The Knights of Malta’s main church, this extraordinary place of worship is up there with the most important Baroque buildings in Europe. The outside is plain, even severe in style, having been designed by the military architects who built Valletta as the Knights’ citadel capital in the 1570s. Inside, however, is dazzling, every inch covered in gold, marble or paint. Even the floor is a sea of tombs in coloured marble. Each language group of the Knights had a chapel here and they competed for the greatest and most sumptuous decoration. Recent restoration has only served to brighten the place further. The audio guide is worth using and points up the highlights amongst the visual mêlée. Don’t miss the oratory which is home to Caravaggio’s largest (and only signed) painting, the superb Beheading of St John.
- 1 Entertainment & relaxation
- 2 Culture & History
- 3 Food
- 4 Points of interest and Museums
Entertainment & relaxation
53) Enjoy Malta’s nightlife: Have a couple of drinks, enjoy the music and vibes at one of the open air clubs around the Rabat area, like Gianpula and Marrakech
54) Go on an organised pub crawl around Paceville, St. Julian’s and Valletta. Book a taxi in advance or have a phone number handy. 😉
55) Get a drink in one of the trendy little bars in Strait Street, Valletta, and learn about the area’s chequered (but fascinating) past
56) Get a spa treatment to kick off your holiday stress detox in style. Look for Myoka Spa to start with. You can find them in various locations.
57) Watch the horse races at Qormi on Sundays
58) Like birds of prey? Visit the Malta Falconry Centre in Siġġiewi for one of their displays in the Maltese tradition of falconry
59) Try your luck at one of the island’s casinos in St. Julian’s (Dragonara Casino), Birgu (Casino di Venezia) or Bugibba (Oracle Casino)
60) Watch flyover demonstrations and visit the exhibition of a variety of aircraft at the annual Malta International Airshow in September.
61) Follow the traditional regatta (rowing boat races) at Grand Harbour on Victory Day (8th September)
62) Enjoy a laid back evening with live jazz music at Bridge Bar in Valletta (summer nights)
63) Into jazz? Attend the annual Malta Jazz Festival
64) Be part of the fun at the annual Isle of MTV open air concert on the Granaries (square) in Floriana, right outside Valletta at the end of June
65) Take a film tour and explore some of Malta’s famous backdrops to numerous blockbuster movies.
66) Up for watching a movie? You can find cinemas in St. Julian’s (Paceville), Bugibba and Valletta.
67) View a re-enactment from the time of the Knights at In Guardia, Fort St Elmo
68) Head over to Rabat and get lost in the old village core. Don’t forget your camera!
Valletta fortifications walk
Valletta was built by the Knights of St John (the Knights of Malta) after they nearly lost the islands to the Ottoman Turks in the Great Siege of 1565. The city was constructed on a barren, rocky peninsula with water all around except on a narrow landward side. It was state-of-the-art military architecture, intended to be impregnable. And so it was: for 200 years nobody even dared attempt invasion. The fortifications are still impressive today. My favourite way to see them is to walk a circuit around the edge of the city on top of the walls (or as close as possible) looking down on the two harbours that flank the capital. The walk is circular so you can start anywhere, but I would start at City Gate — the main entrance to the City. Valletta is only 1km long so it isn’t too hefty a walk. At the tip of the peninsula, the far end from City Gate, stands Fort St Elmo, the only building here that predates Valletta and a key player in the Great Siege.
Culture & History
69) Visit and access one of the historical watch towers, for example St Agatha’s Tower (the Red Tower) overlooking Mellieħa Bay
70) Admire some of Malta’s beautiful churches, for example the Ta` Pinu Basilica in Gozo, the Mosta Dome, or St. Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina
71) Discover the jaw dropping interiors of La Sacra Infermeria (nowadays home to the Mediterranean Conference Centre) in Valletta
72) Follow one of the Good Friday processions (March/April) around the islands, perhaps in Mosta or Zebbug
73) Admire the colourful carnival floats going around Valletta during the Malta Carnival celebrations (February)
74) Book tickets for a performance at the Manoel Theatre, Europe’s third-oldest working theatre
75) Watch the changing of the guards of the Presidential Palace in Valletta, every last Friday of the month at 10am.
76) Learn about Valletta’s rich history by watching the Valletta Living History documentary at Embassy cinemas in the capital city
77) Explore the darker side of Valletta by taking a Ghost Tour around the city in the evening.
