Malta tourist attractions

Top Malta sights

  1. The Blue Grotto
  2. Mdina
  3. Mosta’s Santa Maria Assunta
  4. Salina Bay
  5. Water sports
  6. Marsaxlokk
  7. The Citadel, Gozo

The small island of Malta is at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, and soaks up all the benefits of this position. With clear waters making it a haven for divers, remnants of crumbling edifices a joy for history buffs and freshly-caught and cooked seafood making every foodie’s stomach rumble, Malta is somewhere that offers it all to anyone who’s looking. Its neighbouring island, Gozo is slightly smaller but still packs a punch with an impressive range of things to see and do. All in all, Malta isn’t a destination you’re likely to forget.

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. The Blue Grotto

Malta tourist attractions don’t come any more picturesque than The Blue Grotto. This complex of caves surrounded by brilliant blue waters – hence the name – is reached by 30min boat trips from Wied-iz-Zurrieq, which is an appealing spot to visit in itself. The caves have their own, distinctive names, like Reflection Cave and the Cat’s Cave, all of which are entered by the staggeringly high main arch at 30m high.

Best for: Mesmerising excursions.

While you’re there: Head out on a sunny day, when the sun bounces off the white seabed and results in tropical-coloured waters.

2. Mdina

A little inland from the coast sits Mdina, a city that dates back to the Phoenician period. Its name literally means ‘walled city’, with a battle-filled history to boot. Visitors today will enjoy its old-world feel with narrow alleys, the old city wall and absence of fast-food joints. To sum up the ambience of the place, it takes just a few minutes to walk the length of its 400m-long main street. In terms of things to do, visit the National Museum of Natural History and the gruesome Mdina Dungeons, but the bulk of attractions lie on Villegaignon Street, which cuts through the heart of the town. There’s Casa Inguanez, the palace of the oldest noble family in the country and the Knights of Malta, which focuses on the history of the Order and its role on the island.

Best for:Exploring pockets of history in pockets of Malta.

While you’re there: Head to Bastion Square in Palazzo Falson, where you’ll get great views across neighbouring valleys towards Mosta.

3. Mosta’s Santa Maria Assunta

For a douse of Malta sightseeing, head to Mosta, whose major attraction is the Rotunda of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta (or Santa Maria Assunta for short). The building structure was inspired by Rome’s impressive Pantheon, with a 51m-high dome 45m in diameter and the walls are 6m thick. In fact, it’s believed that it has the fourth largest dome in all of Europe. A testament to its superlative design and engineering – and the intervention of the Virgin Mary – it was bombed during World War II but the bomb did not explode. Today, visitors can see a replica of the bomb on display in the sacristy.

Best for:Impressive landmarks with mystery stories.

While you’re there: Explore Mosta’s charming medieval alleys and streets.

4. Salina Bay

In Qawra, the northwest of Malta, sits Salina Bay, named after the salt flats that have produced these important minerals for centuries. The developed area is a result of its popularity, and is home to one of the top Malta attractions in the form of the National Aquarium. The firm family-favourite has five ‘zones’: harbours and tropical oceans, shorelines and Roman times, all with a focus on local waterlife. Once you’re finished at the aquarium, be sure to enjoy the plentiful bars, clubs and restaurants peppered across the town; the nightlife is a little raucous, but Salina Bay is popular for all of the above reasons!

Best for:Plenty of choices to eat, stay and see – an ideal spot if browsing Malta holidays.

While you’re there:Continue round the headland to Bugibba, where you can take day trips to Gozo island.

5. Water sports

While sandy beaches are limited, thanks to its rocky stretches and narrow inlets, there’s plenty of ways to dive right into a thriving watersports scene, where swimming or snorkelling off the smooth rock coastline can make for adventurous sightseeing. In fact, Malta is a haven for snorkellers and divers, which offers some of the clearest waters in the Mediterranean. There are natural features and wartime wrecks to explore, rock-dwelling octopus and urchins to spot, and superlative views looking back to the shoreline.

Best for:Water babies.

While you’re there: Go kayaking, windsurfing or head out on a banana boat – the choice is yours!

6. Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk is home to the largest fishing fleet in Malta, which makes its bay the largest on the Maltese island. Stroll along the bay and take in the brightly-painted fishing boats, painted in lemon yellows and lime greens; some have the Eye of Osiris painted on the bow to provide protection while out at sea. Make the most of a laidback visit here by stopping for lunch or dinner at one of the many fish and seafood restaurants; take a table outside to watch the fishermen tend to their boats, mend nets and chat to one another.

Best for:A local – and delicious – way of life.

While you’re there: Visit the daily market, which offers the likes of table linens and delicate lace.

7. The Citadel, Gozo

The smaller Maltese island of Gozo is packed to the rafters with various tourist attractions; start any trip to Malta’s second island with the Citadel. Much of it lies in ruins, although there are still plenty of imposing buildings which indicate the dominating significance of this now-quaint area. Among the top attractions in the Citadel are the opulent Cathedral Museum, fascinating Gozo Archaeological Museum, fine Folklore Museum and intriguing Gozo Nature Museum.

Best for:Ticking off some of the top sights in Gozo

While you’re there: Gozo’s countryside combines numerous attractions with acres of natural beauty; take time to visit the traditional villages of Gharb and San Lawrenz.

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