Malta, the largest of the three major islands that constitute the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea, is known as a summer destination in Europe, but it has a lot more to offer throughout the year. The island has over 6,500 years of history and has been visited by the most civilized people on earth, among the Phoenicians, Romans, and Byzantines. These islands have adopted elements of every civilization that have invaded them, with English food, Italian Catholicism and Arabic language, and boast three UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the entire Maltese capital, Valletta, resplendent with cathedrals, lush gardens and colonnaded squares. In order to help you plan your next trip to this amazing place, here’s an ultimate travel guide to Malta.
Things To Do
The Mediterranean Sea is particularly clear around the islands and there are plenty of sandy beaches at Golden Bay on Malta for you to go for a swim. For rock diving, head to Peter’s Pool on Malta’s Delimara promontory. It is also worth making your way up the obscure country road to Wied il-Ghasri on Gozo, Malta’s sister island. Here, a staircase cut into the cliff-face leads you down to a tiny, pebbled beach at the head of a long, blue inlet where, during the week at least, you have a good chance of being entirely alone. Mgarr, also on Gozo, is far easier to reach and is great for snorkeling.
The Best Way To Get Around Malta
Being a small island, it’s not too difficult to find your away and Google Maps is pretty reliable and up to date. Local street names often exist in English and Maltese versions, which can be confusing, so pay attention.
The public bus service on Malta is a good way to get around. Buses serve the major tourist areas and you can go practically everywhere. Another option is to rent a car, as there are major and local car rental agencies located in Malta. You can also rent motorcycles and bicycles, but just know driving is on the left. Regular ferry service links Cirkewwa on Malta and Mgarr on Gozo, taking about 20 minutes each way in case you want to go on a day trip. There is also an irregular ferry service between each island and Comino, that you can check locally for schedules. You can also check for great options for accommodation with GoGoPlaces!
Food and Drink
If you are into fresh food then Malta is the place for you. Both supermarkets and mini-markets (smaller grocery shops) can be found easily around village centers mostly and prices don’t vary much, even in popular tourist areas.
The best (and freshest) fruit and vegetables are sold at food court stalls. You’ll find a few scattered around in village centers and even at some supermarkets at fixed spots with their trucks. On Tuesdays and Saturdays (mornings) you can find a bunch of them gathered at the farmers’ market at Ta` Qali. Beware of hawkers that go around the more touristic villages as some are known to overcharge tourists, unfortunately. Another option is to check some of the islands famous restaurants, such as Made in Sud or Nenu the Artisan Baker, both known for great food and affordable prices.
Although in the past it was advised not to drink tap water, it is safe to drink nowadays and more often a matter of taste than health. Nevertheless, most Maltese buy bottled water or have their own reverse osmosis systems at home to purify tap water. Some hotels will have their own reservoirs and will advise against drinking tap water, so keep an eye on that and ask in case of doubt. In case you have to send some emails out or get to do some work early in the morning, Mint is the best place for remote workers.
Day 1 – Explore Valletta and ferry to Sliema
Valletta, also known as the Fortress City is abundantly rich in sites to see and explore, intriguing historical buildings around every corner: votive statues, niches, fountains and coats of arms high up on parapets. Narrow side streets are full of tiny quaint shops and cafés, while Valletta’s main streets are lined with larger international branded shops for fashion, music, jewelry and much more.
Gozo is known to provide a tranquil haven for a change of scenery. The charm of Malta’s sister Island is immediately apparent; it’s greener, more rural and smaller, with life’s pace dictated by the seasons, fishing and agriculture.
Steeped in myth, Gozo is thought to be the legendary Calypso’s isle of Homer’s Odyssey – a peaceful, mystical backwater. Baroque churches and old stone farmhouses dot the countryside. Gozo’s rugged landscape and spectacular coastline await exploration with some of the Mediterranean’s best dive sites.
Day 3 – Visit the Three Cities
The Three Cities, medieval fortified cities in the North of Malta, offer an intriguing insight into Malta and its history. Left largely unvisited, these cities are a slice of authentic life as well as a glimpse into Malta’s maritime fortunes.
The Three Cities can rightly claim to be the cradle of Maltese history, as Vittoriosa, Senglea, and Cospicua have provided a home and fortress to almost every people who settled on the Islands. And their harbor inlets have been in use since Phoenician times: the docks always providing a living for local people, but also leaving them vulnerable when Malta’s rulers were at war.
The local communities here celebrate holy days and festivals as nowhere else on the Islands. The most spectacular events are the Easter processions when statues of the “Risen Christ” are carried at a run through crowded streets.
Day 4 – Take a day trip to Comino
Situated between Malta and Gozo, the smaller island of Comino is a paradise for snorkelers, divers, windsurfers, and ramblers. The island’s main attraction is the Blue Lagoon, which you can visit with a day tour from Tours 4 you. In summer, this sheltered inlet of shimmering water over white sand is very popular with day-trippers. Other beaches on the island include Santa Marija Bay and San Niklaw Bay.
Comino is also worth a visit in winter and is ideal for walkers and photographers. With no urban areas or cars on the island, one can easily smell the scent of wild thyme and other herbs.