Amidst the calm and serene Mediterranean sea and the bright blue skies, sits an archipelago called the Republic of Malta. It’s a group of three main islands in the form of Malta proper, Gozo and Comino. With the recent boom in the tourism industry and travel becoming more comfortable than before, this small yet densely populated country has carved a niche for itself.
It is ranked as one of the top places to visit in 2018 more because of its sunny weather and the sea throughout the year. This Malta travel guide will take you through the famous and must travel and the best places to visit in Malta. The island has a mythical charm to it brought together by its stunning prehistoric temples and medieval architecture.
Some of the world’s oldest churches and museums can be found on this tiny isle. Historians view it as a great destination to learn about the Vikings and the rulers of decades past. Since the city turns out to be a melting pot of different cultures, it offers a unique and vast culinary experience. The food lovers can very much enjoy the unique Maltese food, as it consists of tastes from all its nearby countries and some old civilizations that are part of Malta currently.
Malta has a plethora of family-fun attractions that stretch across its sun-kissed beaches. The city is a feast to the senses with its picturesque locales set against the palm tree-fringed landscape. The country lives up to its image of offering lazy holidays. To make sure you don’t miss out on the country’s best sights, sounds and flavors; here is a guide to the best places to see in Malta.
So, to escape the wrath of Spring upon me (hello pollen allergies) I decided to visit Malta and Gozo to get a bit of sunshine and have the luxury of inhaling the smell of fresh seawater instead of pollen infested fresh air in Finland. It was certainly a last-minute decision (as always) but it was surely a perfect one. Malta was a new country for me and I explored many places in Malta and the trip turned out to be an experience of a lifetime!
Table of Contents
- 1 Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Malta
- 1.1 Valletta – the capital city of Malta
- 1.2 Mdina and Rabat – the old capital and silent city of Malta
- 1.3 St. Julian’s and Paceville – where the young never sleeps
- 1.4 Marsaxlokk – a traditional fishing village
- 1.5 Popeyes Village – have a bit of fun and be a kid again!
- 1.6 Comino Island – where you can swim to clear blue waters of the blue lagoon
- 1.7 Gozo Island – Malta’s sister island
- 1.8 Blue Grotto
- 1.9 Rabat
- 1.10 Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
- 1.11 Dingli Cliffs
- 1.12 Golden Bay Beach
- 1.13 Mellieħa
- 1.14 Hagar Qim Temples
- 1.15 Zebbug
- 1.16 Fort St Angelo, Vittoriosa
- 2 → Check out these activities in Malta
- 3 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Malta
Valletta – the capital city of Malta
One of Malta points of interest and the island’s capital, Valletta dates back to the 1500s. No trip to Malta is complete without a visit to Valletta, as it stands out to be one of the most authentic capital cities of Europe. The city is squeezed into one square kilometer of space.
The town is named after its founder, the respected Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean Parisot de la Valette. Despite its small size, Valletta is packed with sites of historical significance, with buildings dating back to the 16th century.
The World Heritage website of UNESCO describes it as ‘‘one of the most historic areas in the world”. The city is a proud testimony to the Knights of Malta who were granted the Maltese islands by the King of Spain in 1530.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Valletta
Read also: Top 9 Stunning Castles in Malta
Mdina and Rabat – the old capital and silent city of Malta
This ancient capital of Malta, known as the Silent city commands the rural skyline. It ’s a fortified medieval town enclosed in bastions with an extraordinary mix of medieval and baroque architecture.
This little town is famous for some of the most beautiful churches and cathedrals, the most important of them being Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul. Perched on the hilltop, with its dwindling alleys the town seems to have frozen in time.
Some of the places of interest here are St Paul’s Cathedral, National Museum of Natural History and National Aquarium, Palazzo Falson (Norman House) to name a few.
Before they moved the capital city title to Valetta, Mdina was the old capital of Malta. An impressive ancient walled city for the nobles that dates back to 60 A.D, there is proof that the city has been on the island for a very long time.
Talk about historical, eh? Walking on the cobblestones of Mdina and inhaling positive vibes the air is filled with, and that also made me wonder, who were the ancient people who once walked on these roads? It was such an experience because the whole city will transport you back in time, or at least makes you feel so.
Definitely one of the must-see places in Malta.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Mdina
Read also: Top 10 Day Trips in Malta
St. Julian’s and Paceville – where the young never sleeps
Just about 9km from Valletta, the capital of Malta, will take you to St. Julian’s and Paceville – the place where life happens after 10 pm. Possibly the busiest place on the whole island and as well where most tourist flocks their way in for some fun.
