25 days
Duration
Europe
Destination
Level 2 - Moderate
Activity

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, where it finishes. 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.

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. A short tour of just Malta & Sicily is also offered, click through to read about this program.

To discover more about Islands of the Mediterranean, check out our blog post here!

Get in touch

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 18 participants.
  • There is a short tour option; Malta & Sicily

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

1
Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites on Malta: Valletta, built by the Knights of St John Hospitaller; and the megalithic temples
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 followed by dinner at a local restaurant. Our hotel is located in St. Julian’s, just north of Sliema.

(D)

Accommodation: 5 nights at the Gold Lion Residensea, or similar.

Overview: Today we enjoy a full day tour of Malta, commencing at Paola, home of the enigmatic Tarxien Temples. We visit the Hypogeum for an audio-visual exhibit. We then travel to Birzebugga to visit the prehistoric Ghar Dalam cave and on to picturesque Marsaxlokk, famous for its market and continue on to Marsakala where we stop to have lunch. In the afternoon we transfer to Three Cities where we have some free time to explore or perhaps take a cruise along the shore (not included). Late afternoon we transfer back to our hotel.

(B,L)

Accommodation: Gold Lion Residensea, or similar.

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 St Julian’s and take an evening walk to a local restaurant for dinner.

(B,D)

Accommodation: Gold Lion Residensea, or similar.

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 some free time to shop for souvenirs. We visit Mosta to see the Mosta Rotunda, then continue to Rabat for lunch at a local restaurant. 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 St Julian’s the evening is at leisure.

(B,L)

Accommodation: Gold Lion Residensea, or similar.

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 including a boat ride to Fungus Rock, 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 via ferry and coach to our hotel. We have dinner at a local restaurant.

(B,L,D)

Accommodation: Gold Lion Residensea, or similar.

Overview: This morning begins with an early morning ferry across to Pozzallo in Sicily. Here we join our coach and continue UNESCO world heritage town of Noto, the finest Baroque town in Sicily, and see the main sights like San Francesco Church, Monastery of Santa Chiara and Palazzo Ducezio. We have free time for lunch, and continue on to Syracuse where visit the Neapolis Archaeological Park followed by Ara di Ierone, the Great Altar of Syracuse, a monumental grand altar in the ancient quarter of Neapolis. Later we attend a traditional “puppet theatre” (Opera dei Pupi – Sicilian marionette show) before dinner at a local restaurant.

(B,D)

Accommodation: 2 nights at the Residence Acropoli or similar.

Overview: Today we have a full day tour exploring Caltagirone and Piazza Armerina. In Caltagirone we view the Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte and visit the Museum of Ceramics. After some free time for lunch we continue to Piazza Armerina Armerina to see its famous mosaics during our guided tour of the Villa Romana del Casale. We return to Syracuse and the remainder of the day is at leisure.

(B)

Accommodation: Residence Acropoli or similar.

Overview: This morning we’ll learn more about the history and culture of Sicily, before travelling on to Agrigento with a stop for lunch in Enna. We’ll visit the Valley of the Temples, one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture. Later we transfer to our hotel and the evening is free to explore the town on your own.

(B)

Accommodation: Overnight at the Colloverde Park Hotel or similar.

Overview: This morning we leave for Sicily’s capital, Palermo. We visit Quattro Canti, the “Theatre of the Sun”, and La Martorana, the city’s most famous medieval church and a guided tour of Teatro Massimo, Palermo’s magnificent Opera House. Dinner this evening is at our hotel.

(B,D)

Accommodation: Overnight at Ibis Palermo or similar

Overview: This morning we continue our sightseeing of Palermo, visiting Palazzo de Normanni (Palace of the Normans), and the extraordinary mosaics in the 12th century Capella Palatina. We continue to Monreale to visit its cloistered Cathedral followed by Trapani, where the Spanish occupation of Sicily began in the 13th century. Dinner will be at the hotel this evening.

(B,D)

Accommodation: 2 nights at the Hotel Baia dei Mulini or similar.

