Malta is rich in history with plenty of sites to visit but yet vibrant and modern bustling with activities appealing to all. Planning a good itinerary will help you gain a good picture and knowledge of Maltese lifestyle as there are some essentials which will surely give you a memorable experience.
Also described as the world’s most impressive prehistoric monuments as well as being UNESCO world heritage sites. These Temples are a series of pre historic handmade monuments predating the Pyramids and Stonehenge.
The Hypogeum, is a collection of underground burial chambers on three levels dating back 3000 years. The outdoor Mnajdra, Haġar Qim, the Neolithic Temples in Tarxien and of course the Ggantija in Gozo , are significantly different and spectacular. Booking to the Hypogeum is advisable as the site is restricted with the amount of visitors in order to ensure its conservation.
The Capital City Valletta
Before exploring Valletta, the Malta Experience will give you a good insight to Malta’s history, a 50 minute audio visual covering 7000 years of Malta’s history, a show not to be missed.
Valletta, Malta’s open air museum and World UNESCO site is riddled with museums, art & architecture wherever you go! It will blow your mind!
The town was built at the end of the 16th century by the Knights of St John and more importantly as a fortress commanding position over the peninsula.
The city developed around what is now Republic Street (Valletta’s main street), Old Bakery Street and Merchants Street, however the streets are meandering into each other and contain some of the finest examples of Maltese style Baroque architecture. Many buildings in Valletta are used as commercial premises for offices, retail outlets and restaurants. Also, Valletta houses a number of Auberges many of which are used as offices of various government ministries as well as having some other uses.
Popular places to visit in Valletta;
St. Johns Co-Cathedral with its luxurious interior with various designs and mixes of gold, marble mosaic floors and a
lapis lazuli altar as well as numerous Caravaggio’s paintings.
The Grand Master’s Palace in Republic Street was once the home of the Grand Master of the Order of St John, and contains a series of paintings depicting the great siege of 1565, tapestries and one of the best collections of armoury.
The Manuel Theatre is the second-oldest theater in Europe and stages various performances; music/opera, dance, and mainly theatrical acts. St. James Cavalier is also a popular arts complex holding various exhibitions and events. It would be best to check out a calendar of events before.
The National Museum of Fine Art, housed in an 18th-century palace, has a collection of furniture, paintings and treasures connected with the Knights of St John.
Upper and lower Barakka gardens where you can enjoy beautiful harbour views onto the 3 cities.
Merchants Street has a bustling market from Monday to Saturday.
Other places of interest in Valletta hold collections of great works of art, armoury and other valuable pieces dating back into our rich history.
The Three Cities
in the South of Malta ooze history and timeless beauty, besides their unique charm distinguishes them from other towns in Malta. As the first home to the Knights of St. John, the cities valuable structures are far older than Valletta’s.
The three fortified cities across the harbour from Valletta are the cities of Birgu (Vittoriosa), Cospicua (Bormla), and Senglea (L-Isla).
The main focus between the towns lies in Cospicua’s harbour which became a prominent dock area. Its creek served as an area for ship repair during the Second World War, and later on its significant role was evident with its constant flow of ships. However, the savage bombing during that period left the dock area in a sad state loosing much of its military significance. Although there are plans to rejuvenate the area the boats berthed are still added character to the derelict dock.
Most of the commercial activity in Birgu centres on the waterfront with its few restaurants, bars, casino and promenade. Camper and Nicholson Grand Harbour Marina is also situated here mooring a number of luxurious yachts. Further inland Fort St. Angelo stands, a large fortification right at the centre of the Grand Harbour also described as the jewel of the 3 cities. Presently, some parts of the fort is leased to the Order of the Knights of St John while a major part of the fort has been trusted to Heritage Malta as there is a scheduled project underway to restore the fort back to its former glory.
Other places of interest in the area and close by are; Rinella bay, Fort Ricasoli, Bighi (a former major naval hospital), the quaint Kalkara creek, Maritime Museum, the Inquisitors Palace, the Church of Immaculate Conception and Church of St.Lawrence. There is also a weekly outdoor market which is attended by mostly locals. Otherwise, a walk through the towns’ narrow streets and bastions will allow you to explore the hidden appeal of the 3 cities.
Mdina the Silent City
is a beautiful medieval city set in fortified walls and perched on a high plateau towering over the rest of the island. It was once Malta’s capital and the citadel is one of the finest surviving examples of a medieval walled city. Entering the town through a stone drawbridge, thenleads to a maze of narrow winding streets, lined with churches, monasteries and palaces, opening into small piazzas. Palazzo Falzon has a collection of antique weapons and pottery, Mdina cathedral, and a museum that still houses a magnificent collection of art treasures. From Bastion Square, there are breathtaking views of the surrounding fields and villages. Neighbouring Rabat has fine Baroque churches, St Paul’s and St Agatha’s Catacombs and the Roman Villa. There are many interesting walks within close proximity to the town, such as the Chadwick Lake, Dingli Cliffs and Verdala Castle overlooking Buskett Gardens, the only wooded area in Malta
is the main nightlife and entertainment area of Malta. Discos, bars, casino and other entertainment places are found here. This area is more associated for the younger age group although there are various places to suit different tastes and ages.
