Malta Travel Guide for 2023

Written by James, Last updated: September 24, 2023

A Travel Guide to Malta

Malta is an archipelago situated within the central Mediterranean, between the islands of Sicily and North Africa. 

Famous for its history, culture, and beautiful landscapes, Malta is one of the most unique and charming countries to visit in the Mediterranean. 

It’s a trendy destination that regularly features amongst the world’s best travel hotspots, attracting millions of tourists yearly due to its stunning beaches, bustling cities and enchanting culture.

A Short History of Malta

Once a British colony, then an independent republic, Malta is filled with stories of conquest and colonization. 

It was deemed the epicentre of the Knights Hospitallers of the order of St John and their rule, which united the island from 1530-1798. 

During World War II, the Axis Powers bombed the island for two consecutive years, suffering heavy damage to its historic sites. The resilient spirit of the Maltese, however, meant that the country continued to help refugees. 

As of 1964, Malta declared its independence. Today, the charming country is a popular tourist destination and part of the European Union.

Where To Go

Valletta: Nestled onto the Grand Harbour, Valletta is the current capital of Malta and is steeped in fascinating historical and cultural attractions. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city streets are lined with Baroque architecture and rich history.

Gozo: Take a boat trip to the island of Gozo to experience a genuinely rural feel, with quaint fishing villages and wide-open spaces. Here you’ll find some of Malta’s most stunning nature: deep blue sea and tranquil countryside.

Mdina: Mdina is Malta’s old capital, known as the ‘silent city’, with its quiet cobbled streets. Wander its tangled alleyways, the fascinating churches, the ancient palaces and the museum in Mdina Dungeons.

Blue Lagoon: Situated on the far western side of Comino, the bay of Blue Lagoon is a must-visit. The Blue Lagoon is one of Malta’s most beautiful natural spots, with perfectly clear waters and breathtaking beaches.

Popeye Village: Next to Anchor Bay lies Popeye Village, a fun-filled family destination featuring colourful wooden cottages, complete with a herb garden, theatre, games, playground and seasonal activities. It was built as the movie set for the Robin Williams film, ‘Popeye’, in 1980.

What To Do

Visit the temples at Ġgantija: Situated in Gozo, the Ġgantija temples are pre-historic ruins, offering a glimpse into the past and estimated to be between 5500 and 3600 BC. Explore the ruins, pools, carvings, and two prominent temples.

Walk the Coastal Paths: Walkers are in for a treat in Gozo. The island offers several renowned coastal hiking paths. Wind your way around the longest of Gozo’s pathways, with breathtaking views and many historical sites.

Explore the Fortifications of Valletta: Valletta is a modern city surrounded by a circle of ancient fortifications. Explore their remains throughout the city, with history, curved walls, underground passages, chapels, battlements, and a stunning panoramic view of the harbour.

Shop in Mellieħa: Mellieħa is the leading destination for shopping, featuring a shopping street and a bazaar. Shop for souvenirs such as jewellery, Maltese lace, ceramics and glass.

Cruise the Grand Harbour: Experience the Grand Harbour of Valletta from a different perspective. Numerous companies offer one-hour cruises to enjoy the city from the sparkling sea, taking in the mighty fortress, hidden creeks and harbours.

Local Foods To Try

Pastizzi: A Maltese favourite, pastizzi are savoury pastries, typically filled with a ricotta or curried-pea mixture. Bite into these delicious snacks as a quick bite or, with a side of horseradish, as a snack or light meal.

Rabbit Stew: Signature Maltese fare rabbit stew is particularly popular in the countryside of Malta. The main ingredients of onions and tomatoes are cooked with white wine, garlic and marjoram.

Kapunata: Kapunata is a traditional stew with aubergines, peppers, tomatoes and onions. Like many Maltese dishes, it’s a hearty combination of ingredients, traditionally seasoned with olive oil, garlic, parsley, oregano and capers.

Ġbejniet: Ġbejniet is Malta’s famous cheeselet – the perfect cool snack to have in hand when wandering through the villages. Try plain or flavoured with pepper, mint and more in thick, creamy cheese.

