5 Reasons Why You Need To Visit Malta
Malta is an island nation that sits between northern Africa and Sicily. Its diverse cultural mix from a long succession of various rulers and occupiers. This has created a tantalising land of intriguing history, stunning architecture, food, and language.
The Knights of Malta left an indelible impact on the history, culture, architecture, and fortifications of the island. Today’s visitor can look forward to an exciting collection of medieval hilltop towns, baroque churches, ancient archaeological sites, colourful fishing villages and gorgeous natural scenery among the three islands making up the nation, surrounded by the azure waters of the Mediterranean.
Here are 5 reasons why you should visit the beautiful island nation of Malta.
1. Discover Valletta, Vibrant Capital City
Valletta is the elegant capital of Malta and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a glorious tribute to the legacy of the Knights of Malta, who built the beautiful buildings and commanding fortifications in a stunning setting on a peninsula between two harbors.
A walk through this archaeological treasure will reveal such glories as the Grandmaster’s Palace in what was the Knight’s home, with its painted ceilings, tapestries, frescoes, and military exhibits telling the fascinating history of their exploits and lasting legacy in Malta. Valletta overlooks the Grand Harbor, and a cruise here will reveal amazing vistas back over the city with its ramparts and commanding defensive structures.
Take a stroll through the Upper Barrakka Gardens atop the city’s ramparts, dating to 1661 when they were the Knight’s private gardens. Here you will find a superb panorama overlooking the harbour and the city. Visit the National Archaeology Museum in a beautiful Baroque building that was once the Knight’s residence for a glimpse at some of the remarkable artefacts found at some of Malta’s impressive ancient temples.
2. Wander its Picturesque Medieval and Fortified Cities
Malta offers many more fascinating historic cities to explore. Start with a visit to Mdina, a fortified city just 14 kilometres west of Valletta, which used to be Malta’s capital. It feels like you are stepping back in time when you enter the city’s portals through the Main Gate. The city was built in the Middle Ages, and the fairy-tale medieval environment is delightful. The car-free environment helps maintain the immersion in the historic atmosphere.
Across the Grand Harbour from Valletta are the medieval fort settlements known as the Three Cities of Birgu, Senglea, and Cospicua. You can visit here as part of our Malta itinerary. These were the first fortified cities built by the Knights when they arrived in 1530 because of their strategic location in protecting the port. This makes for an interesting day excursion and affords tremendous views across the water to the capital.
Gozo’s capital city of Victoria is the site of the magnificent Citadella, dating from the Middle Ages. It was built on a hillside in a commanding setting over the surrounding countryside. Marvel at the narrow streets and lanes within the fortress, discover some of the collections housed in museums such as those dedicated to archaeology or folklore, and admire the stunning views from the ancient walls.
3. Step back in History at its Impressive Ancient Archaeological Sites
Malta has an astonishing collection of ancient temples, so special that they have been recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some of the superb temples are older than the Pyramids of Egypt or England’s Stonehenge.
Gozo offers the two Ggantija temples, thought to have been built by giants, as the temples feature huge stone slabs weighing over 50 tons apiece!
The island of Malta has the two hilltop sites of Hagar Qim and Mnadra with far-reaching views over the countryside and the Mediterranean. A visitors centre helps provide context by explaining the temples’ history and use.
The Hal Siflieni Hypogeum, another UNESCO Site on Malta, is a fascinating underground tomb complex with remarkable carvings, catacombs and chambers used for burial rituals across three separate levels, an extraordinary feat for ancient architects.
Tickets sell fast, so it is important to get in sooner rather than later! Let us help you out by booking your ticket through Ormina Tours. Get in contact today.
4. Savour the Gorgeous Coastal Scenery
The beautiful sea and rocky coastlines contain a wealth of gorgeous scenery that lures visitors to the perimeters of Malta and Gozo to see these outdoor wonders.
Gozo’s Dwejra Bay has caves, cliffs and natural formations that make it one of the most dramatic coastlines in the country. Spots to seek out include the Blue Hole, a picturesque swimming and diving location, and the nearby Inland Sea, a small bay surrounded by tall cliffs.
Malta itself has the wonderfully scenic Blue Grotto, a series of seaside caves. Take a boat ride to view the picturesque caves and the idyllic blues and greens of the water.
On the small island of Comino, the famous Blue Lagoon entices swimmers and snorkelers to the stunning, tranquil lagoon that has crystal clear waters turned brilliant blue when reflected from the white sand seabed.
Read more about Gozo on our blog here.
5. Be Awed by Malta’s Beautiful Churches
Malta has an amazing number of beautiful churches for a nation so small. St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta stands out with its lavish interior and extraordinary collection of artworks, including two paintings considered masterpieces by famous artist Caravaggio. Built in 1577 by the Order of the Knights of St John, St. John’s Co-Cathedral is a don’t miss sight in your explorations of the capital.
One of the top attractions in the historic city of Mdina is St. Paul’s Cathedral, a glorious Baroque building by Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa. Apart from the magnificent dome, inside you’ll find beautiful ceiling paintings, marble columns and other precious artwork including a 12th century icon of the Madonna and paintings by Maltese artist Mattia Pretti.
While on Gozo, a worthwhile side trip is to see Ta’ Pinu Basilica, an amazing pilgrimage church built in the middle of the countryside with expansive views in every direction. There is ornate mosaic work and stunning stained-glass windows to admire and a series of marble statues depicting the Stations of the Cross.