Malta is an island that can be crossed in a single day by car, by bus or by bike. We have prepared a list of 10 places that you need to see here. Of course, apart from Valletta, from which you will probably start learning about the smallest independent country in the European Union.
This was the third day of our stay on the island. In the morning, as usual, we sailed by ferry from Sliema to Valletta (what to see in the capital of Malta – check HERE). We went to the cathedral, pizza, ice cream… And then we felt that we’ve settled in here a bit too much. That’s why we rented a car and we went to conquer the island (how to get around Malta, where to sleep, what to eat – read HERE).
From the airport, where we borrowed a car, to the cliffs of the east coast leads a comfortable, asphalt road, which in Malta is not as often found, as we would like. Fifteen minutes drive and we are staying in a small parking lot. A steep path leads us to the edge of a limestone rock. Below us are blue sea space and impressive rock formations, which look more like the effect of the scenographer’s work on the set of Game of Thrones, than the work of nature. The waves are overflowing through the openings of the great caverns. Small boats with tourists look from this height like small toys. You can stand here for a long time and admire the perfection of the divine plan.
There are not many impressive buildings in the world that people built five thousand years ago and are still standing. The list is basically short: the pyramids at Giza and the megalithic temples in Malta. Except that Ħaġar Qim is older than the Cheops pyramid. About a thousand years older, more less… And has a fantastic museum that delighted our four-year-old son.
From that day on, five times a day, he asked us to come back again “to the lizard”. The lizards actually run around heated blocks of rock, covered with strange symbols thousands of years ago. But even more fun is the big lizard – a guide in the 3D movie, which we watched in the main building of the museum. It is necessary to spend at least an hour and a half for sightseeing because the temple complex is scattered in a large space. And these are two large temples located on a high cliff, connected by a pavement promenade.
Address: Triq Hagar Qim, Il-Qrendi QRD 2501, Malta
Open 7 days a week from 9 to 17 (in the summer to 18)
Entrance ticket: adults 10 €, children under 5 for free
Coming to Mdina, it’s worth catching up for a few kilometres to reach the highest point of the island. It is an impressive vertical rock wall, rising 253 meters above sea level. At the top, lashed by the sea wind, stands a lonely chapel dedicated to Maria Magdalena. And the subtropical, dry vegetation brings to mind the African wasteland of the nearby Maghreb. A beautiful, wild place.
Catacombs of Saint Paul
We turn towards the centre of the island and the old capital – Mdina. The names of the town leave no illusions: Rabat, Mdina, or Mqabba are old Arab settlements. Although a thousand years have passed since the Normans chased away the Prophet’s followers from the island, no one came up with the name change. Meanwhile, two thousand years ago, Malta (then Melita) was a Roman colony. A ship crashed from Palestine to Rome, an important prisoner off the coast of the island. Important – from the point of view of Christianity. St. Paul from Tarsus has kept good memories from his stay in Malta. In a few months, he managed to convert many inhabitants of the island to Christianity, including the Roman governor – Publius. Christian society met in the first centuries in the catacombs, which at that time were outside the city walls. We can visit them today near the centre of Rabat. It’s an amazing labyrinth of corridors where you can spend 2 hours. In the centre of the city stands a church – what a surprise! – under the denomination of Saint Paul. We will also visit the museum and cave where the apostle lived.
Catacombs: St. Agatha Street
Open 7 days a week from 9 to 17
Entrance ticket: adults € 5, children under 5 for free
And opposite the church, the bar manages Vince, who once took part in chariot races, and on sports retirement, he took to serving tourists with wine. Yes. We’re talking about the 21st century. The chariot races are still a popular sport in Malta. At the thoughtful Vince, our four-year-old son decided to work as a waiter and he was quite successful in collecting orders at the tables. Finally, as part of the tip, he got a packet of sweetness from the owner.
