Mediterranean island nation of over 500,000 people made up mainly of 3 islands; Malta, the primary island and home to the capital, Valletta. Gozo, known more for its countryside, has as its largest town of Victoria with 6000 people. Finally, Comino which is largely uninhabited but popular for day trippers, and home to Comino Beach and the Blue Lagoon.
Malta has a history dating back 8000 years to its first settlements. Settled during the Neolithic era and the bronze age, the islands were also settled by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Swabians, Argons, Spanish, Sicilians, French and English. The nation finally gained independence in 1964.
It is a great place to get an all in one vacation...beaches, scuba, hiking, cafes, and ancient ruins. Popular with Europeans, but not so much for Americans.
Malta is an island, of course, so there are gorgeous coats and beaches everywhere.
Forts and defences
Millenia of invasions, and a strategic location in the middle of the Mediterranean, mean lots of defence structures to explore.
Getting around Malta
Driving can be a challenge for visitors. First, it is British style left driving. But, even when you master that, you are going nowhere fast. Roads are narrow and congested, especially in towns, and parking is rare. Expect a 10-12 mile drive to take 1/2 hour or more.
It may better to stick with busses. But, you will still have your challenges. Expect the busses to be late, sometimes very late. and the routes take longer than they say. So, the same 10-12 miles can take 45-60 minutes. However, dealing with parking, the bus may still be the quicker route. During my time, I have also found the bus stop signs to be often inaccurate. Busses will sometimes stop at places they are not supposed to, and occasionally not stop when they are supposed to. The good news is that there a ton of busses. So, if you find that the #41, for example, isn't arriving, you may be able to take the 42, 49, or 250 instead. The key is to stay flexible,. And, I assume a visitor won't be in a hurry.
Bus passes have many options and are really good deals. You can pay on the bus with exact change or credit cards. But, I bought the 1 week pass for 21 euros. The good news is that I get unlimited busses for 7 days. The downside is that I found out my pass doesn't work on express busses that really help to and from the airport. But, the Express busses are just 2-3 euros, so not a big deal. And, let's be clear, "Express" isn't fast either! Just a little less slow.
Megalithic Temples of Malta
Dated back as much as 7000 years; they were claimed as the oldest known man made structures until the discovery of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. The temples were built until about 2500 BC when they were abandoned.
There is even part of the structure at Skorba that dates to 5000 BC and oval structures dating to 4400-4100 BC.
The structures at Ta Hagrat have been dated to 3600-3200 BC but ceramics found at the site have been dated to 5000-4300 BC.
Though, they are not as reconstructed as ruins you will find in other countries, it is still impressive to see works that man created 5-7,000 years ago!
City surrounded by numerous protecting forts, such as Fort Ricasoli and Fort St Angelo. It is the southernmost, and smallest, capital in Europe. And, as a bonus, one of the sunniest cities in all of Europe.
The history of this city on a peninsula goes back to the Order of St John in the 16th century. With 320 monuments in the 55 hectare center, it is also one of the most concentrated areas for history.
There is so much to see, but just walking around and enjoying the city is wonderful.
Town of Mdina
a UNESCO world heritage site, the medieval fortified town dates back thousands of years. Called Maleth by the Phoenicians, and Melite by the Romans; it was the Maltese capital for centuries, then between the 16th and 19th centuries went into decline. Today, it is a thriving walled city bringing visions of an Arabic fortress.
The second island in Malta. Easily reached from the main island by a 25 minute ferry from the northwest at Cirkewwa. The highlight is the Citadel in Victoria. But, the coastlines are also beautiful. Public transportation is extensive and easy to use on Gozo. If you are staying on the main island, this is worth a day trip!