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Malta Travel Guide

Updated on February 4, 2013
Natural Archway
Natural Archway

The Maltese Archipelago is located right in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and consists of three islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino. The latter is inhabited only by a few farmers, but Malta and Gozo have a 7000 years old history, as well as artifacts from the Neolithic, Copper and Bronze ages. Due to the monuments left behind by diverse cultures and nations, the Maltese islands have been described as an open-air museum. You can St Peter’s footsteps and you can see the place where St John’s knights defended the Christianity. The medieval citadels, the churches and palaces constructed in Baroque style are at your disposal.

The history is not the sole attraction for the visitors that triple the number of Malta’s inhabitants in every summer. The territory contains clear blue waters, remote gulfs, sandy beaches and traditional villages, where vibrant parties take place.

Rock Formation
Rock Formation

Malta's Tourist Attractions

  • In Valletta you can see several beautiful examples of Baroque architecture, in the Maltese style. Also visit the St John Cathedral and the palace that houses tapestries created for Louis the 14th and an extraordinary collection of armors.

  • If you have the time, also the museums in Valletta – The Belle Arte Museum which is housed in a 18th century palace, the Triumphant Virgin Church and the National Museum of Archeology.
  • In Medina admire the citadel, one of the most beautiful examples of walled medieval cities. Of special interest is the Palazzo Falzon, in Norman style. From the Bastion Square you have panoramic views of the surrounding area and St Paul’s Gulf.
  • In Rabat visit the Baroque church St Paul, St Agatha catacombs and the Roman vila.
  • Discover the BlueCave, the place where, according to the legend, the mermaids attracted the sailors with their songs. Four caves reflect the bright colors of the corals and the limestone minerals. It’s best to visit the BlueCave early in the morning, when the sea is calm.
  • Visit the archeological site near Paola – Tarxien with the Neolithic temple, Hypogeum, a three storey complex of funerary chambers, dating from 3000 years ago and Ghar Dalam (the dark cave), where remnants of birds species and animals that are extinct now have been found.
  • In Hagar Qim, located in the south side of the island, you can see a Neolithic temple from 3000 BC, built from giant rocks combined and ornamented.
  • In Marsaxlokk you will discover the temple of Juno, used by the Greeks as a shrine for the fertility goddess.
  • In Malta you can engage in scuba diving and snorkeling the entire year. The best places are the caves in the north and the places where the sea’s depth suddenly increases, like Qawra Point and Cirkewwa. Wied Iz-Zurrieq is a good place for night scuba diving. On the island of Gozo, one of the most spectacular places is Dwejra Point.
  • The best beaches on the northern coast are in ParadiseBay, GoldenBay, MelliehaBay, ArmierBay and GhajnTuffiejhaBay. Il-Qawra is known as a sea inside the continent, with a remote pool with crystal water and hollow rocks.
  • Windsurfing is a popular sport on the beaches of Mellieha Bay, St Pauls Bay si Bahar Ic-Caghaq.
  • Relax in the CominoIsland, very little populated. The main attractions are a few gulfs, like the Blue Lagoon. The MarijaCaves are excellent for diving.
  • Visit the typical fishing communities like Marsaxlokk, Birzebbugia and Marsacala, which stretch along the gulfs in the southern end of Malta.

Maltese Cuisine

The traditional Maltese food has a rural flavor and mostly depends on the season. There are some basic ingredients – a lot of dishes contain olive oil and vegetables like artichoke, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower and potatoes. The thick vegetable soups, called minestra, can be found in all the restaurant menus.

The Maltese make a kind of cheese called Gbejniet, from sheep or goat milk. It is served per se, in round chops, or processed, in soups or other dishes. Many Maltese dishes contain fish or other marine animals.

The national specialties include lampuki (fish pie), bragoli (olives with beef), fenek (rabbit meat baked in wine). Helwa tat-Tork is a mixture of mashed or raw almonds, served as a dessert.

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon

Malta's History

The strategic importance of Malta was recognized by Phoenicians, which were the first inhabitants of the country, followed by Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans. In the year 60 the disciple Paul’s ship crashed here. Since the Roman Empire’s division in 395, Malta was delivered to the east, dominated by the Constantinople. Between 870 and 1090 Malta came under Arab rule. In 1091 the Norman aristocrat Roger I came to Malta with a small army and banished the Arabs. The Maltese Knights who obtained the three islands (Malta, Gozo and Comino) from Carol V in 1530, reached their fame’s peak when they resisted an attack from the Turkish troops in 1565. Napoleon occupied Malta in 1798, but the French troops were defeated by the British ones the next year, the British rule being confirmed by the Paris Treaty in 1814.

Malta was strongly attacked by the German and Italian airplanes in the Second World War, but it wasn’t invaded by the Axis forces. In September 1964 it became an independent nation, and in December 1974 it became a republic, still remaining a part of the British territories. In 1979, when the alliance with the United Kingdom was settled, Malta tried to ensure its neutrality through agreements with other countries.

What You Should Know

Malta is a Catholic country and the tourist parties are tolerated to some extent, but they are not well regarded, especially outside the cities of St Julian and Paceville. Punctuality is not one the strong attributes of the Maltese. The local hour is GMT+1.

The climate is Mediterranean, generally dry and hot. The winter days can be wet and windy or dry and sunny, and the summer are almost always dry and hot.

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