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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.  

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Beautiful coastlines

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. 

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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.   


Getting to Malta

There are ferries that you can take from Sicily if you really hate to fly. But, the ferries take 2-5 hours.  And, that is if you are already in southern Sicily. Plus, the ferries cost more than a flight in many cases. The express ferry goes from Catania to Valletta. So, if you are visiting Catania, Sicily; it may be worth it.  Otherwise, it seems logical to just take a plane.       

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!  

Ta Hagrat
Ta Hagrat


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.


Highlights of the Historic Center

St. John's Co-Cathedral

Elaborately adorned place of worship, completed in 1578 and filled with  European sculptures.

Grandmaster Palace Courtyard and Palace Armory

rest your feet here, and maybe visit the 17th century armory that contains artifacts from the Knights of St. John

National Museum of Archaeology

why not visit here? in a country that has history dating back to pre-history!

National War Museum

Opened in 1975, this restored museum explores Malta's military history. Add in a walk along the bastions with a view over the Sea.

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Piazza Jean de Valette.jpg
Siege Bell Memorial.jpg
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Fort Ricasoli.jpg
Fort St. Angelo.jpg

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. 

Inside the walls, you will find St Paul's Cathedral, one of the oldest churches in the country, having been started in 1696.  Plenty of narrow streets and Baroque plazas. The Knights Of Malta museum, and the Cathedral museum. 

It is also quite easy to get to. From Valletta, take the 51, 52, or 53 bus. The ride will take about 35 minutes and drop you off right on front of the walls. 

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St. Paul's Cathedral Mdina.jpg
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Gozo Island

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! 

If you are staying in Valletta, then you can take the #41 or 42 bus to Cirkewwa. It will take about 80-90 minutes on the bus. Then, grab the 25 minute ferry to Mgarr on Gozo Island.  From there, it is just a 15-20 minute bus ride to Victoria, in the center of Gozo.  So, yes, it is about 2 hours total each way. But, much of it is beautiful along the way. So, go for it! 

If you plan to stay on Gozo, you can go straight from the airport by taking the X1 bus from the airport to the ferry at Cirkewwa. That takes about 90 minutes. 

Highlights on Gozo

Ġgantija Temples

The Ggantija temple complex is a unique pre-historic monument, situated on the Xaghra plateau on the island of Gozo. The oldest part of this complex dates to 3600BC, making it one of the earliest free-standing manmade structures in the world.

Citadel of Victoria and Gozo Cathedral

The Citadel has been at the center of activity on the island possibly since Neolithic times, and was certainly fortified during the Bronze Age around 1500 BC. It was later developed by the Phoenicians and in Roman times, it was a complex Acropolis.

Sanap Cliffs or the Ta' Ċenċ Cliffs

Both places are on the south side of the island,  and offer steep cliff viewpoints, reminding you of Cliffs of Dover or Moher.  They are about 3.5 kilometers south of Victoria, and will involve some walking. Even after you take the 305 or 306 bus half way there. 

Swimming and snorkeling

there are many spots for this, and a favorite past time for those visiting he island

Wied il-Għasri, Inland Sea Dive Site are a couple of the most popular

Salt Pans

On the north side of the island, location for salt production, featuring salt pans in geometric patterns by the ocean.  

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Citadel on Gozo interior.jpg
port on Gozo.jpg
Qolla I-Bajda battery in Marsalforn.jpg
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