Fishing Village of M’ Xlokk
is a pleasant seaside village where you will see plenty of local villagers and fishermen sitting on benches, colourful traditional fishing boats known as the Maltese luzzu. The tranquil simple life based on fishing is evident.
Sunday mornings are popular in M’Xlokk where fish hawkers set up stands and sell their catch. Quite an experience!
Neighbouring villages of Birzebbugia and Marsacala are also fishing communities, although its sporadic residential building development has left such towns less quaint, however one can enjoy a walk along the promenade.
boasts of the 3rd largest unsupported Dome in the world. The mystic around the rotunda is that during the WW2, a bomb fell through the church but failed to explode. 28 years later, the Mosta Dome is a beautiful attraction in the middle of the Island, in fact a major tourist site.
Malta can boast of sunshine practically all year round but with temperatures reaching a high of 40c, the Mediterranean clear blue sea is the most excellent place to be. The sea temperature never drops below 13°C (55 °F), so it is not uncommon to swim throughout the year.
The most popular beach area is along the north coast where sandy beaches are plentiful and the clear waters here are ideal for water sports.
The summer months from May- September have the most suitable climate for swimming with June, July and August being Malta’s peak season in fact beaches do tend to get overcrowded during this period.
Most popular beaches are Għadira Bay in Mellieha, Ramla l-Ħamra (Gozo), Paradise Bay, St. Georges Bay in St. Julians mainly for younger crowds and students, Golden Bay, Wied iż-Żurrieq is also amazing, and especially for those who enjoy diving.
Neighbouring on the southwest shore is the Blue Grotto. The ideal thing to do is enjoy a 30 minute boat road through the Grotto itself and see the caves reflecting the vibrant colours of corals.
The coast between Sliema and St. Julians is also popular for bathing although the shoreline is rocky, but for those who prefer a bit more comfort there a few beach lidos to be found along here.
Qawra and Buggibba
are Malta’s largest, seaside resort towns which have been mushrooming since the 1970’s. The coastline promenade stretches to St. Paul’s Bay, which was an old fishing village and still retains some of its value. From some viewpoints you can take in some of the Islands’ open sea views that overlook onto St Paul’s Island which is really the main attraction in this area. The island shares the story of St.Paul being shipwrecked on an island later identified as Malta, in fact a statue of the saint stands on the island.
Although Bugibba shore is rocky it has not prevented the development of hotels and apartments along its coastline. Development also brought along the build up of many food and beverage outlets as well as beach lidos, casinos, bars and more.
Otherwise there are other beaches less popular and crowded but only accessible with car or on foot.
lies facing Valletta. It is a large budding cosmopolitan town bustling with hotels, high street shops, cafés, seafront apartments, a long promenade and a few restaurants. Walking through the older parts of Sliema there are beautiful old town houses whose designs are rare. Such houses are of high prestigious value and are not allowed to be demolished. Sliema is a fun place to be based, both as a resident and as a tourist.
Malta’s sister Islands Gozo & Comino
Gozo is Malta’s sister island and its landscape consists of flat-topped hills, valleys and rugged cliffs and is evidently more greener and unspoilt compared to Maltese landscape . As Gozo is more associated with a traditional and agricultural way of life, some of the local crafts especially Gozitan lace/ bizilla is even sold from the doorways of houses and on the street. Victoria (also known as Rabat) is Gozo’s hub of activity. A small market is held during the morning where visitors can enjoy haggling with hawkers.
Built by the Arabs, the town of Victoria embraces the Citadel which is a must to visit. From these fortifications one can enjoy a superb view of the whole Island. Also within the Citadel there is the Gozo Cathedral, the Law Courts, and the Cathedral Museum as well as some other places of interest.
The Ggantija temple located south east like other temples in Malta lie in the village of Xaghra. Such structures are the earliest of a series of megalithic temples in Malta. Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic Age (c. 3600-2500 BC), making these temples more than 5500 years old and some of the world’s oldest manmade religious structures
The basilica at Ta’Pinu is one of the most beautiful of Maltese churches and anofficial Vatican place of pilgrimage. Xlendi and Marsalforn and more commonly smaller fishing villages which have both become popular seaside places. Distances are short so you can wander about and discover some nice beaches close by. Ramla il- Hamra (beach with red sand) is the most popular sandy beach in Gozo whilst there are some other rocky beaches with the clearest blue waters. The Azure Window is a 50 metre high scenic rock arch in the Dwejra Point cliffs. The sea has worn a hole through forming ‘the window ’. This scene is spectacular always however, making it one of the most photogenic shots of the islands.
Otherwise wandering around Gozo and stopping to enjoy a fresh Gozitan cheeslet gbejna drizzled with local olive oil and delicious bread ‘ftira’ will definitely give you a good feel to Gozo.
The island of Comino lies between Malta and Gozo and is inhabited by probably no more than a dozen farmers. The island is ideal for anyone seeking a very quiet holiday especially as there is no official transport system. There a few sandy coves and small bays but Blue Lagoon is the main attraction.