Looking for something a bit out of the ordinary to do on your trip to Malta? Check out these sights, attractions, bars, beaches, and quirky curiosities
Malta is the smallest country in the EU by area, but that doesn’t stop it being a popular tourist destination. So, in such a small country, how can you avoid the crowds, find the best beaches, enjoy the nightlife and learn about the local history and culture? With Kiwi.com’s top 10 best things to do in Malta, that’s how!
Malta’s beaches are stunning and the water’s clean and clear, so you’ll naturally want to pack the sunscreen and swimwear. The most popular beaches around are Mellieħa Bay, Għajn Tuffieħa and Golden Bay; but for less crowded options, try those on the northern island of Gozo, particularly Paradise Bay and Armier. Gozo is also home to the unusual reddish-orange sands of Ramla l-Ħamr beach.
There’s also the Blue Lagoon on the tiny island of Comino. You’ll have to rent a boat to get there, but you’ll be rewarded with perfect white sand and an island whose status as a nature reserve makes it utterly pristine.
Hit the town
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The main nightlife area in Malta is Paceville in St. Julian’s. Bars, pubs, clubs, shot bars et cetera are in abundance here, including Malta’s biggest nightclub (Sky Club, with a capacity of 3,400 people). Irish bars, Instagram-friendly cocktail lounges, the bustling Saddles (a good place to start with its cheap drink offers) — all this sure makes Paceville the place to be for partying.
Enjoy a “Sunday Sesh”
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Salumeria Gardens is a bar based in a hidden garden backing onto the Spinola Palace in St. Julian’s. It’s a place for craft beer, cold mojitos and home-made pizza, and their Sunday Garden Sesh is the perfect way to chill out after the madness subsides.
Top-quality DJs using proper, classic vinyl records curate sets designed to help you relax, make friends, and enjoy the great food and beer. Things kick off from around 6 pm, so after a weekend of partying, it’s the perfect place to slow down and simply enjoy a summer evening. As their website says: this is not a rave, it’s simply a party as great as their pizzas.
If you’re claustrophobic or easily weirded out, this one might not be for you! Beneath (and beyond) St. Paul’s Church in Rabat are over 2,000 square meters of passages and burial chambers dating back to the 3rd century CE. There are 30 chambers containing the final resting places of Christian, Roman and Jewish people, 20 of which are open to the public. It’s open daily and you won’t get much odder for €6.
There are a few other underground oddities dotted around Malta as well: the Ta’ Bistra catacombs date to the 4th century CE; the St. Cataldus catacombs, accessed by a steep staircase, contains an agape table (a circular rock platform used for funerary rituals); while the simply-named Valletta Tunnels were used as a fortress, storage facility, and later, bomb shelter.
Market day in Marsaxlokk
The outdoor market in the small fishing port of Marsaxlokk was originally just that — a fish market. However, over the years, it’s expanded to a full-blown arts and crafts market that still sells fish, but also honey, jams, wines, vegetables, clothing, souvenirs, and much more. It takes place every Sunday from 6.30 am, so you’ll have to head out early to beat the crowds, but you can reward yourself with a delicious seafood lunch overlooking the colorful boats bobbing gently in the bay.
Commune with cavemen
Near the village of Binġemma, follow a narrow pathway next to the chapel, and you’ll come across a series of caves. No one can agree on when they date from, but many sources point to them being a Bronze-Age troglodytic settlement. Some caves are barely more than curves in the rock face, but some go further into the earth and contain caverns and passageways. It’s also simply a rugged, windswept and wild part of the island that’s a nice contrast to the cozy bays and beaches along the coast.
Valletta to Birgu by boat
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You’ll probably spend quite a bit of time in Valletta, and across from its waterfront, you can see the small town of Birgu. It’s not quite as busy as Valletta, so it might be an idea to hail a dgħajsa (a Maltese water taxi) and head over there to explore. You’ll find a main square rammed with bustling cafés and coffee shops, the 16th-century Fort St. Angelo, and a slew of beautiful churches, chapels and museums.
Try the local wine
They’ve been making wine in Malta for over 2,000 years, so they’re clearly doing something right. There are five major wineries on the island, and they mainly use the two indigenous grape varieties known as Ġellewża (red) and Girgentina (white). The red is used far less than the white and, while local vineyards also produce the ubiquitous Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, why come all this way and not try something properly exclusive? You might also like the sparkling white known as Cassar de Malte, which is produced using the same “methode traditionelle” as champagne.
Visit Popeye’s village
Robert Altman’s 1980 Popeye movie starring the late Robin Williams as the spinach-loving sailor and Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl bombed so badly that Altman became basically unemployable in Hollywood and had to relocate to Paris. However, enterprising Maltese locals decided the set built for the movie should stay, and now you can wander around the town of Sweethaven, take a swim in the sea, and generally marvel at the utter folly of the whole thing. There are also boat trips available in summer, and the village contains other attractions like a cinema, minigolf, a winery, and a shrine to Robin Williams himself.
Relax in the greenery
The San Anton Gardens were opened to the public in 1882, a relatively new attraction on an island dotted with some of the most ancient sites in Europe. The elegant gardens surrounding the San Anton Palace are a grand display of elegance, with walkways, fountains, duck ponds, a rose garden, and trees ranging from stout Norfolk pines to more exotic species like Jacarandas. It’s the perfect place to reflect on your trip and to take some stunning photos, not just of the gardens themselves, but of the Presidential Palace, too.
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