Discover one of Malta's largest green spaces with this walk around Buskett Gardens
Follow our route to make the most of Buskett.
Buskett Gardens, on the outskirts of Siggiewi, Dingli and Rabat, is one of Malta's oldest, largest and wildest green spaces. Although it certainly has a wild side, as the name suggests, Buskett is technically the gardens of Verdala Palace. The palace was built by the Knights of St John in 1586 and the gardens were intended as hunting grounds.
Today, many Maltese families greatly enjoy spending time here, especially on weekends, when many are out on picnics, walks and playing games in the lush green space. The area is large, however, there is a route that most people take for walking and we explore this today.
And while we're in the area, we sneak peek the troglodyte cave known as l-Ghar il-Kbir or 'the great cave' and Clapham Junction cartruts, which are a stone's throw away from Buskett.
On arriving at the main car park at Buskett, this is the way to enter the gardens.
At the end of the first section, you come to an intersection. This would be the way straight ahead, but...
...following the general popular route, we take a left down this way...
...and then a first right to head into the depth of the woodland.
The footpaths, terraced layers, several citrus groves and boundary walls provide the greatest indication that Buskett was created as a garden as well as hunting woodland.
But the passage of time has ensured that the growth has taken towards the wild side, making Buskett a cross between tended gardens and a natural forest. In fact, sometimes it is referred to as Buskett Forest.
Taking over an entire valley, a gentle stream usually flows down the middle of it. Perhaps this little stream is the reason why people choose to take this particular passage. The natural sound of trickling water sure is delightful and quite rare on the Maltese Islands.
Occasionally, we stumble across some evidence of man-made structure. The look like aquaducts, but I couldn't be sure. They certainly add character to the place though.
The path becomes less evident as a man-made walkway as the stream crosses over, turning it to mud, and the path ahead becomes less influenced by the hand of humans.
On an island of evergreen trees, to see the browns and yellows of autumn leaves feels like a delightful treat for the eyes.
Buskett is home to some very mature trees and it is rather awe-inspiring to see just how majestically they stand, looking wonderfully healthy and grand in a habitat that belongs to them.
The scenery is ever-changing and people scatter here and there for their picnic, like these who settled under a grove of trees that have lost their leaves.
That spot marks the end of the pathway, in fact, and the only way is back. Or sideways! In some instances, paths crisscross and you can explore other areas to discover other delights like these trees bearing wonderful flowers.
Or olive trees that look so old, they may have been planted by the Knights themselves - just look at that trunk!
Back where we started, at that intersection, the way up to the right leads to a wilder side of Buskett.
This tree is perhaps the largest I have ever seen on the island. It is so massive, it is impossible to photograph. It's canopy crosses right over the pathway onto the other side, spanning several metres. What a beautiful, majestic being!
Into the wilder Buskett, the way is up along narrow footpaths that bring you to wonderful views over the entire woodland. It is simply wonderful to hear nothing but birds and the wind rustling through the leaves.
Within walking distance, in the direction of Siggiewi, two other treasures are worth visiting: Clapham Junction cartruts and L-Ghar il-Kbir.
These cartruts are among the deepest found on the Maltese islands, reaching above the knee in some places.
And this photo demonstrates how they got the name. There are so many pairs of cartruts nearby, crisscrossing each other, it reminded one English gentleman of the Clapham Junction railway station in London, and he exclaimed such after which the name stuck.
And, just there, lived a community of troglodytes until not too distant a past. L-Ghar il-Kbir was inhabited by over a hundred people grouped in families until they were forcibly expelled by the British colonial government in the 1830s.
The interior of the caves still bear witness of human habitation, with boundary walls establishing the areas for each of the families.
At the far end is the largest cave with a very high ceiling that has an opening, which is easily accessible and offers a good view of the interior of the cave and the entire cave complex just outside.
This area also attracts locals in the weekends, who are keen to enjoy the vast expanses of fresh green grass, fresh air and beautiful views of Buskett and Verdala Palace. This is really a place where nature and history are married in beautiful harmony.
Due to the popularity of the area, it is recommended to visit during weekdays to fully appreciate these locations undisturbed. Enjoy!