From countryside farmhouses to ancient walled cities and breath-taking coastal pathways to quirky, hidden-gem restaurants, the tiny island nation of Malta has a little something for everyone.
In fact, it’s home to nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites (and another pending), over 250 kilometres of coastline, and, thanks to its far southern location, one of the warmest climates in Europe.
My time spent exploring the tiny island nation was jam-packed and happily, despite being there in mid-January, my days there were also sunshine-filled.
There’s a whole lot on offer in Malta, but here’s just a taste of my favourites…
1. The Old City of Mdina
This fortified city is the former capital of the tiny island nation and today it’s car-free centre is one of the quietest, most charming spots on the main island.
For something truly special, spend a night in one of just a few B&Bs inside the fortified walls and don’t miss the lemon cheesecake on the patio at Ciapetti Restaurant.
2. The Capital, Valletta
In the 16th-century, the famed Knights of St. John turned a lone coastal tower into a fortified city, Valletta—now Malta’s capital—where today you’ll find surprising hidden gardens, winding streets and sunny outdoor cafes.
You can’t visit Malta without spending a day or two in its liveliest city. Don’t miss the flower-shaped ice-cream at Amorino, fresh-made pizza at Margo’s or the hidden-away basement tapas restaurant Legligin, where the tempting menu of local dishes changes daily.
When people talk about Malta, it’s the main island they usually highlight, but Malta is an archipelago of three inhabited islands—Malta, Gozo and Camino—and a scattering of smaller islands. And while the main island certainly has a lot to offer, my heart belongs to the smaller shores of Gozo, a 30-minute ferry ride from Malta to the north.
Victoria, the capital city of Gozo, is ancient, quiet, charming and chock-full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
Stay in the heart of old town at a cosy B&B, grab a freshly blended juice at Mojo’s, eat at Maldonado Bistro and use the extensive bus system to get easily to any other part of the island within about an half hour (though keep in mind that bus times are not precise, so don’t panic if your bus is running five minutes late, you’re on island time here).
4. The Cliffs at Sanap
Just a short bus or car ride from Gozo’s capital you’ll find the cliffs of Sanap. Take the trip for views of waves crashing against the cliff face far below and the ocean stretching deep and blue and hazy into the distance.
If you’re up for a walk, the coastal path, which rings the entire island of Gozo, passes by here and the journey northwest along the coast will take you past bright yellow rocks, quaint sheep-herder sheds and the pretty little town of Xlendi, where a staircase winds up the rocks to offer sweeping views of the ocean below.
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