Stunning, clear blue waters, incredible architecture and mouthwatering food are many of the reasons why you should book your next Holidays to Malta. If you’re still mulling over a holiday for this year, and are struggling to decide on where in the world to jet off to, mull no more: Malta is THE place to go now, and always.
The Maltese islands are a blissful combination of many of the key things holidaymakers are after – sun, sea, sand, delicious food, culture, more history than you can shake a stick at (seriously, 7,000 years worth), fun activities and, most importantly, the chance to get away from the daily grind.
1. The weather is divine, and not just in summer
Don’t deny it: one of the main reasons you go abroad is for the weather. And with 300 days of sunshine a year in Malta – a real gem in the Mediterranean Sea – and temperatures reaching an average of 31 degrees Celsius in the height of summer, you’ll be laughing all the way to your sun lounger. There is no one ideal time to travel, as the weather is superb all year, with the heady haze of the highest temperatures peaking in July and August.
A winter vacation wouldn’t go amiss, either, as the average high in January is a mild and pleasant 16 degrees, just pack a light sweater and your shades and enjoy all the other things Malta has to offer besides sun-worshipping.
2. It’s pretty much a stone’s throw away
At just over three hours away, Malta’s easy so easy to get to, there’ll be barely time to get stuck into a good book and have a snooze on the flight before you land in paradise. BA flies there direct from Gatwick, and there are direct flights from an array of airlines from many major British cities including Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Bristol and Birmingham. It’s not much further to travel than other popular summer holiday destinations, such as southern Spain and Italy, so why not try somewhere new, and leave the Costa Del Somewhere for your less adventurous pals.
You can find flights for as little as around £40 each way, which is far cheaper than a train ticket to many top destinations in the UK.
3. Short stay, long stay – you can do both for a fulfilling Holidays to Malta
Malta is an ideal destination for both short and long stays, especially with those easy flights to get you there. If city breaks are your thing, look no further than the country’s capital Valletta, which is steeped in thousands of years of history and has more than enough to keep you occupied for a weekend jaunt.
Or you can just spend 48 hours sunbathing one of the three islands’ many beaches if you need a dose of Vitamin D. But Malta, an archipelago of islands, offers more than enough for a week-long, or even 10-day stay, if that’s how much time you need in the sunshine.
4. There are three stunning islands to explore, each with its own vibe
Malta. Gozo. Comino. Take your pick. The largest of the three islands that make up the nation is Malta, the mainland, but the other two are resplendent in their own joys. You’ll get most of the action – nightlife, restaurants, architecture, and history – on Malta. Gozo is the island you’ll visit for a more relaxed time. The second-largest of the archipelago, it is beautifully rural, the pace of life pleasingly leisurely. But there are still plenty of things to see and do, such as the ancient Ġgantija temples, which are older than the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
The smallest of the three islands (at a pocket-sized 3.5 sq km), Comino, is a sanctuary for divers and those who love a good swim, and is most notable for its magnificent Blue Lagoon. The cerulean water lapping over the white sand in the small inlet is a breath-taking must-see on anybody’s bucket list. As you might expect, travel between the islands is easy, with regular ferries running at regular intervals over a 24-hour period, and for a very small cost.
5. Take a city break in the Maltese capital: Valletta!
Valletta may not be front of mind for many when it comes to European city breaks but it’s worth checking out for plenty of reasons. The capital of Malta is situated on a peninsula, and is crammed full of sights from throughout the centuries. There’s a reason it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
It’s a nicely sized city to walk around, at just 1km by 600m, and it’s so densely packed with archaic buildings and teeming with a lively atmosphere, you’ll never be bored for a moment. And there is, of course, the added extra of the almost year-round idyllic weather, something lacking in Europe’s beloved northern cities. Valletta is also the European Capital of Culture for 2018, which has brought in a wave of regeneration and new, exciting places to visit, such as museums, theatres, newly-renovated buildings of interest and restaurants crammed into 16th century boltholes.
6. Get away from the hubbub of Valletta in the other towns and cities
While Valletta is undoubtedly a worthwhile and popular place to go, do venture out to the ancient walled city of Mdina and its neighbouring picturesque village Rabat, home of the Museum of Roman Antiquities and the Domvs Romana, a Roman house of ruins that dates back to the 1st Century BC.
For a traditional Maltese experience, take a trip to the Three Cities – Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua – which are off the beaten track and feature narrow cobbled streets for mindless meandering, among many other sights.
Mostly untouched by modern life, these three joys of Malta are definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re planning an extended stay.
7. The beaches are brilliant, but what else would you expect from an island in the Med?
You rarely get an island without beautiful beaches, and Malta is rich with sandy shores that beg to be relished. You can do anything on the plethora of coastline hotspots, from windsurfing to sunbathing – whatever takes your fancy – you just have to pick the right one.
From long stretches of sand to hidden coves and lagoons, you’ll be truly spoilt for choice. Top spots include Ramla Bay on Gozo, the largest on the island, the Għajn Tuffieħa – an uncrowded but beautiful beach in the north-west of Malta, and the aptly-named Paradise Bay at the northernmost tip.
8. You’ll get your money’s worth with the stunning architecture and jam-packed history
Malta’s history dates back thousands of years (to around 5200BC), and much of its architecture still reflects this incredible passage through the ages. This long and very rich heritage is easily visible when you visit the main island in particular, which is often regarded as an open-air museum and boasts the most concentrated collection of historic sites in the world.
