26 days
Duration
Europe
Destination
Level 2 - Introductory to Moderate
Activity

Malta, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica - Mediterranean Islands small group tour

Odyssey's Mediterranean islands small group tour of Malta, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica guides you through the region's culture and history. This fully escorted, 26 day, small group tour for seniors takes you on a fabulous journey around the Western Mediterranean. Beginning in Malta, our small group tour heads to Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, and finishes in Paris. Our fully escorted tour offers extraordinary insights into the history and culture of these Western Mediterranean Islands: Malta, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica.

Malta, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica

For centuries these four unique islands held the keys to the Mediterranean. In the 19th century Malta secured the Mediterranean for Britain and helped make  it the world’s major maritime power. Possession of Sicily brought similar benefits to Rome, as did Corsica for France. Over centuries, the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Arabs, Normans, Spanish and French imprinted their distinct culture and architecture on the landscape of the islands. Today, Sicily and Sardinia are both very different autonomous regions of Italy. Corsica is a rather reluctant part of France, and Malta is one of the more recent independent members of the European Union. Today, however, their inhabitants still retain their own distinctive characteristics and ways of life. Each of the four islands visited has its own character, shaped by its history. Odyssey's small group educational tour compares and contrasts the culture, history, geography and peoples of these four unique islands. Throughout the tour you'll experience a number of cultural and historical highlights, from prehistoric settlements to idyllic resort towns. Our tour takes in the ancient temples on Malta, the mysterious nuraghe towers in Sardinia, and the historic impact of the Greeks, Romans, Normans (and others) on the region's art and architecture. We spend 5 days in Malta, a week each in Sicily and Sardinia, and 6 days in Corsica, birthplace of Napoleon. We then conclude our tour in France's beautiful capital city, Paris. Odyssey's small group tour of these Western Mediterranean islands is a magnificent holiday for those who wish to learn. Odyssey caters to mature travellers, whether couples or those journeying solo. The tour is fully escorted by an Odyssey Program Leader and professional guides who share their expert knowledge of the history and culture of these wonderful islands.

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For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.Tour Notes
  • Group size is limited to a maximum of 20 participants.

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

1
Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites on Malta: Valletta, built by the Knights of St John Hospitaller; the megalithic temples; and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
2
In Sicily, see the mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale, the magnificent Baroque town of Noto, and Arab/Norman Palermo
3
Sardinia's highlights include the ancient fortified towers of Su Nuraxi, the Maddalena Archipelago and Nora, Sardinia's best preserved Roman city
4
In Corsica, see the stunning UNESCO nature reserve of the Golfe de Porto and the Palais Fesch Musee des Beaux Art, home to an important collection of Napoleonic art
5
Enjoy wonderful scenery and local food and wine throughout all the islands

Overview: Upon arrival in Malta, we will come to the hotel individually. We will have a welcome drink and tour briefing at our hotel at 6:00 pm, followed by dinner at our hotel.

Accommodation: 5 nights at the Victoria Hotel, or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we begin our tour of Malta with a talk on the islands that comprise Malta. We'll learn about Malta's natural and cultural heritage, strategic Mediterranean importance, centuries-old fortifications, settlements, and religious sites. Typical of the islands of the Mediterranean, Malta hosted many civilisations including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, and the Spanish. The Knights of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights of St John, were Malta's Masters from 1530 to 1798, when Napoleon's French forces invaded. Then, in 1800, the British assumed control until Malta was granted independence in 1964. The island and its people were awarded the George Cross for their bravery during World War II. We then enjoy a full-day tour of local sites, including Ta'Qali craft village with enjoy free time to shop for souvenirs. We visit Mosta to see the Mosta Rotunda, then enjoy lunch in Rabat. In the afternoon we explore St. Paul's Church and Grotto, and St. Paul's Catacombs, then make our way through the ancient fortified city of Mdina on a walking tour. After returning to Sliema, we have free time and will make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Victoria Hotel, or similar accommodation.

Overview: Today we enjoy a full day tour of Malta, commencing at Paola, home of the enigmatic Tarxien Temples. We then travel to picturesque Marsaxlokk, famous for its market, where we have lunch. In the afternoon we continue on to Birzebugga to visit the prehistoric Ghar Dalam cave.  After returning to Sliema, we have a free evening and will make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Victoria Hotel, or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we'll take a morning ferry ride across to Gozo, Malta's second largest island, where we have a full day island tour. We visit the citadel at Victoria and the coastal village of Xlendi, whose tower guarding the mouth of the bay was built by the Knights in 1650. Following lunch, we travel up the western coast of Gozo to visit Dwejra, then on to the Ta Pinu basilica in Gharb, followed by a tour of the megalithic Ggantija Temples in Xaghra.  In the evening we'll return to Sliema via ferry and have dinner at our hotel.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Victoria Hotel, or similar accommodation.

