Malta offers visitors a unique experience packed with the best of all things Mediterranean. Sparkling blue seas, excellent food and a buzzing night life have made it one of Europe’s most popular destinations. The variety of daytime activities available in Malta compares favourably with many destinations around the world, despite the small size of the island. Most of the picture-postcard bays are found in the northern part. With warm temperatures and clear waters around the coast you will certainly enjoy a dip in the Mediterranean – to swim or to explore the thriving marine life. You can also test your endurance by rock climbing high above the deep blue sea on the majestic Dingli Cliffs; or wind down with a leisurely round of golf and afternoon tea on the lawns of the Royal Malta Golf Club. Other activities include horse riding, jeep safaris and even sky diving. From autumn to spring Malta turns itself into a green island. A walk through the countryside is perfect for recharging your energy levels. Another option is to head to Gozo, Malta’s smaller sister island, which is only 20 minutes away by ferry. Gozo is an island idyll of hills, valleys and cliffs, where time moves slower and life can be savoured, minute by minute, second by second.
In Malta, you are never far from the sea, and the Maltese make the most of every swimming spot. Not all beaches are sandy, with most of the coastline being rocky and rustic, but the bright-blue-hued sea is spectacular. Malta is Europe’s best diving destination, but even snorkelling offers you a remarkable window into another world. Golden Bay, Mellieha Bay, St Peter’s Pool and the Blue Lagoon in the small island Comino are just some of the popular swimming spots.
Arts & Entertainment
Although Malta is a small country, it has a great variety of world-class attractions. Its stunning historical sites regularly provide the backdrop for events such as concerts, plays or art exhibitions, many of which are free, or remarkably cheap. Every year promises a colourful blend of local and international events, entertainment and exhibitions – from the Carnival in February, to celebrating the arrival of spring in May, with a traditional music and song festival; and a packed social calendar from summer to October, featuring the Malta Jazz Festival, the Isle of MTV music event, Malta Arts Festival and the magic of Valletta’s Notte Bianca.
Malta is dotted with cocktail lounges, rooftop bars and nightclubs, with St. Julian’s, Sliema and Bugibba being the entertainment hubs. Malta’s capital city, Valletta, home to a number of trendy bars, is a stylish alternative to St. Julian’s and attracts a crowd which is decidedly more upmarket than in the prime entertainment hubs. Gianpula, near Rabat, is Malta’s largest open-air nightclub. There are also a number of big music events hosted in Malta, including Annie Mac’s acclaimed ‘Lost and Found’ in spring and June’s Isle of MTV, both of which have become fixed dates in the European festival calendar. July 2017 also saw the first edition of ‘Unite with Tomorrowland Malta’, an offshoot of the world-famous electronic music festival that takes place in Belgium.
While the warm climate and endless seas surrounding Malta make hanging out at the beach an obvious choice, there’s so much more to do for families with children. All localities have at least one playground, while there are also a number of outdoor and indoor fun parks with trampolines and climbing ladders. But that’s not all: a petting farm, the Playmobil fun park, Popeye Village, the Splash and Fun Water Park, the Malta National Aquarium, as well as the new interactive science sector ‘Esplora’ will also keep your kids entertained. Some of the best green areas and parks include San Anton Gardens in Attard, as well as the Upper Barrakka Garden and the Hastings Garden in Valletta. The forested Buskett Gardens near Dingli are also a great place to explore.
Malta has a wide array of shops, catering for all tastes and budgets. Most international chains and brands have a presence in the country, as well as a number of exclusive boutiques – not forgetting the traditional flea markets. The main shopping districts are Sliema and Valletta, and shops usually open from 10am to 7pm, although some close for lunch between 1pm and 4pm. Most are closed on Sundays, except for those located in busy tourist zones.
Water sports are popular in Malta. The conditions for scuba diving and snorkelling are excellent, with great views of reefs, caves and fish shoals. The sea temperature never drops below 13 degrees Celsius, even in winter. The best dive sites can be found around the northern coast of Malta and Gozo. Besides diving, the Maltese Islands have other forms of sports to offer such as horse riding, hiking, climbing or sailing. Malta has one golf course, located at the Royal Malta Golf Club. Gyms can be found all over the island, as well as football and water polo clubs. There are also a number of highly popular sports events, including national water polo competitions, horse racing, paintball, clay pigeon shooting and football. Once a year the Rolex Middle Sea Race, a highly rated offshore classic, starts and ends in Malta, attracting some 80 participating yachts.
Dining out in Malta can be a wonderful experience: there are many restaurants which stay open late to enable you to enjoy a pleasant Mediterranean evening: from smart city restaurants in Baroque palaces to family-run trattoria-style establishments or seafront fish restaurants, the choice is wide. Maltese food is served in most restaurants offering Mediterranean cuisine. Spinola Bay is literally the kitchen of the iGaming industry, located at the heart of St. Julian’s and offering a wide variety of traditional Maltese cuisines as well as Italian pizza, British fast-food, Japanese sushi; Chinese, Indian and Middle-Eastern cuisine; and even Jewish kosher.