Since moving abroad, the people I meet frequently express their curiosity about the little island I call home. A few have been curious enough to plan a trip to explore the Maltese Islands in person. Seb and I started to put together a few tips, that eventually evolved into a short guide for our ideal short trip to Malta. We thought it would be helpful to make this guide accessible to anyone, and this series of posts is an attempt to do just that.
The Maltese archipelago comprises of 3 main islands; the largest island Malta, followed by mostly rural island of Gozo, and the almost-deserted island of Comino.
Malta is a tiny island with an area of just over 316 square kilometres and a population of just under 450,000. This makes it one of the smallest countries in the world and one of the most densely populated. The main harbour area is the most built area in the country, with the majority of the population living there.
Being such a small country, it is possible to see a whole country in a couple of days rather that just a city like in other countries. There are a lot of things to see and do which are interesting to a wide audience. If you are spending more than just a day or two, I think that it is a must to explore not just the main island of Malta, but also spend some time on the Island of Gozo to witness the difference between the two main islands.
Malta is rich in history and is often described as an open air museum. It is home to the Neolithic temples, which are some of the oldest freestanding structures in the world. Over time, the Island has been ruled by various powers, which all leaved their mark there. These include the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British. You basically get a bit of everything here.
Our Island is popular for its favourable weather and the sea. Malta is lucky to enjoy over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year (one of the highest in Europe). The best months for beach lovers are between June and September. Personally, I prefer the rest of the year, where you can enjoy the beauty of Malta in quiet and more moderate temperatures.
Interesting Facts and Tips:
- We have our own language… Maltese! It’s a secret language known by few thousands of people in the world 🙂 Most people speak English too, and it is the second official language in Malta. Italian is also popular due to high exposure to Italian media.
- We are not Maltesers. We are Maltese or the People of Malta 🙂
- Capital city: Valletta, built on a peninsula after the Great Siege of 1565 and named after the Grand Master La Valette.
- Currency: Euro. Malta joined the EU in 2004 and the Eurozone in 2008.
- Traffic: We drive on the left side.
- Main religion: Catholicism. You can find over 360 churches on the Islands.
- Typical Maltese Snack: Pastizzi, traditionally filled with ricotta or mushy peas.
- Traditional Maltese Dish: So much to choose from! With great mediterranean ingredients and dishes inspired by sicilian, english and sometimes even middle eastern cuisine, you are sure to find something amazing. My favourites are Rabbit (stewed or fried), Gozitan style Ftira and Hobz biz-Zejt.
- Favourite Maltese Beverage: Kinnie. It has a bittersweet citrus flavour… you either love it or hate… I love it!
In the coming weeks, I will be posting further tips about the Maltese Islands and interesting spots to visit. I hope you enjoyed reading this and will find it useful if you are planning a trip there. 🙂
I recently came across this aerial footage of Malta and Gozo and I even felt a bit homesick while watching it. I hope it inspires you to take a trip over and visit my home country! 🙂
no place like MALTA from Malcolm Debono on Vimeo.
Other articles in this series:
- Valletta, Malta’s Capital
- What to do in Malta’s Three Cities
- Mdina, Malta’s Silent City
- Gozo, Malta’s Sister Island
- Malta’s Other Gems