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- Gnejna Bay
- Ghajn Tuffieha ...
- Mdina and Rabat
- Gozo - Ramla ...
- Dingli Cliffs
- Maltese Food
- National Museum ...
- National War ...
- Paradise Bay
- St. John's ...
- The Hal ...
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Malta Destination Guide
The archipelago of Malta is full of fascinating things to see and do. Malta's largest island is also its best developed and the centre of most island activity, but you should also try and spend some time on the smaller islands for their breathtaking beauty and village charm.
The Maltese archipelago is believed to have got its name from the Greek word for honey and the memories of your vacation promise to be just as sweet!
Our Malta destination guide below tells you the major highlights when visiting this beautiful archipelago. You can also book an interesting tour in Malta directly with us, or take a look at some useful information for your travels in Malta.
Things to See & Do in Malta
Meanwhile the tranquil island of Gozo is a perfect representation of rural life at its best and will keep adventure seekers happy with its scope for biking, rock climbing and hiking trips. The littlest island, Comino (known to be the quietest of the lot with just a handful of people living on it), has breathtaking natural splendour, and is best known for a most exquisite hotel with great service and a view to die for. For the ultimate in island paradise getaways, you must make your way to the Blue Lagoon - arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and certainly Malta's finest.
Click on the links to the right or scroll down to discover some of the wonderful tourist highlights in Malta:
Malta combines adventure with stunning locales and Gozo is just the place to get started on your mountain biking trip on the islands. You'll be well rewarded with breathtaking views and solitude no matter which route you take. There's plenty of choice with 3 main biking routes - the Zebbug route, the Mgarr route and the Dwejra route. Since the island itself is quite small, it will be hard to get lost. Routes are easy to follow, too, so you can focus on just soaking up the atmosphere.
A mind boggling 55 different climbs await you at Wied Babu (close to Zurrieq) on the 200-metre-high cliff face. Other good climbing spots can be found in the Mgarr ix-Xini (Gozo), Xaqqa Valley (Malta) and in Ghar Lapsi.
Experienced divers are aware of the pleasures of diving in Malta and Gozo, but even if you're a novice who's always wanted to try your hand at scuba diving there is plenty you can do. Sign up for a course at a PADI certified scuba diving school and get started on your lessons before hitting the underwater trails. Ideal diving locations for beginners are in the relatively shallow blue waters close to Sliema and Qawra. If you're more experienced, then you'd do well to hire a boat and head out to the southern area close to the picturesque Blue Grotto and the Zurrieq area near Ghar Lapsi. Another option is to dive at the Zongor Point, where you can explore tug boat wrecks.
The best way to enjoy the capital is to take a boat tour of the Grand Harbour, which takes 90 minutes and offers fantastic views of Valletta. There is a lot of history packed into this town, from the Great Siege to World War II. Take the ride that goes to all the creeks and has live commentary. One such cruise operator is Captain Morgan Cruises. For a more idyllic pace, you can visit the Blue Lagoon at Comino. It will take you half a day and when it is not overcrowded you could swim and sunbathe here. You could also take the tour to Grand Harbour and Blue Lagoon from Sliema Ferries, which is a short bus ride or ferry ride from Valletta.
Another popular boat tour is the Blue Grotto. You could do this circuit independently to some extent by driving to Wied iz-Zurrieq, which is 8 km (5 miles) west of Valletta. The actual tour takes 25 minutes and is conducted by local fishermen.
In the north west of the island you'll find one of Malta's oldest villages - Mellieha. The village has been home to people since Neolithic times, making it a rich sightseeing location for the tourist. One of the most unusual sights you will see here, though, is a natural creation - the Ahrax tal-Mellieha. This vast, arid plain is located on the northeastern edge of the island and has some very distinct local flora and fauna that naturalists will enjoy spotting. Also seek out the chapel and fortifications built in the area. Another interesting feature here is the coastal fortification - one of thirteen similar ones constructed by Grand Master De Redin - called the Afirax Tower.