I was in St. Julian’s twice, once during the afternoons on our way to Valletta and second for a night out sinceBuġibba only has few bars open after 10 pm and are often playing songs from the ’60s. I wanted to see the nightlife in Malta and boy was I not disappointed!
St. Julian’s at night turns into a wild scene of tourists from around the world either they are there to polish their English or just passing by, just like me. There are tons of different bars and restaurants to go to which are all unique and your needs will surely be satisfied with no problem.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Paceville
Marsaxlokk – a traditional fishing village
Located in the southern part of the island, Marsaxlokk is a fishing village where you’ll find tons of colorful boats and as well the beautiful Mediterranean sea!
You must check out the Sunday fish market, but you have to be early – it is all worth it though so it should be on your list of things to do in Malta.
Plus, Marsaxlokk is a beautiful coastal area you’ll not regret visiting so might as well do that on a Sunday where you’ll see local fishermen with their fresh catch.
If you have an apartment, you can even buy the product to cook yourself. We didn’t purchase anything since Buġibba was a bit of a ride away from Marsaxlokk and it can be hot in the afternoons to carry fresh fish with you.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Marsaxlokk
Read also: Top 10 Easter Holiday Destinations in Europe
Popeyes Village – have a bit of fun and be a kid again!
Popeye Village, also known as Sweethaven Village, is the ideal place for a family with children. It is situated just off Mellieha Bay, so it’s a great place to visit in Malta before and after or whilst spending your time at the beach sides.
The Village is the actual set used by Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions to shoot famous comic strips based on the film by E.C Segar. The village has a lot to offer regarding attractions catering to different seasons. Summers are known for Water Trampolines, Boat rides, and Play Pool.
I loved Popeye, and it was a surprise to me that they filmed it in Malta! I took a bus from Buġibba to Mellieħa which took about 20 minutes and was transported to a whole new world – one of the best places in Malta that only usually exists in my imagination.
Popeyes Village in Malta is not only for kids guys but also for adults who are kids inside. If you’re so it should be on your list of places to visit in Malta. I had a blast while there! I don’t even know if kids today know Popeyes, but I wish they do.
Read also: Top 15 Best Beaches in Europe to Visit
Comino Island – where you can swim to clear blue waters of the blue lagoon
Comino Island, one of the best places in Malta and was the highlight of my trip. The whole island is a piece of gem and one of Malta’s points of interest! I scored a place in a party boat where there’s an open bar included in your entrance fee.
The entire island is only 3.5 sq.km, sandwiched between Malta and Gozo and is uninhabited by anyone. You go there with a boat, but you’re not allowed to stay for the night unless you’re staying at the only functioning hotel in the island. I almost spent a night at Comino because I almost missed the boat back! Fun times.
Anyways, Malta as a country is famous for the Blue Lagoon, the gorgeous clear waters of the Mediterranean with a lush turquoise color that would not only make your soul happy but also the mermaid in you because you can swim there too, so bring your swimming suits!
Gozo Island – Malta’s sister island
The north island of Malta lies a small rustic island called the ‘Island of Gozo,’ known more for its rugged beaches and rural landscape.
It is a perfect place to enjoy and relax on vacation while still discovering the cultural Malta attractions. Gozo island is perhaps the most idyllic among the Maltese Islands because of its pastoral landscape, white beaches and quiet towns with dwindling roads.
The island is a reflection of how Malta used to be once, with its slower pace, rhythmic music, greenery and fishing being at the core of the Gozo Island. Gozo’s must-see attractions include the Citadella, Ggantija Temples, Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary and the Dwejra area.
In Gozo you find what the island is famous for – the Azure Window, made familiar through the Game of Throne series, during Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s wedding. The Island of Gozo is accessible by ferry from Cirkewwa on the Island of Malta.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Gozo
Another of Malta’s most beautiful and marvelous sights is the Blue Grotto. Drawing thousands of tourists through all year, it’s a series of sea caverns on the south coast of the main island.
The spectacular coastline together with its pristine scenery is a feast to any nature lover. The sea has a vibrant blue color caused by beautiful shining sunlight entering from the caves to illuminate enchanting phosphorescent underwater marine life.
The Grotto is famous mainly because of the unusual chemical structure of the water that comprises a lot of different minerals – that is why the sea has this unusual bright blue color. It is so pure that you can see every stone and shell at the bottom. The depth of the sea is approximately 4-5 meters. You can easily hire a guided boat and enjoy the colorful traditional fish boats known as luzzus.
Read also: Top 8 Warmest Places in Europe in December
Sprawling to the south of Mdina is the delightful town of Rabat. The old Arabic meaning of Rabat is a suburb which is how the town is situated now, lying just outside of Mdina. The area is a just walkable distance from Mdina with plenty of buildings and homes.
