Welcome to Malta, a small yet beautiful Mediterranean gem situated below Italy. The stunning island seamlessly blends incredible landscapes and vibrant culture to create the perfect holiday experience. Because of its size, you can easily cover everything the country has to offer in the short timeframe you’re visiting – not many places can provide this much in terms of history and culture in such a small space.
With crystal-clear waters, ancient wonders, and delicious traditional cuisine, it’s no wonder why Malta is so popular among budding travellers. In this comprehensive travel guide, we’ll take a look at the best things to include in your itinerary, including any important information you’ll need to know.
Uncover the secrets of Malta
On the Maltese islands, there are so many different things to see and do, from adventure treks to temple ruins and watersports. We’ll discuss some of the highlights in more detail below.
For the smallest capital in Europe, Valletta sure packs a punch. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains more than 300 monuments. Have a walk around and gaze at St. Johns Co-Cathedral, admiring the many churches before dining out at the waterfront.
There’s also the National War Museum, where you can learn more about military history from ancient times up to the Cold War. And you can’t miss the catacombs, which were once used as a secret military base back in World War II.
Sightseeing in Gozo
Malta’s sister island, Gozo, is perfect if you want to stretch your legs while taking in some of the most spectacular panoramic views. There are many hiking trails here that combine history and nature to create an engaging and refreshing experience.
If you only have time for one walk, head from Marsalforn to the (now gone) Azure Window. During the walk, you’ll be able to see salt pans in Xwejni that have helped to harvest salt for centuries.
You can also go scuba diving in Gozo, by heading to the Blue Hole. Here you’ll be able to witness the diverse marine life while swimming in the crystal-clear waters. You may also find sunken planes and submarines from WWII littered around Malta during your dive.
Relaxing at the beach
You should always schedule some time in your busy schedule to visit the beaches in Malta, particularly during the summer. Great places to soak up some rays include Mellieha Bay and Golden Bay, while Armier and Paradise Bay provide some great views of Gozo.
The beaches in Gozo are also just as beautiful but tend to be quieter, which is great should you wish to avoid heavily populated tourist spots. Do note that there isn’t always much shade, so always bring plenty of water and suncream.
Discover gastronomic paradise
Indulge in the culinary delights of Malta and savour the unique flavour of the food here. The island’s unique position between Africa and Europe means there are elements from English, Italian, and North African cuisine.
While the restaurant scene is mostly a mix of speciality eateries, there are places that serve their own adaptations of traditional cuisine. These include things like Lampuki (fish) pie, Bragioli (beef olives), and Kupunata, which is similar to ratatouille.
In local shops, you’ll often find Bigilla, which is a thick paste made from garlic and broad beans. Other great snacks to try include pastizzi, a pastry filled with ricotta, and hobz biz-zejt, bread rubbed with tomatoes and filled with tuna, onion, garlic, and capers.
Maltese people are very hospitable and friendly. Malta is in fact one of the few countries across the globe that typically has twice as many tourists as it does citizens, so they’re used to visitors. Just make sure you are being as polite and courteous to the locals as possible.
Is Malta a safe place to travel to? The short answer is yes. It is much safer than other popular European hotspots, with crime rates being very low. The only real threats are from nature, with the odd thunderstorm and flooding, which rarely cause harm.
As always, be aware of petty crime like pickpocketing, which is common in all European cities. Take caution and keep all belongings secure, especially in popular tourist spots, making sure to not display cash and flashy jewellery out in the open. If unsure then follow these top tips to help you stay safe when travelling.
Flying into Malta
There is only one airport that serves the Maltese islands, which is Luqa Malta International Airport (MLA). The airport is located 10km south of Valletta, the capital, so you’ll likely need to book some airport transfers ahead of your arrival if you plan to stay here.
Alternatively, there are buses linking the airport to Valletta Bus Terminal, but these are known for their long delays. Therefore, you may be better off choosing a taxi or transfer for peace of mind.
Transport in Malta
Public transport is very easy to use in Malta, so you needn’t worry about any complicated subway systems. The only mode of public transport is by bus but the network isn’t fully developed, so do expect some delays – you can blame this on the laid-back culture here.
The buses are fairly reliable and frequent in Malta and are very cheap. Do note that these can become full quite quickly and some may pass you by, so always leave plenty of time in your schedule for any delays. If you’re staying for a week, you can purchase a 7-Day Tallinja Explore Card, which offers unlimited travel on all buses, including night services.
You can also hire a car to travel around Malta by renting one from the major tourist spots, such as St. Paul’s Bay and Qawra, or the airport. Like the UK, people in Malta drive on the left-hand side so things shouldn’t seem too dissimilar. Just be aware drivers here aren’t always interested in abiding by the law.