Malta is one of those places that everyone should know about. A small archipelago located in the heart of the Mediterranean, the Maltese islands are well-known for their sun, sand, sea and fun factor. Malta and Gozo are also some of the most historically condensed areas in the world, with a story stretching 7,000 years. Small enough to have everything within reach, you’ll never be at a loss for what to do in Malta. Here’s an A to Z Malta travel guide for a quick overview of what to expect. Tourist travel in Malta has never been easier and no doubt you’ll be adding this destination right there at the top of your travel bucket list.
The Malta International Airport is located in Luqa, some 8 km away from the fortified 16th century capital of Valletta. Direct flights operate from all major European cities as well as some smaller airports. The flying time from the UK is approximately 3 hours. Most major airlines as well as low cost airlines operate, including Air Malta, British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair.
You’ll find several secluded coves, tranquil bays and charming sandy beaches in Malta, Gozo and Comino. The north of the island is home to several soft sandy beaches, Comino is famed for its paradisiacal Blue Lagoon and Gozo for the red sand dunes at Ramla Bay. Azure Golden Sands Resort & Spa is located on one of Malta’s most beautiful beaches: Golden Bay.
Climate / Cuisine / Currency
Three very important Cs and we’ll cover them all.
Climate: Malta’s weather is perhaps one of its greatest attractions, with a pleasant all-year-round climate. It is known to have 300 days of sunshine a year and May to October mostly enjoy clear blue skies. The winters are mild, with several sunny days interrupted with bouts of wind and rain and the occasional wild storm.
Cuisine: Malta has its own delectable cuisine that’s an intriguing combination of Mediterranean, Arabic, Sicilian and British influences. Typical dishes include rabbit, octopus, snails and fish dishes as well as a traditional English Sunday roast and several varieties of pasta dishes. Sweets tend to include the typical Sicilian love of almonds and sweet pastry. The absolute must try? No visit to Malta is complete without pastizzi, a savoury filo pastry filled with ricotta or mushy peas.
Currency: Making it easy for most European travellers, the local currency is the Euro.
Diving in Malta is big, with Malta, Gozo and Comino well established on the diving map worldwide. While Gozo is particularly sought after, the Maltese islands all offer wonderful cave and wreck diving opportunities, with boat dives and technical dive possibilities. PADI certification is also available from one of the many reliable diving schools.
In Malta the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. Travellers from the UK don’t need plug adaptors as the UK three-pin plug system is used in Malta.
Festa & Fireworks
Summertime sees the island come alive with fireworks during the local festa, or village feast – the pinnacle of Maltese culture. Every town and village celebrates a local feast in honour of their parish’s patron saint. Expect marching processions with statues carried through the lavishly decorated streets lined with food and drink stalls. All this to the music of lively brass bands and the compulsory fireworks display.
Golf (for Gozo, see Islands)
Although not renowned generally as a golfing destination, the Royal Malta Golf Club offers a delightful 18-hole course. The club was founded in 1888 in Marsa, which is not far from the capital Valletta, making it easy to reach from any part of the island.
Malta has no less than 7,000 years of rich history. There are several megalithic temples dating back to Neolithic times and there is plenty of local heritage dating from Phoenician, Punic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab and Norman eras, before the Knights of St John and the British stepped in to drastically change the face of Malta. There are plenty of museums in Malta and Gozo to enjoy too.
Islands of Gozo & Comino
Hop aboard a ferry to explore the neighbouring islands of Gozo and Comino. Gozo is Malta’s more laid-back and beautiful little sister; don’t leave without seeing the incredible Citadel in Gozo’s capital of Victoria. Comino is the compact island that lies in between; don’t miss out on seeing the amazing Blue Lagoon!
Malta is famous for its delicate silver filigree, a craft passed down from father to son. Originating in Egyptian times, Malta’s unique design and quality are highly appreciated by jewellery connoisseurs. See it made – visit Ta’Qali crafts village and see filigree in the making, along with glass blowing and pottery.
