Malta: LGBT+ Travel Guide

Malta is becoming increasingly popular with LGBT+ tourists. It’s a country that’s not just progressive in terms of its legal protections for queer locals and visitors, but also in terms of the open-minded and inclusive nature of its people. I fell in love with the island nation while visiting my father who spent some time working and living there, and it’s been one of my top recommendations for LGBT+ people travelling in Europe ever since. Whether planning a short romantic stay or looking to explore the wilder side of the country, this LGBT-friendly Malta guide is just a taste of how to get the most out of LGBT+ Malta.

Callum McSwiggan

London-based LGBT+ lifestyle author and content creator.

Where to stay

The majority of the gay scene in Malta is located in and around the capital city of Valletta and the nearby town of SliemaAs they’re centrally located with a regular 10-minute ferry service connecting the two, I always recommend using one of these towns as a base to explore the rest of the country. The harbour is filled with boats that can take you out on excursions or to the neighbouring island of Gozo, and they’re both very walkable places that are home to some of the best hotels and resorts.

There’s no shortage of gay hotels in Malta that are welcoming of LGBT+ visitors, but a few favourites include:

Ax The Palace: This five-star hotel in the heart of Sliema has incredible sunset views over Valletta’s harbour that can be enjoyed from the rooftop infinity pool or your own private balcony. It’s also situated right next to TemptAsian – an award-winning restaurant that’s home to some of the best Asian food on the island.

Ax The Victoria Hotel: This four star is a little more affordable but still leaves you right in the middle of the action in Sliema. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the seafront and the main promenade where you’ll find an abundance of queer-friendly bars.

Corinthia Hotel, St George’s Bay: If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, this resort just north of Sliema is one of the absolute best. With six outdoor pools and nine on-site restaurants, you may find yourself not wanting to leave, but if you do want to venture out further, Sliema and Valletta are just a short cab or bus ride away.

Marina Hotel Corinthia Beach Resort: For a resort style holiday at a more affordable price, this nearby resort is positioned right on the water looking out over St George’s Bay. With easy access down to the water, there’s also an on-site diving school and water sports centre.

What to do

The Blue Lagoon: There’s a reason this is listed as the #1 thing to do in Malta in every single travel guide. The crystal clearwaters of the Blue Lagoon in Comino, one of the neighbouring islands, are unmatched.   Reachable by boat, it’s absolutely worth a visit but just be warned that the beach here is very small and fills up very  quickly in the summer. My advice is to take a quick dip but save the sunbathing for one of Malta’s other beaches instead.

Queer-friendly beaches: There are no official gay beaches in Malta, but all of the beaches on the island are gay-friendly. Malta has so many incredible beaches to choose from but Golden Bay is one of the best and particularly popular because it’s so easy to get to. 

If you’re looking for privacy, some of the more secluded beaches can require a hike or a boat ride to get there, but the views are worth the journey. Fomm ir-Riħ Bay, Ġnejna Bay and Imġiebaħ Bay are just some examples.

Popeye Village: This place is cheesy, but it has a certain unmistakable charm to it. Built around the set of the Popeye film from 1980, this theme park makes a great day out for LGBT+ families and those looking for something a little quirky or different.

Medieval Mdina: This medieval city is known as the ‘Silent City’ but in reality it’s quite a lively place full of history and culture. It’s fairly small, so you’ll only need a half day to meander the picturesque streets, though Game of Thrones fans may want to take a little longer to find all the locations that were famously used to film key scenes in the franchise.

Where to eat

Two Buoys: The name says it all - a restaurant that prides itself on a warm, friendly and inclusive atmosphere. With rainbow flags flying proudly, and stunning views of Spinola Bay, Two Buoys is an Australian/Maltese fusion restaurant with the best brunch on the island. I highly recommend their decadent Melbourne Waffles, or for those with a sweet tooth, try out one of their confetti sprinkled pancake stacks for some unrivalled rainbow joy.

Rabbit Sunday: You’ll find rabbit in pretty much every restaurant you go to in Malta, and while it’s tradition to eat it on a Sunday, many of the locals will eat it several times a week. Try the confit rabbit burger at Kingsway; the rabbit ravioli at D’office; or for something a little more traditional, try Stuffat tal-Fenek (the country’s national dish – a type of rabbit stew) at Ta’ Kris.

Café Del Mar: Malta’s answer to its famous namesake in Ibiza, Café Del Mar is one of the best places on the island for sunset drinks. With chilled vibes, live DJs and a range of classic cocktails, they have an extensive menu of sushi and fresh seafood. Their black mussels are my favourite – I’ve tried (and failed) to recreate them so many times at home.

Where to go out

Lollipop: Although there aren’t many gay clubs in Malta, this popular queer night pops up in different locations around the island all year round. Often hailed as the best club night on the island, they’re known for bringing in some of the best international DJs and throwing parties to rival other queer European hotspots. You can find out when the next event is happening here.

Michelangelo: Although there are many queer-friendly clubs on the island, Michelangelo is the only dedicated gay club in Malta. Situated in St Julians, just outside of Sliema, the club is set over two floors, open all year round, and particularly popular with locals.

Strait Street: By name, but not by nature. if you’re looking for nightlife in the capital, this is where you’ll find many of the queer-friendly bars. Try Yard 32 for gin and tapas or Alchemy for quirky experimental cocktails. Alternatively head down to Maori, one of my personal favourite gay bars in Malta - decorated with eclectic murals and right on the seafront, it’s perfect for couples and those looking for something a little more chilled.  

Pride: Throughout pride season and the summer months, Malta always has a whole calendar of pool parties, club nights and LGBT+ focused events happening across the island. You can find out about upcoming events here.

Malta is one of the best places in Europe for gay travellers and I recommend that everyone visits at least once. I believe Malta’s LGBT-friendly track record will cause the gay scene to continue to grow and thrive., I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this wonderfully inclusive country.

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