There are so many reasons to visit Malta for your next holiday, that you wouldn’t even imagine. Malta is steeped in history and culture, home to one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, and is blessed with 300 days of sunshine. Malta, is also home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Malta is actually made up of three islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. While Malta is the largest of the islands and the most visited, the relatively unspoilt island of Gozo is popular for its peaceful way of life and stunning scenery. Comino is tiny, practically uninhabited, car-free, and home to the famous Blue Lagoon. And, all islands are easily accessible by boat.
-> Check out our list of what makes Malta so special.
1. Fort Saint Elmo
Be stunned by the mighty citadel of Valletta.
You simply can’t miss Fort Saint Elmo in Valletta – it shoulders above the old city with its honey-hued stone, looking like something out of Game of Thrones, keeping watch over the main harbour and the Med. The great rock citadel was built by the Knights Hospitaller way back in the 16th century. It’s now the icon of the islands’ UNESCO capital.
2. Catacombs and cathedral in Mdina
Unearth the mysteries of old Mdina.
Venerable Mdina is also known as Città Vecchia and the Silent City of Malta. It’s an apt name for the onetime Maltese capital, which sits close to the middle of the main island. More than 3,000 years old, it hosts some of the greatest cultural treasures of the nation.
~ Game of Thrones fans will easily recognise the the walled city of Mdina, (Malta’s first capital city), as the location for King’s Landing in the first series, and the Azure Window in Gozo (which collapsed into the sea in 2017) was the setting for Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen’s wedding. ~
3. Some seriously blue seas await
Lagoons and coves washed by turquoise Mediterranean water.
The Mediterranean around Malta always seems to be bluer than blue, especially when the summer sun is beating down between May and September. Malta’s location in the south Mediterranean ensures a year-round warm climate, with 300 days of sunshine. Average temperatures range from 16 degrees in January to 31 degrees in July and August, making it an ideal summer or winter holiday destination. You can search out some seriously gorgeous swimming spots on the main island, like glistening Balluta Bay on the north-east coast, where steps dip into cobalt waters from a buzzy promenade.
Alternatively, the rockier isles of Gozo and Comino have their own treats. The appropriately named Blue Lagoon awaits in their direction, famed for its resplendent, sand-bottomed cove. Then there are the gold-tinted sands of Ramla Bay, sloping into turquoise waters with light waves – excellent for a family day out on the shore.
4. Traces of Caravaggio
The unruly artist painted some of his greatest works in Malta.
Art lovers will be interested to know that Michelangelo Merisi, also known as Caravaggio, worked in Malta from 1571-1610. Dark and brooding Caravaggio remains one of the most evocative painters of all time. His world famous ‘Beheading of St. John the Baptist’ is still on display in the Oratory of the Cathedral of St. John in Valletta as well as another one of his famous works, St. Jerome.
5. The cuisine
Hearty and influenced by the Moors, there’s plenty to taste.
Malta’s cuisine is an eclectic mix of the many civilisations that occupied the islands over the centuries. It takes a little from Italy, a pinch of spice from North Africa, a twist of Spanish flair, and the country heartiness of the Normans. It’s like a culinary reflection of the history of the islands themselves, and one that’s sure to impress any gourmand.
Fish plays a big role. Make for the harbourside of Marsaxlokk when the boats pull in to see the catch of the day being hauled straight into the tavernas. Malta has five Michelin Star restaurants, three restaurants with a Bib Gourmand award and 23 restaurants that have received the Michelin Plate award. There is no doubt that Malta great food scene, and no matter what type of food you desire, you will find it if you visit Malta.
6. The scuba diving
Caves, wrecks, and reefs combine to make Malta a seriously good scuba destination.
With over 120 miles of coastline and swathes of the clear Mediterranean Sea sloshing all around it, Malta might just be tailor-made for scuba divers. You won’t have to venture far to find an amazing dive spot. They come in the form of the famous Blue Hole, a submerged cave over on Gozo, as well as Ċirkewwa, a region replete with coral reefs and even underwater statues. Its calm clear water makes it ideal for beginners and advanced divers, with excellent visibility.
7. Dwejra Bay
Rugged rocks and sky-blue seas.
Dwejra Bay is lined with caves, rock-ribbed cliffs, and lonely islets, making it one of the most dramatic sections of Malta’s coastline. You can find it in the remote western region of San Lawrenz, on the wild island of Gozo. There, beautiful walking trails weave across high cliffs to give spectacular views past the stones, coastal herbs and headlands.
But you don’t have to stay on dry land. In fact, Dwejra Bay is among Malta’s best dive sites, offering deep underwater caves with unusual marine species.
Sail through clear seas to remote bays in Comino.
Comino is a tiny limestone islet wedged between Malta and Gozo, the 2 main islands of the archipelago. Size aside, there’s plenty to explore, with rugged cliffs and deep waters that make for an ideal yachting location. However, the real piece de resistance surely has to be the Blue Lagoon. That might be the Malta you’ve seen on the postcards and in the travel brochures, where the Med does its best impression of the Caribbean. Expect clear waters rolling into a sandy inlet, offering plenty of snorkelling and wild swimming opportunities.
~ A top Instagram location! ~
9. The wine
Medal-winning reds and a tradition of over 2 millennia.
The production of wine in Malta can be traced back more than 2,000 years when it was brought to these islands by the seafaring Phoenicians. Since then, grape growing has spread from the mainstay vineyards on Malta itself across to Gozo, while Maltese reds and whites have slowly been making a name for themselves on the international stage.
The most famous wine house in the country is arguably Marsovin. They have cellars located just south of Valletta.
10. Ggantija Temples
See ruins that pre-date the Pyramids of Giza.
Forget Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, Malta’s Ggantija Temples pre-date the lot. They clock up a mind-boggling age of 5,000 years or more, found in the remote and rural heart of Gozo island.
The true purpose of the temples remains shrouded in mystery. However, the Gozo Museum of Archaeology does host a few artistic icons retrieved from the remains that might shed some light.
*** USEFUL INFORMATION***
~ Malta is a small island measuring 17 miles long and 9 miles wide, with a total area of 95 square miles. It has a population of just over 500,000 and is an easy island to explore. You drive on the left hand side of the road, which is handy if you want to hire a car, and there are two official languages, Maltese and English.
~ Festivals and cultural centres are plentiful in Malta, so much so that Valletta was awarded the European Capital of Culture in 2018. One of the advantages of being a ‘small’ city is that rather than being full of massive international hotel chains, you can expect to find chic boutique hotels within the city walls. You will also discover local shops, bars and restaurants, as well as a lively atmosphere.
~ Whether you want a relaxing holiday in Mellieha beside one of Malta’s best beaches, or prefer a livelier scene in St Julian’s, Malta has holiday resorts and accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. Sliema is another popular choice with tourists, as it is just a short ferry ride from Valleta.
Are you convinced yet?
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