In the middle of the Mediterranean, this warm and welcoming island enjoys balmy weather and lovely bays whilst being a fascinating place to explore.
The small, sparkling island of Malta packs a big punch! If you've tried Greece and Italy, you might want to consider Malta as it's bursting with history and sights to see, as well as attracting a much younger crowd these days who are drawn to the island's many highlights. Why not book your 2020 Malta holiday now?
History lovers can trace 7,000 years of human activity. Visit the 16th-century, St John's Cathedral and Casa Rocca Piccola, a grand palazzo and explore fascinating cultural museums and palaces. There is so much more to Malta though. As well as abundant natural wonders; from the Blue Grotto caverns to the Blue Lagoon on the tiny island of Comino, there are hilltop villages and chic fishing harbours just waiting to be visited. Comini is a great place to stop by for some quiet time. This tiny island has no cars or built-up areas and is a haven for snorkellers, walkers and photographers. Why not stop for a seafood platter or try some local dishes with a mix of Middle Eastern and Sicilian flavours on your holiday to Malta?
Holidays to Malta are ideally suited to couples and families alike. Just a 3 hour flight from the UK. Why not consider a hotel on the water's edge in Gozo? Perhaps a five-star getaway in the capital Valletta, for the ultimate city break? Or, clamour for glamour in St George's Bay, at a resort with cascading pools and a private lido? And, for an all-inclusive, simply magical break, Malta is just the ticket. The coastline is perfect for enjoying relaxing days in the Maltese sun. Rugged, with a good mix of rocky coves and sandy shores. Head to Bugibba or Qawra which have lovely flat rocks for sunbathing, or Mellieha Bay for its gorgeous, long stretch of sandy beach.
Malta holidays are also very popular amongst divers - with visitors coming here to snorkel and dive an exciting underwater world and discover fascinating and alluring wrecks and caves. The diving here is excellent and Sport Diver Magazine has named Malta as the third best diving destination behind the Maldives and Egypt.
An island surrounded by many countries, Malta's food is a fusion of european and middle eastern influences. The traditional fare is rustic and based on seasonality. Why not try Pastizza a traditional snack of flaky pastry filled either with ricotta cheese or mushy peas? Available in bars and street kiosks. Bragioli is a thin slice of beef wrapped around breadcrumbs, chopped bacon, egg and parsley before being braised in red wine. The favourite dish in Malta, however, is Fenek which is rabbit cooked in garlic and wine. The local cheese is called Gbejniet. Made from unpasteurised sheep or goat's milk, it is hard and white and is often served in seasoned olive oil.
Local crafts produce excellent souvenirs; look out for lacework, glassware, silver and gold items. In the main resorts' market stalls and shops you will find a wide variety of suitable mementoes to pop in your suitcase, too.
Holidays to Malta are as relaxing or as vibrant as you want them to be. The club scene has grown over the last few years with the main action located in Paceville in the coast near St. Julians. But if you'd much prefer to relax over a few drinks and watch the world go by there are a multitude of cafes and bars perfectly placed for quiet and tranquil evenings.
The best beaches in Malta
Malta's beaches offer crystal clear waters and smooth sand or pebbles and rock. Mellieha Bay, in the north, is a large stretch of sand, and Gnejna Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha Bay and Golden Bay are all great sandy beaches in the northwest of the island. They can be reached from Valletta or Sliema by bus. Ramla Bay is Gozo's best sandy beach. There are fantastic opportunities for watersports and snorkelling with colourful fish and breathtaking corals in most of the coastal areas.
Things To Do
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling: Year round sunshine and warm temperatures mean that diving is an activity you can indulge in on Malta whenever you take your holiday. Conditions are excellent, as is the marine life to be observed which is why it has been voted as the third best diving destination in the world for 2013 by the International Diving Magazine voting poll and tops the Mediterranean.
The best dive sites are located in the north where the caves and steep drops such as Qawra Point and Cirkewwa are very popular. For the more daring, Wied Iz-Zurrieq is an excellent spot for night diving. With more than 40 diving schools, it's an opportunity not to be missed for anyone with the smallest inclination to give it a go.
