MaltaTravel Guide

Malta is an island in the Mediterranean Sea lying between Italy’s island of Sicily and the North African coast. With a picturesque coastline of sandy beaches, top diving spots, historical treasures and a unique culture, Malta isn’t called the “Gem of the Mediterranean” for nothing.

From the moment you land, you’ll find European and Arab influences everywhere, from the architecture to Malta’s lifestyle and cuisine. The island is also steeped in history, dotted with ancient sites, medieval villas, palazzos, castles and cathedrals. No wonder Game of Thrones was filmed there!

Like most islands, Malta boasts a party zone of note, as well as world-class restaurants and bars. Good to know is that many people speak English and there are 3000 hours of sunshine a year. Also, the home of friendly folk, colourful luzzu fishing boats, and those adorable fluffy pooches, Malta has charm written all over it. Go on, read all about it in our Malta Travel Guide.

Malta quick facts

Language

National language

Maltese

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

ZAR R39.29

Local time

Friday

1:55pm

Currency

Euro

ZAR R1.00 = EUR €0.04

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

ZAR R307.00

Electricity

Plug type: G

3 pins • 230V

Explore Malta

Where to stay in Malta?

Staying in Valletta is great for a bit of action and wine-bar hopping or to use as a base for day trips. Other areas to stay that are further afield will still have you close to activities and amenities. Some call Malta the 20-minute island, after all. Why? Because that’s all the time it takes to get anywhere from the centre!

Whether you’re looking for the luxury of boutique hotels or somewhere with no frills, there’s no shortage of accommodation options in Valletta. The Barrister Hotel near to Tigné Point Beach offers an upmarket stay and a rooftop Jacuzzi! Tano’s Boutique Guesthouse is a restored 18th century Palazzo that’s popular with couples, while Paulos Valletta is a great self-catering option in the city centre.


The northernmost island of Gozo is a rural haven compared to Malta but that doesn’t mean she can’t compete. Check out the Grand Hotel Gozo with its spectacular views over the harbour to see what we mean. If quaint and traditional is how you like your stay, Il-Bàrraġ Farmhouse B&B is one of our faves.


Across the bay from Valletta lies the town of Sliema, where the Victoria Hotel is centrally located and has a stunning rooftop pool. For a stay that’s all about pampering, the 1926 Hotel & Spa features a sauna, infinity pool and fabulous treatments. If you prefer more space than a hotel room, the modern units of the Pebbles Boutique Aparthotel are ideal.


Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

  • Boat marina in front of town houses in Malta
    • Underwater cave with scuba diver
    • Ancient building in a park
  • Boat marina in front of town houses in Malta
    Boat marina in front of town houses in Malta
    Boat marina in front of town houses in Malta
  • Underwater cave with scuba diver
    Underwater cave with scuba diver
    Underwater cave with scuba diver
  • Ancient building in a park
    Ancient building in a park
    Ancient building in a park

Things to do in Malta

The Republic of Malta includes her sister islands of Gozo and Comino. Malta is the biggest island with the most going on, Gozo offers stunning open spaces and a rural vibe, while Comino is where hikers and day trippers like to go as it’s pretty much uninhabited. There you have it, a quick geography lesson! What this means is that there are many things to do in Malta that involve islandhopping but there’s so much more, too.

Did you know? Malta is considered one of the best diving destinations in the world – the top 10 in fact – and boasts no less than 120 diving sites? From boat dives to sea dives and even shipwreck dives, you’re spoilt for choice. Also, when it comes to dive companies because, as you can imagine, there’s a lot of demand to keep up with.


Let’s start with ancient history! Seven megalithic temples (Unesco World Heritage sites) are situated in Malta and the island of Gozo. Predating the pyramids in Egypt, the stone buildings are hailed for their architectural sophistication. To get there, you can either take the Gozo ferry from Cirkewwa or the fast ferry from Valletta.

The walled city that is Malta’s capital, Valletta, is also wrapped in centuries of history and packed with museums, palaces and cathedrals. Take a guided walking tour of Valletta to discover the origins of the city (spoiler alert: the Knights of St John, during the 16th century Crusades, made Valletta into a refuge for the injured).

Still in Valletta, you’ll find the Upper Barrakka Gardens, featuring gorgeous arches built in 1661. The gardens were originally created for the very same knights to give them a place to chill. Here you can take in panoramic views of Valletta’s Grand Harbour and pay homage to monuments dedicated to luminaries such as Sir Winston Churchill.


A hop-on-hop-off bus tour is just the ticket to see as much as possible in half a day. Sit back and relax in an open-top bus and visit as many as 32 sites and popular tourist attractions, from the National Aquarium and the War Museum to a traditional fishing village. Choose where you want to explore, take photos, have a bite or hang with the locals.


If you’re a party animal, head over to the town of St Julian’s where the district of Paceville is THE party hub, with the biggest concentration of bars and nightclubs on the island. Some popular clubs include Havana with its hip hop and R&B vibes and Sky Club Malta – the island’s largest nightclub, accommodating up to 3,400 party people in the house.


Being surrounded by water means there are boats a-plenty and this is one of the best ways to see the sights. There’s no shortage operators or boating experiences on offer, from leisurely cruises around Malta, Gozo and Camino with stop-off options, to those that offer meals and drinks on board. A variety of ferry services also operate between the islands but if you feel like going the rock star route, charter a yacht to play with the rich and famous on the Med.


Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Flights to Malta

Malta food and drink

A melting pot of nations and culinary delights, Malta serves up every kind of eatery from little bistros and trattorias to fine-dining establishments and street food. There are so many restaurants and bars to choose from, there’s zero to no chance you’ll leave without raving about the food.

