Malta


Overview

Malta travel information, including maps of Malta, food, drink and where to stay in Malta plus the best time to travel in Malta

From the Neolithic temples of Mnajdra and the Hypogeum to the baroque splendour of their palazzos, including the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta, Malta and Gozo have something for everyone.

The stepping-stones between North Africa and Europe, the islands have a long history of conquerors and all have left an indelible mark on the country.

The Venetians gave the Maltese their iconic colourful boats, while the Knights of St John built the impressive ramparts and fortresses of Valletta and the Three Cities.

If you’re after churches take your pick of 366,  the most impressive being St John’s Co-Cathedral in the capital and the famous Mosta Dome.

For those who would rather work on their tan, there are plenty of resorts and a buzzy nightlife. But don't worry if that's not your thing. Malta also offers opportunities for walking, rock climbing, sailing and sea-kayaking.

It has around 100 dive sites, some suitable for beginners, while more experienced divers can explore wrecks. The water is warmer and cleaner than many other places in the Mediterranean.

There's a little-known third island too. Tiny Comino is only 3.5 sq km in size, and has one hotel. It is famous for a beautiful bay called the Blue Lagoon.

So don't wrote off Malta as a package holiday destination. the best things often come in small packages.

Wanderlust Recommends

  1. Explore the ramparts and fortifications of Valletta. Built by the Knights of St John, they offer an astounding view of the harbour and fort St Angelo.
  2. Go back in time 7,000 years or so. The Neolithic temples of Mnajdra and the Hypogeum pre-date Stonehenge and you can climb all over them.
  3. Wander around the gloriously baroque Three Cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua.
  4. Take a ferry ride to Malta’s sister island of Gozo and explore the medieval citadel of Rabat, which offers 360 degree views of the entire island.
  5. Hire a boat and go island hopping, make sure to visit the clear azure water of the Blue Lagoon.
  6. Party at any one of the 82 village festas. You’ll be treated to homemade fireworks, the village brass band and a procession of the patron saint.
  7. Enter the silent city of Mdina, a time capsule of medieval palazzos and piazzas

Wanderlust tips for travel in Malta

Shops are generally open from 9am to 7pm weekdays, but take siestas from 1-4pm, even in winter. On the weekends shops only open Saturday mornings.

If you’re planning to visit a church make sure you dress respectfully. No shorts or plunging necklines and cover your shoulders. Topless and nude sunbathing is also against the law.

I wish I'd known...

Wanderlust web intern Holly Gurr on the one thing she wished she'd known on her arrival:

"I wish I'd known to hire a car. Although there is an ample transport system of buses, coaches, and ferries, car hire is a way to see every angle of Malta. The island is 316sq km (just under 200 miles) and is interlinked with navigable roads that will treat visitors to a picture book of mountainous and coastal views."

Further Reading

Travel in Malta vital stats

  • Capital of Malta: Valletta
  • Population of Malta: 400,000
  • Languages in Malta: Maltese, English
  • Time in Malta: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from late March–late October)
  • International dialling code in Malta: +356
  • Voltage in Malta: 240 V 50 Hz AC
  • Visas for Malta: Visas for Malta
  • Money in Malta: Euro (€). Credit and debit cards are widely accepted. Tipping 10-15% is generally expected for taxi drivers, porters and waiters.
  • Malta travel advice: Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Malta tourism board: Malta

     

    When to go to Malta


    Climate and Crowds in Malta: Malta has a Mediterranean climate – hot summers and mild winters. It never snows. From April to September there is an abundance of sunshine. Avoid the months of July and August when the number of tourists soar along with the temperature.

    Festivals in Malta: Malta is a devoutly Catholic nation and not a month goes by without a religious festival of some sort. Out of its 14 public holidays, eight are for religious festivals. On top of this, each village has it’s own festa day to commemorate its patron saint (82 in total), which usually last three days.

    International airports


    Malta International Airport
    (MLA) 8kms from Valletta.

    Getting around in Malta


    Car hire is recommended for its flexibility and relative cheapness. Driving is on the left, as in the UK. Buses are also reliable and inexpensive .The central bus terminal in Malta is just outside the city gates of Valletta. Gozo’s main bus station is in Victoria, but buses are less regular than on Malta. To get between the two islands a regular ferry services carries passengers and cars.

    Malta accommodation


    Most hotels are in the mid-range to top-end bracket, but there are still a number of decent budget options available. There are plenty f bargains t be had out of season. There is not much in the way of B&B’s and only one youth hostel located at Marsaxlokk. There is one official camping site for tents and caravans and Gozo offers renovated farmhouses for holiday lets.

    Malta food & drink


    Food: The national speciality is rabbit (fenek), while other popular dishes include bragioli (slices of beef wrapped around mince) and lampuki pie (fish pie). Snacks include bigilla (mashed broad beans and garlic), pastizzi (pastry filled with cheese or peas) and ftira (a bread, stuffed or topped with tomatos or a variety of other toppings). The Maltese make great crusty bread known as hobz biz-zejt and on the island of Gozo gbejnet cheese is a local delicacy.  Italian food is widely available.

    Drinks: The most popular drink is Kinnie: a soft drink combination of coca-cola and bitter oranges. Local beers include Cisk (pronounced chisk) and Hopleaf Pale Ale and the country has a number of small wineries including Meridiana, Marsovin and Delicata.

    Health & safety in Malta


    Good health care is readily available throughout Malta. Britons who fall ill are able to take advantage of reciprocal free medical care and most doctors speak English. Tap water is safe to drink throughout the country.

    There is very little crime, but take the usual precautions against bag snatchers and pick pockets.