Top sights to take in include the 16th century Grandmasters’ Palace in Valletta (the administrative centre of Malta for over 300 years, and with a history that would make many of the most iconic sites in London pale in comparison), and the baroque masterpiece that is St. John’s Co-Cathedral. As well as the magnificent buildings from a more ‘modern’ era (if you could call the 1500s that), the islands are also scattered with ancient stone temples, many which pre-date Stonehenge and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The prehistoric Megalithic Temples of Malta are a must-see for any visitor to the island, and are certainly something lacking in many other destinations in the Med.
9. There is almost always an event or festival in Malta, so let loose with the locals!
Barely a moment goes by in Malta that there isn’t some kind of event in the calendar. Those seeking a bit of fun will be thrilled to hear there are plenty of open-air concerts, religious festivities, sporting events, exhibitions, shows and carnivals to attend, especially in the spring and summer months. Highlights include the annual Malta Fireworks Festival (April), Malta Fashion Week (May) and the Malta Jazz Festival (July), as well as the Holy Week and Easter celebrations: Malta has a strong Catholic heritage, and the locals mark the Christian holiday in style as it’s regarded as one of the most important times of the year.
There is also the festa season, running from May to September over extended weekends. The streets are lined with colourful decorations as different religious feasts are celebrated – with plenty of delicious local fare on offer at heaving tables – and many end in spectacular fireworks displays. Għanafest, a celebration of Maltese music, is another high point, a three-day festival in June that takes place in the picturesque Argotti Botanical Gardens in Floriana and also showcases fabulous traditional food.
10. It’s a foodie haven, of course
Have you ever heard of a Mediterranean nation with terrible food? If it’s fresh, comfort food you’re after, then Malta is the place to be as its grub tends to saunter towards the rustic side of the menu. An eclectic mix of different nations and styles, the influences of centuries of different civilisations that have lived on the islands (the Sicilians and the French in particular), you can sample anything from freshly-caught fish dishes and stews to a Maltese ratatouille called Kapunata and the authentic home-cooked delight that is a ‘Widow’s soup’. There is also a wealth of fresh produce like olives, honey and tomatoes, which make up the base for many dishes.
If sweets are your thing, you’ll be able to find plenty of kannoli, a Maltese take on the Italian pastry treat cannoli, a crispy tube filled with creamy ricotta. Get stuck in at the many affordable restaurants and dine al fresco across the island. Why not try the popular Salt Kitchen & Lounge in Buġibba (in the Northern region of the island), and Guzé in Valletta: its rabbit croquettes and fish dishes are to die for.
11. Take advantage of the weather and stunning landscape for some outdoorsy fun
As well as being rich with stunning buildings from throughout the ages, Malta is a natural nirvana, with plenty to offer those who like a bit of outdoor action. Go hiking on Comino or Gozo, through the lush green countryside to really get away from it all: you’ll forget about your hectic home life in an instant. You can also hire mountain bikes to take a faster scoot across the terrain, which ranges from flat green spaces to rocky valleys, cliff edges and of course, those envy-inducing sandy beaches that’ll have all of your friends at home cooing over your Instagram posts.
There’s also the popular Marsa Sports Club, with an 18-hole golf course for those who are so inclined, and water sports are also a big deal on the islands, with fun activities such as sailing, water skiing and wind surfing all available for holidaymakers craving some thrill-seeking action.
12. The islands are surrounded by clear, azure Mediterranean waters
Fancy a swim? Of course you do. Grab your snorkel and/or swimming costume and take a dip in the idyllic blue sea. Snuggled between Italy, Tunisia and Greece in the heart of the Med, the azure blue of the warm water will entice you in after a hard day’s sunbathing.
If you want to be more adventurous, diving is a hugely popular exploit, with around 50,000 people a year flocking to Malta to dive. Wade into the deep to take in the stunning underwater scenery and marvel at the wildlife.
Stand on one of the many cliff edges or beaches and just gaze out at the endless ocean before you, and you’ll not feel disappointed.
13. Malta offers fun for all the family – kids will absolutely love it
Malta and Gozo are perfect locations for a family escape, with a wide range of things to keep kids and adults happy in equal measure and a safe, friendly atmosphere throughout. If you’re a parent, delight your children while enriching their lives with the bucketloads of history available: a popular highlight for youngsters is Fort Rinella, a 19th Century British-built fort with regular reenactments and tour guides acting as soliders to keep the little ones entertained and involved.
And, of course, there are the many child-friendly beaches for building sandcastles and splashing about in the sea, and boat rides aplenty so the kids can enjoy a bit of life at sea. They’ll adore the brightly coloured luzzu, eye-catching fishing boats that are a regular occurence at the many seaside villages across the island.
14. Malta has a thriving nightlife for those who like to party hard
As well as the almost constant festivals and celebrations that take place in Malta throughout the year, there are endless opportunities for drinking and dining with an abundance of wine bars, restaurants and theatres. And the clubs could rival those of Ibiza, attracting lauded international DJs such as Paul Oakenfold, Tiesto and Erick Morillo, with most of them lining the streets of Paceville on the east of the main island. There you’ll be able to party until dawn in the plethora of nightclub venues, many of which boast free admission and charge far less per drink than similar haunts on the infamously expensive White Isle.
15. The people are among the most charming and friendly you’ll meet in the world
It’s a commonly-known fact that the Maltese are one of the kindest, most helpful and affable, the national personality as hospitable, warm and sunny as the weather. They speak English well, as it’s the second language on the island (along with Maltese), and will always be able to offer a helping hand to a lost or confused tourist, or somebody who just needs a recommendation for dinner.