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  • Andy Honey

Malta Travel Tips: How to Make the Most of Your Mediterranean Adventure


colourful fishing boats and a cathedral in malta

Are you yearning for a Mediterranean escape that's more than just sun and sand? Look no further than Malta, a tiny archipelago with a colossal personality!


Nestled between Sicily and North Africa, this gem of the Mediterranean offers a delightful blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that will leave you spellbound.


So, why should Malta be next on your travel bucket list?


Table of Contents

  1. 10 Reasons to Visit Malta

  2. Best Time to Visit Malta

  3. How to Travel to Malta

  4. Travel Tips

  5. Accommodation

  6. Things to do 6.1 Gozo and Blue Lagoon 6.2 Valletta Food and Drink Tour 6.3 Rabat and Mdina Tour 6.4 Popeye Village

  7. Affiliate Disclaimer


1. Timeless History Beckons

Malta is a living testament to history, with layers of civilisations woven into its very fabric. From prehistoric temples predating the pyramids of Egypt to the grandeur of the Knights of St. John, history buffs will find themselves in a paradise of antiquity. Explore the mystical Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or wander through the fortified city of Mdina, known as the Silent City, where every cobblestone whispers tales of the past.


2. Sun-Kissed Shores and Azure Waters

With over 300 days of sunshine a year, Malta is a sun worshipper's paradise. But it's not just about soaking up rays on golden beaches (though there are plenty!). Dive into the bright blue waters teeming with marine life, or hop aboard a traditional Maltese boat called a luzzu for a leisurely cruise along the coast. Don't forget to explore the enchanting Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino, where the water is so clear you'll feel like you're swimming in liquid sapphire.


3. Culinary Delights to Tempt Every Palate

Prepare your taste buds for a culinary adventure like no other! Maltese cuisine is a tantalising fusion of Mediterranean flavours influenced by centuries of diverse cultural interactions. Indulge in traditional dishes like fenkata (rabbit stew), pastizzi (flaky pastry filled with ricotta or mushy peas), and ftira (a rustic Maltese bread topped with goodies like tuna, capers, and olives). Wash it all down with a glass of local wine or the refreshing prickly pear liqueur known as bajtra.


4. Festivals Galore

Malta knows how to throw a party, and its calendar is brimming with vibrant festivals celebrating everything from religion to music and art. Experience the spectacle of Festa, where each village honours its patron saint with processions, fireworks, and lively street parties. Dance the night away at the Isle of MTV music festival, or immerse yourself in the creative energy of the Malta International Arts Festival. Whatever time of year you visit, there's bound to be a festival that will ignite your senses and leave you craving more.


deck chairs on a rocky cliff overlooking clear blue sea


5. Stunning Scenery at Every Turn

For such a small island nation, Malta packs a punch when it comes to natural beauty. From dramatic sea cliffs to hidden coves and rolling countryside, the landscape is a photographer's dream. Hike along the rugged coastline of Gozo and discover hidden gems like the Azure Window (or what remains of it), or explore the stunning Dingli Cliffs, where the sheer drop into the Mediterranean will take your breath away. And let's not forget the breathtaking sunsets that paint the sky in hues of pink and gold, providing the perfect backdrop for romance or reflection.


6. Warm Maltese Hospitality

The warmth and hospitality of the Maltese people will make you feel right at home from the moment you arrive. Whether you're sipping coffee in a cozy café, bargaining with vendors at a bustling market, or striking up a conversation with locals at a village festa, you'll be greeted with genuine smiles and open arms. The Maltese are proud of their heritage and love sharing it with visitors, so don't be surprised if you leave with a few new friends and a lifetime of cherished memories.


7. Diving into Underwater Wonderland

Malta isn't just captivating above the water; its underwater world is equally mesmerising. The archipelago boasts some of the best diving spots in the Mediterranean, attracting divers from around the globe. With crystal-clear waters, an abundance of marine life, and an abundance of fascinating dive sites, Malta offers an unforgettable underwater adventure for both beginners and experienced divers alike.


Explore colourful coral reefs teeming with fish, or dive into mysterious caves and caverns adorned with stalactites and stalagmites. Discover sunken wrecks dating back centuries, such as the HMS Maori, a World War II-era destroyer resting on the seabed just off the coast of Valletta. Whether you're into wreck diving, cave diving, or simply drifting along vibrant reefs, Malta's underwater realm promises awe-inspiring encounters and unforgettable memories.


