- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Surrounded by the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea south of Sicily, the Maltese Islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino) have a fascinating heritage. The islands boast an ancient history with ruins of the oldest buildings in existence. The Maltese language is derived from Arabic mixed with Italian. Under the scorching sunshine, Malta's palm-tree fringed landscape is dotted with picturesque hilltop towns, peaceful seaports, and old fishing villages.
Valletta, the capital, is an ideal base to explore the Island of Malta without a car. The island has an efficient bus system with Valletta as its hub. Tourists will appreciate Valletta's charming hotels, restaurants, historical sites, and cultural events.
Tourist Attractions in Malta
Valletta: Malta's Elegant Capital
A strategically important seaport, this fortified city is the elegant capital of the Republic of Malta. The entire city of Valletta is testimony to the grandeur of the Knights of Malta, the European noblemen who were granted the Maltese Islands by the King of Spain in 1530. The knights created a capital worthy of their aristocratic stature, on par with other great European capitals.
Begin a tour of Valletta at Saint John's Co-Cathedral. This 16th-century church was built by the different Orders of the Knights, hailing from various countries such as France, Spain, and Italy. Visitors are surprised by the awe-inspiring interior with its opulent gilded decor.
The Idyllic Island of Gozo
Gozo Island is the most idyllic destination of the Maltese Islands. With its quaint pastoral landscape, quiet towns, and pristine beaches, this little island is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing vacation while still discovering cultural attractions. There are enough sights to keep visitors occupied for several days or even a weeklong stay.
Historical Attractions in Rabat
Just outside the Mdina ramparts is the neighboring town of Rabat. Tourists can see both cities in the same day; Mdina and Rabat are sometimes considered to be one unified urban area. In Maltese, the word "Rabat" means "suburb." Rabat is less touristy and more of a real working city than Mdina but still has historical attractions. One of the hidden gems is the Casa Bernard, a grand 16th-century palazzo that belonged to a noble Maltese family of French origins.
For those interested in the classical period, the Roman Villa is definitely worth visiting. This archaeological site, also called Domus Romana, features astounding 1st-century BC Roman mosaics.
The Blue Grotto
The Blue Grotto is approached by a winding road on a cliff high above the Mediterranean Sea. The spectacular coastal scenery provides an exciting introduction to the nature site. The Blue Grotto is in Wied iz Zurrieq where the Grand Marshall Copier and a cavalry squadron shadowed the Turkish Armada on the eve of the Great Siege of 1565. According to mythology, the Blue Grotto was home to the sirens (sea nymphs) who captivated sailors with their charms.
Golden Bay Beach
With its sandy shores protected by a mountainous coastline and sloping cliffs, Golden Bay in Northwest Malta is one of the island's prettiest beaches. Golden Bay Beach is easily accessible by car or bus; the bus stop is only a five-minute walk away from the beach. Unlike other beaches in Malta, Golden Bay Beach is far away from street traffic, which makes it a relaxing seaside escape. The beach has an extremely wide shoreline with soft golden sands. The waters are clean and gentle enough for swimming, with an extensive area roped off for safety.