Malta is a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean. I’ve been there a couple of times and ever since my first visit – almost 15 years ago! – I’ve been completely head over heels with this unique place. And here’s why you’ll love this hidden gem too:
#1. Malta is small and sweet
Small is beautiful. With only 316 km2 (122 sq mi) Malta is one of the smallest countries in the world. Its capital Valletta is with 0,8 km2 also the smallest capital in the EU.
Malta is an archipelago in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea
Malta is located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, with Sicily as its closest neighbor at less than 100 kilometers. Malta is actually a archipelago, and only the three largest islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino – are inhabited.
With the sun present all year round and the pleasant temperatures, Malta is a great place to escape the cold and rain during our dark winter months.
#2. Malta is glamorous, it’s little-Hollywood
Blockbusters like Gladiator, Popeye, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Da Vinci Code, Troy and many more were all filmed on Malta. The dramatic coastline, the beautiful countryside and unique architecture in the cities all make great film-decors. Lots of A-list directors are completely in love with Malta. You want names? Okay: Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Guy Richie and Tom Hanks. You need actors? Think: Russell Crowe, Orlando Bloom, Madonna, Sharon Stone, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Sean Connery.
It’s a great place to get starstruck
If you ‘re a bit of a ‘star hunter’ you’re in for a treat: Malta is only 25 km long and 13 wide, so it would be hard not to stumble upon a celeb. As for me, I almost choked on my seafood dish when I found out that Tom Hanks had chosen the same restaurant to have lunch in. Funny thing: only the tourist go crazy when they spot a movie star. The Maltese are way too cool and elegant to go starstruck.
We finally know where Popeye lives
For movie-lovers with kids there’s Popeye Village – also known as Sweethaven Village – in Anchor Bay to tackle. This charming amusement park was built at the end of 1979 and it used to be the setting for the movie Popeye, starring Robin Williams.
#3. Malta has some pretty special attractions
Although Malta is only a pinhead large, you do have to take your time to discover all the highlights. So, what not to miss? Here’s just a small list.
The oldest temples you’ll ever visit
The history of the island goes back more than 7,000 years and quite a few places are listed by Unesco as a world heritage site. One of the oldest treasure on this list is the impressive megalithic temple of Hagar Qim. It’s mysterious located between land and sea and has more years on the counter than the pyramids of Egypt (Hagar Qim was built ca. 3200-2300 B.C.!)
It’s always quiet in the Mdina
Mdina is the ‘silent’ city in the heart of Malta. The old capital of Malta is filled with picturesque streets, churches, palaces and monasteries. It is said that the Apostle St. Paul used to live here after being shipwrecked on the Islands.
Great for taking pictures: charming (fishing)villages
Marsa Xlokk is a pleasant fishing village where you find yourself face to face with the ‘eye of Horus ‘, painted on the many fishing-boats.
You’ll never get bored in Valletta
Valletta is great for endless strolling sessions in the little streets, big time shopping, cultural excursions – the churches and museums are all worth a visit – and of course, enjoying a good meal in one of the many restaurants. It’s no surprise that Valletta has been named the European cultural capital in 2018.
Watersports are everywhere
Malta is a small island surrounded by a big sea and it’s really easy to enjoy yourself with some spectacular diving, snorkeling, surfing or sailing. We rented a motorboat, headed to the Blue Lagoon and pulled out a bottle of Prosecco while enjoying this picture perfect piece of paradise between the island Comino and Gozo.
The surroundings are stunning
The Maltese Islands can boast with plenty of natural attractions, making them a great destination for hikers and nature lovers. Don’t miss the caves and grottos with interesting rock formations, the Blue Grotto (a sea-cave with blue appearance) or the Azure Window, the Inland Sea and Fungus Rock on Gozo.
#4. The Maltese really know how to throw a party
There are around 365 churches on the Maltese Islands, one for every day of the year. Very convenient to ask for salvation for your decadent adventures from the night before. There’s a very vibrant nightlife on Malta and all the clubs, bars and pubs are waiting for you. Apart from the smaller parties there are many big events with international renowned dj’s and artists (Sting, Elton John, Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, David Guetta…).
Or maybe you’re looking for something more authentic?
Take part in one of the many traditional Maltese festa. Nearly every weekend during the months May till the end of September there’s at least one village or town celebrating its patron saint. Prepare yourself for lots of new friendships, drinks, music and fireworks.
#5. Malta is both busy and relaxing
The archipelago has the best of both worlds. Malta is like a busy city with plenty of things to do and discover. The island is bursting with energy. If you feel the need to wind down and relax, then Gozo is your place to be. This smaller sister-island is has all the peace and quiet you’re looking for.