Do you dream of escaping the summer heat and jumping into the crystal clear waters of Malta’s beaches, but don’t know where to begin your adventure? If that sounds like you right now, don’t break a sweat! Whether you’re a seasoned solo traveler or looking for a Malta tour guide to help you out, you've come to the right place.
With a population of only half a million citizens, and an area of only 316 square kilometers, Malta may be small in size but it’s definitely big in adventure! You’d be surprised how much this little island has to offer. But before diving headfirst into Maltese waters, let’s dive into what makes this country such a fascinating place to visit, providing you with some much-needed information to make a noteworthy trip!
Why We Love Malta
Home to some of the oldest temples in the world, and modern, cutting-edge architecture, Malta has genuinely become a Mediterranean gem! The country peaked in August 2019 with over 330,000 visitors in one month, 2.7 million visitors that same year, and a quarter million visitors in April 2023.
So tourism sounds like a thing in Malta, right? Definitely! After a dip in 2021 with only 968,000 visitors, tourism climbed back to over 2 million in 2022. It’s estimated that tourism will likely increase significantly in the upcoming years, bringing its economic contribution to 3.3 billion USD by 2028.
But why is that? What makes this country so exciting to visit? The culture, cuisine, and landscapes will give us some answers!
Travel fact: English and Maltese are the official languages of the country. So if you speak English, you should be (mostly) fine!
Exploring Malta’s rich and diverse cultural history will allow you to learn more about this magnificent island.
- Megalithic Temples - Visiting these architectural marvels is the perfect way to dive into Malta’s multi-faced heritage! These monuments capture the history of Malta like no other, dating back to some of the earliest stone buildings in history.
- Luzzu Boats - With their expressively bright colors, these traditional fishing boats are true eye-catchers! If you’re heading for Malta's seaside, or going on a sunset cruise, be sure to keep an eye out for them!
Travel fact: In 2021, a film about a Maltese fisherman called Luzzu was released.
- Festa Celebrations - With over 60 religious celebrations throughout the year, there are plenty of festivities to experience. From May until September, there is hardly any weekend not filled with lively music, happy Maltese, and colorful fireworks.
- Għana Music - Do you love traditional music? Then listen closely when strolling through the vineyards or tiny villages of Malta, as there could be a spontaneous chant. Wonder what it sounds like? Listen to the Maltese Folk Song tradition!
Travel tip: You can experience the music live at the Għanafest every May.
- Churches and Catholicism: Over 90% of the Maltese population is Catholic. You can find over 365 churches all over Malta, with many worth visiting.
Travel fact: Did you know that Malta is frequently used as a location for film shoots? Besides blockbusters like The Davinci Code or Troja, you may recognize Malta as the setting for Game of Thrones’ first season!
When visiting Malta, exploring the culinary side of the islands will grant you unforgettable encounters.
- Pastizzi - This cherished treat is deeply rooted in Maltese tradition and a must-try for everyone visiting. These savory pastries are typically filled with ricotta cheese, eggs, onions, and peas. They can be found in cafes, bakeries, and street food locales.
- Rabbit Stew - Similar to Pastizzi, Rabbit Stew is a staple in the Maltese household. Often served with herbs, tomatoes, vegetables, or red wine, no dish on the island represents the rural lifestyle like this one.
- Aljotta - Love seafood? Then don’t forget to add this simple yet flavorful Mediterranean soup on your itinerary.
- Timpana - A Maltese classic, Timpana combines pasta with meat, tomato sauce, and cheese for a delicious pasta pie!
- Kapunata - This mouth-watering salad is filled with sliced zucchini, fresh tomatoes, high-quality olive oil, and a wide array of herbs and spices. Served with Maltese bread, it can be enjoyed at all temperatures.
Filled with breathtaking scenery, Malta is definitely not short of spectacular locations. These are some of them:
- Blue Grotto (not the Blue Lagoon!) - Known for its marvelous sea caves and azure waters, exploring the stone’s intricate formations by boat or enjoying the far-reaching view from the cliffs above is a must!
