Malta is a destination I would recommend to anyone and everyone, but I found it is vastly underrated and relatively off the radar of U.S. citizens. When I told people I was going to Malta, many people had never heard of it or if they had, they had little to no clue where it was. Several people knew it was somewhere in Europe and perhaps thought it was part of Spain, or France, or Italy (getting closer!).
Where is Malta?
Malta is the southernmost country in Europe and is a small island nation that is south of Italy (Sicily) and north of Africa (Tunisia & Libya).
Why should I go to Malta?
Malta is the perfect destination to add onto your Eurotrip or to make an entirely separate trip to visit (like we did!). I spent a full week in Malta with my sister, but we could’ve easily spent weeks there (I dream of returning to spend a few months). There are many reasons you should go, but I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 reasons below!
1) Mediterranean Sea
Malta is located in the brilliantly blue Mediterranean Sea, boasting over 85 miles of coastline. Need I say more? The water is warm (the average sea temperature ranges from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and 60 to 70 degrees the rest of the year) and is very enjoyable to swim in.
There are exceptionally light crystal blue pockets of water, especially around the island of Comino, which is home to the famous Blue Lagoon. Malta’s coastline encompasses both rocky and red sand beaches, caves and coves along the Mediterranean Sea. You know those gorgeous photos you’ve seen of the beaches in Italy and Greece? Yes, that sea is shared by Malta. The Mediterranean is also the perfect playground for kayaking, boating, and diving!
2) Sunshine & beautiful weather
Malta’s capital city Valletta holds the title of both the sunniest and warmest capital in Europe! If you’re looking for warm sunny days, look no further than Malta! Average temperatures range from 89 – 66 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and 63 – 49 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.
3) Fewer crowds
In comparison to European vacation destinations, you’ll find significantly fewer crowds in Malta. I visited Malta in the middle of high season in summer (end of July & early August) when Europeans typically take their summer holidays. I typically like to avoid traveling in during high season to avoid crowds (I’ve heard May and September in Malta are lovely with virtually no crowds) but even in high season, I was pleasantly surprised by the absence of massive crowds.
Yes, there were still tourists everywhere in the capital mid-day and the beaches were packed in the afternoons, but it wasn’t to the point where I felt like a sardine or herded sheep. In comparison, when I was in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September last year (which is apparently outside of high season), I was put off by the sheer amount of tourists and how every street felt like it was brimming to full capacity, with tour groups gathered at every other corner. I did not get this vibe in Malta even during high season.
4) Impressive history
Malta is a country full of history, situated in a crucial location in the center of ancient activities in the Mediterranean Sea. Malta is home to the oldest standing buildings in the world (yes, the megalithic temples in Malta are even older than the Stonehenge and Egyptian pyramids)! Malta is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the capital city Valletta.
Whether or not you’re a history buff, you should be able to appreciate a country that has been inhabited since approximately 5900 BC (thanks Wikipedia). Throughout the centuries, Malta has been inhabited by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French, and British, with each group leaving its own unique mark on the islands.
5) Epic parties
Malta knows how to party! If you’re looking for a wild night out, look no further than the lively neighborhood of Paceville (St. Julians). On weekends, the streets are flooded with crowds spilling out from the bars and nightclubs. There are also a range of open-air clubs open in the summer throughout the island. For a more laid-back vibe, there are plenty of wine bars and pubs to be discovered. There is always a party or festival going on, from beer and wine festivals to local festas (community festivals for the town’s saint). People stay up late partying, which attributes to the reason you’ll find little to no crowds out and about in the morning.
Malta is home to countless parties and festivals that host world-renowned artists and DJ’s (some are even free, like this year’s free Summer Daze concert with Rita Ora and Martin Garixx!). MTV Europe hosts and Isle of MTV annual music festival in Malta and TOMORROWLAND hosted a satellite UNITE event in Malta (music festival/rave). My sister and I attended TOMORROWLAND UNITE in Malta with live acts from Steve Aoki and Nervo, which was only €40 a person. While the event was full of concert-goers, we found it to be less crowded than similar events we have been to in the U.S., it was very easy for us to get up to the front directly in front of the stage and we had room to dance around.
In comparison to other European countries, Malta is budget-friendly. Malta’s currency is the Euro. While the Euro is still stronger than the U.S. dollar (€1 is $1.18 USD as of September 2018), it is not as strong as it has been in the past, making travel to Europe more affordable for Americans. Public transportation is cheap (€2 for two hours on a bus from June to the end of September, and €1.50 the rest of the year).
While hotels and hostels can be expensive, Airbnb’s are cheap! We spent $471.05 total for 7 nights for two people (at a few different properties in Malta & Gozo) for rooms with private bathrooms (you could find rooms even cheaper if you select rooms with shared bathrooms). If you’ve never used Airbnb before, get $40 off your first stay with my referral link here! Cheap food is available, especially if you are cooking or preparing your own meals in Airbnb’s (I always recommend at least preparing one meal a day to save money). While Malta is not as cheap as traveling in Southeast Asia or South America, in terms of Europe, Malta is affordable.
7) Ease of communication (English)
As an English speaker, it is very easy to communicate and get by, since English is one of the official languages of Malta (along with Maltese). Signs are written in English (although you might not be able to pronounce some of the local place names like Wied il-Għasri, Xlendi, and Ix-Xewkija) and most people speak English. This is because Malta was a British colony from 1815 until 1974. This is also why Maltese drive on the left side of the road, use three prong British power outlets and you’ll see British phone booths scattered around.
8) Gorgeous architecture
Malta is full of beautiful and historic architecture! If you are a fan of doors, Malta has some of the most a-door-able ones in the world in a wide range of fun colors. I would highly recommend a stroll through Valletta, Mdina (the old capital), and Rabat (just outside of Mdina) to enjoy the charming streets accented with beautiful colors. With 359 churches in Malta, there are almost as many as days in the year! The churches are very intricate, unique, and exquisite. Make sure to visit at least a few during your stay in Malta!
9) Ease of travel
Malta is just a short flight from Europe’s mainland. It is only 1.5 hour flight from Rome, we flew via Air Malta but many other airlines fly there, including British Air and budget airline Ryanair. Malta is just over a 3 hour flight from London. You can also take a ferry from Italy, although the travel time is much longer. American citizens do not need a visa to enter Malta if they are staying less than 90 days.
It is also fairly easy and affordable to get around Malta with public transportation and the ferry to Malta’s sister island Gozo is only €4.65 (you don’t pay anything on the way there and pay on the way back). Although after traveling via public transportation (and the occasional cab at night), I would recommend renting a car for faster travel around the islands to maximize your time in Malta.
10) Global destination
When you go on a vacation, it’s typically to take a break from your home life, which you’ll be able to do in Malta. We didn’t meet another U.S. citizen the week we were in Malta. On the other hand, the first people we met on our layover in Rome (sitting at the table next to us at lunch) were from Chicago. That’s not to say anything against traveling where Americans are, but it’s nice to interact with people from all over the world, especially when traveling. There are a mixture of cultures represented, we met people from North Africa (Libya) and all over Europe and the UK. The homes we stayed at through Airbnb were owned by Spanish, Irish, English, and Maltese people.
So when are planning to visit Malta?! Have I convinced you yet? 😉 Stay tuned for more blogs on what to do in Malta and check out more photos of Malta on my Instagram @go4theglobe.