The Maltese Islands are like nowhere else. Here you'll find great prehistoric temples, fossil-studded cliffs, glittering hidden coves, thrilling diving opportunities and a history of remarkable intensity.
The Deep Blue Sea
You're never far from the Mediterranean here; in Gozo you can see the sea from almost everywhere you go. The islands' beaches are small and perfectly formed; there are also some breathtakingly beautiful coves to swim in. This is also one of the world's finest places to go diving, with a wealth of sites ranging from sunken WWII bombers to dramatic undersea caves. To cap it all, much of what you'll eat will come from the sea's bounty.
A Mediterrean Cocktail
People here are warm and welcoming, but also have a certain gentle reserve. It's the kind of place where if you ask for directions you'll get a cheerful reply, and maybe even be guided part of your way for good measure.
The country is staunchly Roman Catholic, with mighty churches towering over diminutive villages. But there's also the beguiling mix of cultures that's stewed over generations. The Malti language sounds Arabic, but is speckled with Italian, French and English words, and local food packs in Sicilian and Middle Eastern flavours, while making use of local ingredients like rabbit and honey. Even the local fishing boats resonate with history, their prows painted with eyes as their Phoenician predecessors' were several millennia ago.
Prehistoric & Futuristic
Malta and Gozo are home to some of the world’s most impressive prehistoric sites, including gigantic temples set atop sea cliffs, and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, the 5000-year-old underground necropolis carved perfectly from the living rock. A visit to any of them will stay with you long after you've left the island.
It's also remarkable to visit somewhere where the history of savage warfare – all due to Malta's geographical significance – is so enduringly evident. The islands have an embattled feel, even in today's peaceful times, with their walled cities, great fortresses, fortifications running over remote hills, and myriad underground tunnels that became homes away from home during WWII bombardment.
Though building upon an already overcrowded landscape is a favoured activity of the Maltese, many parts of the island still manage to retain a sense of timelessness. This back-in-time atmosphere is even more pronounced on Gozo, where horses and carts are sometimes seen on country lanes, and quiet villages combine Italianate architecture with incongruous English red post boxes and blue police lamps. Lately, however, Malta's beautiful 17th-century capital, Valletta, has received some substantial 21st-century sparkle. The city has a new Renzo Piano–designed gateway, parliament building and open-air auditorium built on the elegiac ruins of the city’s opera house.
Best places to stay in Malta
Malta & Gozo travel guide
Washed by the glittering Mediterranean, studded with mind-blowing ancient sites and surrounded by some of Europe’s best diving: Malta and Gozo are small in size, but big on character.
Slow travel in Malta
Malta’s reputation as a package-holiday beach destination tells only a fraction of the story. While the warm climate and endless seas surrounding this tiny trio of Mediterranean islands make hanging out by the water an obvious choice, there’s so much more to uncover...
Malta & Gozo - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Malta & Gozo 5 starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on diving.
Secret Mediterranean islands where you can escape the crowds
There are more than 200 islands in the Med, yet 90 per cent of tourists stay on just 10 per cent of them. We’ve rounded up six lesser-known isles worth seeking out if you’re looking for a little peace and quiet. Pantelleria, Italy Boat at sunset by Luca Volpi. CC BY-SA 2.0...
Malta & Gozo - Valletta (Chapter)
Valletta is Malta’s Lilliputian capital, measuring 600m by 1000m. Despite its small size, there’s a mass of things to see here: when Unesco named Valletta a World Heritage Site, it described it as ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in...
Malta Shore Excursion: Malta Hop-on Hop-off Tour
No matter when your cruise ship arrives in Malta, this is the perfect do-it-yourself shore excursion. Discover Malta’s top attractions on a hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour, which provides full commentary and a comfortable, secure environment. Malta boasts more than 7,000 years of history and is brimming with attractions and places of interest.
Malta Shore Excursion: Private Tour of Historic Palaces and Noble Homes
Discover Malta’s luxurious side while you’re in port on this shore excursion to the palaces and noble houses around Valletta. Malta has a long history with varied influences, including Roman, Greek, Arab, French and British, which has led to some beautiful architecture and sophisticated residences.
Malta: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Malta & Gozo guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip. Considering how many tourists Malta receives, it’s somewhat surprising that there’s nothing by way of travel literature...
Malta & Gozo - Gozo & Comino (Chapter)
Several of Malta’s most significant historical sites lie in the less-visited southeast of the country, including two impressive temples (Hagar Qim and Mnajdra) dating back over 5000 years, and the Ghar Dalam cave, full of fossilised remains of...