The beautiful country of Malta comprises five main islands, two of which — Kemmunett and Filfla — are uninhabited. Meanwhile, the islands of Malta, which is the largest, Comino and Gozo all delight visitors from around the world.
Malta has had something of turbulent history, having been caught up in struggles between various countries for domination of the Mediterranean and also in the interplay between emerging Europe and some of the older cultures of Africa and the Middle East.
As a result, Malta today bears the influence of past centuries of rule by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Aragonese, Normans, Sicilians, French, and the British… influences which have helped to mold it into the fascinating country it is today.
Below is a look at some of the best places to see and things to do while you’re in Malta.
You’ve got to start with Valletta, which is the capital city and commercial and administrative heart of Malta.
This fortress city and UNESCO World Heritage site stands on the peninsula between two harbors and, surprisingly, took only 15 years to build, with the Knights of St John beginning the work in 1566. Even more stunning is the fact that the entire city was built by hand.
While visiting the city, take the chance to climb up to the top of Fort St Elmo and soak up the panoramic view from the ramparts. Standing watch over the Grand Harbour, the fort has played a major part in Malta’s history and, having been recently restored, is in sublime shape for receiving visits.
Once you’ve enjoyed the views, head in and check out the National War Museum, which explains the fort’s part in the island’s history. Highly engaging it is, we promise.
In fact, visiting Valletta is one of the best excuses you’ll ever get for chartering a yacht in Malta. Valletta’s Grand Harbour, also known simply as the Port of Valletta, is a stunning, well-known natural harbor. Here you can step off your boat or yacht and begin to explore the fort and everything else this marvelous city has to offer. You might even tour Malta’s different harbors.
Gozo is a splendid island and something of an oasis. With a population of around 30,000 people, the island is much quieter, but still receives plenty of attention from tourists.
Even though Malta’s favorite natural arch, the Azure Window, is now sadly gone, there are lots of other sights to see in Malta.
One, in particular, you might enjoy is the site Ġgantija temples, the name coming from the Maltese word for ‘giants’, as the islanders used to believe that a race of giants created these temples. Some of the megaliths are more than five meters high and weigh more than fifty tons, so the Gozitans could have a point.
It doesn’t have to be all about sights, however. Gozo is a terrific island for diving and you can book your diving outing at one of Malta’s several diving centers.
The centers provide kits and courses across Malta for all levels. You can take a shore dive or a boat dive. Make the most to experience the country’s clear waters, see marine life close up, and enjoy the seascapes.
The island is the next best thing to empty you’ll get. The facilities for tourist accommodation are minimal and there are no cars on the island.
As quiet as it is, visitors still descend aplenty on the island to see the Blue Lagoon, one of Comino’s most famous attractions. The shallow, turquoise waters and the mesmerizing jagged cliffs provide excellent photo opportunities for anyone handy with a camera.
Comino is just under two kilometers wide and is around two kilometers long, which makes it a terrific place to visit for an out-of-season day trip. Autumn and spring, when the temperatures are a little cooler, are ideal times for hiking.
Sliema sits across from the Port of Valletta and has developed a reputation for being one of Malta’s nightlife and shopping hubs. The resort has changed immensely since its days as a quiet fishing village.
The promenade is one of the highlights of Sliema and will take you right to the doorstep of Valletta. This beautiful long walk stretches to St Julian’s if you head north and to Msida via Gzira and Ta’Xbiex if you head south. As you stroll along, the promenade can provide you with everything you need, whether that’s cafes, gelaterias, bars, or something else.
If you prefer to see the more traditional side of Sliema, make your way into the village. Here life goes on relatively undisturbed by all the hustle and bustle. The streets are narrow, the housing is quaint with traditional Maltese balconies and you’ll see a church or two and a few curiosities in the Sliema of the residents.
Malta spoils visitors with some truly amazing locations to visit and which give you the perfect reason to travel around Malta by boat. Each location offers a beautiful day trip that allows you to get the very best out of your time there before jumping back on your boat and heading back to your accommodation.