Attractions in Malta
It is impossible to see all the attractions and sights of Malta during a
holiday. Then you should at least have both a long holiday and a total blow in
beach life and sun and bath. The travel plan gives you whatever you just need to
take with you on holiday in Malta!
- See DigoPaul
for dictionary definitions of Malta. Includes geographical map and city sightseeing photos.
Grand Master's Palace
This palace, located in the middle of Valletta, once housed
the Grand Master of the Johns and is centered around two large
courtyards. In a separate museum there is an impressive arsenal of old knight
weapons such as swords, shields and armor, in what used to be the Grand Master's
stables. Today the palace houses the Malta National Assembly and is the official
presidential residence. The opening hours vary, but are usually from 10am. 0800
to 1230. Reasonable entry fee.
Fort St. Elmo
At the very top of Valletta, the city's military pride erodes. The
star-shaped fortress of St. Elmo still bears marks for Turkish guns and bullets
from the siege of 1565, when a handful of knights kept the entire Turkish
invasion force at bay for over a month. The fortress also resisted Italian naval
forces during World War II. Today you will find the very interesting Maltese War
Museum here, as well as the Malta Police Academy.
The fort was also used during the filming of the movie "Midnight Express".
Open Saturdays from 1 p.m. 1300 to 1700 and Sundays from 7 p.m. 0900 to 1700.
The entrance fee of a few ten kroner also gives you access to Fort St. Angelo in
Twelve meters below the ground are the well-preserved remains of an
underground mausoleum / temple dating from around 3300 BC. Around 7,000 bodies
have been excavated here. The Hypogeum is located approx. two kilometers south
of Valletta and consists of several chambers, halls and corridors covering about
500 square meters. Due to the humidity and carbon dioxide damage the number of
visitors is limited, but those interested can log in to Heritage Malta and
request a visit.
From Bugibba in the north or from Sliema's ferry terminal you can take
a day trip out to Malta's least inhabited island, Comino. The island has only
one hotel and a handful of residents, but is very pleasant and idyllic. Most
visitors linger at the Blue Lagoon, with its clear blue water and white sandy
beach. Also bring with you the small church of 1612 in St. Marys Bay in the
northwest, and the defense tower of St. Marys Tower.
Museum of Archeology
In Valletta's Triq ir-Republika main street, the country's perhaps most
important exhibition, the National Archaeological Museum, is housed in a
16th-century building. Here you can see objects from fraaġar Qim, through the
Bronze Age and up to the Middle Ages.
The museum is open every day from 6 pm. 0900 to 1900, and costs a few ten
kroner in entry money.
St. John's Co-Cathedral
This magnificent Valletta cathedral was built in the 1570s for the Knights of
St. John the Order, the Johns, and in 1816 was equated with St.
Paul's Cathedral in Mdina, which was the bishopric, hence the name Co-Cathedral.
The church looks simple from the outside with its two identical bell towers, but
the baroque and colorful interiors can take your breath away.
In the church's museum you can see works of art by Caravaggio, and in the
crypt are the first grand masters and Valletta's legendary founder Jean de la
Open daily from 2 pm 0930 to 1715 Monday to Saturday. Entrance to the museum
costs only a few ten kroner.
Qaġar Qim and Mnajdra
On the southern coast of Malta are some of the world's oldest
buildings: Qaġar Qim and Mnajdra. [See image first in article] These
temple complexes are around 5500 years old. The temples were discovered in 1839,
just 500 meters apart and are of course on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Open
daily from 2 pm 0900 to 1700, entrance fee approx. 50 kroner.
The Blue Cave
From the small village of Wied iz-Zurrieq, not far from Ħaġar
Qim, you can join a boat trip out to the famous Blue Cave. The story behind the
name comes from the fact that the azure sea illuminated by sunlight sparkles in
water reflections in the cave roof, giving the cave a bluish, shining light. The
best time is in the morning, when the sun is setting. The boats also stop in
several other caves.
Vittoriosa and the Johns
When the Johns arrived in Malta in 1530, they settled in the small
fishing village of Birgu and made this the capital, since Mdina did not fit
their need for a port. Birgu changed its name to Vittoriosa (victorious or
victorious) after the siege in 1565. The fortress of St. Angelo is the most
prominent legacy of the Knights, although the streets, city walls and gates also
south of the medieval atmosphere. The city is located on an 800 meter long
headland, and is so small that it is virtually impossible to walk away even if
all street signs are in Maltese only.
Carnival in Malta
Every spring there is a carnival time in Malta, and this has its
traditions dating back to 1560, when an armada of sailors remained weatherproof
on the island and needed some life and encouragement. Still, this is reflected
in colorful performances, great costumes and a hefty and enchanting nightlife,
especially in the Paceville area. Other villages across the country have long
since made their own local versions of the party.
Tourist in Malta
It is no big deal to travel around and discover Malta on your own at your own
pace, but if you prefer an organized tour with transport and English language
guide, you can try Touring Malta for example. These have several day trips, both
general and more specialized.
Day 1 in Malta
Those who claim that Malta is so small that you can easily get all the
attractions in a few days have probably never tried to do just that. Possibly
they have made the list very high for what can be called an attraction.
The first day can easily be spent in full on Malta's capital, Valletta. After
a hearty breakfast at the hotel, head to Valletta's city gates, and within these
are Freedom Square. This is where the city's main street, Triq ir-Republika,
which extends all the way to Fort St. Elmo on the other side of the city, ie 800
On the right are the ruins of the Royal Opera House, which was bombed during
World War II and has become a memorial of the war. A few minutes walk down the
same street is the Archeological National Museum on the left, and here you can
easily spend a few hours. 5000 year old artifacts from Hagar Qim, via the Bronze
Age and the Middle Ages are on display here. Entrance fee approx. 50 kroner.
