For years, Malta was considered nothing more than the passage island between Europe and Africa. But, that was everyone’s mistake. It is so full of culture, history, and nature that you will never wonder what to do in Malta. As it has seen many conquests, Malta is a melting pot of many cultures, gastronomies, and even languages. So, coming here is taking a walk through time and space.
Currently, Malta is an independent nation that belongs to the European Union. Besides English, its inhabitants speak Italian and Maltese. This last one is derived from Arabic, but with heavy Italian influences. Therefore, despite its surface being only 196 square miles, it is an important commercial and military point. Ready to give it a chance? Have a look at what is in store for you!
What To Do In Malta | The Top Spots In This Mediterranean Jewel
To be precise, Malta is actually an archipelago formed by three islands. Malta is the biggest one, then there’s Gozo and Comino. They are located between Sicily (Italy) and Libya. This privileged location has given it access to many cultures.
In Malta, you’ll find remnants of the Greek, Roman, Arabic, Italian, French and British cultures. It even has remnants from the Stone Age. Some of those buildings are dated from seven thousand years ago!
Top 10 things to see in Malta
As you can see, it is not a question of what to do in Malta, but of how to cram so much into your itinerary. To help you out, we have compiled a list of our top attractions in the archipelago. Come along!
We start, as many of these lists do, with the capital of the country. This is the ideal place to discover more than 450 years of history. And, it is clear why it is a World Heritage Site. The old town was originally a fortress designed to repel the Turkish invasions. And it is the work of the Italian architect Francesco Laparelli, a disciple of Michelangelo Buonarroti.
lThe fort of San Telmo, at the entrance to the port, is the most famous vestige of Malta’s military past. Inside the historic center, discover the City Gate, the Parliament, and the Palace of the Grand Master, home to the Presidency. Also, see the beautiful Barrakka Gardens, George Square, and the Bastion of Saint Peter and Paul.
Another jewel of Valletta is the Co-Cathedral of Saint John, which houses The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, a masterpiece by Caravaggio.
Senglea, Vittoriosa and Copiscua | Alternativa adventures in Malta
Once you’ve toured Valletta far and wide, take a dghajsa, a traditional Maltese boat, to its surrounding cities. The closest is Vittoriosa, the first home of the Knights of Saint John, known worldwide as the Order of Malta. And home to destinations such as the Malta Maritime Museum, the Inquisitor’s Palace, and the Fort of Saint Angelo.
Advancing on Calle Santa Margarita, you will arrive at Copiscua, the largest of the three cities. There you must visit the Collegiate Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Firenzuola fortifications, and the Santa Margarita Lines. And, just 17 minutes on foot, going up Dom Mintoff and San Pablo avenues, you reach Senglea. Its main attraction is the Fort of San Miguel and the boardwalk. So, get your camera ready, because from here you can get photos of Valletta, Vittoriosa and the Grand Port.
Hal Saflieni and Tarxien | Megalithic treasures in Malta
Just 15 minutes from the capital, by car and bus, you will find the fascinating Hal Saflieni Hypogeum. Located in the municipality of Paola, this megalithic jewel in Malta is dated back to 3600 BC. In other words, it was there even before the arrival of the Phoenicians.
This underground temple is the only one of its kind on the entire island. It went from being a sanctuary for worshiping ancient deities to a three-tiered necropolis. So it is more than 32 feet deep! Take into account that it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Malta. So we recommend you book your tickets at least a month and a half in advance.
Just 600 meters ahead, along Il Karmnu Street, you’ll find the small complex of the Temples of Tarxien. It is worth the short walk, as it is one of the best-preserved prehistoric structures in Europe.
Mdina and Rabat
These neighboring cities are located just half an hour from Valletta, by car or bus. They house some of the oldest treasures to see in Malta. Also, they are important pilgrimage centers for Christianity. Mdina is a peculiar walled city.
Its architecture dates back to the 12th century, in the Middle Ages. But it shows human settlements from 4,000 years ago. The medieval palaces of Vilhena and Falson stand out. Also, there’s the Cathedral of San Pablo, built in the seventeenth century, adorned with impressive baroque paintings.
Mdina is known as the “City of Silence”. This is because there is a restriction that only residents’ cars can drive through its narrow limestone streets. And 900 meters from the center of Mdina, you will find the Catacombs of Saint Paul, in Rabat. This was the last dwelling place of the apostle after his flight from Israel, during the first century.
