Malta sits just off Sicily's southern tip in the Mediterranean Sea, so it's no surprise that its beaches are some of its main draws. Very little rain falls on Malta, so it's a popular spot to take a spa holiday or just lounge by the sea - especially since beach weather lasts well into October, when it's cooled off significantly in most of the rest of Europe.

What to do

The Mediterranean isn't just there for gazing at, however - Malta's got all kinds of water sports on offer, too. You can spend some of your holiday paragliding, windsurfing, wakeboarding, water skiing and scuba diving. On land, horse racing is Malta's most popular spectator sport.

If you can tear yourself away from the sun, sand and surf, you'll find plenty of history around you as well. This small country has some of the world's most ancient standing buildings (including Ggantija, the oldest freestanding temple in the world) and its location means it's been a strategic base for Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Crusaders. There are multimedia presentations and museums dotting the islands, which can help you get a better understanding of Malta's history.

The main area to visit to sample Malta's nightlife is Paceville, near St. Julians, where you'll find plenty of clubs and bars which are packed with Maltese on weekends.

Getting there

You'll want to book a flight into Malta International Airport (code: MLA), as it's the only big airport in the whole archipelago. There are cheap flights in season from most European airports, but no direct flights from North America.

Where to stay

You'll find plenty of hotels in Malta and a few hostels as well. As with any resort area, it pays to book in advance in high season.