Malta is an idyllic archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean. Aside from the obvious draw of its glorious golden beaches and sparkling turquoise coastline, this island country is steeped in Maltese history and culture, dating back to 4,000 BC.
Take your time to discover the fascinating ancient fortresses, megalithic temples and Neolithic tombs of Malta. Sunbathe on beautiful beaches, enjoy Maltese cuisine and combine it with excursions along fossil-infused limestone cliffs or scuba dive through extraordinary underwater caves. And the best part? With warm summers and mild winters, it is the perfect vacation destination all year round.
Situated along the southeast coast, the Fortress City, as Valletta is called, has many claims to fame. It is the southernmost capital in Europe and the smallest capital in the European Union. A city ‘built by gentlemen for gentlemen’, Valletta is the administrative and commercial heart of Malta.
This Maltese capital has a markedly baroque character, influenced by mannerist, neoclassical and modern architecture. There will be no shortage of historical wonders here, from ancient forts and historical museums to 16th century mansions and baroque palaces, gardens and churches. Not surprisingly, the city adopted the nickname ‘Superbissima’, which means ‘the proudest’.
When visiting Valletta, we recommend visiting St. John’s Cathedral and museum, Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, or taking the ferry to the Three Cities, the trio of fortified cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua.
Mdina is a fortified city in the North Region. It was the capital of Malta throughout the Middle Ages until the Order of Saint John declared Birgu the administrative center. Today, it remains a walled city and is home to less than 300 people (the adjacent city of Rabat is home to another 11,000 people outside the city walls).
Established as Maleth in the 8th century BC by the Phoenicians, the city was renamed Melite by the Romans. When it was occupied by the Byzantines, the city was reduced to its current size, but still retains its medieval charm. There are some impressive examples of Baroque and Norman architecture, as well as palaces that now serve as private residences.
Today, Mdina is one of the most popular places in Malta, attracting 750,000 tourists each year. Interestingly, the city does not allow any vehicles other than ambulances or those belonging to residents – one of the reasons for its nickname as the “Silent City”. Take your time to explore the city walls, St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, and the French Baroque Palace of Vilhena.
3. Gozo Island
Gozo -also known as G?awdex- is the second largest island in the seven-island archipelago. Gozo dates back to 5,000 BC, when Sicilian farmers discovered the island, and is less developed than the south of Malta. Instead, rural Gozo is known for its picturesque hills, country walks, February carnival and excellent beaches. Gozo is one of the best diving destinations in the Mediterranean
The Ggantija (meaning “belonging to the giants”) temples were built during the Neolithic period and are believed to be the oldest religious structures in the world. Local folklore says that they were created by giants.
Other fascinating natural attractions include the Dwejra Inland Sea, the Wied il-Mielah Window and the Blue Window which was filmed in Game of Thrones and has since collapsed. There will also be no shortage of cathedrals, churches and chapels. Don’t miss the baroque cathedral of Cittadella and the church of?ebbu? covered in onyx, the second oldest consecrated church in Gozo.
Marsaxlokkk is a much more relaxed authentic Maltese fishing village. Aside from its photogenic harbor lined with colorful fishing boats, it’s most famous for its daily open-air fish market and several World War II-era military outposts.
Ever since the Phoenicians landed here in the 9th century BC, Marsaxlokkk has been a popular landing place. Both the Romans and the Arabs anchored in the bay during their reign, as did the Ottoman fleet during the 1565 siege. Some historical points of interest include the Marsaxlokk Church (1897) dedicated to the Virgin of Pompeii, the Fort of Santa Lucia (1610), built by order of Saint John, and the thousand-year-old Fort Tas-Sil?
This quiet hamlet is a good place for lunch, especially on Sundays when the fish market is sold directly to the public on the quayside. Enjoy a walk through the Xrobb lG?a?in Natural Park that encompasses more than 155,000 square meters of nature and coastline, or head to one of the four surrounding beaches.
5. St. Paul’s Bay
Paul’s Bay is the largest town in the northern region of Malta, encompassing the towns of Bugibba, Wardija, Qawra, Xemxija, Bidnija and Mistra. St. Paul’s Bay, dating back to 4,000 BC, is the most populous city in Malta, but not only because of its inhabitants, but also because of its megalithic temples, its ancient chariot routes, its Roman ruins, its 17th-century fortresses and its Punic tombs. Many fortresses were built during the rule of the Order of Saint John, including the Wignacourt Tower, the oldest watchtower in Malta, and the Arrias Battery, the only surviving battery.