78) Watch traditional glass blowers at work, at Mdina Glass in Ta` Qali
79) Take in some of the spectacular fireworks displays, either at the Fireworks Festival at the end of April, or by attending a traditional village feast or festa
80) View some of Caravaggio’s finest paintings and admire some of the amazing interiors at the St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta
81) Explore the underground heart of Malta’s defence during World War 2, at the Lascaris War Rooms
82) Pick up a few handcrafted Maltese souvenirs at the Ta` Qali Crafts Village
83) Visit the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Temple complex to learn about some of the world’s oldest freestanding structures
84) If Malta’s Megalithic temples interest you, discover the Hal-Saflieni Hypogeum. It’s an underground temple, cut into the rock, built and expanded between 3600 and 2500 BC. You’ll need to book your visit in advance and may not be able to visit during conservation projects
85) Visit the Fortification Interpretation Centre to understand how Valletta and its surrounding areas were built and how it was designed.
Grand Harbour boat tour
The famous Grand Harbour is at the heart of much of Malta’s history (and some of Europe’s). Site of the Great Siege of 1565 in which the Knights of St John just managed to hold off the invading Ottoman Turks, as well as the centre of significant events of World War Two, the harbour was home to the British Royal Navy in the Med until the 1970s. Having seen the view from the Upper Barracca Gardens, in clement weather it is well worth getting out on the water. My favourite way to do this is on a tour in a traditional dghajsa. There used to be hundreds of these colourful little wooden boats ferrying sailors between ship and shore. Now there are only a few and their single oar (used rather like that of a gondola) is supplemented with a motor, but I think they are still the most evocative way to get around the Grand Harbour. Do not encourage your boatman to take you beyond the harbour walls; these boats are not designed for the open sea. A&S Water Taxis offer half-hour tours, six passengers to a boat, leaving from Customs House, next to the Valletta Waterfront, or from Birgu/Vittoriosa waterfront on the other side of the harbour.
Read more: best hotels in Malta
86) Sample Maltese wine at one of the two Wine Festivals organised in mid-July and late-August by local wine producers
87) Take a wine tasting tour at Marsovin’s wine cellars and taste some of the fine wine produced in Malta
88) Buy fresh local agricultural produce at the farmer’s market at Ta` Qali, on Tuesdays and Saturdays (mornings – the earlier, the better!)
89) Get a taste of a variety of Mediterranean food, combined with a good bottle of wine at a small restaurant called Legligin, in Valletta
90) Taste the freshest, sweetest strawberries you can find, right from the fields around Mġarr at the annual Strawberry Festival in April
91) Try a few locally produced popular snacks and drinks: Twistees (savoury snack), Kinnie (local soft drink) or Cisk (locally brewed beer)
92) Enjoy a couple of glasses of wine and food platters at a wine bar with a nice sea view, like at The Fortress in Xemxija (near St. Paul’s Bay)
93) Have lunch at one of the good fish restaurants lining the seafront of Marsaxlokk and take a stroll to admire the colourful luzzu boats
94) Sample some Gozo-produced wine and get a taste of other local produce like olives, tomato paste and cheeselets at Ta` Mena (on the road from Victoria to Marsalforn)
95) Taste traditionally prepared rabbit or bragioli at a restaurant (tips!) serving genuine Maltese food.
96) Grab yourself some pastizzi (typical Maltese street food). You can find smaller shops selling these delicious pastries around every corner
97) Have dinner by the sea, for example at Xlendi, Gozo at The Boathouse or at one of the restaurants lining the Valletta Waterfront
98) Try locally brewed beers (as well as big international brands) at the annual Beer Festival (late July)
99) Try Ħobż biż-Żejt, a typically Maltese type of sandwich at a place like Olympic Bar in Mosta.
100) Go for afternoon tea at Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar
101) Do you like whisky? Sample a variety of whiskies at StrEat Whisky and Bistro in Valletta.
Malta at War Museum
This is not only a museum about Malta’s Second World War but – for me more interestingly – it offers tours of the vast World War Two shelter below ground. Don a hard hat, pass through the (reproduction) gas curtain and descend into the world of the Maltese during the worst of the war. Malta was the target of some of the most concentrated bombing anywhere and this area, home of the Grand Harbour dockyards doing crucial ship repair work, was hardest hit. Hundreds of people spent days and nights down in these hand-cut rock tunnels with only smoky little oil lamps for light. The guides here are exceptionally well informed and really bring the place to life (in English). In summer, bring a sweatshirt as it can be cold by comparison with outside.
