Malta is one of the smallest countries in the world. It is an archipelago at the center of the Mediterranean 93 kms south of Sicily and 288 kms north of the North African coasts. The Mediterranean is the cradle of civilization and Malta is at the heart of this civilization and a veritable living open air museum well known for its ancient towns, archaeological sites and expansive beaches with one of the islands voted the second best diving destination in the world.
There are three main islands here namely Malta, Gozo and Comino. It has a population of 410,000 inhabitants and English is the official language. Malta is the largest Island with a coastline of 196.8 km, it is the cultural, commercial and administrative center hosting the capital city Valletta. Gozo is the second largest with a coast line of 67km, it is rural and characterized by fishing, tourism, crafts and agriculture. Comino Island is situated between Malta and Gozo Island with a coast line of 3.5 squire kms. It is a paradise for snorkelers, divers, windsurfers and Ramblers.
Why visit or take a tour to Malta?
1. It is a year round destination with the typical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summer and mild, humid winter.
2. It is safe and hospitable as Maltese are warm, friendly and generous and guests are welcome with open arms.
3. 7000 year of history as the island is steeped in culture and heritage coloured by the various people that have occupied the territory over the centauries’.
4. Home to 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: They are Valletta, the hypogeum and the Megalithic Temples.
5. Short distances within the islands offering the convenience of everything being within reach, you don’t need a lot of travel to see an interesting historical site or to the beach.
6. Archipelago of islands of Malta,Gozo and Comino which are all short ferry ride (25minutes)away and provide a uniquely different escape.
7. The life style in Malta is one big open air museum with so much of their past visible today with real adventure activities to engage in here.
What to see and do in Malta.
1. Megalithic Temples and Hypogeum
Megalithic Temples of Malta means the Large Stone temples of Malta. There are several prehistoric temples both in Malta and Gozo with seven being UNESCO World heritage sites. They were built between 3600 BC and 2500 BC and believed to be for animal sacrifices to the goddess of fertility. They are the oldest standing structures in the world, older than the pyramids of Egypt.
A hypogeum is an underground temple or tomb it has passages, halls and chambers cut out of the rock. The Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni is considered the most important prehistoric monument in the world. It is open to only 80 visitors per day and therefore tickets have to be purchased well in advance.
Mdina is located on the northern region of Malta. It is a perfect example of an ancient walled city with a history that traces back to 4000 years back. According to tradition it was here that in 60 A.D. that the Apostle St. Paul is said to have lived after being shipwrecked on the Islands. It has a mix of medieval and Baroque architecture. Mdina is fascinating to visit for its timeless atmosphere as well as its cultural and religious treasures.
Valletta is Malta’s capital city and the most concentrated historical area in the whole world with over 300 monuments. The city is named after its founder, the respected Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean Parisot de la Valette, it is a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen.
The best way to get around and see the most, from your visit to Valletta, is on foot and although the things to do and see are many, a good start and definitely not to be missed are Valletta’s beautiful gardens. The Upper Barrakka Gardens, Hastings Gardens & the Lower Barrakka Gardens are just three of the most popular ones, however on further exploration many more hidden gardens can be discovered. From the Upper Barrakka Gardens it is also possible to see the Saluting Battery as well as take the lift down the bastions to sea level.
4. Churches and Religious Sites.
The Maltese are among the oldest Christian people in the world. The landscape of these small islands is defined by the red or silver painted domes of some 365 churches and chapels. See below the major religious sites.
For many centuries, religious orders have established themselves within the precincts of Rabat and Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians still flourish here in their spacious convents and monasteries, catering for the religious needs of parishioners in their churches. The town is a commercial center and acts as a market to its large agricultural hinterland but well established on the tourist map due to its archaeological and historical sites including: Intriguing network of ancient catacombs which were used as graves in Roman times, the Roman Villa (Domus Romana), St. Paul’s Grotto and the fine churches and monasteries.
St. John’s Co-cathedral in Valletta. Exuberant and lavish Baroque interior and two of Caravaggio’s most important paintings.
The church of the assumption of our lady in Mosta, boasts of the 4th largest dome in the world.
