The great thing about is how small it is, making it very easy to get around the island and see plenty of sights during your stay. OK, so that’s not the only brilliant thing about Malta, but it does mean a holiday spent visiting attractions can also be relaxing, because the distances are so small and the little orange and white buses are so efficient.
If this is enough to convince you to visit this small Mediterranean island, then just imagine how excited you’ll be to find out about all the attractions to see. From the stunning architecture of Valletta to Malta’s incredible history and rocky coastline, there’s a lot to explore.
Already a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage City, Valletta is likely to get even more attention in the next few years. That is because it is scheduled to be European Capital of Culture for 2018, an accolade that it more than deserves.
The Grand Harbour is the focal point of Valletta and it could even be argued its raison d’être. Here the Knights of Saint John held off the invading Ottoman Turks in 1565, centuries before it became the site of various important events in the Second World War. Look out across the water from the Upper Barracca Gardens or explore it on a boat tour.
Lascaris War Rooms
Valletta’s bastion walls are certainly impressive, but so are the tunnels built within them. Originally they housed salves under the order of Saint John, but were put to good use as the headquarters of British and Allied Mediterranean forces in World War II. Find out about Malta’s crucial role in the conflict while exploring the ops rooms, complete with maps, phones and plotting tables.
Grand Master’s Palace
Used as the home of the Grand Master of the Order of Saint John between 1570 and 1798, when Napoleon overthrew the order, this palace highlights the luxurious life the head of the knights would have had. Throughout history it has maintained its position at the epicentre of power in Malta and houses the parliament and office of the president to this day.
St John’s Co-Cathedral
One of the most important baroque buildings in the whole of Europe, it is impossible not to be overwhelmed by the attention to detail borne out in marble, gold and paint inside this church. All of this is hidden from the outside, which is incredibly plain, but step into the interior to be truly amazed.
Mnajdra and Hagar Qim
Prehistoric temples can be found throughout Malta, with all of them recognised as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Among the most fascinating to visit are Mnajdra and Hagar Qim, both older and more developed than Stonehenge, they were built between 3600BC and 2500BC. Located just 500 metres apart, there is a visitors’ centre and audio guide to explain the layout and significance of the two sites.
No longer standing alone in the landscape, the ancient temple of Tarxien is surrounded by modern buildings, but it still has some stunning secrets to divulge. Tarxien South is covered in intricate decoration and is where many of the carvings that are now located in the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta were discovered.
The fortified city of Mdina was the capital of Malta up until 1530 and is said to be where St Paul lived after being shipwrecked on the island. Narrow shady streets are lined with the palaces of noble families and an impressive cathedral and informative museum can also be found here. It is an interesting place to contrast with Valletta and should be visited by anyone interested in the history of Malta.