The Top Things to Do in Malta
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Discover the Maltese Islands – the best things to do and see in Malta & Gozo!
The island of Malta has long been called the ‘gem of the Mediterranean’. From long sunny days spent basking under the Mediterranean sun, to cosy dinners in the candlelit streets of one of Malta’s quaint villages or a high-adrenaline adventure packed holiday – you’d be surprised to hear that this tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea has so much to offer! Here, we’re taking you through a comprehensive list of the top things to do in Malta! With its 7000 years of history, glorious sunshine, vibrant cultural scene and ever-expanding list of attractions, Malta is definitely a bucket-list worthy destination. We’re constantly updating our list with new things to do and see, so do check back before your trip! Book your stay with AX Hotels to be close to all that is happening across the island.
Let’s begin with a brief introduction about Malta
Throughout history, Malta has been a highly sought-after land due to its strategic location in the Middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The 316 Km² Island has been ruled over by a long list of civilisations, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Knights of St John, French and the British. Malta was, in fact, a British colony up until 21st September 1964, and now forms part of both the European Union and the Commonwealth of Nations. The Maltese Archipelago, however, consists of three islands; Malta, Gozo and Comino. While Gozo is home to a number of inhabitants and is often visited by tourists as part of their trip to Malta, Comino is usually reserved for day-trips to the popular Blue Lagoon (although there is one hotel located on the island!).
Each period of Malta’s history has left a mark on the island’s culture, and many influences from times gone by can still be felt today. One way of experiencing the islands is through a photographic trip. uPhoto organises photographic trips around the islands, each one offering a different experience. Both advanced photographers and hobbyists take the opportunity to explore the off-the-beaten-track spots of the Maltese Islands and the best-known architectural gems in Malta, with professional tips and comfortable taxi service supplied by Prestige Cabs.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Valletta is often looked at as a destination in itself. The mixture of baroque buildings and modern architecture makes the city an open-air museum. The Baroque city, also known as ‘Il-Belt’ (the city) by locals, was built by the noble Knights of St John following the victory of the Great Siege of 1565. It is named after the Grandmaster of the time, Jean de la Valletta, and is built on a grid layout, which made it easier for Knights to march through the streets with their heavy armour. The city is home to beautiful ornate churches and historical buildings, including the Co-Cathedral of St John (where visitors can see Caravaggio’s masterpiece – The Beheading of St John). Moreover, if you enjoy exploring ornately decorated churches, there are over 25 in Valletta alone, including the St Catherine of Italy Church and the Our Lady of Victories Church.
Apart from a vast amount of religious buildings in Valletta, you will also find Auberges that were once inhabited by the Knights of St John, and other historical buildings. The Grandmasters Palace State Rooms and Armoury are the perfect place to explore the rich history of the Knights of St John, and the Lascaris War Rooms give insight into the Malta’s role as a military base for the British. Other museums worth exploring are the National Museum of Archaeology, the National War Museum at Fort St Elmo, and Casa Rocca Piccola. From the picturesque Upper Barakka Gardens or the St Elmo Breakwater one can take in the breath-taking views of the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities.
While in Valletta, it would be a sin to not try out some of the best-known restaurants on the island! Enjoy a traditional ‘pastizz’ and tea at Caffé Cordina, a delicious meal at the Cheeky Monkey Gastropub or at the recently-opened, innovative Grain restaurant. Besides its vibrant culinary scene, Valletta is also a hot-spot for all things arts and culture. During your visit, check out the latest art museums such as MUZA and the Valletta Contemporary, and take a look at the performances taking place at Spazju Kreattiv, Teatru Manoel or the Royal Opera House! With so many things to do, Malta’s capital offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and culinary delights, making it a must-visit destination for travelers.
Hop on a ferry from Valletta, across the Grand Harbour, and you’ll find yourself in Sliema! Once a quaint fishing village, Sliema has developed into the island’s leading commercial and entertainment district. While you’re busy wandering round the picturesque streets, you’ll notice that there’s a lot more to Sliema than meets the eye. Nowadays, the town is best known as a shopping destination, having everything from high-street brands to designer boutiques. With numerous cafes in Sliema, you can easily find a brilliant spot for breakfast, brunches, lunches and afternoon tea. When it comes to the evening, you can also enjoy some of the best restaurants on the island in Sliema, from Asian to Maltese cuisine, and everything in between!
During the summer, there are a number of local feasts happening throughout the season. These feasts celebrate the patron saints of the different churches in Sliema, but also attract crowds to see the wonderful displays of fireworks, marching bands and stalls selling traditional sweets! Some feasts to look out for are the Feast of St Gregory the Great, Feast of St Publius and the Stella Maris feast. But, if you’re looking for even more things to do in Malta during your stay in Sliema, Prestige Cabs also organise shuttles to feasts in other towns, allowing you to immerse yourself in the island’s rich heritage! Speaking of summer, make sure to take a dip at these top beaches in Sliema, too!
The next place to visit on our list is the idyllic seaside town of Qawra. Located on the north east of the island, Qawra is a perfect place to stay if you want to explore the northern part of Malta. Not only is it home to the wild summer carnival, the Malta Classic Car Museum and the Malta National Aquarium, but Qawra also has some fantastic places to go swimming. Moreover, you can easily reach some of the nicest beaches on the island from Qawra, as well as take a fun day-trip to Gozo! Being so close to the seas, you’ll find lots of water-related activities to do in Qawra, such as diving and water sports. While diving is a year-round activity in Malta, the warm winter months can also be spent enjoying other outdoor such as picnics and hikes, or getting cosy at one of the delicious restaurants or bars in Qawra!
Other things to do in Malta
› Visit the Marsaxlokk fishing village, where a fresh fish market is set up every Sunday morning. Then head for lunch at one of the many seafood restaurant lined on the village streets, to taste the catch of the day.
› See the marvellous Mosta Dome – the biggest rotunda in Europe. During the Second World War, a bomb fell through the dome but did not explode, preventing the death of all the people who were attending mass. Nowadays, the bomb is stored in the church’s museum, attracting many people from all over the world to learn about the miracle that occurred.
› Attend one of the fantastic music and arts festivals that take place in Malta every year! From the annual Isle of MTV concert, to the Valletta International Baroque Festival – Malta’s cultural calendar has something to suit all tastes!
› Celebrate Pride Week in one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in Europe. The annual week-long celebration includes a colourful Pride March, concerts and discussions for the LGBTQ+ community and friends!
› Explore the medieval town of Mdina, Malta’s old capital city. Here, you can enjoy stunning views from the Mdina Bastions, visit the St Paul’s Cathedral and the Mdina Cathedral Museum, and discover these Game of Thrones filming locations. Immerse yourself in history and uncover other things to do in Malta that will transport you back in time.
› Spend a day at Popeye’s Village, the original Film Set for the 1980s production of Popeye. With year-round activities taking place, Popeye Village is a great spot for adults and kids alike!
› Walk the ‘Great Wall of Malta’ – The Victoria Lines. Originally built by the British Army as a way to defend the northern part of the island, the Victoria Lines are a historical site that attract ramblers and explorers all year-round!
› Explore the Three Cities, also known as ‘Cottonera’. Visit Fort St Angelo, enjoy a walk along the Birgu Waterfront and stop by the Malta Maritime Museum!
› Take the time to visit Malta’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Apart from the city of Valletta, there are two more sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. These are the Megalithic Temples (which include three sites in Malta and the two Ggantija Temples in Gozo) and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, the oldest underground temple in the world! Immerse yourself in these ancient wonders and explore other things to do that highlight Malta’s archaeological treasures.