- The beautiful Mdina Cathedral and museum. The National History Museum, Palazzo Falzon, and Carmelite Museum.
- You can visit the Mdina experience which is an audio visual show featuring the history of Mdina through the olden times to the present moment. Shows are held on Monday to Friday from 10.30 till 16.00.
- The Mdina dungeons is another interesting place to see located just as you come in from the main entrance gate beside the playing field.
- Once walking along Mdina you can go on the Bastions and get a beautiful panoramic view of all Malta. And a great must to have a delicious pieces of cakes at this famous place called ‘Fontanella.’
Malta Pub Crawl came along as a nightlife guide to get you through the hectic party scene in Paceville. The Pub Crawl takes you on a positive clubbing journey. Starting at a rooftop bar and ending off the night at St Julian’s largest nightclub. The Pub Crawl is an exhilarating experience and often helps you making friends that lasts a lifetime.
There are many bars, clubs and pubs in the area but you will not know where to go and what to choose. Many with different party themes. The popular ones with Salsa and Latino music, the Hip Hop, R&B clubs where the atmosphere can be more cool and a more entitled crowd lurks around.
There’s the gentleman’s clubs, which are seemingly on every corner. There is the shot bars popular for some pre-session hits of strong spirits. Hidden away are the gems, the beautiful venues with class and elegance. Hard to find and often missed. The clubbing often goes through the night partying early morning.
Malta Pub Crawl chooses its venues according to what’s happening on the night. The meeting point is in Paceville Piazza and the experience includes 30 minutes of free shots, 4 entry drinks, 4 venues and Maltese humour.
If you’re new to Malta its a great idea to join the Pub Crawl, it’s a great way to make new friends and hit up the clubs with a cool group of people and avoid the creeps.
Are you ready to crawl?
4. Malta Beaches
Malta is surrounded by rocky and sandy beaches ideally to swim for many months during the year. Popular beaches are Paradise Bay, Mellieha Bay, Golden sands, Armier Bay and Sliema front. Besides the beaches you can go to Lidos and private pools. Malta has more hours of sunshine than any other European country. It makes it perfect to enjoy the numerous beaches with different charming characters. From very shallow sandy beaches ideal for children to deep blue sea for snorkeling and diving.
Lascaris War Rooms
Deep inside the bastion walls of Valletta, these tunnels were once the slave quarters of the Order of St John. In the Second World War they became the secret headquarters of the British and Allied Mediterranean forces, and it was from here that General Eisenhower commanded Operation Husky, the successful invasion of Sicily in 1943. You can still see ops rooms complete with maps, phones and plotting tables, as well as ancient-looking – yet inventive – communication systems. There is an audioguide in English as well as human guides full of additional facts and stories about Malta’s crucial role in the war. The Lascaris War Rooms are underneath the Upper Barracca Gardens so it is easy to visit both on the same outing.
Read more: Malta’s best restaurants
Points of interest and Museums
There’s much more to see in Malta and Gozo: Check out my big list of 59 Points of interest, places to visit and attractions in Malta and the 29 Best Museums and Tourist Attractions in Malta.
- We suggest that you swim at various sandy and rocky beaches each with their own characteristics.
- The most popular ones are reachable by public transport. Trips are more frequent during the peak summer months. All beaches are reachable by car.
- For a complete list of Maltese Beaches.
5. Local Feasts
An opportunity not to be missed when visiting Malta are the many village feasts in all towns and villages around the islands especially between May and September. The villagers celebrate the feast of their patron saint with great fanfare, colourful decorations, band marches, a unique for Malta.
The village feast days highlight the actual feast day but every village have a program spread on various days before the feast day. If you intend to go we recommends to ask for further details.
Various Malta guided tours are organizes to local feasts.
6. Blue Grotto Wied iz-Zurrieq
The Blue Grotto is a picturesque location close to the inlet of Wied iz-Zurrieq a few kilometres from the village of Zurrieq. Located in the south of Malta, series of deep natural sea caverns attracting many tourists all year round. A 20 minute trip to a short distance. The caves mirror the underwater flora colours providing a spectacular sight for the visitor offering blues and greens colour reflections from the underneath deep sea. One of the top 10 places to visit in Malta.