Bragioli: Bragioli is a traditional Maltese beef dish marinated with wine, parsley and onions and filled with bacon and eggs. Slow-cooked until tender, the resulting meal is melt-in-the-mouth and full of flavour.

Souvenirs To Buy

Maltese Lace: Maltese lace is an exquisite and delicate fabric handcrafted using crochet. The material is considered the most beautiful lace in Europe, perfect for tablecloths, handkerchiefs, and doilies.

Ceramics: If you’re looking for a hand-painted piece of Malta, why not remove a traditional Maltese ceramic item. These pieces, including hand-painted vases and tile art, are cheerful and colourful and will surely add life to your home.

Glass Artwork: Jewellery and glass pieces make great souvenir gifts. Many glass artists have studios in Malta where you can watch and even try your hand at some of the techniques.

Jewellery: Maltese jewellery is steeped in ancient traditions, with designs inspired by architectural features and religious symbols. Take home a charming piece of traditional Maltese jewellery.

Is Malta Expensive?

Malta is considered an affordable destination, particularly compared to other European countries. Though some activities might cost some money, food and accommodation, in particular, are generally low-priced. However, be mindful that during peak season, the accommodation price may increase.

Where To Stay

Beach Resorts: Beach resorts are plentiful in Malta, offering sea views and sun-kissed holiday villas. Settle into a stay by the beach, making the most of the summer months.

Boutique Hotels: Boutique hotels spread across the islands, from small traditional guesthouses to large historic villas. Find yourself tucked away in a secret corner, surrounded by grandeur and style.

City Hotels: Located in Malta’s most desirable cities, city hotels are the perfect base for exploring the islands. Discover a base right in the heart of Valletta or along the waterfront of St. Julian’s.

Boathouse Hotels: Spend the night in true Mediterranean style in Malta’s unique Boathouse Hotels. Each unique floating accommodation promises luxury and comfort, with sea views and a romantic feel.

AirBnB: Though Malta’s resorts are great, Malta’s AirBnBs are the perfect way to discover the city’s hidden gems, from rustic rural cottages to modern city pads. Search for your ideal holiday rental in cities, towns and villages all over the islands.

Helpful Recommendations

Daylight Saving: Malta is on Central European Summer Time, so please remember to adjust your clocks accordingly!

Public Transport: Malta’s public transport network is a great way to get around, but many travellers recommend renting a car when exploring the island.

Respect Local Culture: Please respect Malta’s unique culture and customs. Wear appropriate clothing in churches, watch the local language (although most speak English) and take note of the island’s traditions before visiting.

Safety Tips: When visiting Malta, please take extra care of your belongings. The best practice is to leave money and passports in a safety deposit box at the hotel or in a safe. When out and about, try to blend in and use caution.

Allergy-Friendly: Dining out in Malta can be tricky if you have allergies. However, many establishments are allergy-friendly and will offer alternative dishes on request. Ask for assistance when ordering, and don’t be afraid to use a translation guide.

Malta Weather

Malta, is a beautiful destination with warm temperatures throughout the year. The sunniest months are June, July, and August, with the warmest sea temperatures perfect for swimming. Be mindful of the rainiest months, October to December.

JAN

15.6°C / 60°F

7 days rain

FEB

15.7°C / 60°F

6 days rain

MAR

17.2°C / 63°F

5 days rain

APR

19.6°C / 67°F

4 days rain

MAY

23.1°C / 74°F

2 days rain

JUN

28.1°C / 83°F

1 days rain

JUL

31.1°C / 88°F

0 days rain

AUG

31.6°C / 89°F

1 days rain

SEP

28.6°C / 83°F

3 days rain

OCT

24.6°C / 76°F

5 days rain

NOV

20.8°C / 69°F

6 days rain

DEC

17.1°C / 63°F

4 days rain

Best time to visit Malta

The best time to visit Malta is during the late spring and early autumn months, specifically May and September. During these months, the weather is pleasantly warm, and the sea temperatures are ideal for swimming. Plus, you'll avoid the peak summer crowds, making your trip more relaxed and enjoyable.

Valletta
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Skopelos
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Ionian Islands
Kefalonia
Cyclades Islands
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