Travel tip: Despite its beautiful scenery, diving in the waters near the cavern is forbidden due to the strong swell.
- Golden Bay - Blessed with an extensive sandy shore, this beach area is the perfect destination for sunbathing and relaxation.
- Dingli Cliffs - In the mood for a walk? Then wander alongside the many walking trails leading to different vantage points, perfect for soaking up the panoramic views.
Pro tip: Walking along the cliffs is incredibly impressive during sunset and sunrise.
- Buskett Gardens - The only woodland in Malta, this lush and idyllic valley makes for a perfect picnic or an afternoon stroll.
- Fort St. Angelo - Located in the harbor of Valletta, this historic fort is perfect for diving into Malta's history or enjoying the picturesque sights of the capital.
Who Else Loves Malta?
Has all of this sparked your wanderlust? If so, that’s not a surprise (not at all)! With over 2.8 million visitors and a staggering 2.3 billion euros contributed to travel and tourism, 15% of the nation's GDP is directly linked to the industry. Malta definitely likes to invite its visitors.
So where does Malta rank in tourism? According to KAYAK, one of the biggest travel websites in the world, Malta ranked 20th out of 70 islands in Europe.
Eager to know which other countries also like Malta? Let’s find out:
- United Kingdom - From one island to another, the Brits' love for Malta is perfectly reflected in their visiting numbers, counting nearly 650,000 travelers in 2019.
- Italy - Malta’s Mediterranean neighbors are second on the list, with nearly 400,000 visitors in 2019.
- France - In 2019 nearly 240,000 French tourists visited the island.
- Germany - Germans love European islands (myself included!), so it’s no surprise that 211,546 visited Malta in 2019.
- Spain - Rounding up this list is Spain, with 116,205 travelers headed towards the island of Malta.
Which now begs the question: where should you start your adventure? We did some digging, and this is what we came up with.
Where To Go: Malta's Top Destinations
- Valletta - Malta’s capital is full of historical sites, energetic streets, and a stunning atmosphere. Ideal for a day trip or exploring the nightlife, you will surely remember your time in the heart of Malta!
- Mdina - A perfect opportunity to dive into Malta’s past, the charm of this provincial township will hit you as soon as you enter the Mdina Gates. Also called “The Silent City”, the absence of cars makes for a peaceful and atmospheric visit and is ideal for a walking tour.
- Gozo - The second island in Malta's archipelago, Gozo is convincing with its quiet rural atmosphere, charming villages, and laid-back vibe. If you’re looking for something relaxing, this is the place for you! You can also get a full-day tour to get the maximum out of this charming island.
Travel fact: The Azure Window was one of Gozo's landmarks, but it unfortunately collapsed in 2017, yet it’s still worth the visit!
- St. Julian's - This beautiful coastal town is home to traditional Maltese cuisine, boutique shopping, 5-star hotels, and countless swimming activities. It definitely has something for everyone!
- Marsaxlokk - Want to experience traditional Maltese fishing life? Then don’t forget to check out this sweet coastal village that will enchant you with its charming markets and seaside cafes. And if you’re eager to learn more, a guided tour would be an excellent place to start!
- Birgu - Often overlooked by many, this fortified harbor is perfect for immersing yourself in Maltese historical sites and compelling museums. If you want to learn more about the history of Malta, or more about the heritage of the country, you have to put Birgu on your Malta-Bucket list!
- Popeye Village - Can't get enough of visiting film sets? Then you have to check out the small and whimsical town used as a set for the 1980’s production of ‘Popeye’. If you love Robin Williams (like me!), or you just want to enjoy the coastal location of Anchor Bay, definitely pay this place a visit!
- Comino - As the last island of the Maltese archipelago (and also the smallest), the infrastructure is limited, but Comino features one of the most beautiful places in Malta, the Blue Lagoon. Hop on board and have your bathing suit ready!
See something you like? Get in touch with one of our Malta tour guides and start planning your getaway.
Travel tip: Expect large groups of people when visiting the Blue Lagoon. After all, who can blame them - it’s beautiful!