Windsurfing: Malta holidays are great for windsurfing. Mellieha Bay, St Pauls Bay or Bahar Ic-Caghaq are all excellent spots to fill your sails.
Boat trips: The waterfront of Sliema, a little north of Valletta, is known as The Ferries, for its preponderance of available boat trips. There is something to suit every taste and pocket. A favourite is a tour of the Grand Harbour.
Cycling: The islands of Malta and Gozo are both relatively small islands and can be easily enjoyed by bicycle. The landscape offers spectacular views from spots that are more easily reached by bike than by a car. What better way to experience the tranquil and serene feeling of the narrow village streets than cycling through the Maltese countryside where the landscape changes with every twist and turn.
In fact as part of initiatives to maintain its natural beauty the Malta Tourism Authority has introduced the concept of Sustainable Interregional Bike Tourism whereby ranges of cycle tracks have been mapped out according to levels of experience, from beginners to advanced. Covering over 1000 kms of cycle routes, the tracks incorporate a multitude of sights portraying Malta's diverse history and culture.
Bus tour of Valletta: For a cheap and cheerful overview of Valletta, hop on the number 98 bus for a 20-minute circular bus ride. Departures are every half hour between 9.30am and 6pm from City Gate and include the waterfront and harbour views, Floriana and Fort St Elmo.
Malta Holidays Family Excursions
Make your holidays to Malta extra special and book one of our wonderful excursions. We offer a range of trips carefully selected to cater for all interests. Some of the most popular among them are:-
Valletta - City of Nights: Be driven to the capital, Valletta where a walk will bring you to the Barrakka Gardens for a panoramic view of the Grand Harbour. Moving on to St. John's Co-Cathedral, get a close up of some of Malta's greatest treasures including a famous painting by Caravaggio. Our tour continues on to the Grand Master's Palace where the Maltese Parliament sits. See the offices of the President and the antiquities contained in the Armoury.
Highlights of Malta: At Mosta, visit the famous dome believed to be the third largest in Europe. A visit to the Ta' Qali Crafts Village gives you a chance to watch local artisans at work producing typical Maltese wares which include glass and silver filigree. After that your time is your own to browse and maybe purchase some of the great value local goods. Proceeding to the Silent City, Mdina, with its defence bastions dating back to the 9th Century, take a walk through the town visiting St. Paul's Cathedral and on to the Bastions for a panoramic view of the island. The walk continues to Rabat to visit St. Paul's Grotto and to enjoy a typical Maltese lunch in one of the village restaurants. Finally the tour proceeds to Dingli Cliffs for a panoramic view of the open sea and a stop to see some Cart Ruts.
Blue Grotto and Marsaxlokk: At Wied iz-Zurrieq visit the picturesque Blue Grotto to view the magnificent underwater flora (boat fare not included). Moving on to the southern part of the island to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk, take a stroll around the market and admire the traditional brightly coloured fishing boats known as 'luzzu'.
Prehistoric Temples: In the southern part of the island enjoy a visit to the three Megalithic Temples of Tarxien, dating back to 3000 BC. The temples are Malta's most important antiquities and are believed to be unique. At Ghar Dalam, in 'The Cave of Darkness' see the fossilised remains of prehistoric animals of the glacial period. The tour ends with a visit to the Prehistoric Temple of Hagar Qim, built, between 3500 and 3000 BC. The temple, constructed wholly of globigerina limestone, overlooks the islet of Filfla. Read our article about other UNESCO heritage sites close to Olympic Holiday destinations.
Fernandes Cruise: This full day's cruise on a beautiful 38-metre-long, double masted vessel departs from Sliema Marina and travels northwest to Gozo. You will sail into the secluded bay in Gozo for lunch, after which the boat sets sail again for Comino, dropping anchor in the beautiful Blue Lagoon. (Summer only.)
Gozo: is the legendary home of Calypso, daughter of Atlas. The tour starts with a visit to the Ggantija Prehistoric Temples in Xaghra, proceeding to Dwejra to see the 'Azure Window', Fungus Rock and the Inland Sea. A stop takes in the local lace and knitwear for which the island of Gozo is renowned. Lunch is taken in a Typical Gozitan village and followed by a visit to the Citadel incorporating Gozo's Cathedral in the capital Victoria. A sound and vision show rounds off the tour before re-embarking for the return.
