With the Maltese islands of Gozo and Comino so tantalisingly close, there’s no excuse not to hop on a boat for a little more exploring. Gozo has plenty of walking trails and natural caves, and is carpeted in pretty wildflowers, so if you’re a keen walker or nature lover you’ll be in your element. Comino is home to the picturesque Blue Lagoon, which is a highlight for photographers.
Malta is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and for such a small island it’s a pretty impressive tally. Valletta, the Megalithic temples at Hagar Qim and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum have all been added to the list, and at least one should be on your list of things to do during your holiday here. Unlikely to become a UNESCO site very soon, but still a fun place to visit is Popeye Village in Mellieha – which was the original set for the 1980 film Popeye starring Robin Williams and is now a unique holiday highlight.
Explore traditional villages
In contrast to the bustling walled cities and towns, you’ll find Malta’s charm is in the variety of sleepy little villages you can discover. Here, there’s a more rural way of life, where local crafts include lace making, glass blowing and filigree work. At the heart of most villages you’ll often find a humble parish church, and plenty of gardens filled with wildflowers.
With 300 days of sunshine and a wonderfully warm climate, the beaches are an obvious highlight during your holiday in Malta. The sea’s warm temperatures are perfect for a refreshing swim, and the island has some of the cleanest waters in the E.U. With their large golden sand beaches, Mellieha and Golden Bay are two of the most noteworthy beaches to visit.
Often dubbed an ‘open-air museum’, UNESCO-listed Valletta offers a feast for the cultural senses with beautiful architecture and world-renowned art collections to discover. The city’s stunning harbour, complete with colourful little wooden boats, has been described by many as one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful harbours, and you’ll often find events and celebrations taking place here. Be sure to visit St John’s Co-Cathedral during your time in the ‘City of the Knights’, as the opulent interior is home to two works by Caravaggio.
One of Malta’s UNESCO’s sites, this Neolithic subterranean structure was discovered at the beginning of the 20th century when workers accidentally broke through the roof! Further investigation revealed the site was likely to have been a necropolis and sanctuary and is the only prehistoric burial site that is accessible to the general public. The number of visitors to the site is restricted to 80 a day, so you’ll need to book tickets ahead if you plan to visit – but if you have an interest in archaeology, it’s a site that’s well worth visiting.
Commanding a fantastic hilltop position, Mdina’s honey-coloured buildings means the city almost glows in the sun. Once home to the wealthiest islanders, the city is a stunning example of a walled city, with a blend of medieval and baroque architecture and impressive palaces. Its narrow streets – an innovative way to keep the city cool – restrict the traffic making exploring on foot a breeze. In the evening, the city is beautifully lit by lamps, and as it’s virtually car free, you’ll see why Mdina is referred to as ‘The Silent City’.
Translating to ‘bread with oil’, this is a common snack or light bite for lunch, consisting of freshly-baked Maltese bread smothered in a tangy tomato paste known as kunserva, topped with capers, garlic, olives and dash of black pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil. It’s often served in bars, so it goes particularly well with a refreshing glass of Maltese lager.
Built between 3600 and 3200 BC, the UNESCO-listed megalithic temple of Hagar Qim is actually older than Egypt’s pyramids. That aside, these stone temples which were excavated in 1839, have given historians a fascinating insight into how early settlers lived. Many of the artefacts discovered here, including ‘mother goddess’ statues, are on display at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta. Just a short walk from the site are the Blue Grotto caverns, one of the island’s astounding natural features.
The hot sunny days of the summer months make it the most popular time to visit the island of Malta, but visit in spring and early summer (April to June) and you can enjoy sunny days and less crowds.
If you have a British passport you won’t need a visa to enter Malta. For the latest information on travel regulations visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/malta/entry-requirements .
In Malta, the currency used is the Euro (EUR).
The main languages spoken in Malta are Maltese and English.