The Health and Fitness travel trend is well and truly on the up, and we can’t think of a better place to take your gym routine international than Malta’s rugged running routes. Indulgent Christmas festivities and New Year parties are well behind us, and the piles of seasonal treats are finally subsiding. It’s time to start making good on those health-kick ambitions…
Here at James we like to practice what we preach! Meet our very own Natalie King, Customer Experience Supervisor and in-house fitness guru, who recently took it upon herself to tackle the Mediterranean paradise of Malta one step at a time.
Running Wild in Malta – My Diary
Day 1: Arrival
We arrived in beautiful Bugibba, a village along the northern coastline of Malta, ready and raring to go! It’s easy to explore the island from here thanks to the amazing public transport system. Bus fares come in at an unbelievable €1.50pp for a single ticket – amazing value for visitors who want to see the sights.
Day 2: Half Marathon
Beginning in Qawra, we set out on a 13 miler to take in the beautiful natural settings of Malta. As great as the bus system might be – nothing brings you closer to the action than your own two feet! Running through the rural and rugged countryside was a serene experience to say the least. We hit a mixture of nature trails, roads and hilly terrain, which gifted us with some of the most stunning views in the Mediterranean!
At a wonderfully warm 24°C, the off-peak season is prime time to get outdoors. We ran all over Malta’s magnificent north, enjoying the wild beauty of the coastline – making sure we stopped to take in all the sights too! The Golden Bay beach definitely lived up to its name! That evening, we rewarded ourselves with a lovely evening in the ‘Silent City’ of Mdina. A magical medieval town that’s lamp lit by night – you can’t get more romantic than that.
Day 3: Valletta
No running for us on day 3 – we were on holiday after all! Hanging up the active wear, we spent the day sightseeing in Malta’s stunning capital city, Valletta. The Upper Barrakka Gardens and the newly opened MUŻA (art museum) were among some of the highlights. Everywhere you look is picture-perfect, with amazing architecture, jaw-dropping panoramas, and quaint cobblestone streets.
Day 4: Running the wall
Thanks to a friend’s recommendation before jetting off, we were keen to track down Malta’s very own ‘Great Wall’ – otherwise known as the Victoria Lines. Starting out in the town of Pembroke, we conquered a 10.7 mile trail with a 1000ft elevation. Being scared of heights, that was a big deal for me! The wall runs for around 7.5 miles across country and (at one time) divided the north of the island from the south. Now there’s a few points that are broken up, but it’s still easy enough to follow a rough route in the general vicinity.
If you’re not a runner, the Victoria Lines would make for an awesome hike! There’s organised trails and walks run by locals, or if you’d rather have the place to yourself – it’s not too tricky to navigate. If you’re holidaying in Spring or Autumn, you’ll get the added bonus of wonderful wild flowers decorating the dramatic landscape.
To celebrate another day of taking on new challenges, we treated ourselves to an evening of 2 for 1 cocktails. The pricing in Malta is so reasonable it’d be rude not to…
Day 5: Go Go Gozo
Just a 30 minute ferry ride away from Malta, you’ll find the gorgeous shores of Gozo. A must-see – you could spend a week here and not run out of things to do! If you don’t have a week, and you’re visiting on a day trip like us, then grab yourself a seat on the Hop-on Hop-off Bus. The island paradise is overflowing with amazing attractions, some of the best bits include Xewkjia, Ggantija Temples, Dwejra, Ta Pinu and the sleepy fishing village of Xlendi, where we stopped for lunch.
If you’re staying on the small island, there’s a lot for health and fitness fanatics to get stuck into. Whether it’s mountain biking, hiking, diving, kayaking or horse riding – the laid-back tempo and unspoilt scenery is just asking for adventure!
Where to Stay
Villa Narcis, Mellieħa
One of Malta’s northernmost villages, it’s a picture-perfect holiday hotspot and the perfect base to explore the two islands. Blessed with the largest beach on Malta, the Blue Flag bay at Mellieħa boasts shallow, clear waters and plenty of on-site facilities. View villa here.
Villa Ta Kikka, San Lawrenz
A charming, traditional village set in western Gozo – San Lawrenz is home to one of the island’s most famous attractions, Dwejra Bay. Villa Ta Kikka is a lovingly restored farmhouse that makes the perfect rural retreat for those looking to get away from it all! This west facing wonder treats its visitors to sensational sunsets and golden hours galore. View villa here.