Cycling in the Maltese Islands has always been a fantastic means of exploring the country’s fantastic rural landscape – no fuel costs and the freedom of heading off-road wherever your adventurous spirit takes you. The Sustainable Interregional Bike Tourism (SIBIT) initiative founded in 2007 offers many advantages:
• Avoidance of busy roads for safety
• Well-signposted circuits
• Beautiful panoramas and sites of historical interest
• Food, drink and other facilities available along the routes
Through these routes, expect to cover Malta’s South West and North West, as well as Gozo. The former takes you across over 7,000 years of history, including the breathtaking pre-historical temples of Hagar Qim, the 16th century Verdala Castle and the wonderful wooded gardens of Buskett. Other notable sights include the magnificent Dingli Cliffs, the striking sea caverns of the Blue Grotto and the south as seen from Girgenti Valley.
The North West route takes in the Roman Villa and medieval city, Mdina. Passing through eight picturesque villages, this route is truly spectacular. The third course explores Gozo - past Calypso’s Cave at Ramla Bay, supposedly home to the beautiful mythological nymph Calypso who was said to have held Homer captive, as described in The Odyssey.
In many ways, the sea is the best approach to the sightseeing experience. As you kayak across the unblemished shorelines surrounding the islands, you view them from a whole new angle – like an artist taking a step back from his masterpiece and seeing a fresh perspective.
Around Gozo, starting on the east coast of the island in the village of Qala, the small sandy beach of Hondoq Bay has fine crystalline waters and coral reefs and the bright blue sky with candyfloss clouds make for a perfect backdrop - not an uncommon sight for a country that averages more than eight hours of sunshine a day.
The waters’ characteristics are varied enough to attract all kinds of water sports enthusiasts. The shallowest waters of the reef in Cirkewwa host a spectacularly diverse range of marine life, perfect for snorkelling, while water-skiing enthusiasts will find numerous rentals and lessons available. Whether you’re just starting out or mastering a deep water start, Malta offers an abundance of fully equipped centres and trained professionals.
Each year, the Rolex Middle Sea Race starts in Malta’s glimmering breezy waters where amateurs can test their skills against top professional yachtsmen. Not only are the waters a dream, but there are excellent facilities too, including marinas offering a world class service.
The Maltese islands are far from a one trick pony. While the surrounding waters are clearly a huge attraction, the land is equally full of opportunities. Horse riding is one of the best ways to explore the extraordinarily rugged beauty of the countryside. This leisurely activity gifts amazing opportunities – one of the highlights being watching the sunset on horseback at Golden Bay. With many riding schools across Malta and Gozo, there is ample opportunity to learn to ride while you take in the sights and the Malta experience.
Yes, Malta and Gozo are beautiful islands surrounded by crystal waters and fine beaches that attract sun worshippers and those in need of stress relief, but equally there are action-packed holidays to be discovered throughout its intriguingly beautiful countryside and world-class waters.