Malta is a beautiful island-country just south of Sicily. Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, the archipelago has three islands – Gozo, the big island of Malta, and the smaller island of Comino. The palm-tree landscaped islands have picturesque hilltop towns, beautiful fishing villages, and an intriguing heritage. Malta has megalithic temples, Neolithic burial chambers, and fortresses that go back a thousand years. Learn about the island’s ancient history. History buffs will be impressed to know that the Malta Knights have fought against the Turks.
There is so much variety, so many places to visit, and things to do that it will be nearly impossible to see all the attractions in one visit. You can scuba dive to explore the underwater caves, hike the fossil-infused limestone cliffs, or relax on beautiful beaches. Many beaches have red golden sand, sheltered bays, and are surrounded by limestone cliffs.
Valletta, the capital, is an elegant city with a lot of history. It can be the right base for exploring the big island. Gozo is the best place for a relaxing beach vacation. Malta gets more than 300 days of sunshine a year.
The island-nation also has a fascinating culture that is influenced by Tunisia, as this African country is very close. In fact, the Maltese language itself is derived from Italian mixed with Arabic. The food has Sicilian and Middle Eastern influences.
You can spend a vacation in Malta just like you want. Get busy and visit the main attractions, enjoy the natural beauty, or just spend a relaxing holiday. Autumn and spring are the best times to visit. There are many outdoor concerts and religious festivals in the villages during the summer.
Here are the places in Malta you shouldn’t miss –
Gozo, north of the main island, is an idyllic paradise. It has many pristine beaches and quiet towns. You can easily spend a week here. The countryside has traditional villages, valleys, and rolling hills. The hills lead to small coves, beaches, and old fishing ports.
Ramla Bay is the most popular beach on the island. It has a white sandy beach, which slopes down gently into the Mediterranean. You can swim here safely if you want. It has excellent tourist infrastructure, which includes lounge chairs, umbrellas, restrooms, showers, changing areas, and small restaurants.
Ramla Bay — Red sandy beach in Gozo
The larger island has most of the tourist and cultural attractions. But Gozo too has its share. Rabat is a medieval fortified city. Marsalforn is a busy seaside resort. You can also see the Ggantija Temples, which are more than 5000 years old. You will find Baroque churches in many small towns and even in some villages.
Sliema is a resort town in the eastern side of the main island. It has many restaurants, bars, and shops. But the town still retains a laidback vibe. It also has Malta’s longest coastline with many beaches like the MedAsia Playa, Silema beach, and the Fond Ghadir beach. Tower Road runs through the beach area. the 10-kiloemeter promenade is buzzing with activity. You will see many joggers, bars, and BBQ shops.
Malta’s capital Valletta is just across a small creek. Many wealthy Valletta residents come here for nightlife and shopping.
Sliema is also an old town where you will find many traditional buildings. There are historical attractions as well like Fort Tigne, Fort Manoel, and the Stella Maris Church.
3. St. Julians
St. Julians, also called San Gilja, is immediately north of Sliema. Once a small fishing village, it is now a busy resort town and has the most vibrant nightlife scene in Malta. You will find many restaurants, hotels, and luxury villas for rent along the waterfront. There are also many cinemas, bowling alleys, and late-night bars, making it a busy entertainment hub.
There is a lot to do here. Walk along the promenade, visit the nightclubs at Paceville, or admire the Portomaso Tower. Portomaso Tower, the tallest building on the island, is also located here. Visit the 17th century Spinola Palace and the Love Monument. Don’t forget to add your padlock because this will give you good luck in love.
Every August, a summer fiesta is held St. Julians with fine wine, dining, and dancing.
Malta’s capital, Valletta, is located on the other side beyond Sliema. It is a small but elegant port city. The 16th-century Saint John’s Cathedral is located at the heart of Valetta. You will be impressed by the opulent décor. Also visit the huge Grandmaster’s Palace nearby, which was once the home of the Knights of Malta. The King of Spain granted knighthood to the European nobleman in 1530. The palace houses many beautiful paintings and impressive armory. Valletta is a great city if you appreciate historic monuments and culture.
Valletta is the most modern city in Malta. It is also an excellent base for exploring the island. There are ferry services to Sicily as well.
Mdina is a beautiful medieval hilltop town. Also called Città Notabile or Città Vecchia, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It used to be the capital of the island during the medieval times. It’s a world without cars.
As you enter through the grand main gate, you will feel like you are walking back in time. There is a lot to see within the fortified walls. See the huge ramparts, old sandstone buildings, the St. Paul’s Cathedral with its impressive Baroque architecture, marble columns, domes, and the stunning ceiling paintings.
See the historic palaces with facades inspired by the architecture of the Château de Versailles. The Palazzo Falson Museum houses many ancient coins, carpets, art, and antiques.
6. St Paul’s Catacombs
Very close to the Mdina city center are the catacombs that go back to the 4th and 9th centuries. This is the largest Roman burial chamber in Malta. One section of the burial chamber is open for tourists. Go on a tour to learn about the burial traditions of the Romans. It was made outside the city because according to Roman laws, the dead had to be buried outside the city walls. You can also visit the Saint Agatha catacombs nearby.
7. Victoria (Rabat)
Victoria or Rabat is the capital of Gozo island. Sitting on top of a hill, the city wonderfully includes both the old and modern parts. The medieval citadel has fortified walls.