8. Cinematic Backdrops and Hollywood Glamour

Did you know that Malta has served as a backdrop for some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters? With its stunning landscapes, historic architecture, and year-round sunshine, it's no wonder that filmmakers have been drawn to Malta for decades. From epic historical dramas like "Gladiator" and "Troy" to fantasy adventures like "Game of Thrones" and "Clash of the Titans," Malta's diverse scenery has played a starring role in countless cinematic masterpieces.


Visit iconic filming locations like Fort Ricasoli, which stood in for the Colosseum in "Gladiator," or the ancient city of Mdina, featured prominently in "Game of Thrones" as the fictional city of King's Landing. Take a guided tour to uncover behind-the-scenes secrets and fascinating anecdotes about your favourite movies, and see Malta through the lens of Hollywood magic.


9. Eco-Friendly Adventures and Sustainable Tourism

In recent years, Malta has emerged as a champion of eco-friendly tourism and sustainable practices. The archipelago is committed to preserving its natural beauty and cultural heritage for future generations while offering visitors unique and memorable experiences that leave a positive impact on the environment.


Embark on eco-friendly adventures such as kayaking along the rugged coastline, cycling through picturesque villages, or embarking on a birdwatching excursion in one of Malta's many nature reserves. Support local businesses that prioritise sustainability, from eco-friendly accommodations and farm-to-table restaurants to artisanal shops selling handmade crafts and souvenirs. By choosing responsible tourism practices, you can contribute to the conservation efforts of this beautiful island nation while enjoying an authentic and rewarding travel experience.


10. Unforgettable Cultural Experiences

Immerse yourself in Malta's rich cultural tapestry through a mass of immersive experiences that celebrate its heritage and traditions. Attend a traditional Maltese festa and witness the spectacle of religious processions, colourful street decorations, and fireworks lighting up the night sky.


Explore the lively markets and artisanal craft fairs where you can sample local delicacies, browse handmade goods, and mingle with friendly locals.


Delve into Malta's artistic scene by visiting galleries, museums, and cultural centres showcasing contemporary and traditional Maltese art and craftsmanship. From folk music and dance performances to theatrical productions and literary events, there's always something happening on the cultural calendar to captivate your imagination and leave you with a deeper appreciation for Malta's vibrant heritage.


colourful fishing boats outside of a restaurant in malta


Best Time to Visit Malta


Spring (March to May):

- Spring is a wonderful time to visit Malta if you prefer milder temperatures and fewer crowds.

- The countryside is lush and green, and wildflowers bloom, adding a splash of colour to the landscape.

- It's an ideal time for outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and exploring historic sites without the intense heat of summer.


Summer (June to August):

- Summer is peak tourist season in Malta, thanks to its sunny weather and warm temperatures.

- The beaches and coastal resorts come alive with sunbathers, water sports enthusiasts, and beach parties.

- Expect long days of sunshine and a vibrant atmosphere, but be prepared for higher prices and larger crowds.


Autumn (September to November):

- Autumn is another excellent time to visit Malta, especially if you prefer slightly cooler temperatures and fewer tourists.

- The sea is still warm for swimming, and the weather remains pleasant for outdoor activities.

- You can also catch some of Malta's cultural events and festivals, such as the Malta International Fireworks Festival and the Birgufest in October.


Winter (December to February):

- Winter is the quietest time to visit Malta, with cooler temperatures and occasional rain showers.

- While the weather may not be ideal for beach days, it's perfect for exploring Malta's historic sites, museums, and cultural attractions without the crowds.

- You can also experience traditional Maltese festivities, such as Christmas markets and Carnival celebrations.



table and chairs next to a tree overlooking the sea

How to Travel to Malta


By Air:

- Malta International Airport (MLA): Located near the village of Luqa, Malta International Airport is the primary gateway to the archipelago. It serves as a hub for both domestic and international flights.

- Direct Flights: Many major airlines operate direct flights to Malta from various cities across Europe, including London, Rome, Paris, Berlin, and Madrid. There are also direct flights from North African cities like Tunis and Cairo.

- Connecting Flights: If there are no direct flights from your location, you can book connecting flights via major European hubs such as London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, or Istanbul.



By Sea:

- Ferry Services: While there are no regular passenger ferry services to Malta from other countries, there are occasional ferry connections from Sicily, Italy. These ferries typically depart from the ports of Pozzallo, Catania, and Valletta (Grand Harbour). However, schedules may vary depending on the season, so it's essential to check in advance.

