Things to do in Malta

Malta, a small archipelago in the Mediterranean, is often unfairly overlooked and underrated. This tiny country boasts one of the highest levels of sunshine in Europe, and very low rainfall. With it’s rugged coast line, interesting history, and crystal clear waters, it is an ideal destination for any traveller. Below are some of the top things to do in Malta!

Gozo

While many travellers to Malta only visit Gozo as a day trip from the main island, one of the best things to do is to stay on the archipelago’s second-largest island for a few days and take the time to explore all the great sites and enjoy a more laid-back way of life. Gozo can also be cheaper than the larger cities on the main island, making this a great option if you’re wanting to save money while visiting Malta. Some of the best things to do in Gozo include spending an afternoon at beautiful Ramla Beach, enjoying the numerous hikes available, exploring the capital of Victoria (Rabat), taking a day trip to go snorkelling or swimming and sipping delicious wines at one of the boutique wineries on the island. Gozo also has several fantastic restaurants and cafes which means that you’ll have plenty of great places to eat out during your time here. Some of our favourite restaurants on Gozo are La Stanza and Maldonado which serve amazing fine dining quality food at affordable prices. Gozo has so much to offer travellers that take the time to stay and explore, so do yourself a favour and spend a few days here rather than just rushing through on a day trip!

gozo malta
Beautiful buildings in Gozo by Michael from The World Was Here First

The Three Cities

The Three Cities contribute greatly to the Maltese history and are a gateway into the authentic life of Malta and its maritime fortunes. Made up of Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa — the Three Cities provided home and shelter to almost anyone who settled on the island. Situated across from Valetta they can also be reached by a dghajsa which is a typical Maltese gondola shaped boat. I visited Vittoriosa by crossing the Valetta Waterfront. These dghajsa boats are an important part of Malta’s tradition and I highly recommend this experience. Vittoriosa is home to the impressive Maritime Museum which is houses in the former Royal Bakery, built here in 1840’s by the British. The oldest fortification, the Fort St. Angelo crowns the entrance to Vittoriosa and its strategic location has resulted in the area being named as the cradle of Maltese history. The palaces, forts, churches and bastions of the Three Cities are much older than those of Valetta. A wonderful time of year to visit these cities and to experience the best of Malta is during Easter as the local celebrations are like nowhere else on the island. 

 

Boats in the Three Cities, by Elena from passionforhospitality

Popeye Village

In the north west of Malta, you will find a rather unusual tourist attraction. After the 1980 movie Popeye (starring the late Robin Williams) had finished filming, local people stepped in to turn the filmset into a working tourist village. The fictional seaside town of Sweethaven was preserved, and is still alive and well today and known as Popeye Village. Think of it as a mini Disneyland. You pay around €15 per person to get in, and are then transported into the colourful, exuberant world of Hollywood. Characters from the film wander around singing and interacting with guests. All the houses, bars and shops are open to head into for a browse around. You can stop and eat hot-dogs, take advantage of the free mini golf course, be involved in your own little movie shoot, and if you’re really into it, they even offer a wedding package! If the village wasn’t here, this would still be a dramatic location, with sharp cliffs dropping into the azure waters of one of Malta’s numerous little coves. When you’re finished at the village, walking to the right from the car park, for an Instagram-perfect photo from the top of the opposite cliffs looking down over the colourful village.

popeye village
Amazing views at Popeye Village, by Ben Reeve from TheSabbaticalGuide

Lascaris War Rooms

The Lascaris War Rooms are one of Malta’s best-kept secrets.  You’ll find them underneath the Upper Barracca Gardens in Valletta. The war rooms consist of networked underground tunnels and rooms that were Britain’s war HQ during World War II.  It’s here that the defence of Malta was run, all the offensive actions in the Mediterranean were organised from here and most famously the invasion of Sicily was organised, planned and executed successfully. Some of the rooms and tunnels have been restored and renovated.  If you take a guided tour from one of the docents you will really see the history of the rooms brought to life.  Take an additional guided tour of the War Tunnels HQ and you’ll go further and deeper into both the tunnels and history.  See where hundreds of allied men and women worked, slept and fought. It is an incredible walk into the recent past and a superb few hours when you’ll learn about how this rock in the Mediterranean survived and endured the war years. 