Small as it may seem, it defended the peninsula ably during the great siege. Today, it gives a glowing testimony to that era and provides a regal backdrop to weekly military parades in period costumes. Called ‘In Guardia,' these parades are a big crowd puller and are stalled only during the summer months.
Ghadira Bay is Malta's most loved beach and is located in Mellieha. Convenient access and shallow waters make it a popular spot for families on holiday, including locals who bring a picnic and camp here for the day. The presence of a ramp leading down to the water also makes the beach comfortable for those with trouble walking. A few short steps lead you down to the azure waters for a day of fun.
Dwejra is one of the most spectacular sites on the island of Gozo, as well as a magnificent dive site, with deep water (60 meters) and many caves and natural arches. The Azure Window is a giant doorway in the cliff formed by erosion. It is probably one of the most photographed vistas on the island and is particularly spectacular in the winter when waves crash high inside the arch. Nearby is Fungus Rock which medieval knights believed had mystical restorative properties. Because of this, they guarded the rock fiercely. Nowadays, it is still protected as the fungus that grows there is exclusive to the area and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. To the right of the Azure Window is the Inland Sea which is a small lake believed to have been formed millions of years ago when two limestone caves collapsed. The shallow inland lagoon is linked to the sea via a 100 meter cave in the cliff. On calm days, small fishing boats carry visitors out to sea through this tunnel.
Again on the west of the republic is another great beach - Gnejna Bay. It is close to Mgarr and is easily one of the most heavenly locations in the archipelago. The bay is great for families and large groups as well as swimmers since the waters are shallow and the beaches sandy - ideal for a castle building event for kids and the young at heart. The other big plus point - it isn't as crowded as some of the other beaches - so you will sometimes feel like you have the place all to yourself, a real treat on a vacation.
On the western edge of Malta are two more oft-visited beaches - Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha. Golden Bay tends to get quite crowded, particularly because of the presence of one of Malta's biggest hotels. Ghajn Tuffieha, on the other hand, is serene and seems almost untouched by humans. The golden sands, blue waters, greenery and sloping lands around make it quite special.
A rare example of a city in Malta that does not owe its origins to the Knights of St. John is Mdina. Beautifully designed and the archipelago's oldest city, it served as a fortress and the capital of Malta before Valletta. The city once stretched into the neighbouring town of Rabat, but its borders were later shrunk to make it easier to defend.
Walk past the public gardens - which, believe it or not, were once the site of a deep moat surrounding the city walls - to the charming cobblestoned streets and stroll past grand old houses, mansions,private chapels and cathedrals. Follow the narrow, winding roads to squares that open up unexpectedly in the maze of city streets. It is quiet and serene here, so you'll enjoy the time to yourself while exploring the area. Make your way to the sea front and let the ocean spray refresh you before finding your way back.
Mdina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a key tourist attraction in the republic. The famed Howard Gardens are Malta's biggest and form a fringe between Mdina and the nearby Rabat. Besides strolling through the wonderful streets and gardens, do visit St. Paul's catacombs and the Roman Domus in Rabat.
On the island of Gozo is one of the best beaches in Malta. With its unusual red sands, Ramla Bay is a fun, relaxed beach where you'll find young people and families all hanging out. Ramla Bay is also called Ramla il-Hamra, and some locals feel it is their finest stretch of beach.
A more serene option on Gozo is the San Blas Bay, located on the northeastern part of the island. It isn't easy to access, though, so if you have elderly or physically challenged people in your group this won't be a feasible option. You need to get to the red sands of this beach via a rather steep slope - but that's precisely what makes it so exclusive and quiet.
The small village of Dingli lies some 250 meters above sea level, just inland from the spectacular Dingli Cliffs. A true treasure of the Mediterranean, these cliffs form a natural habitat for a number of different species of animal and bird life. The views from the cliffs are impressive and the sunset awe-inspiring. Over the centuries, farmers have managed to cultivate tiny terraced fields that seem to tumble straight down the cliffs and into the waves. A walk along the cliffs will take you to the chapels of Fawwara and onwards to Ghar Lapsi and the BlueGrotto.
