The island-state of Malta is located between Europe and Africa, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. It consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino (Malta is the largest). It’s considered the farthest southern point of Europe and joined the EU in 2004.
The two main spoken languages are Maltese and English. Maltese is a mix of Italian, Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.
Must-see places in Malta:
Valetta: This is the capital of Malta and is sometimes called an “open-air museum.” The entire city is recognized by UNESCO for its historical and cultural value. The golden-butterscotch buildings are protected and their architectural integrity has been well preserved. Many of the buildings have a strong Baroque character and everything feels like it has been frozen in time.
The city truly comes to life at night. Restaurants and bars set up tables and chairs on the sidewalk and live music is heard on every street corner.
Btw, a ton of movies and tv shows have been shot here, including, Gladiator, Troy, Jurassic World Dominion, and Queen of the South.
IMO, the best boutique hotel in Valetta is Iniala Harbour House.
Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Senglea, and Cospicua)
These cities sit directly across the Grand Harbour from Valletta. To get there, you can take a ferry or luzzu (traditional fishing boat). I’d recommend taking a luzzu; they’re operated by locals and cost about 2 Euro per person for a quick 5 minute ride. If you only make it to one of the three cities, choose Vittoriosa, where the Fort Saint Angelo is located. This is where the Great Siege of 1565 occurred when the Knights of St. John and the Maltese defeated the Turks.
This place is a must! It’s an ancient walled city (aka the “Silent City”), and is a mix of medieval and baroque architecture. You literally feel like you’re stepping back in time. It also has a claim to fame as being the filming location for the first season of GOT.
This is a neighboring town to Mdina, but it is much larger and known for its impressive catacombs and archeological sites. Since it’s so close to Mdina, it’s super easy to see both on the same day.
If you stay in Malta and want to see beautiful blue water, visit St. Peter’s Pool or Mellieha Bay (just know there will likely be big crowds).
The second largest Island of the Maltese archipelago. You can charter a boat or take a 45-minute ferry to get here. The main attraction is the Blue Lagoon, but it has become a tourist trap and is flooded with crowds. Instead, go to the Crystal Lagoon in Comino. TBH, this was our plan, but we never made it there because the sea was too choppy on the day we chartered a boat. All the more reason to go back!
If you want to see a structure that’s older than Stonehenge and the Great Egyptian pyramids, visit the Megalithic Temples of Malta which date back to 3600-2500 B.C.
One Critique About Malta:
My one critique about this incredible place is the dust! There is a TON of construction on the island, so everything is covered in dust. Don’t get me wrong, I love a country that is committed to building new construction and restoring historical spaces, but I wish the crews would abide by the rules of hosing everything down at the end of the day to help make the city truly shine like the hidden gem that it is… 😉