MALTA is an island which oozes the good life – a fabulous climate, set in the Mediterranean like a stone in a precious jewel and one of the most relaxing places to take a holiday.
It’s also one of the most popular places for the new generation of medical tourists – people who are travelling abroad for treatments and surgeries. The benefits are obvious – if you do your homework, you’ll find clinics and services the equal of anything over here and you have a holiday thrown in – in a perfect location for all that recuperation – and there are no waiting lists. You can even save money in real terms as the cost of treatment is often less than private clinics in the UK. Throughout history, Malta has often been referred to as “the Hospital of the Mediterranean”, due to the prominent role the island played over the centuries as a prime location for medical treatment and the care of the sick.
The islands boast a very high standard of specialists who have studied, trained and qualified in the UK and the USA. As Malta is part of the European Union, medical standards meet and exceed European requirements, with Malta ranking highly amongst nations in terms of health levels and overall health system performance (World Health Report 2007). Most clinics are located in city centres, so everything needed is practically within walking distance. With a growing list of services and treatments, ranging from the simplest to the most complex and a variety of private clinics and hospitals to choose from, Malta offers everything you’re looking for and more.
THE IDYLLIC ISLAND
THE main island of Malta and its two smaller, sister islands, Gozo and Comino, are a dream family destination with a wealth of accommodation – from hotels in Mellieha Bay and Golden Sands to private villas on Gozo, catering to every taste and age-range, whilst good value car hire means getting around is easy. It’s a great place for families too with many child-friendly attractions – from water-parks to film set theme parks.
Malta has many of Europe’s usual chain stores from Marks & Spencer in Valletta to the clothes shops of Sliema and the Bay Street Shopping Centre in Paceville but by and large there are no major malls or retail parks on the islands. The narrow streets of Valletta, Mdina/Rabat and Victoria have a wealth of smaller shops hidden away around every corner. Markets are also very popular and the chief markets in Valletta are the open market on Merchant Street and the huge Sunday market at St James Ditch. Most markets sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to collectibles, even animals. Markets take place in the mornings and the stallholders will have packed away by noon. There are also two crafts centres – Ta’ Qali in Malta is situated near Mdina and on Gozo you will find the craft centre at Ta’ Dbiegi, San Lawrenz.
THE best nights out are spent mingling with the locals in Valletta, Mdina or Birgu. The locals know the best places to have a good time so follow them to wherever they go. If, on the other hand, you are after a younger vibe with current music, then head for Paceville where the bars crowd together along narrow walkways, interspersed with pubs, bars and fast food joints. On summer weekends the party spills out onto the street until 4am. World-class DJs flock to the island during the summer months, with Gianpula, Malta’s largest open-air club, attracting the likes of Cream and Ministry of Sound and the annual Isle of MTV Festival hosting big name acts such as Scissor Sisters and Kelis for free. Bars also stay open late in St Julian’s, Mellieha, Bugibba and Qawra in the summer.