Out and About in Malta
No doubt your guests will find a way to entertain themselves while you run about finalising plans for the big day. However, providing suggestions in advance can help friends and family plan their holiday, add to the overall excitement of the event and reduce the amount of questions you may be required to answer whilst you’re in the thick of it.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things to do for every age group in Malta and, as nothing is very far away, even those on short breaks can get a good flavour of the island. Here’s a suggestion of 20 top activities to do on a holiday to Malta; ranging from sight-seeing to watersports, including the most sedentary to the more extreme touristic pursuits.
20 Must-sees in Malta
1. Visit Valletta
Malta’s ancient walled capital is well worth a visit for historic buildings of heritage, cathedrals, shopping and lazy lunches in bustling cafe squares. Why not stroll down to the Waterfront or take a traditional horse drawn carriage ride while taking in the fantastic views of the Grand Harbour.
2. Three Cities Harbour Cruise
This leisurely and informative cruise is a relaxed way to take in the sun while learning a little more of Malta’s intriguing past. The Harbour Cruise, complete with on-board bar, leaves from Valletta and weaves in and out of the finger-like coastline of creeks and harbours up to the Three Cities; Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua.
3. The Malta Experience
While you’re in Valletta, or if you need a little shelter from the sun, take in The Malta Experience; a cinematic tale of Malta’s humbling and highly turbulent history.
4. Picnic at Peter’s Pool
Venture to the South of the Island and take advantage of a secret spot away from the tourist hoards. Peter’s Pool is a rocky cove with the clearest waters, excellent for snorkeling and swimming.
5. Watersports & Beach BBQs at Golden Bay
Golden Bay is one of Malta’s main sandy beaches and, as such, is very popular in peak season. You’ll find every kind of watersport available from jet skis to banana boats, inflatable sofas, para-sailing and more. The beach restaurants are of a good standard and if you hang about in the evening, you can catch the sunset over a beach barbecue alongside the locals.
6. Fontanella Roof Gardens, Mdina
A visit to ‘The Silent City’ of Mdina is highly recommended. Marvel at the tiny maze-like streets as you meander your way through to the viewing point where you’ll see stunning views across Malta, coast-to-coast. While you’re there, take in a beer or infamous piece of cake at Fontanella Roof Gardens, located at the highest point of this seemingly deserted city. And why not drop the kids off at the Mdina dungeons en route!
7. North and/or South Bus Tour
Malta’s hop-on, hop-off sightseeing buses are a great way to see the main sights of Malta in a day. You can choose either the North route or South route and pick any number of places to stop for lunch and take a later bus back. These tickets are often given free with the Three Cities Harbour Cruise so play hard to get if you want to do it all!
Mosta Dome or the ‘Rotunda of St Marija Assunta’ is one of the largest unsupported domes in the world, up there with the Pantheon in Rome. In WW2 a bomb pierced the dome’s roof and landed amidst the congregation unexploded – a true God send! A replica bomb can be seen in the Dome today. It won’t take you long to admire the Dome so it could be worth timing your trip with dinner. Mosta has some very good restaurants; Ta’ Marija that offers a Maltese experience from the cuisine to the dancing performances; and The Lord Nelson, which offers top rate food in a characteristic stone townhouse with tables positioned in quirky recesses. As an aside, if you’re interested in Malta’s wartime history, the WW2 Bomb Shelters in Mellieha will fill you with respect for the Maltese islands’ wartime efforts.
9. Ta’ Qali Craft Village & Mdina Glass
If you’re looking for a souvenir to take home, a visit to the craft’s village and Mdina Glass will yield some of Malta’s most traditional and authentic gifts. From lace to pottery to the stunning glassware blown right before your eyes, this may be touristy but it is worth a trip.
10. A Night Out in Paceville
For the young and the more hard-core party crew, a night out in Malta’s clubbing area is a must. The area of Paceville in St Julian’s is basically one long strip of late night bars and clubs that stay open all night. The 7am ‘Cisk Breakfast’ (Cisk being the local beer) is a common occurrence in Paceville!
11. Restaurants in Spinola Bay
Spinola Bay is a quaint, twinkly and romantic little bay located in the heart of St Julian’s. There are many good restaurants lining the water’s edge in this area with a scattering of relaxed bars along the promenade. It’s also a short walk into the lively Paceville area if the mood takes you during the evening.
Marsaxlokk is a traditional working fishing village in the South of Malta. Visit before lunch to peruse the markets and watch the traditional Maltese Luzzu boats return with their catch. Enjoy the freshest fish and seafood from the harbourside restaurants for lunch.
13. Visit Malta & Gozo’s ancient temples
Malta’s history is old, very old, so it’s not surprising that the island is famous for its temples dating back to the prehistoric megalithic period. The temples and Hypogeum are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and, to this day, the source of much historic debate. Visit the underground chambers, skeleton-lined catacombs and ancient temples that have baffled historians through the ages. While visiting Gozo, be sure to take in the Ggantija Temples at Xaghra which are thought to predate Stonehenge and the Pyramids themselves!
14. Visit Comino and Gozo
If you have enough time, Gozo and Comino are certainly worth a visit. The Blue Lagoon at Comino offers its visitors crystalline blue waters with caves to intrigue snorkelers for hours, while Gozo presents agricultural old villages dotted amidst secluded coves and valleys, not to mention some of the World’s earliest temple structures.
15. Go Diving or Sailing
Due to Malta’s clear and temperate waters, the island has become highly acclaimed as a premier diving spot. There are countless diving schools on both Malta and Gozo that cater for beginners through to advanced divers. Equally regarded above the water, sailing in Malta is highly popular. The fair winds and countless bays and coves, mean discovering Malta, Gozo and Comino by sea is particularly rewarding.
This is definitely one for the kids! Popeye’s Village is the film set that was built into the rock at Anchor Bay for the Robin Williams’ film, Popeye. The area has been milked for tourism and shows are put on for the kids as well as the addition of an inflatable water park. Maybe a bit much for the adults but the bay is really pretty and water extremely clear and sandy. If you are sans kids and want to avoid the entertainment, there is a peer towards the mouth of the cove that makes a great base for sunbathing and snorkeling.
17. Mediterraneo Water Park & Dolphins
Another way to keep the kids entertained while you relax is at the water park based on the coast road just north of St Julian’s. Some of the rides are a bit basic but there are some fun, scary ones too. There’s also the option to swim with dolphins in the enclosure next to the water park.
18. Malta Aviation Museum
If there’s a plane fanatic in your group, be sure to direct them towards the Aviation Museum. With plenty of aero-technology to see, the Museum can prove both nostalgic for an older generation and quite simply highly exciting for children who want to see aeroplanes. The Museum serves as a porthole to the past and really hits home the struggles that war-time Malta faced.
19. Deep Sea Fishing
If you’ve got confident sea legs, a great half, or full day trip can be deep sea fishing. You can opt to go out on a traditional Maltese Luzzu (fishing boat) or travel in a little more luxury. Keep your catch and barbecue it on the beach later or take it to a local fish restaurant, many of whom will prepare it and serve it for you that night.
Lush it up for lunch or dinner in a luxurious old Maltese ‘palazzo’ or stately home. The Palazzo Parisio is a beautifully preserved 18th Century Palace with genuine artifacts, magnificent rooms and stunning courtyard gardens. The Palazzo Parisio also combines a top class restaurant and cocktail bar, and the food is just as splendid as the surroundings.
There are plenty more sights and activities that haven’t made the list so hiring a car and exploring is a great way to make the most of a stay in Malta. (NB. The Maltese drive on the left so drivers from the UK should feel at home behind the wheel!)