Where is Malta, how can you get there and what are the best things to do on the Maltese islands? If you’re planning a trip to the Mediterranean, this European country is a top destination you may not have considered before. We’ll tell you all the basics about the archipelago’s natural wonders; rich history, which dates back thousands of years; best sightseeing attractions; and the top activities for visitors to enjoy while there. Read on to create your own memorable vacation on its beautiful islands.
Where is Malta?
The archipelago of Malta is in Southern Europe and officially known as the Republic of Malta. Valletta is its capital city — the smallest national capital in the European Union — which is also home to the country’s only international airport, which serves all of the archipelago’s islands. Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea about 50 miles south of the island of Sicily (Italy), with Tunisia and Libya being the next-closest countries to the west and south.
This small country (122 square miles in surface) has been influenced by North African and Italian cultures alike, while blending in its very own feel. As such, Malta is a unique place to explore while taking advantage of amazing weather and great beaches.
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Top 6 places you have to see in Malta
The country of Malta is made up of three neighboring islands: Malta (the largest), Gozo and Comino. You can hop on a ferry to visit each of them in less than 30 minutes, so you can choose to stay on any of the three islands when you book your Maltese hotel.
1. Comino’s Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is probably the best-known destination in Malta, and can be found on the country’s smallest island of Comino. This charming place without paved roads will make you feel as though you’ve travel back in time, while you enjoy the pristine beaches and beautiful, calming sea views. The landscape on Comino blends wilderness with relaxation, with its rich herb and wildflower meadows. Look out for the abundant cumin, from which the island gets its name.
Comino’s Blue Lagoon is popular with surfers and divers. Don’t worry if you don’t do either — visitors can also spend the day lounging on the beach or exploring the crystal-clear Mediterranean waters. Alternatively, rent a boat and sail around the island, or join an organized cruise on a charter boat from Valletta.
2. Dwejra Bay
Game of Thrones fans will recognize these stunning backgrounds, as they were featured in the first season of the popular show. Today, the underground caverns, which collapsed to form the Inland Sea and Dwejra Bay, are the most popular spots for snorkeling and diving off the west coast of the island of Malta.
Prepare to be amazed by the incredible rock formations, steep cliffs and scenic tunnel leading into the Inland Sea. You might even catch some fish here, too!
3. Mdina — the “Silent City”
Experience medieval Malta inland in the city of Mdina, a car-free oasis that sits in the center of the country. Narrow alleys, charming old buildings and some fascinating spots like the Carmelite Church and Priory and the Natural History Museum are highlights in Mdina.
The fortified city used to be Malta’s capital and has a history going back to the 8th century BC, when it was founded by Phoenicians. The reason it’s called a “Silent City” today is the lack of cars and the low number of inhabitants (just around 300 people).
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4. Gozo’s Temples of Ggantija
On the island of Gozo, a small farming community, you can also find the Temples of Ggantija. Built during the Neolithic period, their name translates into “temples of giants.” The most fascinating thing about them is that they are believed to be the world’s oldest religious structures.
5. Golden Bay
Head back to the coast and enjoy one of Malta’s most beautiful beaches in the Golden Bay. The glistening sand here actually has a reddish hue, and the sun shines on clear, beautiful sea water.
The northern end of the beach is rockier and ideal for snorkeling. However, make sure you go early, as this is one of the most popular seaside spots in Malta for both locals and tourists, so it gets busy.
6. Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples
More temples await on the island of Malta in the form of these megalithic standing stones. Hagar Qim literally means “standing or worshipping stones.” It is a temple complex made of Globigerina limestone. The temple itself dates back to 3,200 BC, and three adjacent structures could be even older.
About 500 meters away is the temple complex of Mnajdra, made of coralline limestone in the 4th millennium BC. An absolute archaeological treat for history buffs!
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Best things to do in Malta
Whether you’re visiting with your family, friends, as a couple or on your own, Malta presents a wealth of things to do for every taste and budget.
Here are some extra tips to help you make the most of your time on the Maltese islands:
- Island of Malta
- Marvel at Baroque architecture in the UNESCO heritage town and country capital, Valletta
- Stay in the chic resort town of Sliema and enjoy Malta’s best restaurants and shopping
- Discover Maltese nightlife clubbing in St Julians, the best resort for going out
- Catch some rays at Mellieha, Malta’s largest beach
- Try the fresh seafood in the fishing village of Marsaxlokk (even better if you go on a Sunday when the fish market is open)
- Go underground in the eerie necropolis of the Hypogeum
- Take a themed Game of Thrones tour
- Island of Gozo
- Book a night at a converted Gozo farmhouse and experience authentic Maltese countryside living
- Island of Comino
- Sail around the gorgeous beaches and explore Comino’s Blue Lagoon by boat
One final thought
This Mediterranean archipelago has lots of attractions and exciting sights to visit, as well as great beaches to lounge on. Don’t hesitate to jump on a boat to explore more of the islands, including their great rock formations, or see it all under the sea by going snorkeling or diving.
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Frequently asked questions about Malta
Yes, Malta itself is an island — the largest in the archipelago that makes up the country of Malta. The other islands inhabited by Maltese people are Gozo and Comino.
Although Malta is very close to Italy (only about 50 miles from Sicily, an Italian island), the country is independent and a member of the European Union. Malta’s capital is Valletta and its largest town is St Paul’s Bay.
The Maltese language is the official language of the country. It is a Semitic language, a latinized version of spoken historical Arabic. Maltese has been heavily influenced by Italian and Sicilian, thanks to the geographic proximity.