When To Go: Malta's Weather
Now that we are clear about where to go, we must cross the “when” off our lists! Due to Mediterranean temperatures and 300+ sunny days, snowfall is a foreign word to the Maltese. So when’s the best time to go? Well, it really depends on what you want to gain from this beautiful island. Let's make it easier for you:
- Mild Winters (November-February) - If lazy beach days are not your thing and you’d like to experience the culture of Malta while not being surprised by heat waves, wintertime could be ideal for you. Definitely the least crowded time of the year, it also comes with the most rainfall, so don’t forget to bring your umbrella!
Average Temperatures: 15-17°C
What to Bring: A jacket and several light pieces of clothing that you can layer are good choices. In the case of temperature drops, thermals are a good idea.
- The Perfect In-between (March-May): Low rainfall and comfortable temperatures make this time of year perfect for exploration, but also for relaxing beach days (don’t forget a good book). As it can be a little chilly for a swim, May marks the transition into summer.
Average Temperatures: 20-25°C
What to bring: feel comfortable bringing shorts and flip-flops, but also pack a warm sweater and a thin jacket. Just in case!
- Hot & Sweaty (June-August): Clouds? No. Rain? Highly unlikely. Heat? Yes! A mecca for sunbathers, this is the ideal time to melt away at the beach and work on your tan. Just keep in mind that you’ll not be the only one since these months are usually the busiest in Malta. If that doesn’t bother you, stay hydrated and enjoy the Mediterranean sun!
Average temperatures: 28-32°C
What to bring: Sunscreen and sunglasses are a must!
Travel tip: be sure that your accommodation has air conditioning! And be aware of the hot sirocco winds coming in from Africa.
- The Unpredictables (September-October): Still very warm until the end of October (and perfect for a swim), these two months can be a little unpredictable due to occasional temperature drops and tropical thunderstorms. The weather forecast is your best friend here, so always check before stepping outside.
Average temperatures: 20 - 25 °C
What to bring: Short-sleeved clothing is still mandatory, but have some warmer clothes in your backpack as a backup plan.
How To Get There: Navigating Transport In Malta
In a country slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC, traversing through the streets and valleys is an easy task! Here are the best options:
- Walking - Walking is the best way to get the most out of your Mediterranean adventure! Stroll through lush valleys, narrow streets, rocky cliffs, or beautiful coastlines, but don’t forget your comfy walking shoes!
Travel tip: If your feet hurt, e-bikes can be a reasonable alternative. However, remember that there are no proper bicycle lanes, and uneven land formations means it’s not the safest travel form.
- By Ferry - If you want to hop between islands, ferries are the most convenient way. With inland traffic being very hectic, ferries can also be faster.
- By Bus - Since no other public transportation means are available, taking the bus is a good option, as it takes you nearly everywhere in Malta. If you’re not in a hurry, choose your destination, hop on, and you’re good to go.
Travel tip: Buses are not the fastest way to get from A to B, so if you have little patience, another transportation option, like a private car, might be better for you. Also, if the official websites are too clunky, Google Maps is your best friend.
- Car Rental - If you’re a real explorer, a car gives you the perfect opportunity to find hidden coastlines and secret beaches while having complete freedom and convenience on your side. Good to know: international driving licenses are valid in the country, and driving is on the left!
Travel tip: When driving in the city, be aware of demanding driving conditions and rush-hour traffic!
What To Expect: Life On The Island Of Malta
Every country has its own ways of living - that’s what makes them so interesting in the first place! Here are some rules to keep in mind when visiting:
Safety In Malta
Statistically speaking, Malta is very safe. The crime rate is low, even in Metro areas. In fact, Malta has a night walking safety index of 66.14 and a daytime index of 80.89! However, as with every tourist area, be aware of handbag snatching, pick-pocketing, and don’t carry large amounts of cash with you. If you follow these steps, you should be fine.
Now, the exciting phase of planning your trip begins! However, if you still need some further guidance, our knowledgeable, local Malta tour guides are here, ready to ensure your Maltese journey will be a memorable escapade!
P.S. Looking to travel with companions? The more, the merrier. Please share this post with your friends and get them as excited about touring Malta as you are.