The Sicilian Channel is home to some of the most beautiful, unspoilt islands in the Mediterranean. Running between Sicily and Tunisia, the ocean passage is awash with tiny islands flanked by clear aquamarine waters and white sandy beaches. Take a boat trip from the Maltese islands to the Italian Pelagie Islands and discover the charms of lesser-known places such as Gozo, Comino and Linosa.
With historical sights, sandy beaches, adventure sports and a thriving culinary scene, Malta is one of the most exciting and diverse islands in the Sicilian Channel. A Mediterranean cocktail of Maltese, Sicilian and Middle Eastern influences, Malta has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. From the culture-rich cities of Valletta and Medina, to the ancient UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the island’s beautiful coastline, there’s much to explore and discover during a visit.
Just over the water from Malta lies Gozo, the second largest of the Maltese Islands. While it’s less developed than its neighbour, Gozo is undeniably charming. If you’re after laid-back island vibes, beautiful architecture and unforgettable water sports, then make sure you drop anchor here. The island’s waters offer some of the best snorkelling and dive opportunities in Europe, while the mainland is full of Baroque churches, millennia-old temples and natural rock formations such as Xerri’s Grotto and the famous Azure Window.
The smallest of the three major islands on the Maltese archipelago, Comino is best known for its beautiful natural Blue Lagoon, a popular site with swimmers, snorkelers, sailors and sun-seekers. The 3.5sqm island is almost uninhabited and car-free, making it an excellent place for a relaxing day trip, while those after a little more active exploration can take to the island’s many hiking trails.
While the Pelagie Islands are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Sicilian Channel, they’re not widely known internationally, which only adds to their appeal. The largest is Lampedusa, a sun-soaked island with a number of beautiful coves and white sandy beaches that are ideal for sunbathing. The sea’s clarity also makes it an excellent place for snorkelling and scuba diving. Dive deep to see the underwater statue of Madonna del Mare.
Isola dei Conigli, also known as Rabbit Island, is a tiny, remote island off the coast of Lampedusa. The island is famous for its population of loggerhead turtles (not its rabbits) that roam in rocky grottos and lay eggs on its shores. Isola dei Conigli can be reached by boat and is well worth a visit for its soft sandy beach and aquamarine waters.
The Italian Pelagie Island of Linosa may only be 5km in size what it lacks in space it makes up for in beauty. The rocky island is formed from extinct volcanoes, which make for captivating hikes, while its coastal waters offer plenty of opportunities for keen scuba divers.
Pantelleria, dubbed ‘the black pearl of the Mediterranean’, is, or was, one of the best-kept secrets in the Sicilian Channel. Before being used as the set of the 2015 Tilda Swinton movie A Bigger Splash, the island was relatively unknown and used as a secluded holiday home for celebrities such as Giorgio Armani. Nowadays, it is becoming more popular, but that’s no surprise given the island’s wild, rugged landscape, picturesque coastline, historic tombs and natural hot springs.
Are you an art lover or culture vulture holidaying in Malta? Well, you’ll be pleased to find that this Mediterranean island may be small, but it packs a punch when it comes to art and culture. Here are six recommended destinations to add to your itinerary to experience the best of Malta’s art scene.