Megalithic temple from the Bronze Age in the very centre of the city? It’s only possible in Malta. Our son, after visiting Ħaġar Qim, again demanded a film with a lizard, but instead got detective tasks. Following the spaced-out boards of hints among the buildings, he played in the tracker of the past. The lizards were duly replaced by cats, which were basking on the ancient altars, places occupied by neolithic prophets and on the walls patterned with a strange decoration.
Like all megalithic monuments of Malta, Tarxien is on the UNESCO list.
Address: Tarxien 1063
Open 7 days a week from 9 to 17
Entrance ticket: adults 6 €, children under 5 – free
Tourists can not control their excitement by entering the stone bridge to Mdina. After all, this is the entrance to the Capital of the Seven Kingdoms from Game of Thrones! But even without these associations, a stroll through the medieval capital of Malta is one of the greatest experiences. It is beautifully quiet and atmospheric here. There are cabs in narrow streets. We can visit one of the churches, look at the island from the observation deck or visit the Museum of Natural History, located in the former 18th-century Baroque palace of the Knights of Malta and see what the famous Maltese falcons looked like.
Address: Vilhena Palace, St. Publius Square, Mdina
Open 7 days a week from 9 to 17
Entrance ticket: adults – 5 €, children under 5 for free
The name of this fishing village is unspeakable, but if you are looking for a light, Mediterranean dinner, then there is no better location. The short promenade is both a fishing port where you will see local tough guys cleaning nets and a regional market with handicrafts and local specialities.
And it is also a fantastic restaurant specializing in seafood. If only we could, we would be dining there every day.
A small town in the middle of the island is dominated by a robust church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The neoclassical form resembles the Roman Pantheon and impresses with its huge dome (reportedly the fourth largest in the world). During the Second World War, while the mass, German bombing began and one of the Luftwaffe aircraft dropped the bomb that pierced the dome and fell into the church. However, it did not explode, which was deemed surprising – for a miracle. The church looks great, after sightseeing you can relax in the garden of the nearby Baroque cafe hugged to the church walls.
Address: Rotunda Square, Mosta
Malta National Aquarium
In front of the building is a large playground, resembling the bottom of the sea. Wili soaked there completely and although for a few days in a row he was asking for an aquarium and see the sharks – now it was difficult to force him to enter.
Fortunately, it finally succeeded. And it was worth it. 41 large pools of tempered glass, and in them all specimens of marine fauna, very cleverly shown with artefacts of culture.
Thanks to this, we could explain to the child that there are shipwrecks on the bottom of the sea, amphorae covered with sand, or some jewels. It stimulates the imagination in the same way as pirate stories. And fish – but it’s obvious. Sharks, rays, as well as thousands of other “general cargo”. Curiosities – there is a glass tunnel here, reminiscent of the one in Dubai, about which we wrote HERE.
Address: Triq it-Trunciera Qawra, San Pawl il-Bahar
Open 7 days a week from 10 to 18
Entrance ticket: adults 13 €, children (4-12 years old) – 7 €, under 4 years of age free admission.
The number of films shot in Malta is impressive. But there are Hollywood blockbusters that have made a significant impact on the history of the island. This was the case with the screening of the popular cartoon from the 40s about the sailor, who gained power after sipping spinach from the can. Filming the musical with Robin Williams in the title role was such a great event for the inhabitants of the island that the movie set from 1980 remained as a tourist attraction. Popeye’s village in a beautiful bay is a rather strange combination of an amusement park with a playground and educational facility. You can take part in the play of performing movie scenes (they are recorded by professionals and they assemble a short film sequence from it). In the price of the ticket, we will sail a super fast boat to nearby water caves (this was the biggest attraction). There is also a village of… Santa Claus. And also a movie restaurant. Our four-year-old, though he had not heard about Popeye before, he was delighted!
Address: Anchor Bay, Triq Tal-Prajjet, Il-Mellieħa, Malta
Open 7 days a week 9:30 – 17:30 (on holidays until 19.00)
Entrance ticket: 15 €