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Three new destinations for your bucketlist: Tunisia, Malta, and Sicily

7 mins. read
Published in the Sunday Mumbai Samachar on 28 April, 2024
Over the last decade, being in the travel industry, I have realised one thing, that in the heart of every traveller is a list, not just any list, but a carefully curated list of dreams and destinations waiting to be discovered. This travel bucket list, unique to each person, is a testament to the fact that travel is one thing that truly makes us celebrate life!. So today, I don’t want to just talk about one destination. Rather, I want to add three new destinations to your bucket list!
I call them the three jewels of the Mediterranean, each with its unique charm and appeal. These gems, each with its unique mix of experiences, are not just destinations but rather gateways to new perspectives and adventures.
For the first destination on my list, let’s travel to a country nestled in the heart of North Africa - Tunisia. Tunisia was once the heart of the ancient Carthaginian Empire, which was a major power in the Mediterranean before being defeated by Rome in the Punic Wars between 264 BC to 146 BC. A constant reminder of this history are the Ruins of Carthage, which tell tell stories of ancient glory and the enduring legacy of one of history's greatest cities. Visitors can explore the remnants of this ancient metropolis, including the Byrsa Hill, the Roman Theatre, and the Baths of Antoninus, each a testament to a civilization that once rivaled Rome itself.
Along with such history, Tunisia is also closely connected to the Star Wars series, which had many of its scenes filmed in the Tunisian desert. Even today, the sets, partially preserved and scattered across various sites such as Matmata and Tozeur, continue to be a major draw for fans visiting the country. This diverse nation, where history, culture, and natural beauty converge, stretches from the sparkling Mediterranean coastline to the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert.
At over 9 million square kilometers in size and covering most of North Africa, the largest sand desert in the world is indeed the Sahara Desert. And in Tunisia’s section of the Sahara Desert is where you witness endless dunes, starlit skies, and the timeless appeal of nomadic life. Adventure seekers can embark on camel treks across the golden sands, spend a night under the stars in traditional Berber tents, or soar above the dunes in a sunrise hot air balloon ride, offering a bird's-eye view of this majestic landscape.
Tunisia’s other attraction is Sidi Bou Said, a mesmerizing village famed for its distinctive blue and white architecture. Its cobbled streets, lined with art galleries, cafés, and artisan shops, offer a picturesque setting that has long inspired artists and writers, capturing hearts with its serene beauty and breathtaking vistas.
When we travel to new places like Tunisia, a question is always on our minds - what about the food there? In my opinion, Tunisian cuisine is a vegetarian’s delight. A delicious fusion of Mediterranean flavours and North African zest, the traditional dishes such as couscous, brik (a crispy, stuffed pastry), and harissa (a spicy chili paste) are a must-try here. So that was Tunisia for you. A country whose charm lies not just in its historic ruins or scenic beauty but in the stories woven into the fabric of everyday life, and the warmth of its people.
From the heart of North Africa, let’s fly to the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, wherein lies Malta, a captivating island group where history is etched into every corner. In Malta, you will find historical sites, breathtaking landscapes, and an enduring local culture. Valletta, Malta's capital is a living museum. It is a fortress city steeped in history and crowned as a UNESCO World Heritage site. From the majestic St. John's Co-Cathedral, adorned with Caravaggio's (an Italian painter) masterpieces, to the grandeur of the Grand Master's Palace, Valletta’s charm is just something else. Here, the narrow streets, lined with baroque architecture, open up to vibrant squares and gardens offering panoramic views of the island.
Along with the capital city, there is also the Silent City: Mdina. This city is a medieval walled town perched on a hill in the heart of Malta. Walking through its narrow, lamp-lit streets feels like stepping back in time. This former capital boasts a mix of Norman and Baroque architecture, with attractions like the Mdina Cathedral and the Bastion Square offering breathtaking views of the island.
As I mentioned at the start, Malta is a group of islands. So for a slice of paradise here, the Blue Lagoon on the tiny island of Comino is a natural wonder that captivates with its crystal-clear waters. Ideal for swimming, snorkelling, and simply soaking in the sun, the Blue Lagoon is a spot where the water sparkles with shades of turquoise and blue against a backdrop of rocky shores.
And you know one of the best things, Malta is blessed with over 300 days of sunshine a year, making it a year-round destination. All in all, Malta's compact size makes it easy to explore, offering an escape not just to a different place, but to another time. With that, let’s come to Sicily, the third destination for your bucket list.
Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, is a place where history, culture, and gastronomy blend to create an experience that is essentially Italian, yet distinctively unique. Dominating the landscape of eastern Sicily is Mount Etna, which is not only Europe’s highest active volcano but also one of its most captivating natural wonders. Visitors can explore its lunar-like terrain, which is something we can’t experience on many other mountains across the world.
Along with this, near the southern coast of Sicily lies the Valley of the Temples, an archaeological site that stands as a testament to Greek grandeur and architecture. This UNESCO World Heritage site features the remnants of seven ancient temples, with the Temple of Concordia being one of the best-preserved temples in the world.
Palermo, the capital city of Sicily, is a mix of history, culture, and vibrant street life. From the grand Palermo Cathedral and the ornate Teatro Massimo to the bustling markets of Ballarò and Vucciria, Palermo offers a different experience. All in all, Sicily offers a journey through time, taste, and tradition, an island where visitors are enchanted and left longing for more.
So yes, this is my invitation to you to add Tunisia, Malta, and Sicily to your bucket list. That’s it from me today, until the next time, keep celebrating life!
April 27, 2024

Author

Neil Patil
Neil Patil

Founder & Director, Veena World

More Blogs by Neil Patil

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