Overview: Today's visits concentrate on Valletta, the capital of Malta. We visit the Upper Barakka Gardens, the Grandmaster's Palace, St. John's Co-Cathedral, and the Museum of Archaeology. In the late afternoon we take in the 'Malta Experience', an audio-visual attraction set in a purpose-built auditorium overlooking Valletta's magnificent Grand Harbour. We return to our hotel in Sliema and take an evening walk to a local restaurant for dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Victoria Hotel or similar accommodation

Overview: This morning begins with an early ferry across to Pozzallo in Sicily.  Here we join our coach and continue to Caltagirone for sightseeing, including the Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte and the Museum of Ceramics. We have free time for lunch, then continue on to the UNESCO world heritage town of Noto, the finest Baroque town in Sicily.  Here we visit the San Franceso Church, the Monastery of Santa Chiara, the Duomo and Palazzo Ducezio. In the evening we walk to a local restaurant for dinner.

Accommodation: 3 nights at the Grand Hotel Sofia or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we take our coach to Syracuse to visit the Archaeological Park.  We then visit the Ara di Ierone, the Great Altar of Syracuse, a monumental grand altar in the ancient quarter of Neapolis. We have free time for lunch, then continue on to Ortygia, stopping at the Temple of Apollo, the Cathedral, and the Arethusa Fountain. In the afternoon we return to Noto, for free time, and will make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Grand Hotel Sofia or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we'll learn more about the history and culture of Sicily, before taking the shuttle into the old town of Taormina. We visit the Greek theatre, then have the afternoon free to explore the spectacular hillside town of Taormina itself. In the late afternoon we return to Noto and make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Grand Hotel Sofia or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we take our coach to the town of Piazza Armerina to see its famous mosaics during our guided tour of the Villa Romana del Casale. We continue on to Enna for lunch at our leisure, then on to Trapani, where the Spanish occupation of Sicily began in the 13th century, for the evening.  Dinner tonight is at our hotel.

Accommodation: 3 nights at the Hotel Baia dei Mulini or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we enjoy a walking tour of Trapani to view its main attractions, then we'll transfer to San Leonardo for a ferry trip across to the island of Mozia. We'll visit the main archaeological sites here, including the Whitaker Museum. We then return to San Leonardo for lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon we visit Marsala, home of the fortified wine that bears the town's name, then on to Greco-Roman Selinunte.  Here we visit the Archaeological Park, Collina Orientale, and the Acropolis. We return to Trapani in the evening for dinner at our leisure.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Hotel Baia dei Mulini or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we'll take our coach to Monreale to visit its cloistered Cathedral, then on to Sicily's capital, Palermo. We visit Quattro Canti, the "Theatre of the Sun", and La Martorana, the city's most famous medieval church. We  have lunch at our leisure, then in the afternoon we visit Palermo's highlights. These include the Cathedral, the Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans), and the extraordinary mosaics in the 12th century Capella Palatina. We then enjoy a guided tour of Teatro Massimo, Palermo's magnificent Opera House. We return to Trapani for the evening and have dinner at our hotel.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Hotel Baia dei Mulini or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we enjoy a guided tour of Segesta, an archaeological site outside Palermo, where we'll see the Doric Temple and ancient theatre. We return to Trapani to take the funicular to the medieval eyrie of Erice, to enjoy its sweeping views of the valley and sea. We have lunch at a local restaurant then return to Trapana, to transfer to the airport for our flight to Cagliari in Sardinia. The island of Sardinia is the second largest island of the Mediterranean but remains surprising unexplored. It has rugged mountainous interiors with stunning coastal scenery as well as quaint hilltop towns and pretty fishing ports. Sardinia has a rich Neolithic history and the island still boasts over 7,000 "nuraghi" fortified tower houses from a civilisation which lasted from 1800 to 500BC. Later the island was settled by the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Vandals, the Byzantines, and the Saracens. In the Middle Ages, the island was fought over by the Pisans and Genoese before falling to the Spanish in 1295. It briefly fell to the Austrians in 1713 before the Kingdom of Sardinia was created by Vittorio Amedeo of Savoy in 1718. Sardinia finally became part of the unified Italy in 1861. Many say that Sardinia offers an almost primeval landscape of rocks sculpted by the wind and sea. D.H Lawrence noted that the island was "left outside time and history." After checking into our hotel in Assemini, one of Cagliari's communes, the evening is free and we'll make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: 3 nights at the Hotel Grillo or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we enjoy a guided tour of Cagliari's main sights, including the National Archaeological Museum. Lunch is at our leisure, along with free time to explore the city. In the afternoon we return to our hotel for a talk on Sardinian history and culture, followed by dinner at our hotel.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Hotel Grillo or similar accommodation.

Overview: Today we explore the archaeological treasures at Nora, Sardinia's best preserved Roman city, then on to Pula, where we visit the archaeological museum. Following lunch at our leisure, we continue on to Capo Spartivento via the scenic coastal road. Dinner tonight is at our hotel.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Hotel Grillo or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we take a guided our of Su Nuraxi, the UNESCO world heritage site of the nuraghe towers, and the Casa Zapata Museum. We have lunch individually and free time at Barumini, then continue on to Fonni for the night. Dinner is at our hotel, where we'll also enjoy a folklore show.

