In search of idyllic surroundings with trees and flowers reminiscent of fairytales? Visit these 10 glorious gardens in Malta.
With its typical garigue landscape and densely populated areas, one could easily get the impression that there is not much greenery in Malta, particularly when it comes to trees. So, you may be surprised to discover the multitude of lush gardens that are scattered around the island. Here are my favourite ten gardens that offer a blissful retreat into nature.
1. Chinese Garden of Serenity, Santa Lucija
In the original Chinese tradition, the Yin-Yang philosophy is infused into the striking architecture, water features and colours of this Chinese garden to invoke contemplation, stillness and serenity. Walk through the human journey from birth to death as you explore the four carefully laid-out gardens.
2. San Anton Gardens, Attard
Within the grounds of the 17th century Presidential Palace, the historic country home of a Knight of St John, expect a large variety of delights. Marvel at the mature trees and colourful flowers of many varieties. Relax on a bench and watch the antics of ducks, swans and turtles in a pond. See how many lazy cats and other animals you can spot. Discover all its wonderful treasures, including the elaborate fountains in hidden spaces!
3. Msida Bastion Historic Garden (The Garden of Rest), Floriana
Were it not for the elaborate tombstones scattered around, looking more like monuments, it would be easy to overlook the fact that this place is actually a Protestant cemetery. Find the tombstone of Mikiel Anton Vassalli, the “father” of the Maltese language, who was buried here in 1829 after falling out with the Catholic Church. Enjoy the peaceful ambience and marvellous views, and visit the small museum.
4. Sa Maison Garden, Floriana
One of Malta's best-kept secrets, you may find yourself completely alone in this beautiful and unusual garden, set in the fortifications overlooking Marsamxett Harbour. Enjoy a panoramic view from the Gardjola, a lookout post. Explore the several levels of the garden. Find the regimental crests engraved into the rock face and the miniature model of a castle.
5. Argotti Botanical Gardens, Floriana
Although currently closed for refurbishment, the Argotti Botanical Gardens are some of the best acclaimed on the island. Explore the various species of trees and flowers, and take the mandatory selfie to include the spectacular views of Marsamxett Harbour and the Floriana fortifications.
6. Upper Barrakka Gardens, Valletta
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are probably the most frequented gardens in Malta. The simple reason is the extraordinary location. Take in the breath-taking views of the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities: Birgu, Bormla and Isla. Spot Fort Rinella and Fort St Angelo. Marvel at the massive cruise liners entering or leaving Valletta Port. Take the glass lift down and ferry across the water to Birgu.
7. Independence Garden, Sliema
There's not much green in this fairly recent addition, when compared to several historic gardens in Malta. The delight lies more in the wonderful promenade and shaded benches overlooking the bay and its little fishing boats. Take a swim, grab a snack and settle in the cool shade away from the hot summer sun surrounded by trees and flowers. Not bad for one of the densest, most cosmopolitan areas of the island.
8. Villa Bologna, Attard
If it is history that enchants you, the 18th century Villa Bologna and its gardens are certainly worth a visit. Admire the historic fountains. Explore the gardens where many have been wed. And come away with fresh, organic produce from the Veg Box if you visit on a Tuesday, Friday or Saturday.
9. Palazzo Parisio, Naxxar
Hidden away in the centre of Naxxar, the gardens of Palazzo Parisio offer a variety of possibilities. Lose yourself in the enchanting landscape of trees and flowers surrounding the pond. Enjoy a luscious lunch overlooking the Baroque architecture of the magnificent palace and gardens. Contemplate getting married here! Whatever you do, delight in the Italian symmetry and Mediterranean colour and perfumes.
10. Buskett Gardens, l/o Rabat
Once the hunting grounds for the Knights who created this place, with Verdala Castle perched on a hill overlooking Buskett, this is the wildest of all gardens in Malta. Beyond the citrus groves, walk along the natural stream at the bottom of the valley or up its sides to the less landscaped areas. Have a picnic in the picnic area, play a game among the trees or simply sit and meditate. This is a wonderfully shaded and cool location, and big enough to always offer respite, no matter how many visitors may come.
There are many more gardens in Malta to explore. Which is your favourite?