region are also the best known; go to Golden Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, Paradise Bay or Mellieha Bay. Apart from the beach, there is little to do in this part of the island.
Popeye Village at Anchor Bay remains the main attraction. For the purpose of the1980 film 'Popeye', Robert Altman built a real village, all in wood, hidden at the water's edge in the small rocky bay(entrance fee).
Water sports activities and leisure resort: you should choose the north-west coast for its relative tranquility. Also pull yourself away from the port of Cirkewwa to go to Gozo or to Comino. Day trips are available to both islands, though for Comino, no cars are allowed, only passengers can board the boat. For Gozo, it is a ferry. Journey duration: 30 minutes for Gozo, 45 minutes for Comino.
The Ghadira nature reserve is one of the few protected areas in the north-west of Malta, with the islands of Saint Paul. The Ghajn Tuffieha beach, just adjacent to Golden Bay, which remains free from ice cream vendors, snack bars and large overlooking hotels, is a good place to visit. There are also a number of prehistoric sites including the temples of Ta Hagrat (fourth millennium BC) and the Neolithic village of Skorba (fifth millennium BC), as well as the Roman Baths of Mgarr.
As for traffic, it is slow everywhere so avoid renting a car. Instead, take the local bus (very cheap) or a taxi (for semi-rural areas that are poorly served by public transport). Also know that the rainiest month is February. There is good weather the rest of the year, obviously with exceptions.
Avoid taking the ferry between Malta and Gozo at the weekend as this is what the entire population of the archipelago does during the weekend. The boats leave at an interval of 30 to 45 minutes, so the queue of vehicles that are waiting stretches for a couple of miles; you will wait up to two hours. Passengers without vehicles often get on the boat without much delay, if any, because there are far fewer.
The fish, the seafood and the pasta. On the menu of the restaurants, a good dish and not too expensive, is that of spaghetti with seafood. It is rarely missed (the same cannot be said of pizzas or roast chicken). To eat well at a reasonable price, go to the restaurant Gillieru a short walk from the port of St. Paul's Bay. If you are not worried about your budget, try the gastronomic restaurant at Selmun Palace.
Maltese wine (red or white). There are three principal wineries that produce vintage brands, which are very light to drink. The grapes are of Italian origin. Also bring back the thyme honey, flavoured with garrigue. As for crafts, there is handmade lace (which adorns handkerchiefs, table mats or blouses), decorative glass objects or works of art. Ask in the hotels where exhibition sales are being held as they are offered very often.
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