Malta Travel Guide

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Blue Lagoon, Comino, Malta

Malta and her sister islands of Gozo and Comino are situated at the heart of the Mediterranean between Libya and Sicily. Small but beautiful, Malta is an ideal all-year tourist destination. With mild winters and warm summers, Malta has something to offer students and tourists of all ages and interests.

Easily accessible from Europe and with an English-speaking population, Malta makes a superb holiday or English learning destination. Just 27 km long by 14 km wide, the best of the island can easily be seen on a very short trip. Nevertheless, the discerning tourist will find themselves longing to linger here a while longer. Malta's ancient history has left the island littered with historical attractions from various periods in history including World Heritage Sites such as the Megalithic temples, the capital city of Valletta and the Hypogeum. Culture lovers will find that there is always something going on be it a play, concert or art exhibition.

But Malta has much more to offer than history and culture. Surrounded by the glistening waters of the Mediterranean sea, Malta is a great spot for a beach or family holiday. Wrecks left over from WWII and underground caves have also made the island a favourite destination for diving. Similarly, Malta is a popular spot for sailing and kayakers will find her calm waters easy to navigate. The adventurous will also find that the island's rugged cliffs provide spectacular climbing. Tourists also visit Malta to play golf and tennis which can both be enjoyed throughout the year. Over the last 20 years, Malta has become a premier destination for English language students and there are now some 45 English schools on the island.

Younger visitors to Malta will enjoy the island's great nightlife which is at its best during the summer. Paceville is the major hotspot for bars and nightclubs while St Julians provides a range of excellent restaurants and al fresco dining. Valletta is the place to head for cultural events while the car-free Silent City of Mdina is memorable and not to be missed. Sliema offers great shopping and cafe -life but for something more traditional head to Marsaxlokk and the weekly Sunday market. North of Malta are the sister seaside resorts of St Paul's Bay, Bugibba and Qawra popular with British tourists and residents. The best beaches in Malta are also to be found in the north - the longest and most popular of these is Mellieha Bay.

Location Map of Malta

Map of Malta | Map of Gozo

Armier Bay

Little Armier Bay, Malta

Situated in the green area of Mellieha known as L-Ahrax, Armier Bay consists of two sandy beaches. The larger beach is known as Armier while the smaller one is often referred to as Little Armier although it is also known as White Tower bay. The two beaches are separated by a rocky outcrop. Facing Comino, Armier Bay has the same pristine blue sea that can be found in the Blue Lagoon. Like all the other sandy beaches in Malta it is a popular spot. There is very little development here as the surrounding land is using for farming and it therefore has retained much of its natural beauty.

Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto Malta

One of the favourite tourist attractions in Malta, the Blue Grotto is a large, domed cave. Only accessible from the sea, the cave owes its name to the deep azure colour of the water inside. Look just below the water level and you will be able to see bright coral clinging precariously to the inner walls of the Blue Grotto. Unfortunately, significant boat traffic and a blissful ignorance of preservation have led to a visible decrease in the coral at the Blue Grotto over the last 20 years.

Bugibba and Qawra

Bugibba Harbour

Sister resorts, Bugibba and Qawra form the largest seaside resorts in Malta. The villages sprang up in a frenzy of building following the development of Malta for tourism in the 1970's. Still highly popular with British tourists, Bugibba and Qawra are joined by a promenade lined with palm trees by the clear blue waters of the sea front.

Comino

Blue Lagoon in early spring

A small rock of an island wedged between Gozo and Malta, Comino is often described as the 'best kept secret in the Meditteranean'. Populated by a handful of people and renowned for the crystal clear waters of the Blue Lagoon, Comino is an unspoilt paradise and an ideal destination for a relaxing holiday far from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Dingli

Church of St Mary Magdalen, Dingli, Malta

The highest point in Malta, Dingli is most noted for Dingli Cliffs which rise to 230-260m. The rugged windswept landscape at Dingli is marked by rocky outcrops of limestone. The view from Dingli Cliffs is superb and looks over a stretch of deep blue sea across to Filfa, Malta's Island Nature Reserve. In some places the cliffs are sheer steep walls while in others low plateaus of small terraced fields show the outlines of some small farms.

Floriana

Floriana Parish Church

Floriana was built as a suburb of Valletta in the 17th century to enhance Valletta's fortifications. Boasting few attractions except a a handful of historic buildings, Floriana draws few visitors except those with a cultural inclination. Floriana's most important feature for tourists is Pinto Wharf - the arrival and departure point for ferries to Sicily.

Ghajn Tuffieha

Ghajn Tuffieha Malta

Situated on the northwest coast of Malta, Ghajn Tuffieha is a close neighbor to Golden Bay. While very picturesque, Ghajn Tuffieha tends to be somewhat quieter than the other sandy beaches in Malta due to the unavoidable long steep flight of stairs which leads down to the bay. For this reason, the beach is more popular with adults than with families with young children. The more energetic can take the coastal cliff path from the top of Ghajn Tuffieha to Golden Bay. This is a good place for snorkeling but swimmers should be aware that this beach is prone to strong currents.

