Malta: an island nation with a rich history. On a trip to any spot on this dynamic island in the middle of Mediterranean, be prepared to stumble upon megalithic temples, historic hideaways, and beautiful, Baroque-period underground sites. Traverse the UNESCO streets lined with cozy cafes and stylish hotels in the smallest capital city in Europe, Valetta. Get your party fill in Paceville and St. Julian’s. Or, snag a spot on Malta’s gently-sloping beaches and take a break from it all.
Those seeking a classically beautiful trip to the historical heart of Malta should look no further than the capital, Valetta. Situated on an island finger on the northeastern coast of the largest island, also called Malta, the entirety of this small capital city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why. From the Valetta Waterfront to one of Europe’s oldest used theaters, Manoel, to the draw-dropping St. John’s Co-Cathedral, which is home to some original Caravaggio paintings, Valetta flaunts a particular historic energy that is seldom witnessed. The Toy Museum and the Maltese Carnivals set you up for a family-friendly trip, while the many luxurious spa hotels support a romantic getaway. The magical Three Cities, Birgu, Senglea, and Cospicua, lie just across the harbor from Valetta. A must-visit on a trip to Malta, Birgu, the oldest of the three, has existed since the Middle Ages. Just wandering through the ancient and winding streets of these old towns will help you get a feel for the stark oldness of this place. Stumbling upon the Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu, St. Michael Bastion in Senglea, and the Vittoriosa Yacht Marina in Cospicua is victory enough for the day.
Malta’s St. Julian’s and Paceville are regarded worldwide for their lively party scenes; the streets lined with countless clubs, bars, and restaurants packed with lively crowds of locals, students, and fellow travelers. The hotels in Paceville and the environs are vast, well-appointed, and fun. Right on the beach, a day on the northeastern coast of Malta is spent enjoying the delicious cuisine, drinking cocktails, and checking out the wide variety of architecture, from age-old cathedrals to super modern casinos and resorts. Make sure to book a table at one of the many rooftop restaurants to gain access to sweeping views of the rugged skyline. In St. Julian’s, you can also find all the nightlife you could want, among some other things: St. George’s bay is primed for water sports and a walk through the area promises a stumble upon the beautiful ancient temples of Mnajdra, Hagar Qim, and Tarxien. A spa hotel in St. Julian’s or Paceville provides luxurious amenities and non-stop relaxation — the perfect stay for those not looking to leave the comfort of the grounds. A boutique or design hotel promises you’ll feel all the young and cool energy that this area has to offer, day in and day out.
Gozo is the second-largest island of Malta and the northernmost. Known for its gorgeous coastlines and rich history, Gozo promises an extra special island holiday. The Azure Window rock formation is one of the island’s icons, standing now as a kind of symbol for true coastal beauty at a staggering 28 meters high. The Tal-Massar Winery offers fascinating and educational tours on the history of wine production in Malta and the setting itself is a sight to behold. The rich underwater diversity off the coast of Gozo make the waters a wonderland for fans of scuba. Hotels on Gozo toe the line between historical charm and contemporary luxury, making them the perfect choice for those looking for an opulent holiday with an interesting twist. The island is also primed for caving; take an afternoon exploring the limestone caves that litter the region, all filled with local flora and fauna. If you’re staying long enough for a day or half-day trip, the island between Malta and Gozo, Comino, is largely uninhabited and is frequented by travelers from all over the world because its unspoiled, unbelievable natural beauty. The Blue Lagoon and environs, despite their stunning beauty, also have an interesting history; they are purported to be the once-hideout of pirates and smugglers.
Getting there: Getting to Malta is quite simple; flights run just under 3 hours from major UK airports. The one international airport (MLA) is centrally located, making most all destinations on the main island only around a 45-minute cab ride. If you’re coming by cruise ship, Malta is frequented so you can count on docking by the beautiful Valetta Waterfront. Malta and Gozo are webbed with an extensive, very cheap bus system and plenty of cabs and cars for hire. Take a bus or taxi from the airport and arrive at the ferry to Gozo for a 30-minute, 5 euro trip. Do know that if you plan to rent a car, Maltese drivers can be a little reckless, so be careful with trusting them to stop on turns and roundabouts.