Where to Go in Malta
Malta packs an unbelievable amount into its relatively small size. It has a long history with prehistoric sites to discover and plenty of modern as well, with luxury hotels and a thriving food scene that combines Sicilian with Middle Eastern. When it comes to where to go in Malta, there are many alluring destinations, with the capital city of Valletta being one that’s not to be missed. It’s like an open-air museum with its baroque architecture surrounded by centuries-old fortifications. Set on a hilly peninsula, breathtaking views can be enjoyed from many vantage points. After dark, it’s a hot spot for nightlife with fun bars and live music venues.
Beyond Valletta, the seaside town of St. Julian is well worth a visit for its gorgeous beaches like Blue Flag Balluta as well as being home to a grand neo-gothic church and an 18th-century fort. The traditional fishing village of Marsaxlokk has been called one of the prettiest in all of Europe, ideal for experiencing the local daily life, while ancient Mdina, the former capital sits on a hilltop boasting cobbled streets, honey-hued walls, and 4,000 years of history. Gozo Island is considered a must-day trip a short ferry ride away, a paradise for snorkeling and diving.
Best places to go in Malta
Here is a summary of some of the best and most popular areas to visit
The capital of Malta, Valletta has managed to preserve much of its 16th-century architectural heritage, like an open-air museum with its baroque-style architecture, providing a striking balance between a modern, vibrant town and an ancient city. Enveloped by walls, the UNESCO-listed city sits on a hilly peninsula between two of the Mediterranean’s finest natural harbors with magnificent views that can be enjoyed on either side. Nearly every corner hosts a historic cathedral, palazzo, monument, or intriguing museum. A scenic stroll around the colorful flora in the Upper Barrakka Gardens brings one of the best vistas of Grand Harbour. There is a wide range of wine bars, charming cafes, and restaurants serving tasty Maltese dishes that can be enjoyed alfresco, often with spectacular water views. After dark, the nightlife is buzzing, with the famous Strada Stretta (Straight Street) the thriving hub with live music venues and quirky bars.
A seaside town on the northeastern coast of Malta, Julian’s is known for its beaches like the popular Balluta Bay. When you reach Balluta, you’ll see the historic Balluta Buildings which are among the few remaining art nouveau structures in the country. The Blue Flag beach itself is very lively in the summer, popular for sunbathing and swimming with a promenade stretching for over four miles to Spinola Bay, connecting it with coastal areas like Gzira and Sliema known for their outstanding cafes and beachfront restaurants. Historic landmarks include the neo-gothic The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, especially magnificent at night illuminated with colorful lights and reflected in the still waters of the sea. The 18th-century Fort Manoel nearby is open for public tours and is another fine example of baroque architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was also featured in the “Game of Thrones” television series.
Located in the south-east of Malta, the small, traditional fishing village of Marsaxlokk is known for its wide sheltered bay where colorful fishing boats known as luzzu, descendants of Phoenician watercraft that plied the waters during ancient times bob up and down. It’s one of the country’s most picturesque villages and its most Instagrammable spot. Strolling the waterfront is a joy, bringing the opportunity to delve into local daily life, with fishermen and their families preparing to sail, mending their nets, or repairing their boats. Every morning there’s a craft market hosted along the promenade. The old honey-hued stone cottages that fishing families once lived in have been transformed into bars and seafood eateries featuring the fresh catch that comes thanks to the local fishermen. Sunday is the liveliest day of the week with locals and visitors heading to Marsaxlokk Market to buy the freshest fish in town.
Gozo is one of the three inhabited islands in the Maltese archipelago, just a 20-minute ferry ride from the main island of Malta. It’s an appealing alternative to the hustle and bustle with residents enjoying a well-preserved traditional way of life that can be experienced in its small farming and fishing villages like Nadur and Qala. The Azure Window rock formation along its rocky west coast that was famously featured in popular TV series and movies like “Clash of Titans” and “Game of Thrones” has since collapsed, but the shoreline is still one of the world’s most breathtaking and offers multiple attractions. An underground tunnel that connects a lake to the Mediterranean is ideal for swimming and there are fossils of countless sea creatures that are clearly visible on the exposed rock around Dwejra Bay. Snorkeling and diving are outstanding here as well.
Mdina is Malta’s ancient capital of Malta, set on a hilltop at its heart with a population of less than 250. While it’s tiny, within its fortifications are many delights that include atmospheric cobbled streets lined with honey-colored walls while flowers and vibrantly painted doors provide colorful splashes throughout. It’s like stepping back in time as you stroll through this history where 4,000 years of history can be explored, with the ambiance of an open-air museum Here one can admire the impressive mix of medieval and baroque architecture in everything from magnificent palaces and well-preserved churches to the centuries-old walls. You’ll notice that it’s uniquely quiet, with cars strictly limited to emergency vehicles and those owned by residents while businesses are required to adhere to noise restrictions. There’s an odd hush, with even visitors keeping their voices down here, revealing why Mdina is known as the “silent city.”
Rabat adjoins the ancient capital city of Mdina with its name translating to “suburb” in Semitic. Its center is just a 5-minute walk from the main gates of Mdina making it easy to visit both in one trip. It has its own unique attractions, alluring architecture, and fabulous cafe culture. The mosaic pavements at the Roman villa (Domus Romana) are among the oldest and finest in the western Mediterranean while the Catacombs of St. Paul are the No. 1 visitor attraction as Malta’s largest underground Roman cemetery. The catacombs span an area that’s over 21,527 square feet and were in use through the 4th century, providing the earliest evidence of Christianity in the country. Howard Gardens, one of the most extensive public gardens in Malta forms a natural border between Rabat and Mdina, offering a peaceful spot for quiet contemplation.
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