From the MTV music festival in Valletta to abseiling and climbing in Gozo, Malta rocks. Small in size but big in character, the Mediterranean island offers cool cafes, buzzing nightclubs, exhilarating activities and amazing archaeological wonders, whatever the time of year.
Situated in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, the Maltese archipelago includes Gozo, Comino, Cominotto and Filfla. It has bags of character at every turn, with secluded bays, medieval walled citadels and splendid baroque churches.
Most tourists come for the weather (there are more than 300 days of sunshine annually) and crystalline waters, which make it one of the best places to go snorkelling and diving in the Mediterranean. The water is in fact amongst the cleanest in the region.
But Malta’s distinctive appeal lies in its extraordinary 7,000 years of history. This small island has a greater concentration of historic sights than any country. Visitors can explore some of the oldest stone structures in the world here, as well as prehistoric temples, Roman catacombs and medieval villages.
The island is also famous for the Knights of St John, otherwise known as the Knights of Malta, who ruled it for 250 years and left behind plenty of remarkable architecture. Several museums explore Malta’s multi-faceted past, which saw it ruled by Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans and more.
Later came British rule, leaving behind a legacy of English as joint-official language with Maltese, as well as red letterboxes and phone booths. Despite this era, the island remains thoroughly Maltese. Summertime is greeted with lots of local festivals, and many restaurants now serve traditional Mediterranean food, which have pushed Anglo-influenced dishes off the menu.
Spring and autumn are probably the best times to visit this unique island, as temperatures are a little cooler while still suitable for sunbathing and swimming. It’s also when the tourist numbers ease from their summer peak.