Overview: This morning we’ll enjoy a walking tour of Trapani to view its main attractions, we’ll then 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 back to our hotel in Trapani.

(B,L)

Accommodation: Hotel Baia dei Mulini or similar.

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 transfer to the airport for our flight to Cagliari in Sardinia and make our way to Assemini, one of Cagliari’s communes and check-in our hotel.

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.”

(B,L)

Accommodation: 3 nights at the Hotel Grillo or similar.

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.

(B,D)

Accommodation: Hotel Grillo or similar.

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

(B,D)

Accommodation: Hotel Grillo or similar.

Overview: This morning we travel to Barumini and take a guided tour of Su Nuraxi, the UNESCO world heritage site of the nuraghe towers, and the Casa Zapata Museum. We have some free time for lunch then continue on to Fonni for the night. Dinner is at our hotel.

(B,D)

Accommodation: Overnight at the Hotel Cualbu or similar.

Overview: This morning we have a little free time to rest or explore Fonni before we depart to Olbia. En route we stop at Nuoro, at the foot of Monte Ortobene. Here we visit the Ethnographic Museum and have lunch at our leisure. On arrival in Olbia we’ll view the main sights of the city followed by dinner at our hotel.

(B,D)

Accommodation: 3 nights at Hotel Panorama or similar.

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

(B,L)

Accommodation: Hotel Panorama or similar.

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 vibrant 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.

(B)

Accommodation: Hotel Panorama or similar.

Overview: This we transfer to the resort town of Santa Teresa di Gallura. Where catch the ferry across to the port of Bonifacio inCorsica. 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, a historic resort with remains of Genoese fortifications. Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant.

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.

(B,D)

Accommodation: Overnight at the Hotel Shegara or similar.

Overview: Today we visit the towns of Sartene and Propriano, where we have some time 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.

(B)

Accommodation: 2 nights at the Hotel Cala del Sole or similar.

Overview: Today we visit the UNESCO listed Golfe de Porto, considered as 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. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

(B)

Accommodation: Hotel Cala del Sole or similar.

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 where we explore the city on a guided tour.

(B)

Accommodation: Overnight at the Mariana Hotel or similar.

Overview: Today we drive to Saint-Florent, stopping along the way in Cape Corse and explore the pretty villages there. In Saint-Florent we enjoy a guided tour of this lovely port town, we then continue on to Bastia.

(B,D)

Accommodation: 2 nights at (TBC) Hotel or similar.

Overview: This morning we enjoy a guided tour of Bastia for a guided tour of the town. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to explore the city at your own pace. In the evening we get together for our farewell dinner.

(B,D)

Accommodation: (TBC) Hotel or similar.

Overview: The tour concludes today after breakfast.

(B)

What’s included in our Tour

  • 24 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 13 dinners.
  • 24 nights of hotel accommodation in en-suited share twin rooms.
  • 1 internal flights and taxes (economy class)
  • Applicable entry fees and services of local guides.
  • Transport and field trips as indicated.
  • Touring by comfortable and modern coach.
  • Services of a tour leader.
  • Ferry services as indicated.
  • Service charges and gratuities.
  • Detailed tour information booklet.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Return international airfare and departure taxes.
  • Comprehensive international travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature, such as telephone calls and laundry.
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary.

Malta, Sicily, Corsica - Western Mediterranean Islands

Island of Sicily
skyline of Corsica, France
Grape Harvest Italy Western Mediterranean
Tours to Malta
Corsica
Fountain of Shame in Palermo - Sicily

Tour Reviews

October 19, 2018

The trip was well organised and communication was also good. Busy tour giving full educational history. The Odyssey Program leader was absolutely wonderful, I felt very safe particularly as she had both French and Italian and if we were without the guide in the evenings, she was able to communicate with the other person. We had particularly good guides all along the way, but perhaps Maria in Malta was very, very good as it was apparent she really loved showing her country and its history to us.
Participant Sep ’18

October 28, 2018

Sunshine, blue seas and mountains were the backdrop to discovering so much of the history of these islands with a friendly group of fellow travellers.
Suzanne W. Sep ’18

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