Summer in the Cities – Part 1: Dublin, Marbella & Valetta

Dublin

Why go? The Irish are legendary for giving a grand, warm welcome, so even if the weather’s misbehaving, you’re guaranteed to have a great time.

Buy a ticket for the sightseeing bus and soak up the history, architecture and stories Dublin is famous for. It’s not as stylish as Rome or as romantic as Paris but it more than makes up for it with a thriving arts scene, plenty of snug pubs and lively conversation, plus a faire share of good coffee and bookshops. Department store fan? You’ll love Brown Thomas www.brownthomas.com , Dublin’s fashion and beauty landmark on historic Grafton Street since 1949.

With so many Irish celebrity chefs like Rachel Allen, Richard Corrigan and Paul Rankin around, foodies will love the local and international fare on offer in Dublin’s ever-evolving restaurant scene. (And you can’t leave without visiting the Guiness Factory!)

Marbella

Why go? For its heady combination of sun, sand and sangria…but while most visitors head for the beach, Marbella’s casco antiguo, its the old town, is a gem. Wine bars and tapas places line its charming cobbled streets, and there are enough unique boutiques (lots of leather, fashion and jewellery) for an entire early evening spent shopping. The heart of Marbella town is Orange Square, home to the tourist office, where you can pick up a map and information and study them over a cool drink at one of the Orange Square cafes.

After dinner, if you’ve skipped dessert, you’ll hard to resist the crispy sweet “churros” (Spanish doughnuts) which are freshly made at a simple café near the Cathedral, on your way home.

Valetta

Why go? To soak up Malta’s a mesmerising mix of North African, Arabic and Sicilian influences (and it’s one of the prettiest relics of colonial Britain). The waterfront is stunning, and has hardly changed in centuries, you can almost breathe in the history that permeates its faded buildings.

You could swim at the “Blue Grotto”, squeeze in a round of golf at the Royal Malta Golf Club, or while away a lazy Sunday morning with breakfast at Café Premier or Caffe Cordina, Valetta’s most famous café, which also serves Malta’s most famous dish, pastizzi, stuffed with ricotta or peas. Shop for souvenirs at the Heritage Malta Giftshop at the entrance to the Museum of Archaeology. Yachties will love the Marsamxett Harbour, between Valetta and Sliema.

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