With secluded bays and beaches as well as a host of archaeological treasures, this cheerful, relaxed and economical Mediterranean destination has something to offer the whole family. The three islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino are also home to a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets – from self-catering apartments through to luxury, five-star spa retreats.
For those who find they get a bit restless just lying on the beach there’s the opportunity to enjoy a bit of golf, cycling, diving or rock climbing.
All in all, Malta’s great for both a short break and a longer summer holiday.
Getting there/getting around Malta
Choose from British Airways or Air Malta which run scheduled flights into Malta International Airport. If you aren’t staying on Malta, then the ferry ride to Gozo or Comino is around 20 minutes.
The islands are small and easy to get around using public transport. The bus service is cheap and efficient or you’ll find all the usual car-hire companies, if you’d prefer a bit more freedom. Boat trips are of course extremely popular, either as a way of hopping between islands, or on cruises where you can explore the waters around the Maltese archipelago.
Beaches around Malta
You’ll find both rocky and sandy beaches dotted around the islands and many offer a huge range of watersports such as windsurfing, kite boarding, water skiing, sailing, paragliding and scuba diving.
The Inland Sea, on Gozo’s west coast, has one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful beaches or you can head to the long beach which hugs Golden Bay, nestled below the picturesque village of Mellieha on Malta. On Comino, the Blue Lagoon is reputed to have the clearest waters in the Mediterranean, so pay a visit and judge for yourself.
Sightseeing around Malta
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to historical and archaeological sights. The capital, Valletta, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is small enough to explore on foot. You’ll find over 200 monuments within this beautiful fortified city and there are peaceful squares and gardens when you need a breather. Elsewhere there are prehistoric ruins which pre-date Stonehenge and the pyramids, so Malta really is a history-lovers dream.
A short drive to the west of the capital lies the 3,000-year-old city of Mdina, also known as the Noble City. It’s a maze of cobbled streets crammed with Norman/Baroque architecture. In the south of the island, the village of Marsaxlokk and the neighbouring resort town of Marsascala are both beautiful and certainly worth a visit.
Family attractions around Malta
Sweethaven Village, or Popeye Village as it is probably better known, was built in 1979 for a movie musical called Popeye. Nowadays it’s home to a couple of pools, a winery and a cinema and there are also boat trips around Anchor Bay.
If you don’t dive but want to check out the marine life around Malta, then head to Sliema where you can book a trip in a glass-bottomed boat. Finally, if your kids are old enough, they’ll probably enjoy a visit to the medieval dungeons in Mdina, where you’ll find the odd gruesome tableaux depicting various former inmates.
Day trips around Malta
There are plenty of natural landmarks worth planning a day trip for, and the Blue Grotto is probably the most popular. Situated off the south west coast of the main island, this huge cavern is worth the trip for the bright phosphorescent colours which beam up from the underwater flora and fauna below. Nearby, there’s also the uninhabited Filfla Island which is lined with dramatic, towering cliffs.
If you fancy a multi-destination holiday you can also arrange a quick trip to Sicily. Express ferries run from Malta, so it’s easy to go and visit Europe’s only active volcano, Mt Etna.
Eating out around Malta
Many local specialities have Italian, and particularly Sicilian influences and you can sample pastizzi (savoury cheese pastries), timpana (macaroni, cheese and egg pie) and fenech (rabbit fried or baked in a casserole or pie).
As you’d expect of a Mediterranean destination, the seafood is excellent and the swordfish, tuna, bream and squid are all deliciously fresh. And those with a sweet tooth won’t be disappointed as a local favourite is helwa tat-tork, a crunchy sugary concoction made with almonds.
Nightlife around Malta
For clubs and all-night dancing, Paceville, near St Julian’s, is the main hub of activity and you’ll find bars and bustling nightclubs which welcome DJs from around the world. Also look out for performances of Ghana, Maltese folk music, which normally take place in otherwise quiet village bars and tavernas.
There’s an international Jazz Festival too in July which welcomes legends of the scene and a few newcomers too. Performances take place in a spectacular venue near the floodlit Grand Harbour.
Shopping around Malta
There are some great markets in Valetta including the Sunday flea market, Il Monti, just outside the city gate. It’s a great place for interesting trinkets and bric-a-brac. The daily market in Merchant Street is also good for traditional handicrafts including lace, silver filigree, glass and pottery.
Marsaxlokk fish market is worth a browse just to sample a bit of the colourful local way of life. Out and about in the villages you’ll often find small stores sell hand-knitted garments, particularly on Gozo, where fine lace is also a local speciality.