Great for families with children, the sandy beaches and climate in Malta are ideal for some fun in the sun. Are there any water parks? Splash & Fun Park at Bahar ic Caghaq is the largest. There is a younger children’s water area in Qawra, and also a small park at Popeye village throughout the summer.
Although Maltese is the official language, English is widely spoken so communication will never be an issue.
There are many markets throughout the week around Malta. They are places to visit where you will get a feel for local life and browse through the local souvenirs, freshly baked goods or the just caught catch of the day! Visit the Valletta market and the Sunday fish market in Marsaxlokk. What time should I go? The earlier the better. Normally starting around 7 am, the vendors start packing up around midday.
As well as beautiful beaches and places of historical interest, Malta is popular for its nightlife scene. The area of Paceville near St Julian’s is home to a large selection of bars, clubs and restaurants where you can dine and dance the night away into the early hours. One of the island’s Casinos – Westin Dragonara, is located in the area too, should Lady Luck be looking down over you!
Malta offers the perfect climate for olive trees to thrive. These are normally harvested in October. The Roman era produced stone presses which are still evident today across the island. You will notice some towns across Malta named after the tree, such as Zejtun and Zebbug.
When holidaying here, you are likely to come across the warm hospitality of the Maltese people. Their generosity and happiness are known worldwide, they’ve even topped the poll for the happiest place on Earth! So why do they shout? The Mediterranean temperament can be witnessed daily, and you’ll see a lot of raised voices and gesticulations. But don’t worry, you’ll normally find this is two people having a friendly chat in that animated Maltese way that the Mediterranean’s do best!
A small village in the south west of Malta, whose fame is owed to two of its most visited sites: Hagar Qim and Mnajdra temples.
Fenek in Maltese, rabbit is often recognised as the national dish of Malta. Served in many ways, the most popular being a stew.
Malta has been named the safest place on earth, thanks to its low risk of natural disasters. It is a very safe place for families to walk around at night, and crime is relatively low.
Add the Manoel Theatre in Valletta to your list. Reputed to be Europe’s third oldest working theatre, a range of cultural evenings take place here throughout the year.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
There are three magnificent UNESCO World Heritage sites: Valletta (capital of Malta), the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, and the Megalithic Temples which include 7 Megalithic complexes. These are said to be the oldest freestanding stone structures in the world.
Explore the local villages for a true feel of the Maltese way of life. Look up and admire the traditional balconies and ornate architecture. Try the local bars for a spot of lunch, you can be assured of a warm welcome and delicious fresh food that doesn’t cost a lot of money. Where shall I start? Mgarr has a small centre and three Megalithic temples! Pop in at the Farmers Snack Bar and try the local Hobz biz-zejt (bread filled with tomato paste, olives and herbs) – delicious!
Watersports & Walking
Explore the island’s hidden nooks and crannies on foot and discover the hidden beaches and quaint side streets that cars will never reach. Countryside trails through fields carpeted in hues of yellow define Malta in the springtime. What do I need? Good walking shoes, a camera and a sense of adventure!
A beautiful bay lined with waterside restaurants and bars on the neighbouring island of Gozo offers a picturesque location for swimming, snorkelling, diving, and lunch. How do I get there? A car and passenger ferry run regularly throughout the day from Cirkewwa (just past Mellieha). In 20 minutes you can be in Gozo.
Yachting & boating
The Rolex Middle Sea Race, held every year normally around the end of October, is a fantastic spectacle for boat enthusiasts. Starting from Valletta Grand Harbour, this 606-mile race passes Sicily, out to the Aeolian and Egadi Islands, returning back to Malta and the finish line at Marsamxett Harbour.
Malta does not have an official zoo as such, but in the south of the island there is the Inspire Animal Park in Marsascala, which provides a petting and feeding experience through rescued and donated animals. You can also visit various local bird and wildlife parks and swim with the dolphins at Mediterraneo Marine Park.