Accommodation: 1 night at the Hotel Cualbu or similar accommodation

Overview: This morning we have free time to rest or explore Fonni, then we drive Nuoro, at the foot of Monte Ortobene, in the mid-morning.  Here we visit the Ethnographic Museum and have lunch at our leisure. We then travel to Olbia, where we have free time to explore before meeting at our hotel for dinner.

Accommodation: 3 nights at the Overnight Hotel for You or similar accommodation

Overview: This morning we have a morning tour of Olbia, followed by a boat tour of the Maddalena Archipelago (subject to weather conditions). Lunch will be served on board. We thentravel back to our hotel in Olbia for free time to explore, and make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Overnight Hotel for You or similar accommodation.

Overview: Today we enjoy a full day touring northwest Sardinia. From Olbia we head firstly to Sassari, site of Sardinia's first university and still a vibran uni city. Here we have lunch individually, then continue on to Alghero, still protected by its medieval walls and towers. After a walking tour here we have free time in the afternoon and evening, and will make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Overnight Hotel for You or similar accommodation

Overview: This morning we have free time in Olbia, then transfer to the resort town of Santa Teresa di Gallura. We make our own arrangements for lunch, then catch the ferry across to the port of Bonifacio, Corsica, in the afternoon. The island of Corsica is the fourth largest island of the Mediterranean and combines a stunning juxtaposition of mountain and coastal scenery. In the Middle Ages, Corsica was a colony of Pisa and later of Genoa but enjoyed a brief period of independence in the 18th century under the revered leadership of Pasquale Paoli. Therefore, the "sale" of the island by the Genoese to Louis XV of France for 40 million francs in 1769 has been a source of resentment for the islanders ever since. Ironically, the island was the birthplace of perhaps history's most famous Frenchman, Napoleon Bonaparte, and French and other visitors outnumber the locals approximately 6 to 1 in the busy periods of July and August. For all of this, Corsica remains one of the last unspoiled corners of the Mediterranean: poor, depopulated, beautiful, old-fashioned, and aloof. Despite its history of conflict with France ithas now come to an agreement with its dominant, continental neighbour, although there is still some talk of independence from France among the Corsicans. Following our arrival at the beautiful harbour town of Bonifacio we'll enjoy a guided tour. In the afternoon we catch the scenic train to Porto Vecchio, an historic resort with remains of Genoese fortifications. Dinner tonight is at our hotel.

Accommodation: 1 night at the Hotel Shegara or similar accommodation

Overview: Today we visit the towns of Sartene and Propriano, where we stop to have lunch individually. Afterwards, en route to Ajaccio, we stop to visit Filitosa's 4,000 year old, life-size stone warriors. We continue on to Ajaccio and a guided tour including the Palais Fesch Musee des Beaux Arts, then transfer to our hotel. Tonight we make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: 2 nights at the Mercure Ajaccio or similar accommodation

Overview: Today we visit the UNESCO listed Golfe de Porto, one of the most beautiful bays in the Mediterranean. We'll have free time to explore and make our own arrangements for lunch, then return to Ajaccio in the late afternoon. We have more free time to explore, and will make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Mercure Ajaccio or similar accommodation

Overview: We have a little free time this morning before we taking the train to Corte, where we visit the Museum of Corsican Life. We make our own lunch arrangements, then travel on to the spectacular mountainside city of Calvi to enjoy an afternoon and evening of free time.  We will make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: 1 night at the Mariana Hotel or similar accommodation.

Overview: Today we drive to Bastia and enjoy a guided tour of this lovely port town. We then take the scenic drive to Cape Corse, where we will stop to have lunch individually and explore the pretty villages there. We then transfer to Saint-Florent and enjoy dinner at our hotel.

Accommodation: 2 nights at the Santa Maria Hotel or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we tour Saint Florent, then stop to have lunch individually in L'Ile Rousse. We then continue on to Calvi for a guided tour then return to Saint Florent for the evening. Tonight we make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight at the Santa Maria Hotel or similar accommodation.

Overview: This morning we transfer to the airport at Bastia and take our flight to Paris. After transferring to our hotel, we have free time in the afternoon.  Tonight we make our own arrangements for dinner.

Accommodation: 1 night at the Relais Monceau or similar accommodation.

Overview: Following breakfast, our tour concludes in Paris.

What's included in our Tour
  • 25 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 12 dinners.
  • 25 nights of hotel accommodation in en-suited share twin rooms.
  • 2 internal flights and taxes.
  • Applicable entry fees and services of local guides.
  • Transport, lectures, and field trips as indicated.
  • Touring by comfortable and modern coach.
  • Services of a tour leader.
  • Ferry services.
  • Service charges and gratuities.
  • Detailed tour information booklet.
What's not included in our Tour
  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Return economy class international airfare and departure taxes.
  • Items of a personal nature, such as telephone calls and laundry.
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary.
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Mediterranean islands small group tour

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