Malta’s first citadel capital, Mdina has been inhabited and fortified since the Bronze Age and was the Roman centre of Malta. What we see today began with the Arabs, continued through the medieval Christian period and slowly declined in importance after the arrival of the Knights in the 16th century. Still inhabited, it is something of a living museum. Malta’s noble families have their ancestral homes here and its tiny, labyrinthine streets are a delight to explore. I like to start at the main gate and follow Villegaignon Street up past the cathedral to Bastion Square before zig-zagging my way back. Bastion Square offers panoramic views over the island. Daytime is the only time to see the sights of Mdina, but I like to return in the evening when the tour groups have gone and the sun is setting, to wander the atmospheric alleys in peace before settling down to a good dinner in one of Mdina’s excellent restaurants.
Contact: Mdina tourist office 00356 21454480
- You can have a lovely meal of fresh fish at one of the restaurants at Wied iz-Zurrieq.
Discover the 7000 years of history
There is various Museums to visit in Malta. Valletta’s National Museums of which the Knights of St. John left a formidable heritage. The buildings themselves are museums of fine masterpieces of fine contemporary arts by well renouned international artists like Caravaggio.
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
This must-see sight is quite extraordinary. It is a burial complex cut into solid rock by the same people who built Malta’s unique prehistoric temples between 3600BC and 2500BC. Like the temples, the Hypogeum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For conservation reasons only ten people per hour can visit, so book as far in advance as possible. Visits start with a short film before you descend into the underworld in an accompanied group with a very good audio guide. The complex consists of three layers (the deeper the more recent) each with multiple rooms. It is estimated that it once held some 7,000 bodies, deposited down here over a period of nearly 1000 years. The most impressive room, the ‘Holy of Holies’, is a carved copy of the above-ground temples cut into the rock. Being underground, it has been far better preserved than the actual temples. I never tire of this remarkable place. If you have failed to book before arriving in Malta, tickets for two tours per day (noon and 4pm) are sold at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta the day before. Also note that while older children are likely to find this place enthralling, kids under six are not admitted.
The location is ideal for walks.
Restaurants are rather plentiful and food is of good quality.
Open daily market where you can buy souvenirs.
Swimming locations nearby at Birzebbugia sandy beach and alonf the rocky coastline. Delimara Point and St. Peter’s Pool at Delimara.
The top 10 things to do in Malta, places, activities, entertainment to enjoy your wonderful holiday in Malta are a feel of what you find and explore when visiting our beautiful gem of an island. Combine these famous places in Malta with sightseeing tours to make most out of your holiday and have enought time for swimming and evening entertainment.
Find out more information when visiting the site about various important places to visit and enjoy.
Mnajdra and Hagar Qim
Malta’s prehistoric temples are amongst the very oldest stone buildings in the world and all are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Built between 3600BC and 2500BC, they are much older than Stonehenge and significantly more sophisticated. They have multiple rooms, flooring, roofs, monumental doorways, stone furniture and statuary. Mnajdra and Hagar Qim are my favourite temple sites and in my view the best temples to visit first. The two temple complexes here sit 500m apart in attractive landscape closer to that in which they would have been built than any of the other temples on Malta. At Mnajdra, there are three temples next to each other and the largest is quite typical in construction and layout. Hagar Qim (closer to the entrance) is interesting precisely because it is atypical. There is a useful introductory exhibition in the visitor centre and an audio guide to both sites.
Read more: free things to do in Malta
Malta has some of the best diving in the Mediterranean, and 50,000 people a year come to this country to dive. There are dive centres all over the island offering everything from beginners’ courses to equipment hire for experienced divers. Diving in Malta is less about vast numbers of colourful fish (though there is plenty of sea life) and more about extraordinary underwater landscapes and wrecks (some deliberately scuttled for the purpose). There is a good choice of dives both from the shore and reachable by short boat trips. Day trips to Comino and Gozo with yet more dive sites are also easy to organise. The dive centre whose details are listed here, Dive Deep Blue, is an example of a well-established dive centre approved by BSAC, PADI and TDI. Run by British diving instructor Jonathan and his Maltese wife Catherine, it has been going for 16 years, has plenty of facilities and offers courses from beginner to advanced/specialist, as well as guided diving. Always check your chosen centre is licensed: if it is, it will be listed at visitmalta.com. Malta dive schools accredited to the BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club) are listed at bsac.com.
Malta travel guide
Best hotels in Malta
Malta’s best restaurants
Where to party in Malta
What to do in Malta
Free things to do in Malta
Best beaches in Malta
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