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Off the southern coast of Sicily, Malta is a Mediterranean amalgam of all its own. Composed of three small island groups, Malta is a crossroads of European, Northern African and Middle Eastern migratory patterns. Its ancient history is complimented with the modern traveler's bent for beachy good times, pumping nightlife and Europe's leisure culture. With boats and yachts cruising the area and tourists enjoying the shopping and small village life, Malta are an easy getaway and fun trip for traveling Europeans and Americans seeking package deals to the Mediterranean Sea.

Academic Tours (tel. 800/875-9171; www.academictours.com) has a "Malta in Your Hand" trip that includes round-trip airfare out of New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C.; airport transfers in Malta; six-nights' accommodations in a first class hotel; daily breakfast; all local VAT tax (meaning money back for your shopping); and optional excursions to major Malta sites. The eight-day/six-night package deal starts at $775 for travel in February and March; April dates start from $890. Prices are per person based on two people traveling together. Security taxes and government imposed departure fees are not included. Land-only trips start at around $225 for six-night stays in the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Call for updated prices and to specify any add-ons or lengthier stays. The Crowne Plaza has a big-hotel feel and is located in a shopping district in view of the beach. Malta is small enough where most hotels are either on the beach or a short walk to the coast.

A six-night Malta and Sicily vacation that includes air and hotel from Virgin Atlantic Vacations (tel. 888/937-8474; www.virgin-vacations.com) starts at $1,499 per person based on double occupancy with travel good until March 25, 2006. The booking deadline is currently February 21, but this date has been extended previously. The trip includes round-trip airfare from New York; four nights in Malta; two nights in nearby Sicily; all air transport between Malta and Sicily; a half-day tour of Valetta; a half-day tour of Etna, Catania and Taormina; daily breakfast; and all hotel surcharges and service charges. Accommodations are at three-star tourist-class hotels with the ability to upgrade to more luxurious lodgings available. Travel from March 26 to May 25, 2006, goes up to $1,839 for the same package.

Pilgrims Tours (tel. 800/322-9788; www.pilgrimtours.com) has similar trips that leave throughout the remainder of the winter and into spring base-priced at $785 including round-trip air and six-nights' accommodations. This trip makes sight-seeing stops in Gozo for a look at Malta heritage and stops at the Walled City in Mdina. Sightseeing excursions not included in the trip start at around $35 for daily and evening activities and tours. This package leaves time to relax on the attractive beaches of Malta where Italians and other Europeans take weekend breaks enjoying the temperate climates of the Mediterranean Sea. Almost everyone in Malta speaks English, and the island is a hotbed of trinkets and antiquities.

Also with a just-extended booking deadline of February 21, Go-Today (tel. 800/327-3235; www.go-today.com) has a six-night special starting from $749 good for travel through March 25. Accommodations range from the budget-oriented Metropole Hotel Sliema to the more deluxe Fortina Spa where package prices start at $1,249 per person based on double occupancy. In April, prices increase to $999 for the same trip. This package includes round-trip air out of New York (prices go up from other U.S. gateways), airport transfers in Malta, six-nights' lodging in your choice of three popular island towns, daily breakfast and all hotel and service charges. As usual, security fees and departure taxes are not included. Six-night land-only trips to Malta start at just $199 from Go-Today with a booking deadline of March 16 and travel good from now until March 25. July and August trips start at $359 with a host of hotel to choose from.

Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Malta Message Boards today.