Over the last few years Malta has emerged as a gastronomic destination. It has an incredible selection of restaurants offering various cuisines from all over the world including its homegrown Maltese cuisine which is a growing trend for dedicated food lovers and passionate producers and promoters of the food and wine industry.
Malta is known for its fresh local products, wines, olive oil and honey. Maltese cuisine, like the language, is a mélange of different influences from different cultures that have, at some stage of Maltese history, occupied the Maltese islands. In particular, the knights had a great influence on the cuisine, but up to the present day, the biggest influence has been Italian and Sicilian.
Originally an inn where some of the Knights of St John resided, and now a museum, it houses many rich historical artefacts and archaeological finds from the numerous prehistoric sites around Malta. You'll find a wide range of exquisite pottery, sculptures, statuettes, stone implements and fine ornaments here.
The Malta War Museum was originally Fort St Elmo. Inside, you'll find a permanent exhibition with memorabilia from World War II. The highlights are the George Cross and Gloster Gladiator, both symbols of historic gallantry.
Not too far from Ghadira Bay is another spectacular beach, Paradise Bay. Scenic and small, it is hugely popular with the youngsters on the island, especially when the weekend beach parties kick off. Snorkelling options here are worth exploring too, if you're looking for a little activity off the dance floor.
This cathedral is clearly one of the most spectacular sights in Europe. This 16th century magnum opus has a magnificent floor, with almost 400 marble tombstones bearing the names of the Knights of St John. Its wall to wall frescoes and elegant tunnel-vaulted ceiling is breathtaking. The Italian artist, Mattia Preti changed the interiors to inimitable Baroque style with spectacular results. The decoration of the vault itself took five years.
The Hypogeum or the underground chamber is one of the most well-preserved historic temples in Malta. Full of mystique, its ancient portals will give you a good idea of the religious practices of the days gone by. You can visit the Hypogeum only via a guided tour, so be prompt to book yourself in.
This garden on the fortress peers over the Grand Harbour. Not only does it have great views of the mouth of the harbour, but it also looks over Fort Ricasoli, Bighi Palace, Fort St Angelo, and the Vittoriosa and Kalkara creeks. If you look through the tall trees, you can see the monument dedicated to Sir Alexander Ball.
The National Museum of Fine Arts was also known at Admiralty House during the British period and was built in 1570. It was carefully restored in the 1960s and now houses several elegant art collections. The icing on the cake is that the art is displayed in this fabulous palace, which in itself is a treat to walk around.
Across the Grand Harbour in Valletta are three cities created by the Grandmasters Cottonera, each with their own distinct allure. Soak up the atmosphere at Senglea, Cospicua and Vittoriosa - these cities are Malta's most unusual and oldest. Home to the earliest Knights, they have plenty to offer the traveller. The three are vastly different from cities like Valletta and Mdina.
Visit Fort St. Angelo to see where the Knights of Malta had their headquarters from the 12th century AD - well before Valletta rose to prominence. In the very heart of the city of Vittoriosa, make time to explore the Inquisitor's Palace. It is an architectural wonder and a rare and well preserved example of this style of palace design.
The parish church in Senglea is a religious place of prominence for the people of Malta. The statue of Christ the Redeemer holds deep significance for the faithful and pilgrims flock here all year round. The Church of the Immaculate Conception (built in the 1600s), meanwhile, is more of a memorial site where victims of World War II are remembered. Another important church in Malta is the Church of St. Lawrence. The church itself is constructed to resemble a Latin style cross while the design is Baroque.
These gardens are located near Auberge de Castille and offer some on the best views of the world's largest and deepest natural harbour, the Grand Harbour. You can also enjoy views of the three cities of Birgu, Bormla and Isla (also called Senglea), which have strong fortifications and architectural monuments. These were once the private gardens of the Italian knights. They were opened to public view in 1824. During World War II, the Upper Barrakka Gardens suffered massive damage.
