Did you know that Malta's history is older than the Pyramids? The archipelago is home to some of the world's oldest human structures and many of them are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Moving on to the later millennia, the strategic geographical position of the island has naturally attracted the ruling military powers of that period. Phoenicians, Greek, Romans, Moors, the Knights of the Order of Saint John, the French, the British -- all have left their impact in shaping Malta's history, culture, and architecture ...
Quick facts & geography
Malta is one of the smallest nations in the world (just under half a million inhabitants) situated right in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, between Sicily and the North African Coast. A part of the EU, the local currency is Euro and there are no visa requirements for US citizens. The official languages are Maltese and English (as a former British colony). The Maltese Archipelago is comprised of Malta (the largest island), Gozo and Comino, with the capital Valletta located on the main island. Malta's territory is very small (122 sq. miles) and the best way to explore it is to use the well-developed Public Bus System.
Travel Tip: Get the Explore Card (Adult) for 21 Euro, and enjoy unlimited rides for a week!
Travel Tip: Order your taxi once you arrive at the airport. Taxi services from Luqa airport to any destination in Malta are available 24 hours a day. Pre-paid tickets can be purchased at fixed rates from the booth at the Welcome Hall.
How many days should you stay in Malta?
It depends on how deep you like to dive into Malta's history. The country is literally packed with historical must-see sights, and although the distances are short, you must take breaks between sights to absorb what you've seen. After spending a full week in Malta, I would recommend putting aside 8-10 days if you like to explore both Malta & Gozo islands (Comino is mostly uninhabited).
When is the best time to visit Malta?
Fortunately, with mild, Mediterranean winters, Malta is a year-round destination but If you really like to immerse yourself into the local culture, plan a trip in the spring and early summer months, when a number of religious and cultural events take place like Malta's Carnival and Mdina Medieval Festival
Travel Tip: If you are in Malta during the summer months, start sightseeing early morning! Malta's midsummer temperatures can go up to 34 C (93 F) in the hottest months July and August. Due to the high temperatures, sightseeing can be a challenge in the later parts of the day. We found breaking the day into two parts the most efficient, like sightseeing in the morning and beach time/sunbathing in the afternoon. For instance, my parents and I were sightseeing in the morning until 1-2 pm, and in the afternoon we were taking the bus from Sliema to St Julian's where the nearest (but not the cleanest) beach was located (St. George's Bay).
Where to stay in Malta
Again it depends on what you'd like to see/do... My parents and I stayed at Sliema, which is one of the popular tourist areas, in the closest proximity with Valletta (appx 25 min by bus). Majority of the accommodations and entertainment are located along the seafront. Note that Sliema does not have beaches per se, but instead "Lidos" which are essentially Beach Clubs with pools. Other popular areas further north are St. Julian's (known for its nightlife), & St. Paul's Bay (quieter tourist village) near which you can find the best beaches in Malta (Golden Bay & Mellieha Bay). If beaches/nightlife are not of importance for you, consider staying in Valletta, where although little quiet in the evening, you can find qualify boutique hotels, restaurants, and wine bars. (Check boutique properties like Palazzo Consiglia, Ursulino)
Travel Tip: Due to the short distances, you can easily commute between the different Bays (for instance, a bus ride between Sliema & St Julian's runs mainly along the seafront and takes about 20 min). The bus schedules are conveniently posted at each designated stop. Lastly, the Explore Card can be used to visit must-see sights like Mdina, Marsaxlokk fishing village & Hagar Qim temple complex, with all buses to the countryside departing from Valletta Bus Terminal.
Are you ready to start planning your Maltese Vacation?