Among the 10 world’s smallest countries, the Republic of Malta sits in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Smacked between Sicily and the North African Coast, this archipelago has been inhabited since 5900BC. Famous for its recreational activities and historical monuments, it’s a popular tourist spot for fun and relaxation.
Besides outdoor activities like scuba-diving and hiking, tourists like to see Malta’s architecture and fascinating heritage. Due to the rise and fall of strong empires, it has an awesome mix of cultures. Some of these empires are well-known such as the Carthaginians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, French, and British. The Malta Independence Act passed in 1964. It had been awarded the George Cross for its bravery against an Axis siege during World War II.
Capital of Malta, this city has one of the best scenic views by the Mediterranian Sea. Known for many outdoor activities, most tourists get around the city by walking or by boat. Valletta is known for its boat tours and cruises which is never a disappointment to all who have been there. Filled with old and new buildings for tourists to admire, it gives out a unique feel of its ancient history and streets. On sunny days many take in one of the best scenic views while strolling by the waterfront from St Elmo to Lasscaries. This historical city was given by King Charles V of Spain in 1530 to the Knights of St. John; European noblemen who made it “worthy of their aristocratic stature”. Hence, many tourists travel to Valletta to not only have outdoor fun but to view its grand architecture.
Across from Valletta Harbor, the scenic view of what is known as the three cities are a sight to see. By ferry or boat, a trip across Valletta’s waterfront lands at the famous the 3 cities of Malta. Outdoor activities include snorkeling, laying on the beach, snacking at cafes or restaurants and much more. One favored activity is Salana Sailing. This is where people learn to sail on a comfortable and well-maintained boat. Also, if it’s your first time, don’t be afraid of sinking the boat. There are friendly instructors to guide you around the waters of Valletta Harbor.
Scuba Dive In The Maltese Islands
Scuba diving is something everyone should do while in Malta. Its islands have multiple diving spots for both beginners and experts. The calm and clear Mediterranean Sea makes visibility excellent underwater. This then makes Malta great for exploring beauty under the sea. Also, the clarity in the sea makes an encounter with dangerous fish extremely low. Hence Malta’s waters are ideal for first-time divers. However, for experienced divers, there are plenty of challenging dives to choose from. Diving experiences have never been regretted because the Maltese islands are filled with an abundance of reefs, caves, and wrecks for exploration.
Ranging from shallow 12 meters to 50 meters, the depths of the dives vary. Also, there is an opportunity to explore Malta’s history where divers can admire the beauty of the reefs and wrecks of war. Not only does Malta’s land have historic buildings that still stand over 550 years; its history is also preserved underwater.
One shipwreck that can be found 191 feet under is known as the Um El Faround Wreck; an oil tanker that caught fire in 1995. However, what makes it special is it’s 377 feet long and 10,000 pounds. But, a more popular place among scuba divers is Ċirkewwa in the north coast of Malta. It has a reef filled with marine life and two historic wrecks to explore. Ċirkewwa’s two famous wrecks include:
The Rozzi: An East German minesweeper sold to the Maltese Maritime Squadron in 1997. It became a patrol boat to fight smuggling before it sunk at Cirkewwa in 1992.
HMS Maori: A tribal-class destroyer of WWII sunk by the Germans in 1942. Though degraded significantly due to both age and location, it is still an impressive wreck.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
Offering a panoramic view of the Grand Harbor, the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Malta is not to be missed. Located on the upper level of the Bastion of St Peter and Paul. It’s equipped for all types of recreational activities. As visitors sit back and relax, they can take in the scenery of Valletta’s harbor. This wonderful scene is completed with the backdrop of Malta’s famous three cities. Upper Gardens was a place for recreation by the Knights of Saint John in the 16th century. The garden holds a collection of statues and busts that is significant to Malta’s history. In the garden, there are also monuments dedicated to prominent figures including Sir Winston Churchill and Sir Thomas Maitland.
Below the main terrace gardens stand the Saluting Battery where cannons used to fire salutes to visiting naval vessels. Restored to its formal glory, the battery is fired every day at 12 pm and 4 pm in a ceremony. An impressive snapshot for memories, this ceremony is definitely worth waiting for.