Painstakingly restored, the Upper Barrakka Gardens are now a haven of peace and quiet amidst the busy city life. Office goers, shoppers and tourists can take time to relax here and enjoy the panoramic views. There are many sculptures - busts, statues and monuments here, including one dedicated to Winston Churchill and Captain Ball. One noteworthy sculpture is that of street urchins by sculptor Antonio Sciortino called Les Gavroches, in which three children are depicted as embodying the hardships suffered at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The Ggantija Temple in Xaghra, Gozo is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and dates from around 3600 to 3200 BC. This makes the temple one of the first in the world to ever be built. Its construction is attributed to a mythical giantess - hence the name - Ggantija means "Giant" in Maltese. It has survived quite extraordinarily well. Its walls, in places, still stand to a height of 7 meters. It is actually two adjacent temples, the southern one on the left, having had part of its wall removed to allow the northern one to be built up against it. Built with rough, coralline limestone blocks, each temple contains five apses connected by a central corridor leading to the innermost trefoil section. Recent calculations have suggested that the south temple would have taken some 15,000 man days to construct. Giants would have done it much quicker!
he tiny island of Comino may only have 4 permanent residents, but it has its very own world famous Blue Lagoon. This stunningly beautiful lagoon has crystal clear azure-blue water and as the island is only accessible by boat, this means that The Blue Lagoon may well be a contender for the most romantic bay in the world. If its pure white sands and deep deep blue waters don't tempt you, consider this: Comino has always been a popular location for filmmakers and has appeared in movies like Troy, The Count of Monte Cristo and Swept Away.
In winter, Comino may pull all the romantic strings as the perfect hideaway. In summer, however, the island becomes the worst kept secret, with boatloads of people making the most of this smallest, yet cutest of Maltese islands.
All roads lead to... Victoria, particulary in Gozo. Crowning the island's capital city is the magnificent Citadel, which can be viewed from almost all the island. The Citadel owes its roots to the late medieval era, but the hill has been settled since Neolithic times. For centuries, the Citadel served as a sanctuary from attack by the Barbary corsairs and Saracens. At several times during Gozo's history, these raiders took its population into slavery. After the Great Siege of 1565, the knights set about re-fortifying the Citadel to provide refuge and defense against further attack. Life was so dangerous that right up until 1673, the population was required by law, for their own safety, to spend every night within the Citadel. Now rather charmingly run down, the Citadel offers magnificent views and a clutch of fascinating museums. Browse around Victoria's market and narrow winding streets and you'll find everything from delicious fresh produce, cheeses and wines to antiques, craft goods, fishing nets and knitwear. The town also has a thriving cultural life all its own with some surprising attractions ranging from opera to horse races in the main street on Fiesta Day.
After the invasion of the Ottoman Turks in the Siege of Malta in 1565, the Knights of Malta founded this city. Situated on the northeastern coast, the city's official name, ‘Umilissima Civitas Valletta', was meant to be a reflection of the humility of the city. Today it is better known as Superbissima across Europe and is renowned for its aristocratic culture, grand Baroque style of architecture and old world charm and grandeur.
In a short span of 15 years from the laying of the foundation stone of the city, Valletta grew into a thriving metropolis with forts, a cathedral and several bastions and buildings. The grid street system used in the layout and planning of the city was one of the very first of its kind in Europe. Even today, Valletta is Malta's capital and the hub of all administrative activity.
The Grand Master's Palace was home to around 21 knights and, true to its name, was regal and luxurious. This was the headquarters for the Order of the Knights from 1575 to 1798 until the Order was disbanded and the island surrendered to Napoleon's forces.
Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar has the only privately owned gardens open to the public in Malta. The restoration and ongoing care of the gardens are the passion of Baroness Christiane Ramsay Scicluna, owner of Palazzo Parisio. Her relentless efforts were rewarded in 2005 when Palazzo Parisio was included in the definitive guide to Italian Gardens, Grandi Giardini Italiani - the only gardens in the collection that are not actually in Italy. The gardens include a vast collection of bougainvillea, citrus varieties, exotic Mediterranean species set amongst mature and unusual tropical trees and shrubs as well as two large Araucaria excelsa, (Norfolk pines) said to be about 200 years old, the oldest in Malta.