There are many museums to visit. The Gran Castello House is a folklore museum. The Domvs Romana Museum will give you a glimpse into the daily life during the Roman times. The exhibits are on Roman cuisine, entertainment, and fashion. It also has some of the best 1st-century Roman mosaics. In the Gozo Museum of Archaeology, you will see many prehistoric stone sculptures.
There are other attractions too like the 16th-century Casa Bernard that has masterpiece paintings and antique furniture. Also visit the 17th-century Parish Church of St. Paul’s and the Gozo Cathedral, which has richly painting ceilings.
8. Ghadira Bay
Ghadira Bay is the most popular and largest beach in Malta. The Mellieha Bay has clear water, which stays for a mile into the sea, making it one of the safest places for a swim. It’s a crescent-shaped beach with many sun lounger and umbrellas. There is a large parking area and public toilets in the northern end. There are many places to eat, including brand stores like Domino’s and Starbucks. You will also see many boats in the sea, around a floating platform. A ferry service leaves for Comino and the Blue Lagoon.
Very close to the beach is the Ghadira Nature Reserve, which is a swamp area and the home of many birds. You will get stunning views of the entire area, including the sea from here.
9. Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon is located in the smallest island of Comino. It has stunning turquoise water that laps the white sandy seabed. It looks like a huge swimming pool as there are no waves here. This is a great place for swimming, floating on inflatable tubes, and relaxing. You can swim to reach the small cove and beach on the other side.
There are lounge chairs and umbrellas on rent. There are also refreshment stands. Around the Blue Lagoon, there are many hiking trails. Water sports is also available. You can also try scuba diving or cliff jumping.
Also visit the nearby Crystal Lagoon, which too has stunning scenery. There are sea caves to explore and the P31 shipwreck for divers.
10. The Blue Grotto
The beautiful Blue Grotto is in the southwestern corner of the big island, close to the international airport. Take a guided boat tour and cruise through the six caves, including the Grotto. You will surely be impressed with the luminous pool and its cobalt-hued water. There are boat trips throughout the year, provided the sea is calm. The water shines in contrast to the limestone rocks of the caves.
It is also popular with divers because there is a lot of marine life here. Also visit the nearby Wied iz-Zurrieq village, where you will find many cafes and souvenir shops. Pick a cliff side restaurant for a meal.
11. Hagar Qim, Mnajdra
Very close to each other, they are both beautiful megalithic temples and some of the world’s most ancient religious sites. Hagar Qim dates back to 3,200 BC. The structures around it are even older. Historians believe that the temple complex was used for fertility rituals and animal sacrifices.
Mnajdra is only 500 meters away. There are three temples to see here. this is the most impressive Maltese megalithic architecture you will find on the island. This site was used for astronomy.
Marsaxlokk is a fishing village at the southernmost corner of the main island. It has a busy harbor with many colorful fishing boats. There are a few sea caves to explore in the region and many restaurants that offer seafood. St Peter’s Pool is a beautiful beach.
The area also has an interesting history. It was occupied by the Phoenicians in the 9th century and later by the Turkish. Archeologists have even found Bronze Age tools.
This is another beautiful village very close to the airport. Also called Città Ferdinand, it is in the fertile Girgenti Valley. See the Parish Church of Saint Nicholas and its Baroque façade at the center of the village. Visit the nearby Dingli Cliffs for scenic views.
The annual Siggiewi Festa is held in June over a week with music, fireworks, and authentic Maltese foods. The Maltese Summer Folklore Nights are held between May and October in the village. The event showcases the culture of the islands with music, food, and dancing.
14. St Peter’s Pool
The Mediterranean hear comes inland and creates a small crystal clear pool. It is a delightful place for swimmers and snorkelers. The water is clean, azure, and strikingly clear. There are rocks all around, so cliff jumping is also a popular activity. You will have to walk a bit to reach St Peter’s Pool but it is totally worth it.
15. The Hypogeum
It is a mysterious underground burial chamber that was constructed between 3000 and 3600 BC. The chambers and passages have been hand cut from rocks. Over time, 7,000 people have been buried here. You can still see carvings and ochre-painted symbols on the walls.
A UNESCO Heritage site, only 80 tourists are allowed a day, so make sure to book your ticket in advance.
16. Dwejra Bay
Head up to the western end of Gozo island to reach the beautiful Dwejra Bay. There are many rock formations formed by the sea and steep cliffs all around. This is one of the best places in Malta for snorkeling and diving. A scenic walking path leads all the way north to the Azure Window.
Game of Thrones fans will recognize this place immediately.
17. Popeye Village
A wonderful theme park for both the kids and their parents. This was originally the set for the 1980 musical “Popeye” starring Robin Williams. Now, the village has 20 wooden structures that includes the firehouse, bakery, post office, and other buildings. You will be greeted by Popeye the sailor as you enter. There is also a beach with sunbathing decks, many souvenir shops, and restaurants.
The town in the main island has three seafronts with water sports. There are many hotels and holiday villas for rent. The promenade goes all the way to St. Paul’s. You can also rent a boat for a sea cruise. It is also close to St. Julians and its nightlife. The National Aquarium is located at the northern end beside the Qawra Point beach.
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