As you continue up Triq ir-Republika, you will undoubtedly notice Valletta's
mighty St. John's Cathedral on the right. It was built in the 1570s for the
Johns. Take time to visit both the cathedral museum and the crypts where the
Grand Masters of the Order and the city's founder Jean de Vallette are buried.
If you start to get hungry and ready for lunch, there are plenty of eateries
in most price ranges on the next square you come to, Piazza Regina. For example,
try Malta's oldest restaurant (from 1837), Caffe Cordina, where you can sit at
the outdoor tables on the square overlooking Valletta's magnificent library and
a statue of the English Queen Victoria.
After lunch you can walk directly across the square to the palace where the
National Assembly and Presidential Residence of Malta are located. The Grand
Master's Palace was actually built as a residence for the Grand Master of the
Johns, and is centered around two large courtyards. In a separate museum there
is also an impressive arsenal of ancient knight weapons such as swords, shields
and armor, located in what used to be the Grand Master's stables.
Furthermore in Triq ir-Repubblika you have the aristocratic 16th century
palace Casa Rocca Piccola on the right, which also has guided tours. At the end
of the street you will reach Fort St. Elmo, which has been in numerous battles
since it was built in 1552, not least as a result of the siege of the city by
the Turkish invasion forces in 1565. Today the fortress houses the Malta Police
Academy, and on the left war museum. The entrance fee of a few bucks also gives
you access to Fort St. Angelo in Vittoriosa.
From Fort St. Elmo and Triq-ir-Republika Street, turn south into
Triq-ir-Mediterran, and along this road you have great views of Grand Harbor and
towards Vittoriosa and Senglea. But first you come to The Malta Experience, an
audio-visual show with optional language about Malta's history from the Stone
Age, through the Knights period and up to the present day. Available every hour
until 1 p.m. 1600 on weekdays and until 4 p.m. 1400 on weekends.
Stop in the beautiful Lower Barrakka Gardens park with its fountains and
splendid views, and when you feel like it, head up one of the steep little
streets. You will soon come to Trip ir-Merkanti, or Merchant Street, an old
street that lives up to its name to this day, with countless stalls and small
shops where you can buy most of the Maltese specialties.
For example, if you choose to stay in Valletta for the rest of the evening,
we can recommend dinner at the cozy little restaurant Ambrosia at 137
Archbishop Street. Both Maltese, Italian and Spanish food is served here.
The nightlife of Valletta is almost non-existent, but a curiosity is the
English-inspired The Pub just off Grandmasters Palace. The site has added
"Ollie's Last Pub" to the name after renowned British actor Oliver Reed got
killed here during the filming of the movie "Gladiator" in 1999.
Day 2 in Malta
Next day it's time to get out of the capital. If you do not have a rental
car, Malta's bus network is both affordable and efficient to get to all parts of
the island from Valletta. However, between the other parts is worse; most often
you have to return to Valletta again and change the bus.
From the main bus station in Floriana, just outside Valletta's city gate,
there are buses every half hour to ġaġar Qim and Mnajdra (bus numbers 38 and
138, but this can change, see bus information here. The tour takes around half
an hour and when you get off is It's easy to believe that the bus driver has
dumped you in the middle of the wilderness, but follow the small sign pointing
toward the temples and walk through the parking lot of the ticket booths.
Here you can buy tickets to one or both temples, but since they are so close
to each other, it is just as easy to take both. Unless you have a good
guidebook, we recommend that you buy with you the little information book that
is also sold here. You always benefit more from a visit if you actually know
what you're looking at.
The year Qim consists of three separate stone temples, the middle one being
the best preserved of these. The excavations began in the 1830s, but were not
completed until almost 80 years later. In addition to the 5,300-year-old stone
temples, which are considered some of the world's oldest buildings, many
arrowheads and stone tools were also found in the Valletta Museum.
500 meters below Ħaġar Qim is the second temple complex, Mnajdra. What these
buildings were used for is unclear, but animal sacrifices and oracle rituals
seem most likely to occur. To enter the main temple you must enter through a
large stone window.
After exploring the temples, an ice-cold refreshment on the outdoor terrace
of ġaġar Qim Restaurant, right next to the parking lot, is a good fit. Maltese
specialties are also served here, if you are ready for lunch.
After some food, you can now choose to either take the bus back to Valletta,
or you can follow the bus to the next stop, Wied iz-Zurrieq. Here you will
immediately be offered the opportunity to join a boat cruise to The Blue Grotto,
which is a colorful sight as the sun shines through the azure water and the
water crystals are reflected in the cave roof.
Back at the bus station you can switch to bus 80 or 81, which takes you to
Malta's old capital Mdina, in the middle of the island. It is surrounded by a
city wall with history 3000 years back in time, with quiet car-free cobblestone
streets, baroque architecture, venerable courtyards and the magnificent St.
Paul's Cathedral. Bring with you the Museum of Roman Antiques and the view from
the city walls of Bastion Square. From here you can see for miles, all the way
to St. Paul's Bay in the north and Valletta in the east, and probably Etna in
Sicily on a clear day. Mdina has one of Malta's best restaurants, located in one
of the island's most exclusive hotels, Xara Palace. The Mondion Restaurant
serves French and Mediterranean cuisine and is relatively expensive.
For example, if you prefer to return to the hotel and have a shower before
dinner, consider the Bay View Restaurant at Corinthia Marina Hotel in St.
Julians. If you book a table, you have a brilliant view out over the sea for
your meal, and a short way to Malta's most intense nightlife afterwards, should
it tempt you more than the pillow.