Explore Malta

Explore Malta

With a history dating back to 5900BC, Malta has seen it all. Its strategic location in the middle of the Mediterranean has always attracted foreign powers, and each of the many rulers it had throughout the centuries left its mark. Although it’s one of the world’s smallest archipelagos, Malta is densely populated. Nowadays, Malta is an independent republic and part of the European Union, but it still attracts millions of tourists each year, which is not surprising considering its 7000 years of history and an average of 300 sunny days a year.

The archipelago is made up of the main island of Malta, the smaller sister island of Gozo, and Comino, which sits between the former two islands. Other smaller, uninhabited islands that form part of the archipelago are Cominotto, Filfla and St Paul’s Islands.

Although small, Malta has always been popular with foreigners. Once upon a time, they used to plunder its shores. Luckily, these days they only visit the island to enjoy its culture, natural beauty and nightlife.

Attractions in Malta

As hard as it is to narrow down Malta’s many must-visit places, some are more unmissable than others. First among these is the capital city of Valletta, a city ‘built by gentlemen for gentlemen’. It was built by the Knights of St John following the Great Siege of 1565, and is arguably their most ambitious project on the Maltese islands. Much of the fortress city is pedestrianised, and in its small area encompasses historic buildings, palazzi, museums, fine restaurants, cafes, magnificent churches and a bustling shopping area.

The medieval city of Mdina shares the top spot on the must-visit list with Valletta. It was Malta’s first capital and sits on a hill in the centre of the island, surrounded by fortifications which were also built by the Knights of St John. Mdina is dubbed ‘the silent city’, and is a major attraction for tourists and locals alike. Walking along its narrow, winding roads, feels like going back to a more genteel era, when Malta’s nobility inhabited this architectural jewel.

Valletta’s Grand Harbour

Valletta’s Grand Harbour is overlooked by The Three Cities: Senglea, Cospicua and Vittoriosa. These ancient fortified towns played a vital part in Malta’s history, and have a rich cultural heritage. A day or two spent exploring their alleyways and palazzi are highly recommended, as is a stroll by the yacht marina and a drink at the many wine bars.

Further south is a scattering of old fishing villages which have grown in size but have retained their character. Most popular among these is Zurrieq, which is renowned for its seafood restaurants, brilliant blue sea, the Blue Grotto and hiking trails with breathtaking views of its cliffs and unspoilt countryside.

The island of Gozo

The island of Gozo is another place that cannot be missed. A minimum of a day exploring the greener island is a must. With plenty of walking trails, water sports, unspoilt beaches, prehistoric temples and Baroque churches, there is something for everyone.

Last but definitely not least is Comino, the virtually uninhabited sister island renowned for its Blue Lagoon and its popularity with Hollywood directors who filmed some major motion pictures on it.

ACTIVITIES

Sports, Recreation and Leisure

Whether you’re visiting in winter or summer, outdoor activities are always available in Malta. In winter, exploring the countryside on bikes or on foot, abseiling, or going on a quad tour are all popular activities. Summer is, of course, when the islands come into their own. Scuba diving, water skiing, snorkelling and other water sports attract many tourists from around the globe.

If your idea of downtime consists of people-watching from a cafe, followed by an afternoon of lounging on a sandy beach, and ending the day eating a delicious meal at a restaurant by the sea, Malta is also the place for you. There is no shortage of excellent eateries or coffee shops, and beaches, whether sandy or rocky, are what Malta does best.

However, Malta is not only about swimming and sunbathing. Outdoor concerts are held regularly throughout the summer months, and summer is also when each village takes turns celebrating its patron saint (think fireworks, marching bands, colourful decorations and sacred music concerts in churches). Whether it’s Paceville’s clubs, Valletta’s wine bars or a night at a casino, you will find something to stay up late for.

ACTIVITIES

History and Culture

The many palazzi, museums and historic buildings scattered all over the islands are a reflection of Malta’s remarkable history. As remarkable as the country’s history are its Neolithic temples, which attract tourists and archaeology enthusiasts from all over the world. England has Stonehenge, Egypt has got the pyramids, but Malta’s temples are older than both. And if music and theatre are your thing, you’re in for a treat. Malta’s calendar of events is always brimming with classical music festivals, opera, art exhibitions and live performances.