Malta is a small island located in the Mediterranean Sea below the Island of Sicily and next to the islands of Gozo and Comino. In this blog, I will share some of the experiences I had during my stay, although Malta is vast and I’m sure you’ll discover your own hidden gems.
1. Malta has a rich history
For any inquisitive minds, Malta is a perfect destination to learn about various historical artefacts whether its related to the world wars or a religious bearing, namely Christianity.
In recent history, before becoming independent from Great Britain in 1964, Malta had a large influence in both World Wars. As during The Great War, Malta earned the title of The Nurse of the Mediterranean for accommodating large numbers of wounded soldiers; whilst in World War 2, Malta was awarded the George Cross for the bravery of the Maltese people during The Second Siege of Malta.
Malta also has numerous large old cities with an abundance of history such as Valletta and Mdina and famous landmarks like St Paul’s Grotto and the Blue Lagoon. What you may not know is that before Game of Thrones was filmed in Croatia much of it was filmed in Malta, with the Dothraki wedding by the Azure Window. Valetta, the capital of Malta, was built following The Great Siege of 1565. It is known as the “modern” city due to the modern city planning used in its construction. Valetta is now recognised as a World Heritage Site and is one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world with 320 monuments all within an area of just 55 hectares. Whilst in Valetta there are numerous attractions to appreciate including the National War Museum, a cruise around the Grand Harbour and for any budding architects a look at St. Johns Co-Cathedral (built between 1573 and 1578).
Mdina possibly has the most history to offer in the whole of Malta for, as it used to be the capital of Malta before Valetta was built. It is now referred to as “the silent city” with very few cars and less than 300 people resident.
However, it boasts excellent architectural qualities with its historical structures for any budding photographers such as The Baroque Gateway (The Main Gateway into Mdina) and Catacombs, which were used as air raid shelters during the WW2 bombardments Malta endured.
It also holds one of the most well renowned Christian hotspots in St Paul’s Grotto, where it is said that the patron himself lived for 3 months after the shipwreck and spread the word of Christianity among the Maltese people. Anyone with an interest in history will get something from a visit here for just €5.
2. The Malta Classic Car Collection
Are you a petrol head? If so then you’ll love The Malta Classic Car Collection, a tribute to Carol Garea’s admiration of motor vehicles and Malta’s answer to Beaulieu. With a wide array of many classic cars and motorcycles from anywhere between the 1950’s to the 1970’s with over 100 exhibits on show, including the 1955 Jaguar C-Type to the 1962 Mercedes 190SL, there is nowhere better to be to admire classic automotive perfection. Each car is restored to its former glory by the museum itself unless they were acquired in pristine condition which is rare, with a Jaguar E-Type being restored in-house during my visit.
3. Blue Lagoon
The Maltese coast is predominately boulder-strewn so it is a pleasant surprise to visit the well renowned Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is a depiction of the natural beauty that the Island of Malta possesses, its crystal-clear azure waters and white sandy beaches are enough to entice anybody to have this as the top of their bucket list upon visiting Malta. As it is such a tourist hotspot in the summer there is always such a vibrant atmosphere with multiple cruises arriving every day (from as little as €20 for a day trip) and music to bring out the party in anyone.
Although if you are looking for a more relaxing time during your visit you can venture across the shallow lagoon to another beach or ride one of the minibusses to the other side of Comino to the tranquil Santa Maria Bay. For those with a strong sense of adventure, there are many Comino caves available for exploring – don’t forget a flashlight.
4. Popeye Village
Are you a spinach lover? Then this is a must see! This village is the set that was used for the 1980 film Popeye, starring Robin Williams. For those who don’t know about Popeye, he is a sailor who has a hankering for spinach (which is the source of his strength) and is blind in one eye.
*Spoiler Alert* The film is about Popeye journeying to the port town of Sweethaven to look for his father. There he falls in love with Olive Oyl and discovers an abandoned baby, Swee’Pea, whom he raises as his own. However, when Bluto, Olive’s suitor, finds out about Popeye’s affection for her, he kidnaps Olive and the child. So Popeye takes action with the help of his magic spinach.
Popeye Village is in Anchor Bay, Mellieha in the North West of the island, rather than abandon post filming it was turned into a magnificent open-air museum that boasts new additions such as mini-golf, a cinema, boat trips and much more.
Overall it is a real blast from the past with the character Popeye ranking #20 on TV Guide’s “50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time” list in 2002.
5. Island Cruises & St Paul’s Island
With Malta being an island, there are vast amounts of island cruises available to you, with St Paul’s Island being one of the most well renowned. It is especially a sought after attraction for people with an interest in the history of Christianity in Malta. This island is famous for being the site of the shipwreck of which St Paul was a passenger in 60 AD. A few survivors including Paul swam safely to land and had a bonfire lit for them, marked by the erecting of St Paul’s Bonfire Church.. There are numerous other locations commemorating Apostle Paul including the previously mentioned St Paul’s Grotto in Rabat and St Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina.
On the island itself there is a statue of St Paul which was built in 1845 to commemorate the arrival of Apostle Paul and Christianity. There are also fantastic views of Bugibba and Comino in the distance.
6. The Weather
Last but definitely not least, the reason to go on holiday: warm and sunny weather. Luckily enough Malta has some of the best weather in Europe with July and August having average temperatures of 30 & 31 degrees respectively, perfect for getting that summer tan and relaxing on a sunbed. Not only this but both months average less than 10mm of rain and have around 12 hours of sunshine daily.
Even if you’re not in Malta for the weather it is warm most of the year with winter months averaging around 15 degrees, basically a British summer, so Malta caters for all types of travellers from explorers to relaxers.
The only question now is:
When are you booking your flight?