7 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Malta
With their stunning location on the sunny south Mediterranean island and an abundance of nature and culture, Malta is a diverse, captivating destination that's easy to fall in love with.
Here, the diverse traditional architecture, scenic beauty, and water sports on offer are matched with a rich history that goes back to the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, and the Knights of St. John - whose well-preserved fortresses remain standing on the island today.
For those looking to make the most of their holiday, there are hundreds of things to do in Malta, from hiking and boating to diving and taking in top art and history sights.
The world has come to appreciate the beauty of the island, making it one of the most popular travel destinations of the modern day. Discover what makes this island one of the best places to visit in the world with this list of the top tourist attractions in Malta.
Valletta, the capital of Malta, was the country's first capital city. It was here that the Knights built their imposing fortress and St. John's Co-Cathedral, the largest in Malta. A walled city still, Valletta, originally known as Cittadella or Citra, is well worth a visit and is only 5 km (3 miles) from the sea, its distant hills a pleasing backdrop. To gain an understanding of Malta's turbulent past and history, visit the Temple of the Great Siege Museum, which vividly re-creates the horrors of a 1798 attack on the city, when 50,000 French invaders besieged the Maltese, badly weakened by a five-year war with Napoleon. The attacks lasted for eight months, leaving hundreds of soldiers and civilians dead. The Maltese, who lost three-quarters of their fleet in the great disaster, fought gallantly. Some rebels wore naval uniforms to fool the invaders into believing that there were fewer than 60 men to defend the city, but when the enemy struck, the Maltese were ready with over 900 soldiers. Other sights to see in the city include the Floriana Barracks, which houses an excellent and well-presented museum; and the impressive Bighi Corridor, housing the most beautiful courtyard in Malta. There are a number of interesting sights, places of worship, and shops in the area, which can be reached on foot in 10 minutes.
Marsaxlokk is one of Malta's most charming villages, with a 16th-century fortified medieval town, narrow cobbled streets, and quiet squares and alleys. Unlike other Maltese towns, Marsaxlokk has retained its Arabic influences, offering visitors a glimpse of what everyday life must have been like in Malta centuries ago. Historically Marsaxlokk is most well known for the construction of the medieval town walls, said to be the longest in Europe, dating from 1585. Overlooking the village from a hilltop is the Bukele Buġibba Fort, built between 1571 and 1579. The oldest monument in the village is the Ħaġar Qim Ħal Ġuħar fort, dating from the 12th century. It was used to house poor people and was demolished in the early 19th century.
St. Paul's Bay
Malta has a long and checkered history of possession by Europe and the Muslim world. For centuries it was a fief of the Knights of St. John, fighting off attacks by the Turks and the French. The Knights' rule ended in 1800, but it was not until the 20th century that Malta entered the modern world. In the 20th century it gained independence and is one of the few places in the world in which the local people still live in traditional villages, isolated from each other and from the larger towns. The capital, Valletta, contains many of the old city buildings of Malta's earlier history, including the Grotto of the Madonna and San Giovanni Rotondo, a remarkable repository of carved St. John's crosses dating from the 6th and 7th centuries. Apart from Valletta, the small coastal towns are tourist resorts, with hundreds of hotels.
The Valletta Waterfront
This sweeping public space stretches along the water's edge on the southern shore of Malta's capital city. This is an ideal place to wander in the late afternoon, when the sun is sinking in the sky. Waterfront Place and the Banca Amalfitana will provide you with friendly and attentive service. Take a stroll along the nearby waterfront promenade and the Small Cross, where it's possible to catch a ferry to Gozo. Or eat and watch the world go by at one of the many cafés.
St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta
St. John's Co-Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in the world, being built between 1537 and 1595. It is a masterpiece of the Maltese Renaissance. The huge building, located in the heart of Valletta, can be admired from many sides. You can visit the enclosed cloisters, the Chapter Room, the crypt, and the vestry. The remains of the Roman fortress on the site date back to AD 44. The name of the Roman town was Claudopolis, after the emperor Claudius. The city changed hands a number of times, before being conquered by the Muslim ruler, the Sultan Qait Bay, in 1669. A decade later, Sultan Faris II laid the foundations of the present Valletta. Today, the fortress has been transformed into the national museum of our island, housing a wealth of Maltese history and culture. It is the largest collection of its kind in the Mediterranean. It is well worth a visit.
St. Julian's in Malta is an idyllic town with a centuries-old heritage. Most famous for being the final resting place of Grand Master della Giunta, who, according to legend, was invited to Malta by St. Paul. The site itself is a romantic, glass-enclosed stone chapel carved into the side of a cliff. Designed by the American architect Richard Serra, it's a dramatic and otherworldly sight, and over the years it has been the subject of various film productions including Lord of the Rings. St. Julian's has a sunny Mediterranean climate, a brilliant location, a fascinating history, and fantastic activities to keep visitors busy. The National Aquarium offers an enjoyable way to explore this area of water. The Mediterranean island also has a museum of fishing vessels and shipwrecks, where you can experience a submarine journey of the Maltese deeps.
Mellieħa is Malta's third-largest town, making it also the smallest urban settlement in Europe and one of the smallest in the world. Founded in the mid-19th century, it has grown around the place where the ferry for Gozo docks and now houses about 30,000 people. The old town retains a number of 18th-century buildings from Gozo's heyday, but Mellieħa also has its share of Greek and Roman ruins and a splendid old church. Overlooking Mellieħa is the Grand Harbour, a protected wetland area that has no harbor, so visitors arrive and depart from a lovely small quay overlooking the area's spectacular setting. What to do in Mellieħa includes visiting some of the churches, including St. Philip, Our Lady of Grace, and St. Lawrence; taking in views from the town walls; and taking a break at the seaside at Marsalforn. Beaches abound in the area and visitors can head over to nearby Gozo and swim at its few beaches. Hiring a scooter allows easy access for off-road exploring.