The celebrations of Easter take place all over Malta, where the faithful gather in large numbers to commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. From its earliest beginnings, Christianity has been interwoven with Malta’s history. This specially designed 7-day tour explores sites of history, culture, faith and art throughout Malta during the Easter period. Every stop on our journey has a fascinating history and our visits include prehistoric ruins, Phoenician settlements and places influenced by the Sicilians, Romans, Arabs, Knights of St John, French and British in succession. This has endowed the small island nation with an eclectic heritage, a quirky character and a unique charm.
Arriving in Valletta, we celebrate Easter with Good Friday processions and Easter Sunday celebrations. Visit pre-historic sites at the Hypogeum and Marsaxlokk, the medieval walled city of Mdina and enjoy a full day excursion to the island of Gozo. Much of our exploration is by boat, including a cruise on the Grand Harbour.
Easter processions on Good Friday in the village of Zebugg and Easter Sunday in Vittoriosa
Valletta, with its massive bastion walls built by the Knights of the Order of St John and two surprising paintings by the Italian master Caravaggio
Malta’s exceptional ancient sites, including the recently reopened Hal Saflieni Hypogeum and Ggantija Temples
The Phoenician walled city of Mdina, with its mix of medieval and baroque architecture
A full day exploring the island of Gozo
Staying at the newly renovated five-star hotel The Phoenicia in the heart of Valletta
Days 1: Meet your tour leader at Rome Fiumicino airport and together take the group flight to Valletta. Dinner together in the hotel.
Days 2 -6: From our 5-stat hotel in Valletta, we explore the Old Town, the recently reopened Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, key sites in Mdina and Rabat, as well as explore the Three Cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. Take a boat excursion to Gozo and cruise Malta’s Grand Harbour. Lunch is included on most days
Days 7: Midday we take the group flight from Valletta to Rome Fiumicino.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Economy class return airfares are included from Rome to Valletta. For international flights, Emirates flies daily into and out of Rome. Contact us for competitive quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Wednesday March 28: Arrival
Meet your tour leader, Dr Estelle Lazer, at Rome airport and together fly to Valletta, arriving in the early afternoon. After time to settle in and freshen up we meet for a light dinner in the hotel. Overnight Valletta (D)
Thursday March 29: Valletta, Tarxien and Hal Saflieni
The city of Valletta is our focus today. Built by the Knights of the Order of Saint John after their victory over the Turks in 1565, its massive bastion walls were designed to discourage any further invasion. Our walking tour includes the Upper Barracca Gardens, which command a breathtaking view of the Grand Harbour. We also visit St John’s Co-Cathedral which holds, amongst its treasures, two paintings by Caravaggio – St Jerome and the vast Beheading of St John, painted in 1608 while the artist was briefly serving as a novice of the Order of Saint John in Valletta. This afternoon we visit the Neolithic temple complex at Tarxien, a site of extraordinary archaeological significance consisting of three temples built around 3000-2500 BC and a fourth dating from an earlier building phase. In small groups we visit the recently reopened Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, a complex underground burial chamber. Overnight Valletta (B)
Friday March 30: Good Friday
Mid-morning, we meet for a guided tour that focuses on the south of Malta, starting with a visit to the Blue Grotto Caves. We take a short boat trip to view at close range the magnificent underwater flora in these grottoes. We then proceed to the picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk, to admire the waterfront lined with the colourful Maltese luzzu boats painted in the traditional reds, blue and yellows. We have lunch together at a local restaurant before continuing on to the Good Friday Procession in the Village of Zebbug. The Zebbug procession is particularly well known, and we can expect to see people in costume as Roman soldiers wearing armour, biblical characters and children carrying symbolic items. The procession takes place around the village, accompanied by the village band and scout groups. Overnight Valletta (B, L)
Saturday March 31: Mdina and Rabat
We visit Mdina, one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city, with an extraordinary mix of medieval and baroque architecture. Archaeological evidence traces settlement back over 4000 years to the Phoenicians. Its strategic location on the highest point of the island has made it home to Arab, Norman, Sicilian and Spanish rulers and earned it the name of Citta Notabile, the noble city. After lunch together at a local restaurant, we continue to Rabat and visit the atmospheric catacombs. We stop at the Dingli Cliffs for spectacular views over the Mediterranean before proceeding to the botanic gardens of San Anton, nowadays the official residence of Malta’s President. Overnight Valletta (B, L)
Sunday April 1: Three Cities and Harbour Cruise
Today we explore the old three cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. We start in Vittoriosa, the original home of the Knights of St. John and where the Great Siege of 1565 took place. There is time to watch the fascinating and famous Easter Sunday procession in Vittoriosa, to see the locals running with the statue of the Risen Christ. In the afternoon, we take a cruise around the two natural ports of Marsamxett and the Grand Harbour, whose natural creeks make these ports unique. The views of the fortifications from the seaward side are unique and a treasure trove for photographers. Overnight Valletta (B, L)
Monday April 2: Gozo
Today we travel to the north coast and join a private boat to the island of Gozo, Malta’s smaller and more relaxed neighbour. Our visit includes the Ggantija Temples, the most complete temple complex on the islands, part of which predates Stonehenge and the Pyramids. We also visit the Calypso’s Cave and Old Citadel in Victoria. After lunch together in a local restaurant, we visit Xlendi Bay and Dwejra. In the later afternoon, we return to Valletta by boat. Overnight Valletta (B, L)
Tuesday April 3: Departure
There will be a midday group flight to Rome Fiumicino airport, where the tour ends.
Dr Estelle Lazer
An archaeologist who has worked on site at Pompeii for seven seasons and has an international reputation for her research on the city's skeletal remains.
Dr Estelle Lazer is an archaeologist with an international reputation for her work on the human victims of Pompeii, with more field seasons in the Bay of Naples than she cares to remember! Her PhD studied the site’s human skeletons, and her current project is to CT scan and X-ray the unique casts of these victims. Estelle’s book, Resurrecting Pompeii, was published by Routledge and her work forms a core part of the Ancient History syllabus for the NSW Higher School Certificate.
Estelle is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney. In October 2017, the University of Sydney and the Pompeii Archaeological Park signed an historic Memorandum of Agreement to partner in an important new scanning project led by Estelle. Her research has received considerable media attention in print, radio and television, with two documentaries (one for the BBC and Smithsonian, and another in production for Britain’s Channel 5) ensuring a wide audience for her fascinating findings.
Her other main field of research is historical archaeology in Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic. Estelle spent four summers working on Mawson’s Huts, and has spent another summer studying evidence of the sealing industry as well as Australia’s first post-war Antarctic base at Heard Island. She has also worked on archaeological sites in Bahrain, south-eastern Italy, Cyprus, the UK and Australia.
In addition to her teaching work at the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and University of Technology, Sydney, Estelle gives frequent public lectures at the invitation of universities, schools and museums, such as the Australian National University, Oxford University, the British Museum, University of Trondheim, Norway and the British School at Rome.
Estelle has led tours to Italy and the Mediterranean for Academy Travel since the company’s inception in 2004, and also works extensively with our Academy Schools program for teachers and students. In addition to her obvious archaeological expertise, she particularly enjoys explaining the place of mythology in the landscape – especially in Sicily and southern Italy.
An undoubted highlight of this tour is staying at the newly renovated five-star hotel ThePhoenicia Malta, located in the heart of Valletta. The Phoenicia commands views from its elevated position overlooking the port and the historic city of Valletta. The hotel is within walking distance of the island’s shopping district as well as the bustling restaurants and cafes of the waterfront. The impressive Parliament House building, designed by Renzo Piano, is opposite the hotel through the city’s gates.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.