ML1 The Heart of the Mediterranean TOUR


The Heart of the Mediterranean


Guided Valletta harbour cruise; Pre-historic Marsaxlokk and underground cave of Ghar Dalam; 2nd Century Gozo Citadel; Colourful fishing villages, unique maritime culture


Dates & Prices

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Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Mon 12 Oct 2015Sat 17 Oct 2015 $1490
Fri 22 Apr 2016Wed 27 Apr 2016 $1490
Tue 11 Oct 2016Sun 16 Oct 2016 $1490

Optional Single Supplement: $270 (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

Though small, Malta manages to cram just about everything a traveller could want between its borders: ancient sites dating from prehistoric through to colonial eras; a fascinating history as old as any in the Mediterranean, and one that entails subjugation under the dominion of nearly all its neighbours at different times; bustling, modern cities compact enough to be explored on foot; and first-rate beaches. Whether you're looking to be informed, entertained or simply left alone in paradisiacal surroundings, Malta should definitely be high on your destination list. We embark on a short sailing voyage to follow in the routes of the Knights of St. John; we gaze in wonder at the majestic palace and stately parliament buildings in Valletta; we explore Ghar Dalam, 'The Cave of Darkness', the nearby megalithic remains and some of the oldest man-made structures in the world; and we find Roman ruins to be investigated and magnificent panoramas to be admired on the island of Gozo. Spending time mingling with the locals in colourful villages exposes us to the wholly unique culture that has evolved on this special land and our trip to the Blue Grotto, the fabled home of the Sirens, has us delving into a realm of myth and legend.

Regions visited: Western Europe
Countries visited: Malta

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrive in Malta
Arrive in Malta. Transfer to our Sliema hotel.

Overnight in Sliema.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Valletta: Harbour Cruise & Walking Tour
Today we will witness Malta's gallant past and sail the routes of the Knights of St John and the great Ottoman fleets of Suleyman the Magnificent. We will depart from Sliema and take a guided cruise of the two natural harbours surrounding the city of Valletta. During the cruise, Malta's rich history will unfold, from the occupation of the Knights of St John to World War II. The "Three Cities" and the Marsamxett and Grand Harbour once witnessed the two Great Sieges of 1565 and 1942. The fortifications and bastions, Fort St Elmo, and monuments surrounding the creeks are only fully appreciated from the sea.

We will then walk through Valletta, the capital of Malta, and visit the Barracca Gardens. This colonnaded public garden on top of St Peter's and St. Paul's was once a covered play area for the boisterous Italian knights. The gardens offer a magnificent view of the harbour. From the gardens we will visit the St. John's Co-Cathedral, built by the Knights of Malta between 1573 and 1578. The severe exterior of the Cathedral, built immediately after the ending of the Great Siege of 1565, is reminiscent of a military fort.

Overnight in Sliema.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Valletta - Marsaxlokk - Hagar Qim
We will return to Valletta to view its most important historical monuments. The Grand Master's Palace is a magnificent building and houses Malta's House of Representatives, the office of the president, several state rooms, and the Gobelins Tapestry. We will also visit the National Museum of Archaeology, one of the finest and most comprehensive museums in Malta.

We then head to the southern part of the island to witness some of the prehistory of Malta. Our first stop is Marsaxlokk, perhaps the most picturesque fishing village in all of Malta. The decoration and form of the bright multi-coloured fishing boats which fill the harbour can be traced back to the age of the Phoenicians.

Our last stop is the Neolithic temples of Hagar Qim, from 300 BC, and some of the oldest human-made structures in the world. Reminiscent of England's Stonehenge, the temples are built of limestone rock, some towering six metres (20 ft) high and weighing several tonnes. The complex is an impressive maze of corridors, chambers, niches and altars, all carved out of stone using flint.

Overnight in Sliema.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Gozo
Today we travel by ferry to Gozo, the second largest island of the Maltese archipelago, separated from Malta by a 8km (5 mi) wide channel. Gozo is an island of green hills surrounded by blue sea, where tranquil villages are set onto the sides of the fertile and flat-topped hills.

We visit the citadel where we can enjoy a wonderful panorama of Gozo. This citadel dates back to the second century AD, when the Romans once occupied this area. We will visit the capital, Victoria, and its grand Cathedral. In 1897 the capital of Gozo had its name changed from Rabat to Victoria to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. While on Gozo we will visit Xaghra, meaning "a large open space", with the most enchanting village square on Gozo. We will also see the temple at Ggantija, the most impressive of all Maltese Copper Age monuments. According to legend, the huge monolithic stones of the temple were carried great distances on the head of a female giantess. We return via ferry to Malta.

Overnight in Sliema.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Mosta - Mdina - Rabat - Dingli Cliffs - Blue Grotto
Our journey today takes us to the 19th century parish church of St Mary's in Mosta. The church boasts the third largest unsupported dome, rivaled only by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and St Peter's in Rome. Among some of the marvelous interior decorations are the murals painted by Guiseppe Cali. During WWII, a bomb fell through the dome but did not explode; this bomb (defused, of course) is preserved and displayed as a sign of this miraculous occurrence. We will also see some of the finest examples of silver workmanship which testify to the fame of Maltese gold and silversmiths.

We will visit one of the smallest and most compact of historic cities, Mdina, (from the Arabic word for "walled city"). Mdina's zenith was during the darker medieval times of the Normans and Spanish. It is truly a Maltese city with the knights' influence restricted to a few fine buildings. Today Mdina has the smallest population in Malta with 420 people. We will visit the Cathedral and Roman Villa, in which a number of beautiful floor mosaics were discovered. Walking through the winding streets we come to the city of Rabat, just outside the walls and separated by a moat from Mdina. We will explore the early Christian Catacombs dating as far back as the 8th century. These Catacombs emerged because of a Roman law that prohibited the burial of the dead within the city limits; for Christians cremation was not acceptable.

We continue on to the Dingli Cliffs and Dingli village, the highest on the island on cliffs 260m (858 feet) above the sea.

Our journey continues to the Blue Grotto. Legend has it that the Blue Grotto was home to the sirens, the sea nymphs, who serenaded sailors to their destination with soft verse.

Later we return to our Sliema hotel.

Overnight in Sliema.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Departure from Malta
Departure from Malta.


Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Trip Information

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Breakfast and dinner (mostly local restaurants) daily. All sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.


Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international (if applicable), and excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered in spring, summer, and fall, the most popular being late spring and mid-fall when temperatures are mild, crowds thinner, and air fares lower. Spring is popular with visitors who enjoy green landscapes and wildflowers. The region has a mild Mediterranean climate with early springs, long dry summers, and autumns that are bright and warm into late October. Showers are possible in spring, rare in summer, and possible in fall, especially in November when it can also be windy.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Road travel is not particularly arduous as distances are not great. Short ferry crossings; small boat excursion to Blue Grotto. Walking tours on cobbled surfaces.


Well-located, air- conditioned, mid-range resort hotel in Sliema, a sea-side community. Porter service is available (see 'inclusions') though you should be independent with your luggage. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, driver (s), local step-on guides in various locales.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)