Top 5 Highlights: Malta

Malta moves with the times and follows current trends, yet still manages to retain it’s own unique identity. In essence, this is Malta’s charm. 

Naturally, the good weather, fascinating historic sites and beautiful coastline add to the appeal along with the wide range of hotel choices, packed programme of events, the party scene and fashionable wine bars and restaurants. 

On Malta there really is something to suit every taste and budget.

Discover Malta with Marco Polo! 

Photo credit: Tim Kelly

Photo credit: Tim Kelly

1. Grand Harbour, Valletta

A trip to Malta wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Grand Harbour, Valletta. It is the biggest and probably the most dramatic harbour in the Mediterranean. Unmissable!

Grand Harbour, Malta

Grand Harbour, Malta. Photo credit: Tim Kelly.

Grand Harbour, Malta. Photo credit: Tim Kelly

Grand Harbour, Malta. Photo credit: Tim Kelly

The best way to experience Grand Harbour’s splendour is by boat. There are several boat operators offering Grand Harbour tours from the waterside area marked Sliema Ferries.

Grand Harbour, Malta. Photo credit: Tim Kelly

Photo credit: Tim Kelly

Insider tip: Trattoria da Pippo, Valletta. Small family business with checked tablecloths and local paintings for sale on the walls. Simple, rustic and authentic Italian and Maltese specialties. Booking essential. (136 Melita St, Valletta. Tel: +356 2124 8029.)

Trattoria da Pippo, Valletta

Trattoria da Pippo, Valletta

2. Marsaxlokk Bay

The picturesque setting and pretty fishing-village atmosphere make Marsaxlokk (pronounced “marsa-shlokk”) a very popular destination for day trippers not least because of its attractive Sunday market.

Marsaxlokk

Boats in Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk

Fisherman statue in Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk

The Horus eye painted on boats is to protect fisherman from evil.

Marsaxlokk

A Horus eye on a boat at Marsaxlokk

Insider tip: attention seafood lovers! Be sure to check out Tartarun Fish Restaurant. We recommend you book in advance as it can be extremely busy – especially at weekends. (29 Xatt is-Sajjieda, Marsaxlokk, Tel: +356 21658089.)

Mixed seafood main course at Tartarun Fish Restaurant, Marsaxlokk

Mixed seafood main course at Tartarun Fish Restaurant, Marsaxlokk

Insider tip: St Peter’s Pool can be reached by car or taxi in about 10-15 mins from Marsaxlokk. It’s not that easy to find and involves a walk down a cliff to arrive there… but it certainly is worth the trip! Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds! (Location on Google Maps.)

St Peters Paul

St Peter’s Pool

3. Mdina

Mdina (pronounced “im-deenah”) enclosed within its high fortress walls is Malta’s “Silent City”. A must see! Mdina has preserved its baroque character and the small medieval town can be explored in just a few hours.

View from over the fortress walls, Mdina

View from over the fortress walls, Mdina

Mdina Cathedral

Mdina Cathedral

Many Maltese churches have two clocks, showing different times… it is said that one shows the correct time for the religious locals, while the one on the left shows the wrong time to confuse Satan.

Narrow car-free streets of Mdina in Malta

Narrow car-free streets of Mdina

Insider Tip: Fontanella Tea Gardens has one of the best views in Mdina and offers excellent cakes and pastizzi (a Maltese specialty – savoury pastries with ricotta or mushy pea filling.)

Fontanella Tea Gardens, Mdina

Fontanella Tea Gardens, Mdina

4. Sliema and St Julian’s 

Malta’s modern heart beats along the promenade of Sliema and its neighbouring town St Julian’s with its buzzing nightlife and colourful restaurant district.

St Julian’s Bay

View from Fresco’s Cafe & Restaurant , St Julian’s Bay

Insider tip:  Visit Fresco’s Cafe & Restaurant for fresh fish, friendly service and great cocktails. For the best view, ask for table 7 when booking. (Tower Road, Sliema. Tel: +356 2734 4763.)

Sliema, looking out onto St Julian’s Bay

Looking out onto St Julian’s Bay from Sliema – a great place to take a dip!

Sunset in St Julian’s

Sunset in St Julian’s

Insider tip: Paradise Exiles Bar in Sliema, is a great place for a cheap drink with fantastic views. Popular with divers. Listen to whatever music you like by selecting your favourite tunes from the jukebox. (Tower Road, Sliema. Tel: +356 2134 4771.)

Paradise Exiles, Sliema

Paradise Exiles, Sliema

5. Gozo & Comino

Malta’s sister islands Gozo and Comino are also well worth a visit if you have time! The cheapest way to get to Gozo or Comino is to take a bus to Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal and then catch a ferry. (For more information on ferries see the Visit Malta website.)

Gozo: Anyone who is looking for a relaxed atmosphere in a rural idyll and who ranks swimming, water sports and nature more highly than roaring nightlife may want to consider spending his or her holiday on Gozo. (And then explore the tourist highlights of Malta on a couple of excursion trips.) When on Gozo, be sure to visit the beautiful Azure Window:

Azure Window, Gozo

Azure Window, Gozo

Comino: Every day, tiny Comino lures fleets of boats full of tourists to its Blue Lagoon – and with good reason! The crystal-clear water has a beautiful turquoise shimmer. To avoid the crowds, visit on a week day and try to arrive as early as possible.

Blue Lagoon, Comino

Blue Lagoon, Comino

Content taken from the Malta Marco Polo Spiral Guide

Malta Marco Polo Spiral Guide

Buy the Malta Marco Polo Spiral Guide

Have you been to Malta? What was the highlight of your trip? Comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

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