Although small, the island of the Knights has more than one reasons to visit it. Attractions in Malta might not be numerous, but they reflect its history, as well as the land’s beauty. Colorful houses, quaint neighborhoods, beautiful fishing villages, medieval cities, beaches and geological phenomena, will hold the interest of any kind of traveler unabated. From the capital city of Valletta to the silent Mdina and from the fishing village of Marsaxlokk to the island of Gozo, you will come across many locations for exploration and countless photographs. Watch the cannon-fire at the Upper Barrakka Gardens, dive into the Blue Lagoon at Comino, gaze at Blue Grotto and enter the cave of Calypso. Finally, try the amazing Maltese cuisine and have a blast in the area of St. Julian’s along with the locals.
A walk in the narrow streets of Valletta is never enough to discover the city’s beauty. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, Superbissima (i.e. the most proud) will impress you with its fortresses, walls, colorful alleys, baroque architecture and tasty cuisine. Walking around the cobbled streets, you will see colorful wooden balconies, you will hear locals speaking Arabic with European influences, a.k.a. Maltese, you will taste mouth-watering delicacies such as pastizzi, cannoli and more.
Suggested visit time: 2-3 hours
The know-it-all says: Valletta has not always been the capital of Malta (the first one was Mdina and Vittoriosa the second one)!
The island of Gozo is pretty big so you should dedicate one whole day to visit it. The most northern of the seven islands will claim much of your time, as it has many attractions, such as the temple of Ggantija (3700 BC) and the church Rotunda St. John the Baptist. Furthermore, the stunning Ta’ Pinu Basilica, the cave of Calypso, the Castle (Cittadella), the old prison, the Salt Pans, the Dwejra Tower and the former Azure Window (which has fallen apart) will fill you with unique images. Before leaving Gozo, make sure you have taken a dive in Ramla Bay and tasted the island’s delicacies.
Suggested visit time: 1 day
Cost: Ferry: 5€/person, 16€/person with car
The know-it-all says: The church of John the Baptist in the village of Xewkija is so large that it can fit all of the village’s residents (3,000)!
At the center of Malta, built atop a large hill, we come across the former capital of the island, the historic Mdina. It is characterized as “The city of silence”, as entrance to cars is prohibited, except for the residents’ ones. A town with just 250 residents that carries a history of many years, it will embrace you from the very first moment with its quiet, cleanliness and picturesque streets. The knights, castles and delightful touches transfer the visitor to another era, while Game of Thrones fans will adore it a little more, since shootings of the series have taken place there.
What you must see in Mdina and Rabat:
Cross the Mdina Gate, visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, get lost in the alleys and squares and enjoy the view with some fresh dessert at Fontanella. After exiting the walls, search for the Domus Romana, i.e. the Roman aristocratic home, walk down the catacombs of St. Paul, visit Malta’s national museum of natural history and try a delicious pastizzi at Crystal Palace. If you have some extra time, take a quick walk around the Ta’ Qali National Park.
Suggested visit time: 5-6 hours
The know-it-all says: It seems that in 60 AD Apostle Paul lived in the city!
The fishing village of Marsaxlokk is the island’s attraction on Sundays, when a big outdoor market is set up with local products, fish, clothes and souvenirs. At the village’s port the colorful Luzzu boats, with the characteristic eye, steal the show, while at its taverns fresh fish is served. Visit it on a weekday to enjoy its simplicity and beauty, as then it is relieved of the tourist bustle. A little outside the village (10 minutes by car) you will find St. Peter’s Pool, a natural rocky pool with emerald waters, and the quiet village of Marsaskala.
Suggested visit time: 3-4 hours
The know-it-all says: The village has a history of 30 centuries!
On the small Comino island, we find Malta’s most beautiful waters, the heavily advertised Blue Lagoon. The inlet reminds something of Elafonisi in Crete, while the turquoise color charms you and incites you to dive! Unfortunately, the very few square meters of white sand are not enough to cover the needs of the people in the summer (5,000+), who get crammed on the uncomfortable rocks. Within a close distance you will find the Crystal Lagoon, another equally beautiful inlet, which is ideal for diving, snorkeling and resting, away from the over-crowdedness of the Blue Lagoon. Access to Comino can be achieved only by boat…Read our useful tips.
Suggested visit time: 4-5 hours
Cost: Transportation 10€/person.
The know-it-all says: Many movies have been shot here, with the most prominent one being “Troy”, starring Brad Pitt!
Malta is famous for its tasty cuisine, which is mainly Mediterranean with distinct influences from Italy, Spain, England, Southern France and, of course, Northern Africa. The Lambuka fish is the recommendation that you will find in nearly every restaurant and it is served baked or in a pie, while the main meat used is rabbit (tal-fenek)! Also try Fenkata, one of Malta’s traditional dishes, with pasta, rabbit and peas. The Kapunata is the Maltese version of Ratatouille, while the Timpana resembles the Greek pastitsio, only it has penne, cheese, egg, tomato sauce and ground meat. For something quick, you will find the small pie called Pastizzi, the hobz biz-zejt open sandwich and the filling Ftira. Finally, if you want to feed your sweet tooth, go for a crunchy Cannoli, the incredible Imqaret or a piece of Helwa tat-Tork (halva with almonds).
The know-it-all says: The tal-fenek national dish started out as a form of resistance against the hunting restrictions imposed by the knights of Saint John!
The Azure Window may have fallen apart, but another impressive window is beneath the shadow of the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra temples. Unknown to people and hard to reach, Ras il- Hamrija invites you to meet it. In order to get there, you will have to follow the path of the Tal-Ħamrija Tower and climb down the slope (only if the weather allows it). Next to it you will find the in-niffied Caves, which invite you to take a dive in their crystal waters. The area is suitable for scuba-diving, snorkeling and trekking.
