Sightseeing in Malta
Malta may be small, but it rivals the big-hitters for historical sights. The island certainly has an action-packed tale to tell. Mysterious temples, Templars and Roman generals create a plotline that puts Dan Brown to shame.
Thousands of years set in stone
The story starts more than five thousand years ago. Yep, you read that right! The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground temple that dates back to 3600BC. Spread across three levels, the stone-forged rooms still have an eerie presence. Be sure to book your visit early though, as entry is strictly limited each day.
The Megalithic Temples of Malta make up another seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the island. Some are almost as old as the Hypogeum, with great slabs of rock that share a similarity with Stonehenge, such as those at Mnajdra.
A Roman holiday
The Romans were quite taken with Malta. That’s something you can still see today at the Roman House in Mdina. It’s definitely worth a visit to see its multi-coloured mosaics, claimed to be some of the oldest found in the Mediterranean. Ancient columns and statues are thoughtfully presented in the exhibition rooms too.
Malta really reached its heyday during the Renaissance. And the pinnacle of this artistic inspiration lives on at St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Bankrolled by the mysterious Knights of Malta, it’s decorated in the blinged-up Baroque style that was popular at the time. Marvel at the gleaming golden patterns and be sure to see the two masterpieces by Caravaggio housed inside.
Activities in Malta
Alongside all that heroic history, Malta has a super selection of activities too.
Down in the Dungeons
For something decidedly more macabre, the Mdina Dungeons reveal many gruesome and bloody events over the island’s history. You’ll be led through dark corridors to see scarily lifelike waxworks of beheading, torture and plague victims.
A classic day out
Take a back seat from the downright frightening Dungeons with a visit to the Malta Classic Car Museum. It features more than 100 classic cars and motorbikes, including some very rare Jaguars, an open top Bugatti and even an original Fiat 500! Old jukeboxes and fruit machines take the nostalgia up another notch.
The stage is set
Visiting the Manoel Theatre brings you history at its most dramatic – it’s said to be Europe’s third oldest working theatre. Despite being built back in 1731, the show must go on, with operas, plays and pantomimes still being performed here. While you’re watching a show, take in the splendour of the Baroque design too.
With such a long legacy, Malta has picked up plenty of ancient artefacts along the way, so the National Museum of Archaeology is the perfect place to share it. In particular, it has a very impressive showing of Neolithic stone figures, beautifully carved with character over 5000 years ago.
Family Fun in Malta
What with all the Renaissance art, ancient structures and medieval towns, you’d be forgiven for thinking Malta is a destination designed for grown-ups. But nothing could be further from the truth. There’s an abundance of activities here for all ages.
An eye-popping theme park
As far as theme parks go, Malta Popeye Village is a pretty unique concept. It all started when the 1980 Popeye movie starring Robin Williams was filmed here. Rather than dismantling the film set after the final wrap, the islanders had the smart idea of hanging on to the quirkily designed mini village. Now it sets a colourful stage for themed shows, boat rides and a cinema.
Plenty more parks and recreation
The Popeye Village isn’t the only park in town – there are several more that families will find fabulous. Little ones will like the chunky blocks and bright colours of the Playmobil Fun Park, while the Bugibba Water Park is a watery playground especially designed for children with water cannons and fountains.
Catch a train
A great idea for all the family and perfect for saving the strain on little legs, the Mdina Road Train is designed like a classic 19th century train. However, it has the added benefit of wheels for exploring the steepest roads in the city. Adults will enjoy the great views of the countryside too.
Romantic breaks in Malta
Thanks to miles of golden coastline, crystalline waters and flower-filled fields, Malta is a strikingly beautiful place. It’s what makes it such a romantic destination.
A lovely lagoon
You need to take a boat trip north to the tiny island of Comino to see the Blue Lagoon but it sure is worth the effort. Regarded as one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful lagoons, it has light ripples of translucent water, rolling to golden sands and hidden sea caves.
There are lots of wonderful waterfronts in Malta. Some have soft sand, some shingle, and others are a little rockier, but you’ll always have a majestic view of the sea. One of our favourites is Spinola Bay. It manages to combine a small beach, elegant old buildings and beautiful marina filled with fishing boats. On the other hand, you could always visit Mellieha Beach. It has a long stretch of golden sand that’s perfect for sharing with your partner.
Sit in the garden
Malta boasts several idyllic gardens. Our pick of the bunch are the Barrakka Gardens. Spread across both upper and lower areas, they combine bright flowers, fountains and palm trees with neoclassical monuments and statues. There’s even a bust of Churchill!
Pick up the Paceville
Want to up the pace of your romantic holiday in Malta? Head to Paceville. It’s the place to be for the island’s riotous nightlife, thanks to a long neon-soaked strip lined with bars and clubs. There’s also a glossy shopping centre for some retail therapy during the day.
Malta has a safe, comfortable and efficient bus service, made all the easier and quicker by the small size of the island. Using taxis or renting a car is an attractive option too, especially to find hidden villages or coves that are more secluded.
To discover the nearby northern islands of Comino and Gozo, you’ll best off travelling by boat. There are regular ferry services and boat trips to both islands.
Malta offers an authentic cuisine with rustic dishes such as rabbit stew and oil-dipped bread. Wash everything down with the island’s original beverages, including unique brands of beer, locally produced Maltese wine and bitter orange soft drinks.