From sandy beaches in Malta to mountains in Madeira — which of these balmy isles will you discover first?

The Sun 5 days ago

WITH beautiful azure waters in Malta and a landscape carved by volcanoes in Madeira, there’s something to discover for everyone on these two gloriously sunny islands.

But with so much to see and do, we take a look at some of the highlights of these two popular destinations.

Malta

Contributing Picture Editor Ruth Greatrex and husband Leon uncover a foodie’s paradise on the Med island of Malta.

Explore the rocky coastline of Gozo along the Mediterranean sea

THE PAD: Located at the peaceful heart of the island, Urban Valley Resort & Spa is a luxurious new complex featuring landscaped gardens with views over the Wied Ghollieqa Nature Reserve.

Unwind in the spa or soak up some rays by the two large pools, while there are tennis courts available to hire if you’re feeling energetic.

EXPLORE: Malta lies slap-bang in the middle of the Mediterranean, meaning that as well as being gloriously sunny with azure waters, it has always been of huge strategic importance.

The bijoux town of Valletta, 20 minutes from the hotel, was built as a fortress and lovingly restored after damage sustained in WW2. It’s Europe’s southernmost capital, as well as one of Malta’s three UNESCO world heritage sites.

Ruth Greatrex and her husband Leon enjoyed great food and sunshine while in Malta[/caption]

Have a wander around the beautiful Upper Barrakka Gardens, designed in the 17th century as a relaxing haven.

From there, take in the glorious panoramic view of the Grand Harbour while sipping an espresso and nibbling a pastizzi (a traditional, and very messy, pea and ricotta flaky pastry).

On the waterfront hop on a dghajsa – a traditional Maltese gondola – for a trip around the harbour itself.

This motorised version of its more sedate Venetian cousin offers an Insta-worthy, if splashy, chance to view Valletta from the water. A 30-minute trip costs £7 (Maltaboattours.com).

The Upper Barrakka Gardens at are a must see, and they are especially special at sunrise

Relax by the pool after a busy day of eating, drinking and taking in the sites[/caption]

REFUEL: Rubino restaurant, dating from 1906, oozes bygone Vallettan charm. Choose from the chalkboard menu of specials, all featuring tasty local produce.

Plump for steamed asparagus, £11, and tender calamari, £20, but make sure you leave room for a slice of Cassata Siciliana, £5, the restaurant’s heavenly signature ricotta cake with almonds and candied peel (Rubinomalta.com).

DON’T MISS: Take a jaunt to Malta’s little sister island Gozo, with its wide, sandy beaches. Ferries leave from Cirkewwa in the north of the island every 45 minutes and tickets cost £4 (Gozochannel.com).

Don’t miss the fascinating Ggantija temples in Xaghra, the oldest free-standing monuments in the world, pre-dating Stonehenge and the pyramids by 1,000 years. Entry costs £5 (Heritagemalta.org).

The stunning view from The Palace in Sliema over Valletta

BOOK IT: B&B at Urban Valley Resort & Spa costs from £61.90 per night (Urbanvalleyresort.com).

Fly to Valletta from London with Air Malta from £132 return (Airmalta.com).

For information and to plan your trip, visit Maltauk.com.

Madeira

Shopping Editor/Celebrity Stylist Nana Acheampong enjoys some R&R among Madeira’s stunning volcanoes.

Madeira boasts incredible views thanks to its unique landscape carved by volcanoes[/caption]

THE PAD: Boutique spa hotel Quintinha de São João boasts a beautiful vista over the hilly city of Funchal and the surrounding lush and craggy mountains.

Rooms are super-spacious, with most of the balconies looking out on to the beautiful gardens. A stroll in the grounds will lead you to the outdoor pool and spa, where you can get your ultimate chill vibes on.

EXPLORE: A Portuguese island but geographically closer to North Africa, Madeira is a unique landscape carved by volcanoes, with incredible views.

When you’re ready for some fun, the vibrant city of Funchal is less than a mile from the hotel.

Nana Acheampong got the chance to kick back and relax during her time on the gorgeous island[/caption]

But if you’re after something a little different, take the ferry to sister island of Porto Santo, £53 (Portosantoline.pt).

The 2 hour 15 minute trip is a great opportunity to take some scenic shots as you glide across the Atlantic, and with a cinema and live music, the time will fly by.

Once your feet are on dry land, head to Hotel Porto Santo for a spot of hot sand therapy – imagine lying in a bath of warm sand to relax your muscles.

The volcanic sand of Porto Santo is biogenic, meaning it contains therapeutic active organisms.

There was even time for a spot on yoga in the sunshine
Porto Santo beach prides itself on its golden sand and blue waters

Afterwards, you’ll find it in places you didn’t know were possible, but it’s totally worth it. A 30-minute treatment costs £82 (Hotelportosanto.com).

REFUEL: Back in Funchal, the gorgeous views from Restaurante do Forte, tucked away at the top end of the Zona Velha (Old Town) in the historical fortress of São Tiago, are only matched by the delicious food.

The seafood starter of scallop, shrimp and squid is a melt-in-your-mouth must, £14, while the rack of lamb, £19, is so tender it falls off the bone (Forte.restaurant).

DON’T MISS: For yoga with a twist, book a class with Emilie Mangoni and head up into the Laurissilva Forest.

Explore Funchal from above as you discover the city via cable car

The one-hour drive from Funchal is worth it for the breathtaking cliff-top views and cool air. Afterwards, you’ll also enjoy a soothing sound bath, where Emilie sings softly in Portuguese and creates sounds with drums. Be warned, you might drift off. Classes cost from £71 (Emiliemangoni.com).

BOOK IT B&B: at Quintinha de São João costs from £128 per night (Quintinhasaojoao.com).

Fly to Funchal from London with British Airways from £90 return (Ba.com).


Tags: Fabulous

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