The town is more known for its medieval churches, monasteries and numerous catacombs which makes the city more attractive and appealing for travelers. Il-Kastell is also among the best places to visit in Malta for its 15th-century fortress.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Rabat
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
The Hypogeum was excavated in 2500 B.C, using cyclopean rigging to lift massive limestone blocks. It was a giant structure: its halls, chambers, and passages, immaculately hewn out of the rock, some 500 sq meters.
Dating back between 3600BC to 3000BC, when it was first discovered, the skeletons of over 7,000 people were found near the inside chambers at the entrance. Today only six skulls have survived.
It is said that only half of its entrance has been discovered and the rest of the dimensions remain uncertain. Hal Saflieni Hypogeum remains a favorite Malta point of interest for many historians. During the excavation, the archaeologists were able to collect a lot of material concerning numerous human bones. They seem to suggest that the burial ritual had many procedures involved.
The area provided a lot of wealth regarding the artifacts collected from there. These artifacts included pottery vessels with beautiful intricate designs, carved animals and birds and also beads and amulets.
If you want to explore the highest area of Malta, the little cliff situated on the western part is called the Dingli Cliffs. It’s at a height of 253 meters above sea level. It is an attractive, quiet village where its edges, the cliffs, make a perpendicular plunge into the Mediterranean Sea.
It is one of the sought after places for tourists visiting the Island, looking for some picturesque scenic walks along with some astonishing views of the Filfa and the Mediterranean sea.
It is also possible to drive along the edge of the cliff for some distance. Because of its idyllic location, the sunsets in Malta are genuinely breathtaking. The beaming rays of the sun falling on to the azure waters create a magical experience worth viewing.
Golden Bay Beach
Another famous beach area in Maltese Island is Golden Bay. As its name indicates, the sand is gold in color, and it is a favorite beach among the tourists. The beach is surrounded by the cliff on one side and the blue waters on the other, providing a picturesque view.
The beach often gets packed during the evenings with families joining together, to view one of the most spectacular sunsets in the Maltese island. The beach also happens to be a favorite spot for beach parties and barbeques.
There is a little part of this beach that is privately operated by a five-star resort that offers all the services and luxury amenities including transport facilities for the public.
Mellieħa is one of the northernmost villages of Malta and overlooks Malta’s largest sandy beach called Mellieha Bay. Mellieha is one of Malta’s most attractive tourist and summer resorts place.
The place stands out for its beautiful sandy beaches and blue sea. Malta’s largest sandy beach, Għadira, is situated here known more among families with small children, as the water is shallow for a considerable distance from the shore.
In a short span of time Mellieha has established itself as a destination for all seasons because of its lush green valleys and crystal clear seas.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Mellieħa
Hagar Qim Temples
The temple of Hagar Qim, excavated for the first time in 1839, is dating back in 3600BC – 3200BC. The temple is overlooking the blue sea from the hilltop and is also the islet for Filfla.
The temples have a spectacular view of large massive stones across the bay area. One of the bigger size stone is currently being used in the Maltese temples that weigh around seven tonnes. From an aerial view, this temple is in the shape of a giant paw.
The temple has many small mushroom-shaped altars carved out of stone. The original altars were taken to the Museum of Archaeology in Valletta and replaced with imitations which are now found at Hagar Qim today.
The temple has yielded numerous essential artifacts such as the beautifully carved pillar altar, table altars, and different standing and seated figurines that are now on display at the National Museum at Valletta.
Zebbug or Città Rohan is one of the oldest towns in Malta with a population of around 13,000 people. The word Zebbug means olives in Maltese and the city had large olive spinneys around the town center in the earlier times.
That’s how the town got its name. Zebbug held great importance next in line to Mdina and Valletta during the times of the Knights of the Order of St John.
If you think what to see in Malta in Zebbug, the majestic church dedicated to St Philip of Agira, which was built in 1380, remains to be one of the top tourists’ places in this island.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Zebbug
Fort St Angelo, Vittoriosa
Visit Malta for its rich historical background going back to the medieval period and to reflect the story straight into your site is Fort St Angelo in Vittoriosa.
Going back to 1530 the fort served as the principal residence of the famous Grand Master until the year 1571. The restored heritage section has been opened for the public, and it offers you incredible views of the harbor. There are also multimedia exhibitions that bring back this historic fort alive.
To conclude your trip to these fantastic places to visit in Malta, you can say Maltese land is an amazing place to travel for culture, sun, sea and many tourist attractions all year round. Sightseeing in Malta will let you click many men made and natural wonders for your photo album. So, if anyone wants to travel to Malta, think no more and get ready for another stamp on your passports.