Ghar Dalam Cave

Ghar Dalam Cave, Malta

Malta's most important paleontological site, Ghar Dalam is a massive cave situated in Birzebugga. Ghar Dalam provides the earliest evidence of human settlement on the islands of Malta and Gozo. Some 7,400 years ago, this huge cave provided home and shelter to the first settlers on the island. Although the cave extends to 144 metres deep, only the first 50 metres are open to visitors who can see the cave itself and the adjacent museum. Ghar Dalam Cave (meaning 'cave of darkness') was originally hewn out of the Lower Coralline Limestone by a river.

Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk Fishing Boats

A sleepy village, Marsaxlokk is a traditional fishing village most visited for it's large Sunday market. Tourists and locals descend on Marsaxlokk to buy everything from fish and capers to souvenirs, clothes and traditional Maltese cakes.

Marsaxlokk Bay itself is a quaint and picturesque setting. Its waters provide a safe harbour for hundreds of luzzus or traditional Maltese fishing boats in the summer. Still somewhat cut-off from the rest of Malta, Marsaxlokk has escaped mass development for the tourist trade and retains a traditional Maltese village atmosphere at its heart.

Mdina

Mdina Silent City

The ancient capital of Malta, Mdina is perched on a rocky outcrop in the centre of the island. A walled city, Mdina is two thirds surrounded by terraced fields. The other third is adjacent to Rabat, Mdina's sister town from which she was severed by the Arabs. They built a curtain wall of defences around Mdina and named Rabat a 'suburb'. Mdina would remain, Malta's capital until the Knights of St John arrived and Valletta was given the title.

Mellieha

Mellieha Beach

A haven for families and sun-lovers, Mellieha is somewhat remotely situated (by Maltese standards). Life here began as a small hilltop village which only developed when the Knights came to Malta and built a series of coastal defenses in the 16th century. Mellieha then became a relatively wealthy farming village but is now known mostly for its beach. Mellieha Bay is the largest sandy beach in Malta and with its kilometre of soft golden sand is also predictably the most popular beach in Malta.

Popeye Village / Anchor Bay

Anchor Bay Malta

Situated a kilometer away from Mellieha is a tiny picturesque inlet, called Anchor Bay. This is the home of Popeye Village. Now a tourist attraction, Popeye Village was originally built as the setting for the file "Popeye" (1979) which starred Robin Williams. Popeye Village is a good amusement park for families with young children. Kids will enjoy exploring the brightly coloured huts and the various animations which is on offer.

Sliema

Sliema Ferries and Harbour

Situated on the coast between St Julians and Valletta, Sliema is a highly desirable residential area and one of the main shopping centres in Malta. Sliema is also home to numerous hotels and as a popular destination for locals and tourists alike tends to get very busy. Maltese come to Sliema to shop, dine and take a passegiata or walk on the promenade which runs for some 5km. During the summer months and especially on Sunday evenings, the Sliema Promenade better known as Tower Road is inundated with strollers, joggers, children and people out shopping.

St Julian's

St Julian's - Spinola Bay

Grotty, unkempt and unremarkable by day, St Julian's is the largest nightlife area in Malta and only wakes to the sound of nightfall. Spinola Bay is a pretty area where traditional Maltese boats or luzzus mingle with more luxurious power boats in the bay. The setting is picturesque and sets the scene for an enjoyable evening dining al fresco at one of the seafront restaurants. The heart of St Julian's is an area consisting of some six streets called Paceville.

St Paul's Bay

St Paul's Shipwreck Church

St Paul's Bay is the oldest of the villages to be found here. A traditional fishing village situated in an enclosed bay, St Paul's Bay looks out to St Paul's Island where a statue of the saint welcomes travellers approaching Malta by sea. St Paul's Bay is dear to the Maltese for it was here that St Paul was shipwrecked bringing with him the words of a new religion, Christianity. St Paul stayed in Malta for a mere 3 months but his legacy would long out-live his life. Near 2 millenium later, some 95% of the Maltese are Roman Catholic.

Valletta

Upper Barrakka Gardens

A World Heritage Site and the capital city of Malta, Valletta is 'a city of palaces built by gentleman for gentleman'. Built by Grandmaster La Vallette in the 16th century, today Valletta is the thriving financial and commercial centre of Malta. A centre for government administration, shopping and culture Valletta bustles by day. By night, the capital city of Malta becomes a centre for cultural and musical events.

Xemxija

Xemxija Malta

Situated just north of St Paul's Bay, Xemxija in Maltese means the sunny one. A small picturesque bay, Xemxija provides a safe harbour for numerous small pleasure boats and luzzus. Pretty though it may be there is little here to detain tourists. But if you are in the Xemxija area do drop into Tal-Veccja. This traditional town house has been converted into a Bar & Restaurant which overlooks the pretty bay. The food is excellent and the bar down below features Jazz nights on a Thursday and a smoking-friendly verandah.