San Pablo Bay also served as a landing place during the French invasion of 1798 and as a rest camp during World War II. After the Maltese uprising, it became the main port of Malta. Today, St Paul’s Bay offers a quiet place to soak up Maltese village life. Although St Paul’s Bay isn’t the best option for beach bums – the rocky shoreline only has a small beach – it offers plenty to make up for it. Don’t miss the Simar Nature Reserve and the town’s July festival!
6. St Julian’s
Julian’s – also known as San Giljan – is located north of Valletta. Named after a patron saint known as ‘Julián el Hospitalario’ and ‘Julián el Pobre’, it was once a mere fishing village. Today, it is a very popular place for nightlife and tourism, with many luxurious hotels and restaurants along the coast. Stroll along the boardwalk, admire the Portomaso Tower or go to Paceville’s nightclubs. This entertainment center has bowling, cinemas and night bars.
Self-guided tours are easy here. Head to the Balluta area to visit the neo-Gothic church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen and admire the nearby Art Deco buildings. Opt for a romantic cruise on the bay or go swimming in St George’s Bay.
Continue and you will arrive at the Bay of Spínola with its famous palace and its Monument of Love, where you can add your padlock for luck in love. He discovers a life built in the old Pembroke Barracks and some incredible street art at White Rocks.
7. Golden Bay
If you are looking to get a tan, Golden Bay is your best option. Located along the northwest coast, it is known for its natural dunes and glorious golden sand with a reddish tinge. Easily accessible by car or public transport, this Blue Flag beach is a hive of activity for sunbathing, swimming, water sports and beach barbecues in the summer months. Golden Bay is one of the most popular beaches in Malta, both for locals and tourists, but be aware that it gets very busy during the high season.
Do you want to spend a lazy afternoon or evening on the beach? Pick up your barbecue supplies at the nearby store (they sell disposable grills) or hang out with a drink at one of the restaurants and cafes along the waterfront.
8. Mellieha Bay
Mellieha is one of the northernmost towns in Malta. Situated on a hilltop above Mellie?a Bay, Malta’s largest sandy beach, it offers stunning views over beautiful valleys and picturesque villages.
Mellieha is a destination worth visiting if you are looking for a traditional Maltese village experience close to the beach. Hiring a car is recommended if you wish to explore the 19th century Mellie?a Parish Church, the 16th century Shrine of Our Lady of Mellie?a and the Red Tower which offers sensational views. Don’t miss the Popeye Village amusement park, which is great for the whole family, and the town festival held in September.
That’s not all that Mellieha has to offer: the G?adira Nature Reserve is also the best place in Malta for bird watching. Stroll along the coastal paths of Il-Majjistral Natural and Historical Park and visit the Mellie?a Air Raid Shelter, the largest of the 46 shelters built during World War II.
9. Hagar Qim and Mnajdra
Hagar Qim and Mnajdra are two incredible megalithic temples – both worth adding to your Malta list. Located about 500 meters apart, they are some of the oldest religious sites in the world
Hagar Qim – which means “worship stones” – consists of the main temple made of Globigerina limestone dating from 3,200 BC, and three additional megalithic structures next to it that are even older. Historians believe that the complex was used as a place for animal sacrifice and fertility rituals.
Mnajdra, on the other hand, was built around the fourth millennium BC. Made of coral limestone, it consists of three temples: the upper, the middle and the lower. The lower temple is one of the most impressive examples of Maltese megalithic architecture, and is believed to have been used for astronomy. Keep an eye out for Mnajdra featured on the Maltese one, two and five cent euro coins.
The resort town of Sliema – which means ‘peace’ – is situated on the northeast coast. Once a small fishing village and summer resort for wealthy Valletta residents, this city is a hub for shopping, socializing and nightlife.
Sliema’s main attraction is `the Sliema Front’, which stretches from Ta’ Xbiex and G?ira in the south to St. This 10km promenade connects the three towns and is always packed with joggers, picnickers and lovers. of the barbecues. There are no sandy beaches, but here you can swim in the Roman baths along the coast.
There is a lot of history in Sliema. The most famous is Fort Tigne, which marks the site of one of the most notable battles of the Great Siege of 1565. The leader of the Turkish troops was killed and Tigne, one of the oldest polygonal forts in the world, was built to defend the port of new attacks. Other historic sites include the Baroque-inspired Stella Maris Church (1850) and Fort Manoel (1725), built by the Knights of St. John.