Also, though the Upper Barrakka Gardens is the main attraction, the Lower Gardens below is also a sight to see. Here, there’s a vast number of flowering plants and trees surrounding commemorative plaques. These plaques mark Malta’s historic events. One main attraction is the neoclassical monument constructed in 1810. This monument is in the form of a Roman temple to commemorate Sir Alexander Ball; a Maltese insurgent against the French in the 1798 uprising.
A well-known world heritage site is one of the most important archaeological sites in Malta. It is also the world’s second-oldest manmade religious structure. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest megalithic temples of the Neolithic temples in Malta. It is believed to be the elements of a ceremonial site; a fertility rite in Malta’s history. Older than the pyramids of Egypt, these well-preserved structures offer tourists a glimpse into Malta’s prehistoric building techniques.
Built on top of a hill, the temple’s location is spectacular, offering a view of the Mediterranian Sea. Also, many visit this world heritage site on Malta because it represents a phenomenal cultural, artistic and technological development. No one should miss a chance to observe the developments that occurred in the period of human life. Amongst the architecture of the temples are some of the most unique prehistoric artifacts found in Malta’s island of Gozo. These open-air temples in Malta are open all year round.
Horseback Ride At Golden Bay
Horseback riding at Golden Bay in Malta is a popular tourist attraction. A leisure activity suitable for all, there are several beautiful routes in Malta to explore. It is a fun and unique way to experience Malta’s countryside. Horseback riding in Malta is easily accessible. People often enjoy the clear blue sky while relaxing and exercising. Also, most tourists look forward to the opportunity to watch Malta’s breathtaking sunset. By taking a horse ride, they can view the sunset on the horizon from their saddle.
First-time riders need not worry as Malta has friendly riding instructors doubling as tour guides. However, horseriding is not only just for adults. It is also for families with young children. Smaller ponies for kids will be accompanied by an experienced instructor. The instructor will be with them for the entire duration of the horseback ride. Cheap and value for money, horseback riding at Golden Bay Malta is highly recommended.
Ghar Dalam Cave And Museum
For history lovers who love the outdoors, Malta has a cave turned museum. Ghar Dalam Cave in Malta also known as “Cave of Darkness” will brighten anyone’s day. Seen as one of Malta’s most important monuments, tourists are also able to view Malta’s history. This cave dates back to before the Ice Age. Walking through the cave, nature at it’s best in Malta can be seen through the limestone, stalagmite, and stalactite structures. Hollowed out by climate change over millions of years, Malta’s Ghar Dalam cave stretches more than 490 feet underground. This cave has been an important site in Malta for paleontology, archeology, and ecology. Also, the cave holds the animal remains and the beautiful artifacts of Malta’s first human settlement.
Filled with geological features for everyone to admire, half the cave was transformed into a museum. It was created during the Victorian era by Arturo Issel, an Italian archeologist. His purpose to explore the cave was for its Neolithic remains. Furthermore, most animal remains found in the cave are elephants, hippopotamus, bears, wolves, and foxes. The museum gives information the life on earth in malta; from the Ice Age on Malta, formations of the cave, as well as the dwarfing and giantism in animals.
Malta’s amazing Ghar Dalam Cave and Museum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Its tickets are fairly cheap. They range from the adult price of $5.60 to free entrance for infants.
Casa Rocca Piccola
Take a tour of the famous Casa Rocca Piccola. A 16th-century palace in Malta was the home of the noble Maltese family de Piro. Though the Maquis and Marchioness still live there, they have opened it as a museum to the public. In 1580, it was known as ‘La Cossa Giardino’ meaning house with a garden. This was special because, during the 16th century, homes of Malta were not allowed to have gardens. A living museum, it is open to all interested in viewing the interior of a Maltese home. Casa Rocca Piccola is furnished with historical collections of furniture from Malta and Europe.
However, what is most attractive is what lies beneath it. Under this palace in Malta of over fifty rooms, lies a network of tunnels dug by hand. These tunnels in Malta are known to have saved lives in World War II during the bombings of Valletta, Malta. Also, a popular room admired by visitors of Malta is decorated with traditional pannels of the Grand Master; a Maltese ship from the early 17th century. The palace carriage room is now a store that sells souvenirs. Also, what was Cassa Rocca Piccola’s kitchen has been transformed into a restaurant.
Have A Maltese Sleepover
Most of Casa Rocca Piccola is a tourist attraction. But in 2019, bedrooms have been open to provide accommodations for Malta’s visitors. Guest rooms are uniquely designed in style with its own character and ambiance. A few of the suites overlook the garden which is gorgeous in summer. A tour of the house is free for guests. This includes seeing the oldest pieces of furniture in Malta and possibly the only surviving complete set of silver medical instruments from the Sacra Infermeria of the Hospitaller Knights of Malta.