Sicily Tour: A full day out, this excursion to Sicily includes Taormina, Sicily's premier tourist resort which faces Mount Etna and the Mediterranean. The peaceful resort, 206 m above sea level with panoramic views, was colonized by the Greeks who built a theatre in the Hellenic period. Included is a visit to Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. The climb to the crater takes in picturesque villages and an ever-changing landscape. (Summer only.)
For further information and to secure a place on any of the above exciting days and nights out, contact your Olympic representative in the resort. The best time to book is generally at the Welcome get-together the day after you arrive.
Things To See
Valletta City: Malta's small but enchanting, ancient capital city has some fantastic examples of traditional Maltese style baroque architecture. During your Malta holiday be sure to visit St John's Cathedral which was built in 1570s and includes the Cathedral Museum where two original works of art by the 16th century Italian painter, Caravaggio, can be admired. The Grand Master's Palace is home to the Maltese Parliament, with an armoury open to the public, displaying weapons and armour from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Inside here, too, are the grand State apartments housing valuable paintings and Gobelins tapestries designed for Louis XIV. Valletta has a number of fascinating museums including the National Museum of Fine Art and the National Museum of Archaeology full of prehistoric artifacts found on the island. Valletta's Manoel Theatre is the second oldest in Europe and the place to see opera, music and ballet performances. Walk around the huge city walls to enjoy the amazing views, in particular from the Upper Barrakka Gardens for a spectacular look over the Grand Harbour.
Mdina: Known as the silent city, for its quiet, narrow streets, Mdina sits atop a rocky outcrop with splendid panoramic views. It was once Malta's political centre and was inhabited by the Phoenicians. In the main square sits the impressive St Paul's Cathedral containing an enormous fresco depicting the shipwreck of St Paul.
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum: Be sure to take in one of the 50-minute tours of this amazing complex of underground burial chambers believed to have been created between 3600 and 3000 BC. They are located in the town of Paola, some 4 kms south of Valletta. Book at the start of your holiday at the site or at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta as tickets are restricted in order to protect this Unesco World Heritage Site, and you may have to wait two weeks for your visit. Also in the area is the Neolithic temple at Tarxien and Ghar Dalam where the remains of extinct birds and animals have been found.
Gozo: This beautiful small island next to Malta is more rural and laid back. In the summer Gozo hosts a festival with firework displays and horse racing through the streets. Worth an overnight stay or longer.
Comino Island: The beauty and seclusion of this little island is defeated by the hordes of visitors coming to get a taste of it. The main attraction is the glistening, clear Blue Lagoon in a white sandy cove. See also the unusual rock formations.
The Maltese Islands are not very large and so getting around does not present much of a problem.
Boat: A regular ferry service run by the Gozo Channel Company links Malta to Gozo, taking about 20 minutes each way. A sea plane service also links Grand Harbour in Valletta to Mgarr Harbour in Gozo and there are regular boat services between each island and Comino, though these are less frequent and do not carry vehicles. A water taxi service using traditional Maltese 'dghajsa' boats is available in Grand Harbour.
Bus: The public bus service on Malta and Gozo serves all the major tourist areas, go practically everywhere and are cheap and efficient. No trip is longer than the 50 minutes it takes to cross the island. More info can be found on http://www.visitmalta.com/public-transport.
Taxi: All taxis are fitted with meters and charge regulated fares. The white taxi service can pick up passengers from anywhere, except bus-stops. Taxi services from the Malta International Airport and the Seaport Terminal to all localities in Malta are based on a fixed tariff.
Car Hire: A perfect way of seeing more during your Malta holidays, this way of getting around gives flexibility and independence. It's a good option if you want to get to take in the farther reaches of the island. All the road signs are in English and driving is on the left. Both international and national driving licenses are acceptable. A number of car hire firms and local garages offer chauffeur-driven cars. Renting scooters, motorbikes or mountain bicycles is an option, but can be rather limited as not all roads are suitable for only two wheels.
The best time to go to Malta
Max Temp C