Cruise Ships:

- Malta is a popular port of call for cruise ships sailing in the Mediterranean. Cruise liners often include Malta on their itineraries, allowing passengers to disembark and explore the island for a day or more.


Travel Documents:

- Regardless of how you arrive in Malta, it's essential to ensure you have the necessary travel documents. For most visitors, this includes a valid passport with at least six months' validity beyond the date of entry. Some nationalities may also require a visa to enter Malta, so be sure to check the visa requirements well in advance of your trip.



an air malta aeroplane

Malta Travel Tips


Plan Ahead:

- Research the attractions, activities, and events you want to experience in Malta, and create an itinerary to make the most of your time on the islands.


Weather Considerations:

- Malta enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Pack accordingly, with lightweight clothing for the summer months and warmer layers for the winter.


Sun Protection:

- The sun in Malta can be intense, especially during the summer months. Remember to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from sunburn and heatstroke.


Stay Hydrated:

- Carry a reusable water bottle and stay hydrated, especially when exploring outdoor attractions or spending time at the beach.


Respect Local Customs:

- Malta is a conservative Catholic country with strong cultural traditions. Respect local customs, dress modestly when visiting churches and religious sites, and observe local etiquette.


Currency and Payments:

- The official currency of Malta is the Euro (EUR). Credit cards are widely accepted, but it's always a good idea to carry some cash for small purchases and transactions.


Transportation Options:

- Malta has an efficient public transportation system, including buses and ferries, making it easy to get around the islands. Consider purchasing a travel card or pass for unlimited travel during your stay. If you prefer to be more in control then car hire is another option.




Language:

- English and Maltese are the official languages of Malta, with English widely spoken and understood. You should have no trouble communicating with locals and navigating the islands in English.



Stay Safe:

- Malta is generally a safe destination for travellers, but it's essential to remain vigilant and take precautions against petty theft and scams. Keep your belongings secure, especially in crowded tourist areas.


Explore Beyond the Tourist Hotspots:

- While popular attractions like Valletta, Mdina, and the Blue Grotto are must-visit destinations, don't hesitate to venture off the beaten path and explore lesser-known villages, beaches, and cultural sites for a more authentic experience.


Try Local Cuisine:

- Sample traditional Maltese dishes like rabbit stew (fenkata), pastizzi (savoury pastries), and ftira (Maltese bread) to experience the unique flavors of the islands. Don't forget to pair your meals with local wines and liqueurs for a true taste of Malta.


Embrace the Maltese Pace of Life:

- Malta operates on its own relaxed schedule, known as "Maltese time." Embrace the slower pace of life, savour each moment, and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of the islands.


a woman with a pushchair walking down a street in malta

My Recommendations for Budget Accommodation in Malta


The Buccaneers Boutique Guest House - This smoke-free guesthouse features a restaurant, a bar/lounge and a snack bar/deli. WiFi in public areas is free. Additionally, a seasonal outdoor pool, a library and tour/ticket assistance are on-site.


Lantern Guest House - This smoke-free guesthouse features a restaurant, a bar/lounge and a coffee shop/cafe. WiFi in public areas is free. Other amenities include tour/ticket assistance.


Estrella Lodging - Along with dry cleaning, this hotel has laundry facilities and tour/ticket assistance. Free continental breakfast, free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided. Other amenities include a front desk safe and a reception hall.


Quaint Boutique Hotel Xewkija - A restaurant, a bar/lounge and concierge services are available at this hotel. Free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided. Other amenities include dry cleaning, laundry facilities and tour/ticket assistance.


MyTravel House - A rooftop terrace and free WiFi in public areas are available at this smoke-free guesthouse. Limited housekeeping is available.

Hotel

Rating

Parking

Price per Night (from)

3.5 Star

Free off-site Parking

£44

3 Star

No Parking Available

£52

3 Star

Free off-site Parking

£56

3 Star

Parking Included

£58

3.5 Star

No Parking Available

£59

Things to do When Exploring Malta



Uncover the beauty of Malta's coast on this full-day Cruise from Bugibba. Swim at the Blue Lagoon and enjoy some free time exploring the island of Gozo. Select from different boats and departure times. Your tour begins from the tourist town of Bugibba, where your vessel departs on an unforgettable two-island cruise.


From the open sea, you will experience Malta from a truly unique and beautiful vantage point. Relax with refreshments available to purchase on board. Cruise close to the coast whilst witnessing Malta's magnificent naturally formed coastline, including its enormous cliffs, rocky nooks, and crannies.


