Five perfect Malta itineraries

All photos via VisitMalta.com

Whether you’re seeking the perfect music festival, are hungry for historical sights or looking for the ideal family holiday, you’ll find it all in Malta.

When the holiday urge strikes, don’t leave anything to chance. You need somewhere to relax, plenty of things to see and do, great food, lots of sunshine: a trip that’s truly memorable.

The Mediterranean has a huge range of options, with its climate, beaches, varied cuisines and history, but Malta, with its unique fusion of influences and history – plus more than its fair share of natural beauty – has it all.

So don’t hang around – Malta is go!

Malta’s walled capital city, Valletta.

1. Go to relax in an amazing city

Take a stroll among the arts, architecture and shopping that a global city offers, but make it Mediterranean chic with sunshine, café culture and great food. Former European Capital of Culture Valletta is a grand start. You’ll want to see St John’s Co-Cathedral, custodian of the only signed Caravaggio painting in the world – the bonus being that another of his works is on display – but The Three Cities, Sliema and Mdina also make for great days out.

You could also time your trip to coincide with one of the many traditional Maltese festas (a primarily religious celebration) that take place throughout the year, or the Victoria Arts or Malta Jazz festivals in July. For yachting on an epic scale there’s the Rolex Middle Sea Race on October 22. 

Feeling flush? There are more than 31 restaurants across the island in the Michelin Guide, five of which are Michelin-starred. As you’d expect from Malta’s island heritage, there’s a heavy slant towards superb Mediterranean seafood.

2. Go and enjoy the sounds

Go to a festival and maybe take some friends (or your bae). With a fast-growing reputation for high-profile events, Malta is the place to enjoy vibes in incredible settings. In June, there’s Annie Mac Presents: Lost and Found Festival, with a line-up spanning house, disco, grime and garage. And it isn’t just in clubs, either; it takes in boats, beaches and castle parties in Mellieħa, making it a proper sun-drenched Mediterranean escape. Come July, Europe’s biggest free summer festival, Isle of MTV, will take over Floriana. If you fly the rainbow flag you’ll be warmly welcome: the annual Malta Pride is a huge deal. In 2022, it’s running from September 2-11, but excitement’s already growing about Malta hosting EuroPride in 2023. The country is also brilliant for keeping it casual, with markets offering delicious street food. Try Is-Suq tal-Belt in Valletta, a covered market that’s been around since the nineteenth century, or the buzzy It-Tokk – perfect for TikTok? – market in Gozo.

3. Go and uncover culture

Go follow in the footsteps of giants: really ancient ones. Visit Gozo to witness the awesome Ġgantija Temples. Older than the pyramids and even Stonehenge, these megalithic structures have a name that translates as ‘belonging to the giants’ and they’re a Unesco World Heritage Site. That’s not the extent of Malta’s Unesco legacy – there are also remains at Qrendi and Tarxien, but for sheer eerie prehistoric wonder, Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum in Paola, a huge underground temple complex and necropolis, is unmissable. After all that culture – and Malta has more than 7,000 years of it – you’ll be hungry, but why not extend the historical love-in and dine in one of its many heritage settings? How about eating in a 2,000-year-old limestone cave in Rabat, behind an iron portcullis in an ancient gunpowder vault in Mdina, in a palazzo built by the Knights of Malta in Valletta, or even in a sixteenth-century windmill in Mellieħa? 

The old walled Maltese capital, Mdina.

4. Go on an adventure

Go for blue: you can experience some of the Mediterranean’s best diving, snorkelling and swimming in Malta. For perfectly crystal-clear turquoise waters, it’s an easy hop from the mainland to the Blue Lagoon on the tiny island of Comino and you’ll also find canoe, windsurfing and water-ski hire. For landlubbers, there are some heavenly nature walks on this unspoilt and mostly uninhabited isle. Climb the historic seventeenth-century Santa Marija Tower, originally built as a defence to spot pirates and smugglers and take in the spectacular views. The air is laced with aromatic cumin, which grows locally. If you need more azure, head to the Blue Grotto on a boat trip. You’ll explore a series of phosphorescent sea caves which, on sunny days (and Malta has more than 300 of them annually), reflect the shimmering blue waters on the cavern walls. 

Gnejna Bay to the North-West of Malta.

5. Go somewhere fun with the family

Go visit the Popeye Village. Built as a film set for the 1980 ‘Popeye’ musical starring Robin Williams, it’s now become a family-friendly amusement park located in the idyllic Anchor Bay. You can meet Popeye the Sailorman, Olive Oyl and Bluto, explore the film sets and take part in a filming experience with the in-house animation crew and see yourself on the big screen. For active kids, there are water trampolines and boat trips around the bay. There are also plenty of beautiful beaches and waterparks – Mellieħa alone has several – to let off steam, and it’s not just science geeks who will enjoy the huge Esplora Interactive Science Centre. To round things off, don’t forget that Malta’s Italian influence means that there are some great gelaterias. Just tell yourself it’s for the kids, as you sample delicious cappuccino-flavoured ice cream.

Valletta Marsamxetto Creek