Have you heard of Malta? Shamefully, we didn’t even know of its existence until late 2017, when we met a fellow Maltese on our travels in Africa. But it didn’t take us long to get to this little archipelago, just south of Italy.
Malta is a beautiful country to visit with its Mediterranean seas & endless sunshine, but that’s not all. There are old historic cities with a ton of history, fascinating culture, old fishing villages, ancient temples, hidden coves, peaceful towns, an interesting blend of cuisine and a very relaxed atmosphere. Oh, and English is their second language making travel and eating, a breeze!
Malta is made up of 3 main islands; Malta, Gozo and Comino. Gozo, a smaller version of the mainland Malta can be reached in 20 minutes by ferry and Comino which is largely visited for it’s famous Blue Lagoon, is virtually uninhabited with only one hotel.
So what are you waiting for? Visit Malta! Here’s our guide for everything you need to know about Malta
Fun Facts about Malta
- After rain falls, all the cars get covered in sand from all the sandstone that makes up the infrastructure of Malta.
- Every second local we spoke to had a cousin, friend, uncle or aunt who resided in Australia. Some say there are more Maltese living in Australia than there are Malta but who knows?!
- The Brits ruled Malta until 1964 when it became independent (hence the red phone booths!)
- Valletta, the capital, is one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.
- The current population of Malta is 431,940 with Gozo having a population of 31,000 and Comino, wait for it… a whopping total of 3!
- Malta is devoid of forests and rivers.
- 2.6 million tourists visited Malta in 2017. Up a whopping 16% from the previous years.
When to Visit Malta
Malta’s busiest & hottest time of year is during the summer months of June – August. The heat, nor the crowds mess around. During these months, especially August, temperatures can soar up to 40 degrees. The air is thick and the beaches, streets, museums and the cities are overly crowded.
For the most comfortable holiday, we’d suggest visiting Malta during the shoulder months of late May/June and September/October. The sun is shining, temperatures are pleasant and the crowds are more manageable. We visited in early May and although we didn’t get as lucky as we had hoped with the weather, we definitely appreciated not waiting in lines for attractions & having space on the beaches.
Malta’s Top Sights (Malta, Gozo, Comino)
Malta may be a small country, but it’s got a lot to offer! We spent a total of 5 days exploring the main island of Malta and a further 5 in Gozo which allowed us to take our trip slowly. In a separate post, we go into these top sights in far greater detail so if you want to know more (and you should!), visit our posts below!
- Read: 14 Top Things You Must Do In Malta: The Ultimate Bucket List.
- Read: 10 Top Things You Must Do In Gozo, Malta.
- Read: Gozo & Comino, Malta – EVERYTHING You Need to Know
- Read: 12 Foods You Must Try in Malta.
Top Things to do in Malta + Malta Map
- Golden Bay Beach
- Għajn Tuffieħa Bay
- Anchor Bay/Popeye Village
- St. Peter’s Pool
- Marsaxlokk Markets
- Dingli Cliffs
- The Blue Grotto
- The Tarxien Temples
- Hagar Qim Temples
- Mellieha Bay
- Ghadira Bay
- Saint Johns Co-Cathedral
- Museum of Archaeology
- Upper Barracca Gardens & Saluting Battery
- Grand Master’s Palace
- Valletta Waterfront
- The Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Senglea & Cospicua)
- Fort St Angelo
- Vittoriosa Yacht Marina
- Malta Maritime Museum
- Inquisitor Museum
- Victory Square
- Roam the residential streets of Senglea
Top Things to do in Gozo & Comino
- The Blue Lagoon (Comino)
- Xlendi Bay
- Victoria & The Citadel
- The Blue Hole
- Dwejra Bay
- The Inland Sea
- Ramla Bay
- Tal – Mixta Cave
- Wied il-Għasri
- Mgarr Ix-Xini
- The Salt Pans
- Ggantija Temples
How to get around Malta
- Bus (Cheapest)
There is an extremely efficient and cheap bus network in Malta. Buses run regularly around the island with stops on what feels like almost every corner. Single tickets can be bought on the bus with cash for €1.50 (winter) and €2 (summer). If you’re there for a week, consider an unlimited 7-day pass which will cost €21 per adult and €15 for a child or you can purchase a 12 single journey pass for €15. Avoid giving the bus driver anything larger than a €5 if you can avoid it. Buses in Gozo are a little more sparse than Malta but still very accessible.
- Rent a Car (Most convenient)
If you’re a confident driver, consider hiring a car for at least one day. It’s inexpensive (as little as €15 a day) and allows far more freedom to explore. We’d definitely recommended this if you are only in Malta for a short time. Manual transmission vehicles are most commonly driven, however, automatics are available at a higher rate and at times, slightly harder to find. We rented from Autorentals Co – a local and affordable car rental company in St Julians. If you plan to rent from the airport, Goldcar has extremely cheap prices (€8 for a manual :O). Speed cameras can be found quite commonly so look out for the signs. You are given 4 warning signs prior to the actual speed camera. You’ve been warned.