You will pass the tiny Island of St. Paul's, viewing the statue of the apostle St. Paul as it rises high into the sky. You will also get to visit magnificent sea caves, allowing you to take amazing photographs.




malta sea adventure boat tour


Discover the mixture of influences that have merged to create the city of Valletta on this guided walking tour. Explore the streets of the city and admire its stunning architecture. Stop to savor some delicious food and drinks along the way.


Meet your guide at the Triton Fountain and begin your walking adventure. Listen as your guide explains how foreign powers have influenced the city through the centuries. See a mixture of artistic and architectural styles. Find out how this has left a mark on the Maltese language and cuisine.


Uncover the history of the Valletta and how it relates to the Knights of St. John in the mid-16th century. Learn about how it became an important and cosmopolitan harbour city. Hear thrilling historical anecdotes that you will not see in any guide books.


Experience authentic traditional Maltese food and drinks at a number of stops during the tour. Get tips on where and what to eat during your stay in Malta, as well as the best places to shop for authentic Maltese food. Finish your tour on Melita street.



a close up of maltese food


Embark on a guided trip from Valletta to the San Anton Palace to explore the lush gardens before visiting some of the highlights of Rabat and Mdina, also known as the Silent City. Step into the unique underground galleries and tombs of St. Paul’s Catacombs, entry tickets included.


San Anton Palace and Gardens

For your first stop, visit the San Anton Palace in Attard, the official residence of the president of Malta since the office was created in 1974. Originally built in the early 17th century as a country villa for Antoine de Paule, it was later expanded into a palace in 1623. The palace was used as a residence by subsequent grand masters, being enlarged several times in the process.


It was once the headquarters of the rebel National Assembly, and it later became a residence for the civil commissioners, governors, and governors-general of Malta. The palace is surrounded by the extensive San Anton Gardens, parts of which have been open to the public since 1882. During your tour, you’ll get to explore the garden before continuing to the next stop which is Rabat.



Rabat

Rabat is a town in the Northern Region of Malta and is home to the famous St. Paul’s Catacombs. These catacombs were used in Roman times to bury the dead. The catacombs are now looked after by Heritage Malta. Part of St. Paul's Catacombs, the part accessible from the Parish church, was where, according to tradition and as recorded in the bible, St. Paul stayed for three months when he was shipwrecked on the island in 60 A.D. After getting to know the unique underground galleries and tombs of St. Paul’s Catacombs, you’ll head to the next and final stop of the tour: Mdina.


Mdina

Mdina, also known by its other titles Città Vecchia or Città Notabile, is a fortified city in the Northern Region of Malta, which served as the island's capital from antiquity to the medieval period. The city is still confined within its walls and has a population of just under 300.


Follow your guide around this quaint yet historic city, and marvel at its several Baroque features as well as its longstanding medieval character. Discover what gave rise to the city’s popular nickname “Silent City," used by both locals and visitors. Mdina is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and it is now one of the main tourist attractions in Malta.


mdina the silent city in malta


Take your entry ticket and visit Popeye Village for an exciting adventure exploring the world of Popeye. Skip the line to enter the park and enjoy access to all attractions, from the comic museum to an inflatable water park in the summertime.


Enter the park and get to know Popeye the Sailor Man, Olive Oyl, Captain Bluto, and their friends while taking photos at Popeye’s house, school, firehouse, dentist, and bakery on the original 1980s set of the movie "Popeye" which starred Robin Williams.


Learn more about the movie at Popeye’s comic museum and watch a short documentary at the village cinema. Become a film star for the day and star in an actual movie and later attend your own movie premiere.


Additional activities include getting a glimpse of how traditional Maltese silver filigree is made or participating in a 9-hole mini-golf tournament.


Dive into summer fun with an inflatable water park in the crystal-clear sea of Anchor Bay, or enjoy the splash pool or covered play pool from June to September. Join in the festive celebrations during Carnival, Easter, Halloween, and Santa’s Toy Town over Christmas.



popeye village in malta

In summary, Malta offers a wealth of experiences that will captivate and enchant travellers of all ages and interests.


Whether you're drawn to its rich history, stunning natural beauty, delicious cuisine, or vibrant cultural scene, Malta promises an unforgettable journey filled with discovery, adventure, and warm Maltese hospitality.


So, why wait? Start planning with our Malta travel tips and prepare to be swept away by the magic of this enchanting Mediterranean gem!



Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links including Amazon products where I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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