A Stroll Around Buskett Gardens
Jonathan and I might be biased, but we do live in the most picturesque and scenic part of Malta. Overlooking the Grand Harbour, the area is packed full of historic sites, ancient forts, even an Inquisitor’s Palace, but, yes, there’s a but, it lacks green. Our dog will vouch for that.
Sadly in Malta, it seems that given a choice between a tree or a soulless lump of concrete, guess what wins. Spoiler alert: it’s not the tree.
So, what do you do in Malta when you’re craving nature and greenery? Don’t worry, all is not lost; there are still a few green zones.
Introducing Buskett Gardens, the only semi-natural forestland with a total area of 47 hectares. Being one of the few woodland areas in Malta, the gardens are known as “the lungs of Malta.”
What’s In A Name?
The name Buskett comes from the Italian word Boschetto, meaning “a small wood.”
A Little History
In the mid-1500s, the Knights of Malta planted the Buskett Woodlands to create a hunting ground.
The gardens have also been home to some rather interesting fertility rites to the pagan deities that were once worshipped in the area. However, these have been replaced with rather more demure Christian feasts, such as the Saint Peter and Saint Paul feast, which takes place on 29 June and involves drinking wine and eating rabbits.
What’s That Building That Overlooks Buskett?
That building is the Verdala Palace, once the hunting lodge of Grand Master Hughes de Verdalle. Today, the palace is the summer home for the President of Malta. The palace is not usually open to the public, but occasionally events take place there. Pre-Covid, we went there for a Baroque concert!
What Will I See At Buskett Gardens?
It’s probably best to call Buskett Gardens Buskett Woodlands. If you’re expecting beautiful gardens, you will be disappointed. Consider it more of a walk through the woods.
You’ll see Mediterranean pines and cypress trees, white poplars, ashes, elms, oaks, carob, cactus, vineyards, lemon and orange groves, and wildflowers. There are several pathways; sometimes, you see a sign saying you’re on a trail, but then you’ll never see another sign. However, the park is not huge, so you won’t get lost.
There are a few picnic areas, so if you’re looking for a shady spot for a nibble, this could be for you. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash.
If You’re Lucky
If you’re lucky, you might even spot a chameleon or an Algerian hedgehog. Or even a painted frog lurking in the waterways. Apparently, the painted frog is the only endemic subspecies amphibian in Malta. Sadly, we weren’t lucky or, more likely, not very observant.
The woodlands are meant to be a good spot for seeing birds on their seasonal migration, and we also noticed a poster about the plan to reintroduce Barn Owls back into the wild at Buskett. Sadly in Malta, the hunters prefer shooting birds and stealing barn owls.
Best Time To Visit Buskett
Spring and Autumn are lovely after the rains when everything is lush and green, and the wildflowers are all in bloom.
What Else Is There To See Near Buskett?
Mdina is not too far away and a must-visit. Nearby Rabat is also worthy of a walk around. Lots of catacombs in Rabat, if that’s your thing. We haven’t seen them yet.
The weird Clapham Junction cart ruts are very nearby, but you will need a car to get to them.
And Dingli Cliffs aren’t too far away. Always quite pleasant for a stroll and a coffee stop.
How Do I Get To Buskett Gardens
Buskett Garden is situated in the lush Wied Il-Luq valley, south of Rabat near Mdina and to the east of Dingli.
The easiest way to get to Buskett is with a car, and there is free car parking.
If you don’t fancy driving or braving a taxi (actually ECabs and Bolt are pretty good), it is possible to take a bus, but you will have to change buses at least twice on the way!
How Much Does It Cost To Visit Buskett Gardens
It’s free to enter.
Would We Recommend Visiting Buskett Gardens?
As long as you realise it’s not really a garden, and it’s certainly no Yosemite, but if you’re craving a bit of countryside, then yeah, why not.
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