Malta Travel Guide: A Mediterranean Treasure Waiting to Be Explored
Fortresses, Beaches and Shipwrecks
A tiny, rocky archipelago surrounded by the bright blue Mediterranean sea, Malta is one of the most underrated countries in Europe. It’s a tiny island (it only takes about 40 minutes to drive from coast to coast) but it packs a big punch when it comes to things to see and do.
It doesn’t have the fame of Greece or Italy, but it boasts many of its own treasures including hilltop fortresses, ornate churches, colorful fishing boats, astounding prehistoric temples and a cuisine that is a mix of Middle Eastern and Sicilian flavors.
A large part of Malta tourism is the amazing diving. 50,000 visitors come per year to dive beneath the waters and marvel at the incredible diversity of the underwater life here. This wonderful little country should be on your travel bucket list. Here are some helpful things you should know before embarking on your Malta vacation.
Top Things to Do in Malta
- Visit the ancient capital of Mdina, with striking fortifications perched on a scenic hill in the center of the island
- Go for a stroll in the lush and green Upper Barrakka Gardens
- Ride a horse along the soft sandy beaches of Golden Bay
- Go scuba diving and explore the wreck of the HMS Maori
- View the stunning collection of artwork at the elegant Casa Rocca Piccola, which used to be the home of aristocrats in Malta
- Take a historic tour of Fort St. Elmo, which was the location of the Siege of Malta
- Enjoy a day trip to the island of Gozo, only 20 minutes away via ferry
- Explore the Ggantija Temples on Gozo, which actually predate the Pyramids of Egypt
- Check out the small fishing village of Marsaxlokk, where you can visit the thriving marketplace
- Tour the National Museum of Archeology, which has everything from a Phoenician sarcophagus to Bronze Age weapons
How Much Does It Cost to Travel Malta?
Visiting Malta is quite affordable compared to most other European countries. The prices are even cheaper if you visit during the winter, making it the perfect budget-friendly Christmas destination. Typically a lunch in a cafe will cost 8 to 10 Euro, a bottle of water will cost about 1 Euro and a decent bottle of wine can be found for 8 to 10 Euro.
According to Nomadic Matt, you should budget around 50 Euro per day. At this price you will be living a backpacker lifestyle, staying in a hostel or an AirBnB, taking public transport and eating at the cheaper local restaurants.
What Is the Best Time of Year to Visit Malta?
Malta is a ridiculously sunny and beautiful Mediterranean island, so there really isn’t a bad time of year to visit. The summers are when temperatures peak at around 30 degrees Celsius and in the winter they drop to 15 degrees, but with 300 days of sunshine per year you will most likely still have sunny and pleasant weather.
While the locals only tend to swim in the sea in the summer, many visitors find it warm enough to swim at any time. In fact, the cooler months can be a better time to enjoy hiking and outdoor sports in Malta. Also, the shoulder seasons of spring and fall can be a great time to visit and avoid the peak Malta tourism crowds of the summer months.
If you visit during the summer months, make sure your accommodation has air conditioning!
More Malta Travel Tips
- Head’s up: in Malta they drive on the left side of the road (sometimes very fast!)
- It is safe to drink the tap water, but visitors may not like the taste. You may want to drink bottled water instead
- The local shops will often open early in the morning, then close from noon to 4:00 p.m. for a siesta and to avoid the heat of the afternoon
- If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you’ll be able to visit several filming locations during your trip
- Visit some of the gorgeous beaches in Malta, perfect for a refreshing swim on a hot day
- The island of Gozo is famous for making some of the best quality lace in the world, so consider taking home some as a souvenir
- You can also visit Mdina Glass, where you can see local artisans blowing beautiful bowls and vases
- There are a number of feasts that take place all throughout the year on the island of Gozo, each celebrating a different saint. They usually include religious parades and plenty of fireworks. If you can time your visit accordingly, it’s a thrill to take part
- 90% of the Maltese are Catholic and there are many gorgeous churches to visit on the islands. Make sure you cover your legs and shoulders when visiting a place of worship
- Make sure you try the Pastizzi, a tasty pastry that is filled with ricotta cheese or peas
- The locals don’t tend to indulge in walking for leisure, so if you plan to hike during your visit you’ll be able to enjoy much of the countryside with no crowds