Must see attractions in Male

  • Top ChoiceSights in Male

    Old Friday Mosque

    This is the oldest mosque in the country, dating from 1656. It’s a beautiful structure made from coral stone into which intricate decoration and Quranic script have been chiselled. Non-Muslims wishing to see inside are supposed to get permission from an official of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Most of the staff are officials of the ministry, however, and so if you are conservatively dressed and it's outside prayer times, you may well get permission to enter on the spot.

  • Sights in Male

    China-Maldives Friendship Bridge

    This incredibly impressive piece of engineering connects Male to the airport island of Hulhule, but unlike most of the causeways connecting islands elsewhere in the country, this US$250m project goes over the open sea, meaning that vast concrete supports have been planted in the seabed. The bridge was still not operational at the time of writing, and it wasn't yet clear how its opening would affect ferry services to/from Male from Hulhule.

  • Sights in Male

    Fish Market

    Although the squeamish may well object to the buckets of entrails or the very public gutting of fish going on all around, the Fish Market should not be missed. This is the soul of Male – and it’s great fun watching the day’s catch being brought in from the adjacent fishing harbour. Look out for some truly vast tuna, octopus and grouper. Maldivian women don’t usually venture into these areas, although foreign women walking around won’t raise any eyebrows.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Male

    National Museum

    Maldives' National Museum may be a ferociously ugly building gifted by China, but it nevertheless contains a well-labelled collection of historic artefacts that serve to trace the unusual history of these isolated islands. Sadly the museum was broken into by a mob of religious extremists during protests against former president Nasheed in 2012, and its most precious items, some 30 ancient Buddhist coral stone carvings from the country's pre-Islamic period, were destroyed for being 'idols'. Security remains tight.

  • Sights in Male

    Artificial Beach

    A sweet little crescent sand beach has been crafted from the breakwater tetrapods here where locals can swim and enjoy a day on the beach. There’s a whole range of fast-food cafes nearby, though the construction of the massive new China-Maldives Friendship Bridge has rather robbed the area of any of the charm it once had.

  • Sights in Male

    Grand Friday Mosque

    The golden dome of this impressive modern mosque dominates the skyline of Male and has become something of a symbol for the city. Opened in 1984 and built with help from the Gulf States, Pakistan, Brunei and Malaysia, the Grand Friday Mosque is striking in its plainness, built in white marble and virtually free from decoration. Set back off the main square, Jumhooree Maidan, it is the biggest mosque in the country.

  • Sights in Male

    Muleeaage & Medhu Ziyaarath

    Muleeaage was built as a palace for the sultan in the early 20th century, though he was deposed before he could move in and the building was used for government offices for about 40 years. It became the president’s residence in 1953 when the first republic was proclaimed. At the eastern end of the building’s compound, behind an elaborate blue-and-white gatehouse, the Medhu Ziyaarath is the tomb of Abul Barakat Yoosuf Al Barbary, who brought Islam to Male in 1153.

  • Sights in Male

    Produce Market

    The busy produce market gives you an enjoyable taste of Maldives – people from all over the country gather here to sell home-grown and imported vegetables. Coconuts and bananas are the most plentiful produce, but look inside for the stacks of betel leaf, for wrapping up a ‘chew’. Just wandering around, watching the hawkers and the shoppers and seeing the vast array of products on display is fascinating and as real a Maldivian experience as possible.

  • Sights in Other Islands

    Thilafushi

    Thilafushi is undoubtedly the controversial flip side of Maldives' paradisiacal image – a horror show of rubbish piled upon rubbish taking up almost all the space there is here. While the truly ghastly part is the south side of the island, the north part is a small township of migrant workers tending various industrial plants, and so it's possible to visit; simply take a ferry from the New Harbour (Rf11, 20 minutes, every one to two hours).

  • Sights in Male

    National Art Gallery

    Under one roof you'll find the National Library, various cultural centres from countries around the world and this exhibition space, which has temporary displays of Maldivian art. There is sadly no permanent collection, so often there's nothing to see here if there's not an exhibit, but it's worth dropping by to check.

  • Sights in Other Islands

    Aarah

    This small island was used as the president’s holiday retreat during the Gayoom era and as such was a heavily fortified installation complete with bunkers on the beach. Under President Nasheed the island was used to host conferences and festivals, as well as to host some big beach parties featuring international DJs. However, since 2012 the island has been for government use only.

  • Sights in Male

    Tomb of Mohammed Thakurufaanu

    In the backstreets in the middle of town, in the grounds of a small mosque, is the tomb of Mohammed Thakurufaanu, Maldives’ national hero who liberated the country from Portuguese rule and was then the sultan from 1573 to 1585. Thakurufaanu is also commemorated in the name of the road that rings Male, Boduthakurufaanu Magu ( bodu means ‘big’ or ‘great’).

  • Sights in Male

    Rasrani Bageecha

    Previously known as Sultan's Park and once part of the grounds of the now-demolished sultan’s palace, this former green lung of Male was redeveloped and renamed Rasrani Bageecha in 2017. Instead of a much-needed, meditative and shady public space, it's now a neon-clad Dubai-style entertainment zone with various playgrounds, which will at least appeal to kids.

  • Sights in Other Islands

    Funadhoo

    This small island may not look like much, but it's the vital fuel repository for Male and indeed much of the country.