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Malta

Malta

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

2.5

Total Stars:

7.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

Great place for Mid-Venturers, Centric-Venturers and Centric Authentics

Did You Know … ?

  • Malta claims the world’s oldest freestanding temple, Ggantija on Gozo (earliest construction: 3600 B.C.).
  • Tradition says St. Paul was shipwrecked on Malta in about 60 A.D.
  • The Malta archipelago, at 122 square miles, is not quite twice the size of Washington, D.C.
  • Maltese is the only Semitic tongue among the European Union’s official languages.
  • The Maltese Cross, the firefighters’ symbol, recalls the bravery of the Knights of Malta when attacked by firebombs in battle.

An open-air museum

Few places offer such a stunning and easy way to view history as Malta and its sister islands of Gozo and Comino. Covering a swath of 7,000 years, history on the Malta archipelago shows the influence of multiple cultures and conquerors with 5,600-year-old stone temples, Renaissance cathedrals and baroque palaces, all on islands of 96 square miles (Malta) and 26 square miles (Gozo). On Malta, most attractions can be reached by walking or via taxis and a sometimes chaotic but still useful bus system.

Located in the middle of the Mediterranean and just 58 miles from Sicily, Malta enjoys year-round generally sunny weather, although summers can be hot and uncomfortable.

Perhaps the most surprising of attractions are those from prehistory. Seven megalithic temples on Malta and Gozo dating from the Bronze Age, 3600 B.C. at the earliest, are the oldest standing structures in Europe and probably the world. Older than the Egyptian pyramids, they are on the World Heritage Sites list.

Malta’s most famous history began in 1530 when Charles I of Spain gave the islands to the Sovereign Military and Hospitalier Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem after the Ottoman Empire drove these men from Rhodes. They later became known as the Knights of Malta.

Their original purpose was to minister to the sick during the Crusades but be ready to fight when necessary. Although outnumbered nearly four to one, they withstood a siege by the Ottoman Turks in 1565. Their influence can be seen throughout the island.

All this rich history is evident wherever the visitor walks. But Malta offers more. Luxury hotels with spas serve international guests.  The food is rich and diverse with a heavy influence from Sicily. And there’s even a nightlife.

Water sports and sandy beaches provide a variety of activity choices. For a slower pace, Gozo and Comino offer their more rural atmosphere and open spaces.

English is the second official language, making it easy for North Americans to get around.  The Maltese are friendly, but they describe themselves as like Maltese bread — crusty on the outside but soft inside.

Things to do for Venturers

  • More than 1,200 official rock climbing routes are available, offering traditional climbing, sport climbing and bouldering.
  • Multiple water sports abound for the most active on Malta and its sister islands.  Deep diving gear can be rented.
  • For intellectually active minds, read about the islands’ history in depth before you visit and then set out on your own to explore and understand how each invading country has influenced and changed what Malta is today.
  • If you have the requisite skills, reserve microlight aircraft at the Malta International Airport. It is a growing sport in Malta
  • Rent a sailboat and set out on your own.  Malta has an impressive array of unique water caves and inlets.
  • Gozo also offers considerable diversity for the active person, from climbing sheer cliffs that drop off into the ocean to a full range of water sports.  It has some of the Mediterranean’s best dive sites. (The megalithic Ggantija is on Gozo, too.)

Things to do for Centrics

  • Walk the capital city of Valletta when the sun is rising. The warm colors on the sandstone buildings, especially when seen looking across the harbor, will give you stunning pictures.
  • Visit the Hypogeum, an underground burial temple designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an enormous and intricately carved subterranean structure on three levels.
  • Rent a 400-year-old farmhouse or villa for a week or more on Gozo.  Most are located in or near villages allowing contact with locals and easy access to fresh produce and daily grocery needs.
  • Also, enjoy long hikes on the sister islands of Gozo and Comino which are flatter than Malta.  Because of their small size, you’d have trouble getting lost.
  • Rent a car or motorbike and drive around Malta, but remember Maltese follow the British practice of driving on the left.
  • Visit the former capital and ancient city of Mdina, known as the silent city.  More impressive, in some ways, than Valletta because it sits on the high point of the island with expansive views, it is an ancient fortress.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Enjoy Malta’s wellness centers and spas at luxury hotels and club resorts.
  • For sun and surf, visit the sandy beaches in the south of Malta, including Armier Bay, Bahar Ic-Caghaq, Fromm Ir-Rih Bay, Mellieha (largest) and Paradise Bay (most attractive).  And sample more beaches on its sister islands.
  • During soccer (football) season, attend a match at the Ta’ Qali Stadium. Soccer is a national sport and the Maltese have beaten major teams like the Belgians, Hungarians and the Greeks in the World Cup.
  • Buy an eight-pointed Maltese Cross. It symbolized the eight commitments of the Knights of Malta: Have faith; repent of sins; give proof of humility; love justice; be merciful; be sincere; be whole-hearted, and endure persecution.
  • Sample some of Valletta’s fine restaurants, such as Christopher’s, La Dolce Vita, the Lantern and the Fontanella Tea Garden.
  • Tour Malta’s catacombs, ancient burial places that include bodies of Christians dating to the time of St. Paul.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Malta Tourism Authority at www.visitmalta.com