Caution: Do not visit them if there is bad weather and strong winds.
Suggested visit time: 1-2 hours
The know-it-all says: Malta’s coastline stretches across 253km!
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are –probably- the most photographed location in Malta. The green color of the gardens, the sea’s blue and yellow of the buildings compose an exquisite picture that looks like a postcard. The most important hours to visit them is at 12:00 & 16:00, when the reenactment of the saluting battery to naval vessels takes place, with canons firing blank shots towards the sea. From this point you can gaze at the Grand Harbour or take the lift to the Valletta Waterfront.
Mini tip: Do not miss out on visiting the Lower Barrakka Gardens, as well!
Suggested visit time: 40 minutes-1 hour
Open: Daily 07:00-22:00
The know-it-all says: It is the highest point of Valletta’s walls!
The blue cave, a.k.a. the Blue Grotto, is one of the most popular locations in Malta and attracts thousands of tourists each year. The geological phenomenon consists of the 30-meter tall arch, the six caves and the steep/sharp rocks, which were formed by the fury of the waves. From the top of the Blue Grotto you can see the tiny Fifla (one of Malta’s seven islands), while the area is also suitable for diving. In order to admire the inside of the impressive caves with safety, prefer to go with one of the boats.
Suggested visit time: 1-2 hours
Cost: Free (Boat ride: Adults 8€, Children 4€)
The know-it-all says: In the caves you will see three colors; orange, crimson and green that are reflections of the rocks’ minerals!
A tour with a gondola is always romantic, let alone when it goes around Valletta’s Grand Harbour. During the 35-minute ride with the traditional Dgħajsa you will see fortresses, historical buildings, luxurious yachts and you will enjoy the beauty of the Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua). Take the tour a little before 4 in the afternoon, so you can see the Saluting Battery from the sea. Finally, we should mention that the gondolas also operate as water-taxis for transportation to the Three Cities.
The tours start HERE.
Suggested visit time: 30-40 minutes
Open: Every day 09:00 until sunset.
Cost: 2€ for transport to the Three Cities & 8€ for the tour of the Grand Harbour.
The know-it-all says: Nowadays, only 12 traditional gondolas (dgħajjes) survive!
The Co-Cathedral of St. John is one of the most must-visit attractions in Malta and one of the best temples that we have visited. Its plain exterior does not give away to the visitor the magnitude of wealth that they are about to see inside. So, once inside, the works of art, the 405 elaborate, marble tombstones of the Knights and the solid-gold carved walls steal the show. Despite the vast number of artworks, the two masterpieces of the great Italian painter Caravaggio, and mainly the “Beheading of St. John the Baptist”, are the ones that are going to leave you flabbergasted.
Suggested visit time: 1-1.5 hours
Open: Monday-Friday 09:30-16:30 & Saturday 09:30-12:30. Closed: Sundays and national holidays. .
Cost: Adults 10€, Retirees & Students 7.5€, Children >12 Free.
The know-it-all says: On the marble floor there are hidden messages about death and the afterlife!
The Tal-Mixta Cave is one of the most beautiful and unknown attractions of Malta (Gozo island). For many, it is considered the Calypso’s cave, but not for historians*. Access is achieved by car, through a bumpy/difficult road or through the path that starts at Ramla Bay. While entering the cave, the view of the red Ramla beach and the sea will enchant you like some other Calypso! Visit it before the sunset and stay there until nightfall.
The cave is located HERE.
Suggested visit time: 1 hour
The know-it-all says: At Ramla Bay starts the Ramla walk (walking trail), which is 10km long!
Below the Upper Barrakka Gardens is the Valletta Waterfront, a coastal, renovated road, which crosses part of the Grand Harbour of Malta. The limestone arches, abandoned warehouses and towering walls blend with the modern touches. Walk among the huge cruise ships that hide the sun, gaze at the traditional gondolas that travel to and from the Three Cities and sit or shop at one of the many stores you will find along the pedestrian walkway.
Suggested visit time: 1-2 hours
The know-it-all says: Along the waterfront, there are nineteen 250-year-old warehouses!
When the streets of Malta start to quiet down, the area of Saint Julian’s is getting ready for partying until the morning. Along the pedestrianized Paceville the dozens of bars and clubs, pubs and casinos fill with people early, while music and alcohol have the first word. For dinner or some low-key drinks prefer Balluta or Spinola Bay. In St. Julian’s there are also cafés and shops with delicious breakfast and desserts. Before leaving, take a dive in St. George’s Bay, while if you can stand walking, follow the coastal route that leads to Sliema.
Suggested visit time: 1 Night
The know-it-all says: It hosts Malta’s tallest building!
The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is one of the five most ancient constructions in the world that survive today, as it is dated back to 4000 BC!! It is divided in three levels. On the first one are the burial chambers, on the middle one there are wall paintings and on the last level is the area named the “Saint of Saints”, where the silence is deafening! Despite the extremely expensive ticket, the underground burial site has high visitor rates and in order to find a ticket (especially during high season) you must have made reservations at least three months in advance! Do not miss it.
Suggested visit time: 1 hour
Open: Every day 09:00-15:00 (except for 12:00), Closed: December 24th, 25th, 31st.
Cost: Adults 35€, Retirees-Students 25€, Children 15€.
The know-it-all says: Only 10 visitors per hour are allowed, for a maximum period of 8 hours, so that temperature and humidity are maintained at the required levels!
Travelen.eu is regularly updated on ticket costs and operating hours, but you should always visit your choice of destination’s official site for confirmation.