The unique, majestic islands of Malta are steeped in rich history and culture, spanning 7,000 years. Surrounded by the clear azure waters of the Mediterranean – Malta is much more than the sum of its gorgeous beaches.
Boasting three diverse islands, which offer an abundance of historical treasures, both ancient and modern – and adventures fit for royalty. The Queen of England and Duke Of Edinburgh made their latest trip as recently as November 2015.
Malta and its sister islands of Gozo and Comino offer far more than the traditional Mediterranean sun and sea – with three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and more monuments per square kilometer than any other country – including elaborate structures built 5000 years ago by ancient Islanders.
Here are the definitive ways to enjoy Malta – as the Royals often do.
Walk the streets of Valletta
Walking through the grid-lined streets of Malta’s baroque capital, Valletta, with its churches, squares and palazzos, or the silent, walled medieval city of Mdina is bound to give you that particular ‘lost in time’ feeling.
Discover the beautiful fortified capital of Malta, Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage site, filled with grand examples of architecture and history and of course the vibrancy of a multicultural city. It has also been awarded the accolade of European Capital City of Culture 2018.
Take a boat trip around the Grand Harbor
Witness the magnificent views of the capital on a boat trip around the Grand Harbor. Discover Malta’s key moments in history while taking in the beauty of the Maltese coastline – Valletta and the Three Cities, with their formidable fortifications, the rugged cliffs and secluded bays around Malta, Gozo and Comino.
Hop on a harbor cruise or take a longer island cruise or experience Malta like royalty on a chartered yacht. Spend some time out at sea on the blue Mediterranean.
Take a peek at history in the Grandmasters’ Palace
The 16th century masterpiece – Grandmaster’s Palace has been the administrative center of Malta for almost three and a half centuries. Today it is home to the House of Representatives of Malta and the office of the President of the Republic of Malta. On your visit – the colorful frescoes, ornate tapestries and the armory are not to be missed.
If history is what you seek, the temples in Ġgantija, Gozo are considered the oldest surviving free-standing monuments in the world. They predate the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt and Stonehenge in southern Britain by around 1000 years.
Enjoy stunning views of the Maltese Seascape
Explore the spectacular seascape of the islands, ranging from quiet coves and alluring sandy beaches to rugged coastline and towering cliffs. Inlets of shimmering sand with evocative names such as Golden Bay, Paradise Bay and Ramla l-Ħamra will provide an intimate spot for a dip. The islands lend themselves perfectly to the practice of any water-sport under the sun.
Hike and bike the trails
A walk or bike ride through the Maltese villages is a must – with rugged landscape, spectacular coastline and ancient monuments on your path, a gorgeous excursion is promised. Head out from the village squares on the narrow farmers’ tracks, and you’ll find yourself in a timeless landscape, with plenty to discover – from ancient farmhouses and wayside chapels to spectacular seascapes.
One of the best walks is along Dingli Cliffs with the spectacular sunset over the sea from the highest clifftop in Malta where the land falls away at a spectacular 220m height.
Fawwara Walk starting at Dingli Cliffs and going up to Wied-iz-Zurrieq, includes en route temples like Hagar Qim and the Mnajdra. And the Marfa walk that begins and ends at Ghadira bay, traveling through the nature reserve to the top of Marfa ridge offering cliffside views to the sea.
Explore the Saltpans
Saltpans are one of the most interesting features of the Maltese coastline. Found practically all around the islands’ shoreline, these shallow repositories dug out of the rock were common even in Roman times, and the technology has not changed much since then. The pans are used to collect sea water which is gradually dried up by the sun, to leave a white residue. This is then collected, cleaned and refined to produce sea salt.
Some of the best saltpans (and certainly the most photographed) are the ones located at Qbajjar, near Marsalforn in Gozo.
Dive the deep waters
The Maltese Islands’ clear blue Mediterranean sea is ideal for scuba diving. All three islands offer some unique diving experiences with an abundance of reefs, caves and wrecks that make diving here some of the most interesting in the Mediterranean.
The depths of the dives vary from the very shallow 12-meter Għar Lapsi dive to Lantern Point with its underwater tunnel leading down to well over 50 meters. There are several types of diving courses and activities offered by locally licensed diving schools.
Among the good snorkeling destinations is the Ħondoq ir-Rummien, a small cove on the coast below the village of Qala – popular with snorkellers because of its deep and clear water and the small caves at water level. Access to the sea is from bathing ladders and the cove has good views over Comino.
Marsalforn, Gozo’s main seaside town has a small sandy bank on the harbor with safe bathing and is excellent for snorkelling.
Sail the high seas on a Yatch
Malta and Gozo’s beaches are largely untouched by development. Many beaches offer water sports from windsurfing to sea-kayaking and jet ski hire. The more adventurous can try water-skiing, wakeboarding, or paragliding. Other water sports available include water-polo, canoeing, fishing, yachting and sailing.
The Islands are superb for sailing and yachting. In October, you can see the exciting Rolex Middle Sea Race. Schools offer lessons for the active while harbor cruises are ideal for those who prefer to relax on board.
Spend your lazy afternoon on a pristine beach
Ramla is Gozo’s largest sandy bay and one of the most beautiful on the Maltese Islands. The beach here is of a deep, reddish-gold hue. The bay is surrounded by countryside and nestles below steep terraced hills and the mythical Calypso’s Cave.
Golden Bay is one of Malta’s most popular sandy beaches. Despite this accolade, it is set among countryside and is relatively undeveloped. It has easy access making it Golden Bay suitable for the less mobile or those with small children.
Santa Marija Bay, and San Niklaw Bay, are the most popular bathing spots on Comino, a 3.5 square kilometre island renowned for its crystal clear waters. The tiny isle of Comino is the perfect hideaway – carefree and car-free. St. Marija and the famed Blue Lagoon – this bay makes Comino the ideal choice for many water sports, especially diving and snorkelling.
Wander around San Anton Gardens
Stroll along these beautifully laid out gardens with a myriad of flourishing flora, stone sculptures and fountains. The stunning gardens form part of the San Anton Palace, the official residence of the President of Malta and home to the Queen and Prince for during their visits.
The garden is the Annual Horticultural Show venue and during summer, the spacious central court becomes an open-air theatre for drama and musical performances.
The Maltese islands are just a few hours away from major European airports and other Mediterranean countries, not to mention the excellent sea connections and charter boats and flights available.
Maltese is a language of Semitic origin with a heavy Latin influence. English is the second official language and due to the islands’ proximity to Sicily, Italian is also widely spoken.
Take a look at visitmalta.com and make your vacation plans to Malta!