Ta’pinu basilica on Gozo island build adjacent to a 16th century chapel where a woman is said to have heard the voice of virgin Mary in June 1883.
Malta has beeches for everyone from families with young children to those seeking water based adventure, from golden sands to red sands, rocks to blue lagoons and inland seas, secluded beaches to resort beaches and more. The northern part on Malta houses the main coastal resorts and larger sandy beaches which are equipped with cafes or snark bars open during the summer season which goes into October. These beaches include: Mellieha bay, Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden bay.
The smaller and quieter beaches include: Paradise and Armier bay which is at the tip of Malta overlooking Gozo. St George’s bay in St. Julian’s, Ramla-Hamra in Gozo and popular with snorkelers, Comino’s blue lagoon for the ultimate azure water experience.
6. Sports and adventure activities.
A holiday in Maltese can be as active as you like, with an agreeable climate it is possible to indulge in land based or water sports all year round, these include diving, walking, cycling, and swimming, snorkeling, Rock climbing, sailing, playing around of golf or simply lounging in the sun.
With the long stretches of cliffs some dropping more than 100m into the sea, the Maltese islands are a great choice for rock climbing, abseiling, bouldering in winter and deep water soloing and sea traverse in summer.
For a truly unique experience, try exploring the beauty of Malta from the air by the aid of a paraglider which is available at the Mellieha bay. The other way to explore the islands of Malta and Gozo is by bicycle, a range of tracks have been mapped out according to levels of experience from beginners to advance. For Golfers, Malta’s temperate climate makes the 18-hole Royal Malta Golf Club in Marsa which is an ideal venue for off-season golfing.
To best experience the islands’ awe inspiring, rugged coastline then take to the water because navigating the waters around the islands is the highlight of any vacation in Malta. It can be a short trip on the traditional fisherman’s boat known as Luzzu or a full day or more days in a motor cruise with an onboard chef.
8. Walking and Hiking.
In the wild winty months that is between mid-November to May the landscape comes alive with a sea of colorful flowers and scented wild herbs very ideal for walking and hiking. The island also offers the walkers some of the most stunning views anywhere in the Mediterranean from dramatic cliffs plunging into waves to rocky scrub land or hidden lush valleys. As you walk, you also come across mysterious prehistoric sites, cave chapels and secluded palaces of the knights.
9. Diving in Maltese
Maltese islands were voted the 2nd best diving destination in the world by divers and diver magazine in 2014 and now firmly established on the international diving enthusiast’s map. The wealth of diving treasures include a great diversity of marine life, natural harbors, bays, labyrinthine caves, sheltered creeks, cliffs, reefs and wrecks. The clear waters ensure underwater visibility up to 30 m and sea temperatures rarely go below 13 degrees making the island ideal year round destination.
Theme Parks which include: Mediterraneo water park which has dolphin shows and sea lions, Play Mobil park-the second largest world play mobil factories, Splash and fun park-water shoots, a lagoon shaped swimming pool and play area, Popeye village- a village of wooden houses, glassblowing workshops, summer boat rides, popeye themed winery.
Museums/Aquariums/Cruises which include:
Pomskizillious museums of toys in Gozo, Museum of archaeology in Valletta, Narutal history museum in Mdina, Wignacourt Museum in Rabat, The palace state room in Valletta, Inquisitor’s palace in Vittoriosa, Teatru manoel in Valletta, Malta National Aquarium showing over 100 species of fish.
Captain Morgan Cruises with harbor cruises to underwater safaris on a glass bottomed boat.
Parades/Falconry center that includes:
In Guardia –Reenactments every Sunday staging historical military parades held at fort st Elmo in Valletta.
Saluting battery-Upper Baracca gardens in Valletta.
11. Weddings and Honeymoon.
Malta offers flexible and tailor made packages to answer the dreams of any bride to be. The island offers both religious and civil ceremonies in a diverse range of wedding formats. Awide range of 5 star resorts and intimate boutique hotels boasting honeymoon suites and stunning views. State of the art spas with couple based therapies, Romantic dining at Malta’s finest restaurants run by Malta’s top chefs like De Mondion in Mdina, il-kartel in Gozo or secluded relaxation at hidden coves and beaches.
Malta is a destination you want to add on your bucket list of travel.