- Scooter/ATV (for Gozo)
Driving a scooter in Malta can be a little daunting and hectic, especially if you’re a newbie. However, it’s still an option! We opted for a car rental in Malta and a scooter in Gozo. You must have a drivers license to rent a scooter and depending on what class you have, the power of the bike changes. Scooters or ATV’s can be rented in the main towns such as Marsalforn/Xlendi (Gozo) or St Julians/Sliema (Malta) from €20-€55 a day depending on what you want.
- Taxi Service/Taxify
Taxify is similar to Uber (which hasn’t quite made it’s way to the island just yet). Download the app and call a taxi wherever you are. Note: you’ll need data to access the app. Regular taxis are also available on the island but Taxify is cheaper and more convenient.
Where to stay in Malta?
Deciding where to base yourself in a new country can be overwhelming, so we’ve given a brief rundown of the best places to stay in Malta, depending on what you’re after.
Note: For accommodation in Gozo, please refer to our Gozo Guide.
- St Julians/Paceville – Known as one of the busiest/touristic areas of the island. St Julian’s is not for the culture seekers. In a nutshell, it’s a party town, especially if you’re under 25! 72 shots for €24 anyone? Yeah, that’s a thing. This isn’t a bad place and it’s one of the most popular areas for a reason, but you’ll find the most western touristic atmosphere here and a rather intense nightlife vibe. View Hotels in St Julians.
- Sliema – A short bus ride from Valletta, Sliema has everything a tourist would need. In Sliema, you have a large selection of restaurants, bars, a shopping mall, a rocky beach, scenic viewpoints and a variety of accommodation for all types of travellers. You can reach anywhere on the island by bus or even ferry from Sliema. View hotels in Sliema.
- Msida – Msida (where we stayed) felt slightly more local than that of its neighbouring suburbs. It was extremely accessible to reach everywhere in Malta via the bus and it had the added bonus of not being overrun with tourists. There were plenty of restaurants, a marina, grocery stores, bars and the best cafe (Busy Bee’s) on the island to get yourself a Kannoli. What more could you want? View Hotels in Msida.
- Valletta – Despite being the capital and the centre of Malta, accommodation is scarce in Valletta. Boutique hotels that are available definitely come with the higher price tag. If you have the cash to burn, staying in Valletta is a very special option. View Hotels in Valletta.
- Golden Bay Beach – After a relaxing beach holiday? Golden Bay Beach has stunning views by day but is quiet at night. There is one hotel surrounding Golden Bay Beach – The Radisson Blu Resort & Spa which overlooks the beach itself. You are slightly further away from the “action” at night and a bus will take close to an hour between Valletta and Golden Bay Beach.
- St Pauls Bay – Moving further North (and further away from the capital) St Paul’s Bay and the surrounding areas (Bugibba and Qawra) are busy during the summer months, however, there aren’t the greatest swimming options here. You won’t find the cultural or historical value in St Pauls, nor much of the local cuisine, although you will find a decent range of 3-4 star hotels. View hotels in St Pauls Bay.
- Mellieha – Mellieha is a large village in the most Northern part of Malta and overlooks Mellieha Bay – Malta’s largest sandy beach. There you’ll find 3-4 star hotels and resorts as well as apartments and villa rentals. As its based on a hill, the streets can be hilly and steep. If you’re basing yourself in Mellieha, you’ll want to rent yourself a car as accessing various parts of the island via bus will be long. The bonus is that is that it’s close to the ferry terminal (Cirkewwa) to Gozo. View hotels in Mellieha.
The Maltese Cuisine
We all know how important it is to try the local cuisine when visiting a new country! So what’s Malta’s food like? Maltese cuisine is influenced by it’s neighbouring countries such as Sicily and Northern Africa and is blessed with a climate that yields a large variety of crops throughout the year.
Many local dishes are prepared using very fresh seasonal produce, with specialities like stewed rabbit, quail, horse (occasionally), vegetables, bread (so much bread!) and a whole lot of cheese.
If you love food as much as we go, check out our post on the 12 Foods You Must Try in Malta.
Malta Discount Card (Highly Recommended!)
The Malta Discount Card gives you 600 exclusive savings on over 150 establishments on the island of Malta and Gozo. Not only can you save up to 50% off on a restaurant meal but there are savings to be had for ATV rentals, spas, hotels, diving, water sports and entries to historical sites and museums. It seems a little bit too good to be true but we’re here to tell you there isn’t a catch. We saved 50% off our bill at numerous outstanding restaurants throughout Malta, ones consistently ranking high on TripAdvisor (4+ Stars).
The discount card comes in two forms, either for holiday use over 10 days (€20) or for an entire year (€35). The annual card can be bought online here and the tourist card can be bought with authorised sellers here or at any of the participating stores located on the website. The card will come with a small book explaining each of the discounts and how much you will save each time. Note: One card is valid for 2 adults and up to 3 children under the age of 12.
So, have we convinced you to book a trip to Malta yet?
Disclaimer: Part of our experience in Malta was made possible in collaboration with The Malta Tourism Board. As always, opinions, recommendations and photographs remain our own.