National Museum of Archeology
For those who like the indoors, pop by Malta’s National Museum of Archeology. The building itself is an example of the Baroque architecture and was a house to the first knights of Malta. Also, its remarkable exhibits include stone tools dating from 5200BC, Phoenician amulets, and amazing models of prehistoric architectures.
Highlights of Malta’s archeological museum includes the ‘Sleeping Lady’, and ‘The Venus of Malta’, bronze daggers, and the anthropomorphic sarcophagus. These popular must-see exhibitions are what visitors look forward to. The museum was founded by Agatha Barbra. She was Malta’s Minister of Education in 1958, so it’s no surprise Malta’s museum provides well-displayed items with clear information. The museum brilliantly shows the prehistory and early history of the Maltese islands. It also doubles as a catalyst to archeological sites in Malta.
Hike The Trails Of Malta
Beautiful bays, rugged coastlines, and scenic countryside, Malta provides idyllic surroundings for hiking. A favored trail for its scenic views and beach is Ramla Bay in Gozo, Malta. It is a moderate trail with steep inclines and rocky areas. Starting at Marsalforn Bay, this 8-kilometer walk leads hikers through a beautiful valley. Passing through Malta’s agricultural land, hikers can observe Maltese traditional harvesting and farming methods.
Also on Gozo, two trails can be chosen at the start of Gebel Ben Gorg Cliff. Expert hikers tend to choose the route of San Raflu Lake. However, either route offers breathtaking views of Malta’s farmlands surrounded by the gorgeous Mediterranean. Taking these two trails, Malta throws in a view of the ancient remains of the Wardija Punic temple along Gozo’s west coast.
The most desirable trail for hikers in Malta who prefers a challenge is the Dingli Cliffs trail. Also, tourists hike this trail to stand on one of Malta’s highest points. Malta has a heritage trail which was a Roman road for pilgrims who went to worship Mellieha. Beginning in Malta’s village Xenxija, hikers who choose this route can see a Roman apiary and Roman baths.
Visit The 3 Cities
Visitors of Malta think the main city to explore is the capital. However, the three cities of Cospicua, Senglea, and Vittoriosa are an important part of Malta. These cities not only have amazing architecture, but they have a long history of being Malta’s fortresses. Directly opposite Valletta, these cities give an inside view of Maltese life. They have played important roles in many battles, especially in the 1530 Great Seige of Malta against the Ottomans; they were undefeated. The best way to travel to these three cities is by walking. This is especially useful when visiting Vittoriosa Yacht Marina, the heart of the three cities. Worth an entire day, there are many places to explore.
Cospicua, a double-walled city built around a dockyard in 1776. It is back to its former glory from its damage in World War II. It’s popular for it’s Santa Margarita and Cottonera Lines that stayed intact through multiple bombings.
Senglea also damaged in war is today one of the best places to take in the view of Valletta. It is popular for having one of Malta’s best gardens that sit atop the fortification. But the thing most people go to Senglea for is to view its Basilica; a church that is the prime example of Maltese church architecture.
Vittoriosa or Birgu is the strategic point for invaders who want the possession of Malta. Of the three cities, it is the most popular for its attractions. These attractions also include Malta at War Museum, Inquisitor’s Palace, and Fort St Angelo. Most people like to visit its popular open markets.
Malta Wine Tasting
Wine production in Malta dates back over two thousand years ago. The first wineries were established at the beginning of the 20th century. However, during the 1970s, wine production became popular which led to the plantation of international grape varieties. Malta is the proud creator of Cassar de Malte; a traditional sparkling wine. Interestingly, they make it using the same method as champagne.
Malta’s two-day Qorni Wine Festival held every year in the first week of September. The best part, it’s free for all. Here, Malta promotes its vast variety of wines. Today, Maltese wines are winning several awards from around the world. Malta has five major producers, all who offer wine tasting tours. Depending on seasons, tours may cover the entire production of initial fermentation through its aging process. Also, an exciting part of these tours is visiting Malta’s wine history museum. This then comes with the opportunity to try and buy a variety of vintages. Therefore, no Mediterranean meal is complete without a Maltese wine.