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Review: Malta and Gozo



Comments on guide books

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2317 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon

  • May 2012
  • Husband

44 people found this review helpful

I spend a long time with guide books and on the internet researching our holidays. The following are my comments on the guide books available.

The biggest and the bestOne third of the book is taken up on background information covering history, geography, natural history, language, religion. There is a detailed practical section with ideas of itineraries, tourist operators and getting around. There is advice on health and safety and cultural etiquette as well as food and drink. This includes advice about Maltese wines.

There is an excellent planning section. This is broken up into prehistoric sites, fortifications and WW2 sites, churches, bird watching, snorkelling and diving. The section on prehistoric sites has information on ‘Interpreting the Temples’ which is particularly useful as it explains building techniques, materials used and what to see. As well as the major temple sites it lists other prehistoric sites like the enigmatic cart ruts. The fortifications explains the history as well as location and purpose.

The guide section has a map at the start of each section marking towns and villages and showing some roads. There are then more detailed maps for the larger towns. These are large and clear and mark accommodation, eating places and major sites. There is information about getting around, eating and sleeping. The major sites are covered in depth and there are plans of the megalithic sites.

The book is well laid out and easy to read. The background sections covers many things ignored in the other guide books, but which are essential information when planning a holiday. There are a few colour pictures.

If you only buy one guide book, then this is the one.

Bradt has a lot of basic information, but this is the book for those that want to know a bit more about the history and structure of the prehistoric temples. This is the first book in Malta's Living Heritage series published by Midsea Books. Later books cover the Phoenicians. Middle Ages and Knights of St John.

Professor Trump was Curator of Archaeology in the National Museum of Malta and later Tutor in Archaeology at Cambridge. There is detailed information about the sites with a plan of the remains and information how to find them. This includes many minor sites ignored by most of the guide books.

The book is broken up into three main periods: • Before the Temples • Temples and the Temple Period • After the Temples

It also has a short section on the Phoenicians and a modern perspective.

There is information about pottery (essential for dating), way of life, burial rituals and the economy. It also includes information about the enigmatic cart ruts.

Each of the sites is described in detail with a plan of the site and information about visiting. There are colour photographs of each site.

This is a book to be bought before visiting as it helps understand the history and layout of each site. 

One of the better Lonely Planet Guides. Introductory section covers background, history and culture. The Directory section at the back covers getting around (although the section on bus routes is out of date in editions before 2012 ), health and language.

Front map showing Malta, Gozo and Comino shows major towns and main roads only. There are slightly more detailed maps at the start of each section. There are plenty of town maps marking accommodation, eating place and attractions, with more detailed maps of smaller areas. Ideas for walking tours of towns.

Plenty of information about sights and suggestions for places to eat and activities.

Better than Rough Guide for detail and maps although fewer colour pictures. 

Easy to use. Maps of Malta, Gozo and Comino in front and back covers show towns and villages and main roads. Plenty of larger scale town plans in the text showing accommodation, places to eat and major attractions.

Brief section at the front identifying main must-sees. A reasonable amount of information about the different places and what to do and see. Most sites covered and a reasonable amount of information on each. Some nice colour pictures.

Small size means can be slipped into a pocket easily. My main criticism is that there is little information about history, culture and background (including health and language). 

I’ve not used these before but bought a second hand copy from Amazon for 1p plus postage.

Reasonable maps of Malta and Gozo in the atlas section at the back and also plans of Valletta and Sliema. Interesting section on walks and tours with map and reasonable directions. These cover town walks as well as countryside.

Main section is geared to telling you what to do and see in a set number of days, with a bit more information about the identified places. This approach works for some people but not for us as insufficient time seems to be allowed for the sightseeing and too much time on coffee, lunch and wining and dining. I felt that coverage was thin, although their ‘don’t miss places’ at the start of each section are covered in detail with some good colour photographs. There is a certain amount of information about where to stay and eat.

The background pages in the Magazine section at the front are presented in a tricksy manner more geared to the youngsters than the oldies. I found this section irritating.

The jury is out on this one. It has some good points. Either get from the library or buy cheap. 

I have always been a fan of Eyewitness Guides, but this is the first in their Top 10 series that I have used. For each of the headings there is a list of the top 10 sites or things to do. This means there is a lot of repetition as sites are listed under several different headings.

To give two examples: HalSaflieni (Hypogeum) is listed under Malta and Gozo highlights, Temples and Ancient Sites, Around Southern Malta and also has a two page spread. Azure Window is listed under Around Gozo and Comino, Dwejra and Top 10 diving and snorkelling sites.

Very often the information is similar for each of the listings.

There is little information about history and culture of the islands or getting around.

There is a small scale map in the front cover which marks towns and villages and shows main roads. The pull out laminated map in the back is the same scale. This is adequate for planning but would be useless for navigating once on the island. It does have a map of Valletta, Senglea and Vittoriosa and part of Sliema. There are a few basic street plans showing the location of the listed sites for some towns.

There are also suggestions how to spend one or two days in each place. There is a brief section at the back with suggestions for accommodation.

I was very disappointed in this book. I felt it is geared at the lazy traveller who wants to be told what the must sees are and what to do. Don’t waste your money. There are better books around.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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