Sarah Carter,  ASocialNomad

lascaris war rooms
Heading into the War Rooms

The Blue Lagoon

The stunning Blue Lagoon is one of Malta’s best-known attractions—and for good reason! The brilliant turquoise water is so bright that photos look like they almost had to be photoshopped, but alas–this small lagoon is naturally incredibly bright! The color alone has made the Blue Lagoon an iconic feature of Malta’s tourism, but the warm water and beautiful setting in a rocky cove sure help the atmosphere as well. No trip to Malta could be considered complete without a day spent swimming, sun-bathing, and possibly even snacking on ice cream from the nearby concession stand at the Blue Lagoon. Tucked off the small island of Comino, the Blue Lagoon is separated from both the islands of Malta and Gozo by a boat ride. If you’re looking to visit (and you should!), you essentially have two options for getting there: a tour that includes a stop at the Blue Lagoon, or a ferry ride over. Whichever option you choose, opt for the earliest time slot available–the Blue Lagoon gets very crowded, and the earlier you visit, the better!

Crystal clear waters at Blue Lagoon by Kate from Our Escape Clause

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is one of the most incredible spots in the entire world. It is an underground cemetery dating back to around 3300BC, where several huge burial chambers have been carved directly out of the rock. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is located in the suburbs of Valletta. The guided tour is an absolutely remarkable experience. As you descend deeper underground into the cemetery, elements of a long-vanished civilisation emerge from the gloom. Over here there’s a series of spiral carvings, there a chamber with near-perfect acoustics, nearby a circle of pi-shaped doorways carved completely out of the rock. And right in the back, there’s a focal point that the sun would illuminate on the winter solstice. Visiting the Hypogeum really is a spiritual experience, one where you feel a strong connection to your distant ancestors. Tickets are a little pricey at 35 euros for adults (cheaper for students, children and seniors), but I genuinely think it’s worth every cent. There are eight guided tours per day, on the hour between 9:00 and 16:00 and space is very limited, so buy early as tickets sell out sometimes weeks or months in advance. You can check out a great video review here by Joel from WorldHeritageJourney

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum

Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Temples

Malta has a history that stretches back thousands of years, and some of the earliest signs of civilisation are the mysterious megalithic temples. These enigmatic structures are believed to be older than the Pyramids of Egypt, and several of them are now classed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you only have time to see a few of the temples, I would suggest visiting Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Temples. They have many unique aspects about them, including ‘honeycomb’ lintels and small doorways. Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Temples are located within one complex, and can be reached as part of a day trip from Valletta. They are commonly included as part of a tour of Malta, but can also be visited independently. Before walking around the site, I would suggest spending time in the visitors centre which helps in some way to interpret the site. Were these two temples some sort of Oracle that Neolithic people consulted, or were they the centre of some religious initiation ceremony? You’ll have to visit yourself to draw your own conclusions!Read more here about the Megalithic Temples of Malta.

By Dave from Dave’s Travel Pages

Scuba Diving

Surrounded by crystal clear blue water, Malta is the perfect place to dive, and boast some of the best dive sites in the world. There are countless dive operations on the Island, and activities range from beginner courses to technical diving. Usually calm seas and excellent visibility mean this is the perfect place to learn. For more experienced divers, the waters around Malta are home to many incredible ship wrecks. The most impressive being the 110 metre long Um El Faroud, a Libyan oil tanker scuttled off the south west coast. It is also possible to enjoy the Azure Window in Gozo, which unfortunately collapsed into the ocean in a storm. The only way you can still enjoy this infamous landmark is to head under the waves! This is accessed through the beautiful blue hole, and make for one of the best dive sites in Malta.

dive blue hole gozo
Underwater views at the Blue Hole

Rabat and Mdina

Many people often overlook Mdina and Rabat when planning their trip to Malta.  Mdina is referred to as the silent city and this city, which used to be the capital of Malta in medieval times.  The gentile sophisticated atmosphere still shines through the stunning buildings all throughout the city center.  That said, Mdina is a popular bus tour stop-off, so if you can avoid the peak hours, you’ll have Mdina to yourself! Getting lost in its countless alleyways, which served as filming locations for Game of Thrones, are perfect for anyone who loves history and architecture. Just outside of the city center, you’ll find Rabat, which houses a stunning cathedral, which was also filmed at for Game of Thrones.  Underneath the church, you can find a grotto (not accessible to the public) where a miracle occured.  Even if you’re not religious, the church’s courtyard is a stunning place to stop off while exploring Malta! By Karen from WanderlustingK

Mdina

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