Buskett and Dingli Cliffs
It is not easy to find countryside areas to see in Malta. However, the largest and most popular is undoubtedly Buskett. You can get there in just 30 minutes by road from Mdina. This forest, planted by the Order of Malta, is ideal for hiking and discovering fauna. Also, you can have a picnic after a busy day touring cities and temples.
It also houses the Verdala Palace, a summer residence for the President. If you travel by bus to this area, the route will first take you to the Dingli Cliffs. These are composed of limestone that rises 200 meters above sea level.
For centuries, its multiple caverns, formed by the action of seawater, served as a shelter for herds. They were also a home for shepherds and lairs for pirates. Today, they allow a privileged view of the Mediterranean. In other words, don’t forget your camera 😉
Hagar Qim and Mnajdra | Archaeological mysteries on the shores of Malta
Along the coast, about nine kilometers, you will find the largest megalithic remains in Malta: the Hagar Qim temples. Its construction dates from the years 3600 and 3200 b.C. At the entrance, a small museum will give you an audiovisual review of the history of the site. Above all, you will learn that its construction has been a mystery to archaeologists for more than a century.
It is still hard to explain how the builders were able to raise walls of up to 5 meters, and about 57 tons of weight. And using only rudimentary tools, no less. In addition, just 500 meters away, you cannot miss another three megalithic temples. These are known by the name of Mnajdra. These also date back to about 3,000 years before our era.
But, what about the beaches? Yes, all this history and architecture is alright, but this is an island, where can you get sun-drenched? Never worry. Refreshing swims are easy to come by. Just two kilometers south of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra you’ll find the beautiful Blue Grotto.
Actually, it is a system of six sea caves at the foot of the cliffs. Its curious name comes from the splendid palette of blue tones projected on its walls. This is due to the reflection of the Mediterranean waters.
You can visit them, one by one, on boats (the average price is 8 euros). Also, you can dive into its crystal clear waters to cool off. And even dive to discover the biodiversity that lives below the surface. Fun fact: one of the scenes from the movie “Troy”, starring Brad Pitt, was filmed in this cave.
Malta National Aquarium | The door to more than 200 marine species in Malta
Now if diving isn’t your thing, don’t worry. You can see all the underwater fauna in the aquarium. This is another of the must-see places in Malta as it is home to more than 200 species of fish. All hailing from the waters that surround the island.
Its biggest attraction is the main tank. You can explore it through a tunnel that will make you experience the sensation of walking under the sea. And here, you can contemplate the diversity of fish living in a habitat similar to the original. This aquarium is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cost of general admission amounts to 13 euros.
From the aquarium, you can get to Comino in just over an hour. You’ll have to travel by car, and then by ferry. This is the smallest island in the archipelago. And it is worth visiting for the crystal clear waters that bathe its shores.
Among the beaches, the famous Blue Lagoon stands out. It is located on the east coast but since it is full of tourists in the summer, it’s best to visit it in late spring. Other less crowded options are on the opposite end of the island. For instance, the beach and coves of Santa María.
Gozo | A window to the Mediterranean in Malta
Our tour of what to do in Malta ends with unmissable Gozo. It is the second-largest island in the country. Furthermore, it is interesting for its headlands and inlets, as well as for its small cities full of charm. In Victoria, you must see the Baroque-style Gozo Cathedral. As well as the old prison, dating from the 16th century, and the Museum of Natural Sciences.
To the east are the Ggantija temples, another of Malta’s megalithic jewels. As well as the paradisiac beach of San Blas. To the west, you can explore caves and cliffs. Here, the Blue Window stands out. It is a cape whose main structure resembles a window in the middle of the sea. Sadly, it collapsed due to a strong storm in 2017.
Living in Malta for a Season with GrowPro
Now you have enough information to start planning your next trip to Malta. So, it’s time to pack your bags and get ready for a Mediterranean adventure! But, if you’ve fallen irresistibly in love with this country and would like to stay longer, we got you covered. Yes! In addition to our experiences in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, and Canada, we now take you to Malta.
You can work, study and make a life for yourself. Here, you’ll find one of the oldest universities in the world. It‘s an excellent place to practice English, learn Italian, and even Maltese or Arabic!
Have a look at the experiences we have for you. And, keep in mind that if one catches your eye, we will make the immigration process so much easier. We’ll stay with you throughout your stay. What are you waiting for?!