As hard as it is to narrow down Malta’s many must-visit places, some are more unmissable than others. First among these is the capital city of Valletta, a city ‘built by gentlemen for gentlemen’. It was built by the Knights of St John following the Great Siege of 1565, and is arguably their most ambitious project on the Maltese islands.
Much of the fortress city is pedestrianised, and in its small area encompasses historic buildings, palazzi, museums, fine restaurants, cafes, magnificent churches and a bustling shopping area.
The medieval city of Mdina shares the top spot on the must-visit list with Valletta. It was Malta’s first capital and sits on a hill in the centre of the island, surrounded by fortifications which were also built by the Knights of St John.
Mdina is dubbed ‘the silent city’, and is a major attraction for tourists and locals alike. Walking along its narrow, winding roads, feels like going back to a more genteel era, when Malta’s nobility inhabited this architectural jewel.
The Three Cities
Valletta’s Grand Harbour is overlooked by The Three Cities: Senglea, Cospicua and Vittoriosa. These ancient fortified towns played a vital part in Malta’s history, and have a rich cultural heritage. A day or two spent exploring their alleyways and palazzi are highly recommended, as is a stroll by the yacht marina and a drink at the many wine bars.
Further south is a scattering of old fishing villages which have grown in size but have retained their character. Most popular among these is Zurrieq, which is renowned for its seafood restaurants, brilliant blue sea, the Blue Grotto and hiking trails with breathtaking views of its cliffs and unspoilt countryside.
The island of Gozo is another place that cannot be missed. A minimum of a day exploring the greener island is a must. With plenty of walking trails, water sports, unspoilt beaches, prehistoric temples and Baroque churches, there is something for everyone.
Last but definitely not least is Comino, the virtually uninhabited sister island renowned for its Blue Lagoon and its popularity with Hollywood directors who filmed some major motion pictures on it.