Five Things First Time Travellers To Malta Should Know
- Fireworks happen all the time. Don't worry if you hear loud detonations during the day or the evening. The Maltese love setting them off for any occasion and tests often take place during the day.
- Tipping is customary in Malta. The rule of thumb is to tip anywhere between 5% to 10% of your total bill. But some restaurants do add a service charge, so be sure to check if a tip has already been included.
- The local currency is the Euro. It's cheaper to withdraw straight from the ATM than exchange your money at the airport. Also, most shops and restaurants accept credit cards like Visa, MasterCard and American Express as payment.
- Get the Malta Pass. If you're planning on doing a lot of sightseeing, this card will save you a ton of money. For EUR 25 you can get access to over 40 attractions and a free ride on the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus.
- The tap water is drinkable, but you may want to give it a miss. This is because it's desalinated seawater and doesn't taste great. Stick to bottled water if it's not palatable for you.
Best Time To Visit Malta
Blessed with 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, there's never really a bad time to visit Malta. In fact, it's considered to have the best climate in the world. Instead of the weather, what you want to do will be the deciding factor when you travel to Malta.
If you're looking to save money, head to Malta during its low season. From November to December the temperatures are at their coldest, and the crowds are minimal. The slump in tourism means you'll be able to find great deals on flights and accommodation; you just won't be able to enjoy a dip in the Mediterranean Sea.
Malta has two shoulder seasons. From April to June and September to October, the weather will still be warm, and hotel rates are slightly cheaper. The only downside is the occasional rain, but you'll also be in time for Holy Week which more than makes up for the occasional downpour.
From June to August, hotels in Malta are booked solid. With travellers from Europe taking their summer holiday on the islands, you'll need to book your trip well in advance. But the thick crowds are a small price to pay to enjoy the idyllic weather. Temperatures reach 35°C, and there are a plethora of feast days and music festivals to keep you entertained.
Valletta holds the title of the first ever planned city in Europe. Under the order of St. John of Jerusalem, the city was sketched out in 1565. It took fifteen years to build, one of the quickest cities ever constructed.
Today, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and full of baroque architecture from the 16th century. If you can, plan your visit around the Maltese Carnival. It lasts for three days and is one of Malta's longest standing traditions.
Mdina is known as the Silent City and is a chance to experience Malta's medieval side. Located on top of a hill, cars aren't allowed into its city centre, and while it is small, there's no shortage of things to do.
Visit the Carmelite Church, the Magisterial Palace, and St. Paul's Cathedral, home to a 12th-century icon of Madonna. For history buffs, a visit to the Natural History Museum is a must. Inside you'll find a robust collection of geological exhibits as well as fossil and animal displays.
The town of Mellieha is a destination for beach bums. It boasts the longest stretch of sandy shores on the Maltese Islands. The one and a half kilometre beach is made up of soft white sand and is fringed by crystal clear blue water.
But that's not all this town has to offer. One of its most famous attractions is The Parish Church of Our Lady of Victory. It's a 19th-century baroque church that's home to the icon of "Our Lady of Victories".
Top Attractions in Malta
The Island of Gozo
The island of Gozo is the second largest in the archipelago and one of Malta's most popular destinations.
Although not the most developed, that doesn't stop it from attracting thousands of visitors each year. If you want to experience the island at its best, plan your visit for summer. The usually sleepy destination comes alive with its array of festivals and influx of sun worshippers.
The island's highlights include a fortified medieval city, the famous Azure Window and one of the region's most important archaeological sites - the Ggantija Temples. It's also home to beautiful cliff walks, excellent snorkelling sites and exhilarating rock climbing routes.
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
Discovered in 1902, Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground Neolithic cult site. It dates back to 4000 BC and is where a prehistoric man would perform burial rituals and consulted oracles.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's one of Malta's most visited historical attractions. To help preserve the site, only ten visitors are allowed each hour, so you'll need to book your tickets well in advance for your date and time of choice.
If you don't have the time to visit, you can see some of the relics at the National Museum of Archeology in Valletta. The collection includes clay sculptures, stone figures of birds and a rare prehistoric object of a woman lying on a couch.
No visit to Malta would be complete without a stop at the Blue Lagoon. Located on Comino Island, it's one of the region's most amazing natural sites, framed by mesmerising turquoise waters.
During high season, this small beach fills up by 10:30 a.m. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit after 4:00 p.m. but your stay will be short as the last ferry leaves at 6:00 p.m.
Besides the beach, there's a range of water-based activities to choose from. The island has excellent dive sites, and the conditions are perfect for an afternoon of windsurfing.
Once the film set for the Robin Williams movie, Popeye, the village has transformed itself into one of Malta's most visited attractions.
Made up of 20 wooden houses, visitors can take a tour of the village. You'll go past Popeye's cabin, visit the local bakery, firehouse and other buildings.
Once you've explored the film set to your heart's content, you can relax on the nearby beach. It's a great destination for kids with a Santa's toy town, and water trampolines are just some of the things to keep them entertained.
The film set also has free wine tastings, silversmith demonstrations and sunbathing decks.
Prehistoric Tarxien Temples
The Tarxien Temples are the best-preserved and largest prehistoric site in Malta. Discovered in 1914, the site sprawls across 5,400 square metres and consists of four megalithic structures.
Built between 3,600 BC and 2,500 BC this UNESCO Heritage Site is a fascinating look into Malta's mysterious prehistoric culture. If you want to learn more about the site's history, it's highly recommended to hire a guide.
The Tarxien Temples are also within walking distance of Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, making it easy to visit both of these sites in one day trip.
Major International Airports in Malta
- Malta International Airport