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You always do a bit of sightseeing when you’re on holiday. So, why not double the fun and spot those sights while having an enjoyable and memorable experience at the same time? This is simple to do in some of the main cities, where you can enjoy a guided tour in a traditional Maltese horse and carriage – a karozzin!
This graceful and historic form of transport is a hangover from bygone colonial times when British servicemen used karozzins as their preferred method to get around the island. Back then the soldiers and sailors needed swift access to central Valletta and also sometimes into the area known as ‘the Gut’, which was around Strait Street in the capital and was the red light district.
However, today’s karozzin rides are far less seedy. In fact, gliding along the sea-front with a well groomed horse clip-clopping away in front of you is a thoroughly pleasant experience and a memorable way to become acquainted with the beautiful city of Valletta for the first time.
As this great city sits on a lofty peninsula, you’ll get views of the twinkling Mediterranean from almost every step of the way. Karozzins also tend to stick to the coastal roads on the outside of the headland, so you’ll be treated to one spectacular panorama after another as you trot around the finger of land pointing into the sea.
It’s compulsory that you’ll take in the magnificent Grand Harbour as well as Marxsamxett Harbour and of course the best thing is that your horse and the driver seem to know instinctively where they need to go so you can’t get lost.
Both of them, particularly the horse because he gets a short break, will be happy to stop if you spot a view that you want to capture with your camera or if you have a burning question to ask. The driver will always provide you with an answer although we can’t vouch for the accuracy of the information you are sometimes given.
The pay-off of this comes from their well-rehearsed, colourful and amusing commentaries that they provide as you make your way through the streets. They might not be 100% factual but they’re fun and it’s all part of the service!
And so the karozzin is just about the perfect tourist trip. In fact, the only possible drawback you might experience is a slight agricultural odour that sometimes follows you around on the ride.
Horses are animals with animal needs – and we’re talking toilet area here. There’s been a long-running row about how to solve the problem of road deposits between the local authorities and the cabbies' union. But until they find some middle ground (maybe some middle ground would solve the problem) the deposits have to travel with you!
Karozzin stands can be found in the places on the Maltese islands with high tourist footfall figures. There are plenty knocking around in Valletta and Mdina and you’ll also find them over the water on Gozo meandering around the capital, Victoria.
The rides aren’t particularly cheap but neither is horse food! And if you can find a nicer way of seeing these three great cities on the Maltese isles.
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