What are the best things to do in Malta?
1. Embark on a capital experience in Valletta – join the Valletta and Malta Experience tour to witness a traditional cannon firing ceremony, which is how the city used to welcome foreign vessels into the harbour. Admire panoramic views of the Grand Harbour from Barrakka Gardens – and climb a bit higher to glimpse the Three Cities: Cospicua, Senglosa and Vittoriosa.
2. Play ‘coast guard’ atop Malta’s watchtowers. Constructed by the Knights of Malta during the 17th century, a series of watch towers presides along the coast. Historically, fire signals spread from lookout-to-lookout, warning of potential threats. Today, you can follow in the knights’ footsteps up the historical towers. A handful open to the public on specific days or by appointment.
3. Come to Comino for its lagoons and hop on a ferry from Malta to the island of Comino. Most day trippers race to the Blue Lagoon, famed for its unbelievably clear waters and tranquil setting. If it’s too busy with banana boats and the like, walk 20 minutes to Crystal Lagoon. It’s sheltered by cliffs – and classified as a bird sanctuary, so you can add cliff diving and bird watching to your list of beach activities.
4. Dive alongside wrecks, reefs and caves and peruse underwater treasures at great depth during memorable dive trips. If history takes your interest, scuba dive at shipwreck sites, like the 'Le Polynesien' passenger line, which was sunk by a German U-Boat in WWI. There are sunken plane wrecks, too, including the Bristol Blenheim WWll bomber. With just a snorkel, you can also swim around sea caves and over coral reefs.
5. Take a day trip to Gozo for a little bit of greenery. The island’s sloping hills and countryside contrast with the typical landscape of Malta. Book a tour to get escorted around Gozo’s highlights: Citadel in Victoria, the famous Inland Sea in Dwejra and the rocky cliffs in Xlendi Bay. Most days of the week, the tour will stop at the Ggantijja Temples, deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Either way, you’ll be given independent free time to indulge in whatever strikes your fancy.
Where are the best places to visit in Malta?
Begin or end your trip with a visit to Marsaxlokk, a harbour village not far from the airport. Stop by the market on Sundays for fresh fish. If you arrive before sunrise, you may spot the last few fishing boats returning to the bay. Book a guided tour if you prefer to visit Marsaxlokk later in the day, after an outing to the Blue Grotto.
Although Valletta is the current capital, the former capital Mdina lies on a lofty plateau, much further inland. Its blend of Baroque and medieval architecture remains on full display. Once admitted within its towering walls through impressive entrance gates, you can leisurely stroll the alleys, which will eventually lead you to Archbishop Square, surrounded by imposing palaces.
Malta will absolutely spoil you with its selection of stunning coastlines, but head north-east to Golden Bay – one of the island’s few sandy beaches, flanked by weathered cliffs. If you’ve energy to spare, round off the day at the bars and restaurants of St Julian’s.
Families can make their way north to Popeye Village at Anchor Bay, the former film location of the eighties Popeye TV show. Even if the kids don’t appreciate it, indulge for your own childhood nostalgia.