Words run dry to describe the beauty of Malta. It is a complete package of enthralling historical treasures, magnificent ancient sites, incredible scenery, and dramatic beaches. Situated between Sicily and the North African Coast, this stunning small archipelago consists of three islands, Malta, Gozo, and Comino.
With a history tracing back to over 7,000 years, this Mediterranean island has been attracting visitors since time immemorial. Valletta, commonly known as the ‘Fortress City’, is the capital of Malta, and has quaint narrow streets brimming with shops, bakeries, and cafes. For beach lovers, Gozo is an ideal place to catch some rays, and Camino is the smallest island and totally unspoilt with no interference of cars. Round-the-year sunshine and crystal clear water – nothing can be more inviting than this!
So give the run-off-the-mill places a skip and sail off to this far away ‘sun and sea’ holiday destination.
Read on to know more about the alluring country of Malta!
1. Blue Grotto
The Blue Grotto is a series of seas caverns located in the southern coast of Malta. This natural site is a major draw for tourists, especially for those into scuba diving and sailing. The best time to visit is from morning till 1 pm; the water is glittering blue during this time. To enjoy the surreal view, explore the cliffside restaurants and cafes in the village of Wied iz-Zurrieq.
This seaside destination is quite popular among the locals. It has the longest sandy beach, stretching over 1.5 kilometres. Mellieha’s famous Popeye village, which was originally a film set, has now become a top tourist attraction and is a big hit with kids. The Popeye Village has several other attractions such as a beautiful beach, souvenir shops, and sun bathing decks; a great place to spend an entire day with family.
3. Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum
Located in Paola, Malta, the Hypogeum is the only known pre-historic underground temple in the world. It was a sanctuary which later became a necropolis; remains of over 7,000 individuals have been found here. Two to three weeks advance booking is recommended as only 80 visitors per day are permitted in the Hypogeum.
4. Blue Lagoon Bay
Undeniably one of the best spots off the coast of Comino, this is a haven for snorkelers, windsurfers, swimmers, and divers. No vehicles are allowed here and Comino Hotel is the sole hotel on this island. The water is shallow and calm, perfect for family with children. It is advisable to go early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the bustling crowds.
In the south-eastern part of Malta, the small and quaint traditional fishing village of Marsaxlokk has been drawing crowd in numbers. The village is famous for its painted ‘eyed’ decorative boats locally known as ‘Luzzus’. The best way to explore the village is by taking a stroll, enjoying a fresh catch at a sea side restaurant, or shopping in the market. Don’t forget to attend the Marsaxlokk market on Sunday which is highly popular among locals and tourists alike.
This ancient walled city was the first capital of the island. Known a the ‘Silent City’, Mdina is situated on a hill in the centre of the island and still remains inhabited. It is like walking into history as you pass the main gate. The car-free pedestrian streets are a delight to explore. The Cathedral of Saint Paul is a must-see, the Palazzo Falson – a 13th century palace, now a museum, is another highlight of the tour.
7. St. John’s Co-Cathedral
Built in the 16th century, this cathedral is one of the greatest Baroque cathedrals in the world. Located in the capital city of Valletta, it was designed by Gerolamo Cassar, a Maltese military architect. Back in the medieval days, knights would gather here for communal worship. The painting of John the Baptist, by Caravaggio, is the highlight of the cathedral. In order to protect the marble floor, stiletto heels are a strict no-no.
8. Golden Bay
The second most popular beach in Malta after Mallieha Bay. Located in Northwest Malta, this bay is a go-to place for beach barbecues and parties. Many visitors come here to relax and soak up the sun. Restaurants and cafes are aplenty here, offering an ideal beach side experience.
9. Hagar Qim and Mnajdra
Overlooking the sea, Hagar Qim is a megalithic temple complex and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mnajdra is another exceptional temple site which stands 500 metres away from Hagar Qim. These two ancient sites are even older than the Stonehenge, and are a must-see while visiting Malta. Solstices and Equinoxes doorway in the South temple of Mnajdra is not to be missed.
10. Azure window
The Azure Window is the top attraction of the country, a paramount part of a quintessential Malta experience. It is located on the Maltese Island of Gozo. However, this iconic structure has collapsed amid a storm, and has now become a hotbed for divers.