Relax At A Lido

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If you love to lie around in the sun, take an occasional swim and sip on a cool drink then there are two ways to go in Malta. Firstly, you can hit the beach with everyone else. But if you have a morbid fear of sand, open water, seaweed or fish – or if you just like things a little more refined, then you should head for one of the many lidos. 

For some people, a beach is not a pleasant place to be. And when you think about sitting on a damp towel on bone hard rock or grating sand in the baking sun, or doing that tippy toe “Oooh! Oww!” dance as you pick your way over pebbles or jaggedy rocks to reach the sea and then having to walk miles, or swim with an innocent look on your face, whenever you need the loo, then they may just have a point. Especially, when you compare it to a lido!  


Lidos allow you to sunbathe and swim, while taking all the unpleasantness out of the scenario. Yes, you can swim in the sea if you fancy it because they’re right on the coast but it’s much nicer to be able to station yourself on a comfortable sun bed so that you can protect from the sun using a large parasol through the hottest times of the day. Then instead of getting all gritty or slicing open your feet on the way to the sea, you can walk – on tiles – and jump into the ‘fish-free’ open-air pool.


Lidos are extremely common in Malta and you’ll find them scattered around on the more popular stretches of coastline. They are all essentially places where you can spend a whole and pleasant day reclining by the Mediterranean.


The other big advantage to a lido over a beach is that you get access to many other facilities – specifically showers and changing rooms. Normally by the end of a day at the beach, the cocktail of sand, sunblock, salt and sweat that covers your skin makes you feel as fresh as last month’s milk, especially in Malta’s summer temperatures.


But if you can have a nice cooling shower and dry off with a clean towel before donning some fresh clothes and sorting your hair out in a mirror, then it makes a massive difference.


It’s hard to believe but the lido concept was actually brought to Malta in the 1920s from the UK by British Royal Navy officers. At the time they were popular in the officers’ homeland, although the ropey weather meant they could only be used a couple of times a year by all but the super tough or foolhardy.


These open air pools make much more sense in Malta, which is probably why they continue to be popular here long after nearly all the British ones have shut their doors.


You’ll find a good mixture of beach lidos to choose from and they range from quiet, secluded ones that provide fairly basic facilities to some lively complexes where fun parks and theme parks have also been added.


Which one you choose to go to is entirely up to you and your budget but as a good starting point, you’ll find a good few of them on the coast in the Sliema/St Julian's area. Other areas where you’ll find several beach lidos are in the well-known tourist bays like those around Qawra, Mellieha and Bahar ic-Caghaq.

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