For the fine-dining enthusiasts, the honour of three Michelin Star restaurants. The De Mondion can be found in The Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux boutique hotel in Mdina. Perched on the ancient fortifications of the town, this is as much about the experience as the feast. Expect a Mediterranean menu with loads of French influence.

At Noni in Valletta, a fusion of Maltese and French influences will be hitting your plate and palate. Housed in a historic building with cast iron doors and stone vaults, the atmosphere is, by contrast, friendly and casual.

The curiously named Under Grain , also in Valletta near to Merchants Street, is all about concepts and minimalist décor, while seafood is prominent on the menu. As a haute cuisine restaurant, your dishes are works of art.


Yes, it’s a beverage not a food, but wine is an important part of Maltese culture so it would be remiss not to include it. There are wine tastings and tours around Malta, where you’ll encounter the typical varietals of Cab Sav and Merlot but then you’ll also be introduced to the local varietals of Gellewza and Ghirghentina. Not to be sneezed at, Maltese wines have won accolades even in the vino strongholds of France and Italy.


Street food can be found everywhere in Malta but you simply have to try the pastizzi, a kind of pie with interesting fillings like ricotta and peas. A Maltese version of an empanada or Cornish pasty if you will.

Street food can be found everywhere in Malta but you simply have to try the pastizzi, a kind of pie with interesting fillings like ricotta and peas. A Maltese version of an empanada or Cornish pasty if you will.

Vegetarians and vegans are welcomed with open arms at Soul Food in Valletta where Italian influences rule. From raw salads to Buddha bowls, every dish is made with a lot of soul.


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Malta through your eyes

Where to shop in Malta?

Whether you’re hunting down that perfect souvenir or wanting to splurge on high-end fashion, Malta’s you covered. Shopping is a popular pastime here, so we’ve taken the guesswork out of where to spend your holiday cash and broken it down for you.

Several shopping centres can be found throughout Malta, but Sliema is a good place to start, about 1km from Valletta and accessible by public transport.

Two big malls are The Point Shopping Mall and The Plaza Shopping Centre. The Point boasts that it has largest concentration of exclusive brands in Malta, while not to be outdone, The Plaza claims it has the best brands under one roof, ranging from clothing and tech to e-sports and hobbies.

In St Julian’s about 20 minutes from Valletta you’ll find the Bay Street Shopping Complex with a good mix of high-end brands and independent stores, a four-star hotel and restaurants.


In Valletta, stroll down Merchants Street, one of Valletta’s longest thoroughfares. You ‘ll be treated to a sea view while you indulge in window-shopping or blow your budget in the high-end stores. At the same time, you can browse the market with local crafts and bargain clothing and taste your way through the food stalls selling a wide variety of cuisine.

For an authentic Maltese market experience, pop by the Is-Suq Tal-Belt Valletta Food Market or hop on a bus to the village of Attard to check out the Ta’ Qali Farmers’ Market. It sells only Maltese products from honey and bread to flowers. You could also take a ferry to Gozo where the open-air market in Victoria sells fresh fruit and vegetables, sweets and Gozo wine.


Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Malta?

So being in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta has a Mediterranean climate. Surprise!

The summer is short, only from June to August, and while summer travel sounds like two perfect words, be warned about the humidity. That said, the best times to visit Malta for beach bumming is from mid-June to mid-September. That’s when temperatures average close to 28°C (82°F).

The cool season is December to April, and it rains between October and March. But compared to many other destinations, it doesn’t rain much in Malta, nor does it snow (except for that time in January 1962!).

The winter temperatures average around 15°C (82°F), still pleasant for visiting Malta, although many tourist activities and water sports like scuba-diving close for the season.

If you’re not too fond of the tourist crush, then head to Malta during the off-season months of May, September and October.

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How to get around Malta

A variety of land and water transport is available, and Malta even has its own version of Uber! Keep reading!

Malta has an extensive public transport system that’s the most inexpensive way to get around. Their website is brilliant with a journey planner and all the information you need about bus routes, tickets and travel cards, and you can even book your seat on their app. This includes buses as well as the Valletta Ferry for travelling between islands.

Then how about sightseeing while whizzing around on an electric bike? You can hire yours from one docking station and drop it off at another in your destination, making it a very convenient way to get around


If you need a more dedicated service than public transport, there’s Malta’s answer to Uber – the electric car fleet called eCabs, available via an app. On the water, you’ll find Malta Water Taxis too, distinguishable by their bright yellow colour.


Let us help you organise your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.

What are the best beaches in Malta?

Being an island, Malta has loads of beaches and bays, plus 11 Blue Flag ones too (an environmental certification meaning sustainable practices are in place). So where to go? Well, it depends if you want action, or something more secluded. Here are a few of our recommendations:

Sparkling blue water, water sports, a five-start resort, beach parties and a Blue Flag. This pretty much sums up Golden Bay. One of the sandy beaches in Malta that’s most popular with tourists, you can easily get to it using public transport, and spend a whole day and even night hanging out here.


We like St Paul’s Bay for its chilled vibe, a throwback from when it was still a fishing village. A total contrast is Spinola Bay with its many vibey restaurants and bars, while Mellieha Bay is the biggest of the sandy beaches in Malta. On the island of Gozo, the best beach is Ramla Bay, which is also a water sports paradise (think: jet skiing and kayaking).


There’s no gold sand at this Blue Flag beach. Instead, there’s a red sandy bay and you’ll have to go down several steps to get to it. We promise it’s worth the exercise. This bay goes from tranquil to very busy on the weekends, and there’s also a nice beach restaurant and bar.


On the coast of the teeny island of Comini, Blue Lagoon is a heavenly spot for swimmers and snorkellers. The gorgeous combo of azure waters and white sand has made it the set for many TV shows and movies. The island is only 3.5 square kilometres, has hardly any residents, only one hotel and is car-free.


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