Where do you think of immediately when you hear “European islands”? Greek islands? Chic French islands? Luxury Capri? How about Ibiza? These destinations are popular with travelers, especially from North America.
Malta is less known to North American travelers but has been a popular European holiday destination for years. It’s stunning and distinctive in so many ways.
Malta, known as the Pearl of the Mediterranean, is a great spot to come for the history, sun, good food, and charming towns. From the fortified city of Valletta and Mdina to undersea shipwrecks and prehistoric temples, this sun-drenched archipelago was affected by the Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Spanish, French, and British. All of these influences have shaped Malta’s culture, cuisine, architecture, and festivals, which are enjoyed year-round.
Here are reasons to visit Malta.
Malta enjoys hot, dry summers, humid springs, and warm, wet winters. This Southern European archipelago is a year-round paradise. December through February is the coolest. March through May sees higher temperatures and less rain. If you’re a sun worshipper, June through August is great, with scorching temperatures and a wonderful sea breeze. September through November still has summer-like temps and fewer tourist throngs. Spring and fall may bring the Sirocco to the Maltese archipelago. This hot, dry Saharan wind typically carries sand or dust. This spring and fall breeze may elevate temperatures by several degrees.
Malta’s (and Gozo’s) rocky shoreline is 200 km long. The Maltese coastline has tiny settlements, coves, harbors, sandy beaches, and cliffs. On the north side of the islands, you’ll find sandy beaches like Golden Bay and Mellieha Bay in Malta and Ramla Bay in Gozo.
History & Culture
Malta was founded about 5200 BC by nomad hunters from Sicily. Malta was molded by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, French, and British. During WWII, 6,700 tonnes of bombs were thrown on Malta in six weeks. Malta joined the EU in 2004 after the last British military departed in 1979. Charles V gave Malta to the Order of the Knights of St. John to heal injured troops. The Knights of St. John brought Italian and constructed Valletta and fortifications. Maltese culture is a melting pot due to the many nations that interacted over thousands of years. Even their language is eclectic, sounding like a combination of Italian and Arabic. Most Maltese people identify as devout Catholics, therefore religion is very important. Malta & Gozo have over 365 churches.
Maltese architecture is magnificent. Prehistoric Mnajdra Temples, Medieval, Renaissance, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Classical, Baroque, Art Nouveau, Modernist, and Contemporary are some of Malta’s architectural styles. Beautiful Arabic-inspired balconies and colorful doors lend color to the streets. The trend began in Valletta, Malta’s capital city, in the mid-18th century. Arab balconies are called muxrabija, which means ‘lookout spot’ Doorknockers called il-Habbata in Maltese are shaped like dolphins, angels, and seashells.
Malta’s food is mostly Mediterranean…with a twist. Due to Malta’s many ethnicities, you’ll find traditional food like rabbit stew, Kapunata, a Maltese version of ratatouille, and street food stalls selling pastizzi, which are crispy pastry pockets filled with ricotta cheese or slightly spicy pea filling. The pastry is prepared with crunchy puff pastry dough. You can get filled for a few euros! Maltese are great fishermen. On an island surrounded by the sea, you may expect fresh fish. Visit Marsaxlokk’s fish market on a Sunday to watch how fish is caught and sold. In certain places, the server may bring you raw fish to inspect. If you feel tired after exploring the country all day just visit San Antonio hotel & spa and relax to get energy for the next day.