The Maltese & Hospitality
The Maltese are renowned for their hospitality, friendliness and generosity. The people are traditionally kind-hearted and will go out of their way to make guests feel at home. The majority of people are very accommodating, and are very willing to lend a helping hand, should you need directions or require assistance of any kind. This characteristic is deep-rooted in Maltese culture and makes for a very warm and welcoming experience. Most of all Malta is a safe environment both for youth and adults.
Language and Communication
The fact that English is Malta’s second official language obviously helps and takes away a language barrier while spending your holiday. Malta was part of the British empire for around 160 years (gaining independence in 1964), which shaped the island and its inhabitants, most of whom now have a good understanding of the English language. They don’t appear to have any prejudice towards native English speakers—even after being under colonial rule for so long a time. For English speaking tourists this means that communication presents little or no problem, which is an important benefit.
Places of Interest
Should you be interested in spending some, if not all, of your time visiting places of interest, Malta is your ideal holiday destination. Malta offers you the unique possibility of visiting a large number of fascinating sites that testify to Malta’s rich and turbulent history within a relatively small area. You can organize day trips, combining a visit to, for example, Mdina with visiting the Tarxien Temples, rather than losing half the day on traveling to a single location. Many tour operators can facilitate you with a choice of tours around the Maltese islands, but obviously at a cost. The relatively short distances, convenient bus routes and road signs make it relatively easy to find your way around using public transport or a hired car if you prefer to explore the islands by yourself.
Hotels and Other Accommodation
There’s a wide range of possibilities for accommodation in Malta and Gozo when looking for a place to stay. Besides a choice of hotels (from luxurious 5-star hotel accommodation to the more economical 3- and 4-star hotels), many self-catering apartments as well as hostels can be found throughout Malta and Gozo. Accommodation in St. Julian’s is recommended if you enjoy spending your nights going out but, being close to the nightlife hub of Malta, staying there is not advisable for couples and families who prefer peace and serenity. For those travelers, places like Mellieha and St. Paul’s Bay are much better places to look for accommodation.
Short Travel Distances
Travel is a lot of fun, but long trips to get to the beach or to some interesting historical site can ruin your precious few days abroad. Malta doesn’t require you to travel a lot to get to see interesting places, or just to go for a quick swim. Distances are short (it takes less than an hour to get from one end of the island to the other) and there isn’t another place in Europe that offers such a high concentration of places of interest, beaches, holiday resorts and places for entertainment (restaurants, hotels, clubs, cinemas etc.), you’ll wish you’d have known about Malta earlier.
A lot of tourists to Malta are actually repeat visitors, simply for the reason that there’s just so much to do and to see, it’s relatively cheap, and takes little time to get around and spend quality holiday time without unnecessary hassles and stress.
Sports, Leisure Activities and Events
You can enjoy a variety of sports and other leisure activities in Malta including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, scuba diving, paragliding and wind surfing, among others. Most of the larger hotels offer indoor pools, gyms and tennis courts, which come in handy if you like to stay active when the weather isn’t very inviting to go outdoors.
Most materials needed for outdoor sports are available for rent at a low price and there are various locations on the islands where these sports can be exercised. Gozo is a particularly popular location for rock climbing, thanks to its steep cliffs, and mountain biking thanks to its quiet roads and excellent hill climbs.
Scuba diving at various dive sites around the Maltese islands is also a very popular activity among tourists, with many interesting diving sites (scuttled ships, for example) and certified PADI courses available. If you prefer just watching sports you won’t have to worry about missing any big football matches or other sports events. Most pubs (as well as dedicated sports bars and hotels) have a satellite dish perched on their roofs and most display whatever sporting events are shown on chalkboard notices just outside their premises.
Events, such as pop concerts and theatre shows, but also historical re-enactments such as In Guardia are popular among tourists and provide great entertainment for the whole family.
Peace and Quiet: Gozo
There’s more to Malta as a nation than just the island of Malta itself. The Republic of Malta also includes sister-island Gozo, which is said to be like what Malta used to be: rural and peaceful. Gozo is an excellent location for families, couples and elderly who prefer having a peaceful holiday with beautiful beaches and countryside views. There are plenty of interesting sites around in Gozo as well, for example the Citadel bastions of island capital Victoria, the Megalithic temples of Ggantija, or Calypso’s cave, said to be the location of part of Homer’s Odyssey. The seaside town of Xlendi is a popular tourist destination as well, offering a beautiful view of its bay surrounded by high cliffs. Ramla l-Hamla, Dahlet Qorrot and San Blas Bay are beautiful beaches to go for a swim, one being larger and busier, the other being more secluded and more difficult to get to (steep hill descent) but definitely worth the effort.
To get to Gozo on arrival at Malta airport, you can book a direct transfer which takes you straight from the airport to the ferries in the Northern most tip of the island of Malta (a place called Cirkewwa). The ferries will take you to Mgarr Harbor in Gozo, from where you can easily get a taxi to your hotel or apartment accommodation if you arrive during the day. For late night arrivals it’s best to make arrangements with a local taxi operator before travelling.
All-Year Round Holiday Destination
Unlike many other Mediterranean holiday destinations, Malta holidays offer you a lot off possibilities even outside of the high season. Outdoor activities such as biking or hiking are very popular during the rest of the year and many people flock to cultural and historical sites to learn more about Malta’s past and present whilst enjoying the country’s mild winter weather. There are often flight and hotel discounts for off-season holidays.
Low cost airlines have found Malta and offer very cheap flights to the island outside of the high season and regular cheap flights in summer. These airlines offer flights departing from a select number of places in Europe, such as London, Dublin, Barcelona, Oslo, Stockholm, Pisa(Italy) and Bremen (Germany). Look for airlines the likes of Ryanair, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Wizzair, but don’t forget to check Malta’s national airline Air Malta, which regularly offers low cost flights to a much larger number of European destinations.
Malta offers a vibrant nightlife, which has attracted some of the biggest names in the international club scene, such as Tiësto, Paul van Dyk, Ferry Corsten and Carl Cox. Open-air clubs are a unique experience and open-air clubs are immensely popular amongst both locals and foreigners.
Malta’s Beautiful Beaches
Often a deciding factor for sun seekers is the potential for some relaxed summer beach life and in that respect Malta certainly serves. Some of Malta’s best beaches are located along the Northern and Western shorelines of the island, most notably Mellieha Bay (the island’s largest beach), Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha.
It’s not just about the more popular beaches in Malta, however. If you’re looking for quiet and smaller beaches with beautiful surroundings Malta and sister-island Gozo offer a few great options, some of which aren’t easy to find and therefore less likely to attract the masses. How would one spot these beaches? You can either ask the locals, or if you’re more adventurous check out satellite imaging on Google Maps and find your own way!