A visit to Malta is on many European traveler’s wish lists but is one of the holiday options people often know little about, as opposed to popular holiday destinations such as France, Spain, Italy and Greece. Why should you choose to visit Malta over any other Mediterranean holiday destination? What sets Malta apart from the rest and makes the island nation a must-see holiday destination?
The Maltese are renowned for their hospitality, friendliness and generosity. The people are traditionally kind-hearted and will go out of their way to make guests feel at home. The majority of people are very accommodating, and are very willing to lend a helping hand, should you need directions or require assistance of any kind. This characteristic is deep-rooted in Maltese culture and makes for a very warm and welcoming experience. Many past visitors can vouch for this, apparently also Saint Paul whose shipwreck in Malta and gratitude towards the Maltese hospitality are referenced in the Holy Bible.
2. Language and Communication
The fact that English is Malta’s second official language obviously helps and takes away a language barrier that many guests to other holiday destinations face time and again. Malta was part of the British empire for around 160 years (gaining independence in 1964), which shaped the island and its inhabitants, most of whom now have a good understanding of the English language. For English speaking tourists this means that communication forms little or no problem, which is an important benefit. Maltese, however, remains the main language spoken by the vast majority of the Maltese population.
Should you be interested in spending some, if not all, of your time visiting places of interest, Malta is your ideal holiday destination. Malta offers you the unique possibility of visiting a large number of fascinating sites that testify to Malta’s rich and turbulent history within a relatively small area. You can organise day trips, combining a visit to, for example, Mdina with visiting the Tarxien Temples, rather than losing half the day on traveling to a single location. Many tour operators can facilitate you with a choice of tours around the Maltese islands, but obviously at a cost. The relatively short distances, convenient bus routes and road signs make it relatively easy to find your way around using public transport or a hired car if you prefer to explore the islands by yourself.
4. Hotels and other accommodation
There’s a wide range of possibilities for accommodation in Malta and Gozo when looking for a place to stay. Besides a choice of hotels (from luxurious 5-star hotels to the more economical 4- and 3-star hotels), many self-catering apartments as well as hostels can be found throughout Malta and Gozo. The highest concentration of holiday resorts and hotels can be found around St. Julian’s, Bugibba/Qawra, and Sliema, which are all situated along the Northern coastline of Malta. Accommodation in St. Julian’s is recommended if you enjoy spending your nights going out but, being close to the nightlife hub of Malta, staying there is not advisable for couples and families who prefer peace and serenity. For those travelers, places like Mellieha and St. Paul’s Bay are much better places to look for accommodation.
Find out more on Where to stay in Malta.
5. Short Distances
Travel is a lot of fun, but long trips to get to the beach, or to some interesting historical site can ruin your precious few days abroad. Malta doesn’t require you to travel a lot to get to see interesting places, or just to go for a quick swim. Distances are short (it takes less than an hour to get from one side of the island to the other) and there isn’t another place in Europe that offers such a high concentration of places of interest, beaches, holiday resorts and places for entertainment (restaurants, clubs, cinemas etc.), you’ll wish you’d have known about Malta earlier.
A lot of tourists to Malta are actually repeat visitors, simply for the reason that there’s just so much to do and to see, it’s relatively cheap, and takes little time to get around and spend quality holiday time without unnecessary hassles and stress.
6. Sports, Leisure Activities and Events
You can enjoy a variety of sports and other leisure activities in Malta including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, scuba diving, para gliding and wind surfing, amongst others. Most of the larger hotels offer indoor pools, gyms and tennis courts, which comes in handy if you like to stay active when the weather isn’t very inviting to go out.
Most materials needed for outdoor sports are available for rent at a low price and there are various locations on the islands where these sports can be exercised. Gozo is a particularly popular location for rock climbing, thanks to its steep cliffs, and mountain biking thanks to its quiet roads and excellent hill climbs.
Scuba diving at various dive sites around the Maltese islands is also a very popular activity among tourists, with many interesting diving sites (scuttled ships, for example) and certified PADI courses available. If you prefer just watching sports you won’t have to worry about missing any big football matches or other sports events. Most pubs (as well as dedicated sports bars) have a satellite dish perked on their roofs and most display what sports events are shown on chalkboard notices just outside their premises.
Events, such as pop concerts and theatre shows, but also historical re-enactments such as In Guardia are popular among tourists and provide great entertainment for the whole family.
There’s more to Malta as a nation than just the island Malta itself. The Republic of Malta also includes sister-island Gozo, which is said to be what Malta used to be like: rural and peaceful. Gozo is a excellent location for families, couples and elderly who prefer having a peaceful holiday with beautiful beaches and countryside views. There are plenty of interesting sites around in Gozo as well, for example the Citadel bastions of island capital Victoria, the Megalithic temples of Ggantija, or Calypso’s cave, said to be the location of part of Homer’s Odyssee. The seaside town of Xlendi is a popular tourist destination as well, offering a beautiful view of its bay surrounded by high cliffs. Ramla l-Hamla, Dahlet Qorrot and San Blas Bay are beautiful beaches to go for a swim, one being larger and busier, the other being more secluded and more difficult to get to (steep hill descent) but definitely worth the effort.
To get to Gozo on arrival at Malta airport, you can book a direct transfer which takes you straight from the airport to the ferries in the Northern most tip of the island of Malta (a place called Cirkewwa). The ferries will take you to Mgarr Harbour in Gozo, from where you can easily get a taxi to your accommodation if you arrive during the day. For late night arrivals it’s best to make arrangements with a local taxi operator before travelling.
Unlike many other Mediterranean holiday destinations, Malta holidays offer you a lot off possibilities even outside of the high season. Outdoor activities such as biking or hiking are very popular during the rest of the year and many people flock to cultural and historical sites to learn more about Malta’s past and present whilst enjoying the country’s mild winter weather.
9. Vibrant Nightlife
Malta offers a vibrant nightlife, which has attracted some of the biggest names in the international club scene, such as Tiësto, Paul van Dyk, Ferry Corsten and Carl Cox. Open-air clubs are a unique experience and open-air clubs are immensely popular amongst both locals and foreigners.
10. Malta’s Beautiful Beaches
Often a deciding factor for sun seekers is the potential for relaxed summer beach life and in that respect Malta doesn’t deserve. Some of Malta’s best beaches are located along the Northern and Western shorelines of the island, most notably Mellieha Bay (the island’s largest beach), Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha.
It’s not just about the more popular beaches in Malta, however. If you’re looking for quiet and smaller beaches with beautiful surroundings Malta and sister-island Gozo offer a few great options, some of which aren’t easy to find and therefore less likely to attract the masses. How would one spot these beaches? You can either ask the locals, or if you’re more adventurous check out satellite imaging on Google Maps and find your way!