Malta Larger Than Life

Exciting little Islands with a big history.

On a map, Malta and its sister islands Gozo and Comino are just three little dots in the sea between Italy and Libya, but their histories make them seem larger than life. Malta was awarded a bravery medal from the King of England, and the Grand Harbor in the island’s capital Valletta boasts some of the world’s hugest fortifications. In 1565 Suleiman the Magnificent sent 40,000 Ottoman soldiers to Malta and the resulting siege is still remembered today. The second siege, staged in 1942, played a key role in the Allied victory in the Second World War. Tour the war museum in Rinella Fort to see the island’s history with your own eyes.

Malta awaits you with all these historical riches. The megalithic temples at Gozo have been attracting people since long before the pyramids of Egypt. Today, Valletta’s Grand Master’s Palace is one of the top attractions, with splendid furnishings including priceless Gobelin tapestries, and a famous historic armory.

The local cuisine is mostly Italian with a touch of Arab. On a summer evening it’s fun to eat out in the fortified city of Mdina at the island’s historical center. Mdina, dating back to around 700 B.C.E., was Malta’s original capital, and its thick ramparts offer wonderful views of the sea and the city. Sometimes known as the “Silent City”, Mdina’s streets built with golden stones are mostly too narrow for cars, but some fine Mediterrenean restaurants hide behind its houses’ ornate facades.

Under the sea
Malta’s sandy beaches include Mellieha and Ghajn Tuffieha, though the islands are basically rocky, they offer fantastic diving. There are many shipwrecks dating from World War Two and earlier, and the Blenheim Bomber off the Southeast coast is unique in the world. There’s much underwater life to be seen, and Gozo’s Blue Hole and Azure Window are UNESCO World Heritage sites teeming with damselfish.
But you don’t have to sink beneath the waves to admire Malta’s marine attractions. Off the tiny and uninhabited island of Fifla, the turquoise waters of the Blue Grotto caverns shine luminously, and a boat trip to the clear waters of Blue Lagoon and Cominotto island makes for a lazy summer excursion.

In short, Malta is a Mediterranean surprise, and you’ll want to come back again and again.

St Julians and Paceville are the entertainment centers, with shops and attractions. But nothing’s more entertaining than a traditional Maltese “festa,” a feature of summertime on the islands. At festa, everyone’s out in the streets having fun, and there are lights, processions and firework displays galore. All a bit larger than life – just like Malta itself.   

Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Demi Moore and Ethan Hawke are some of the stars who’ve been spotted, for many blockbusters have been filmed in Malta, including “The Da Vinci Code”, “Alexander,” “Troy,” “Agora” and “Moby Dick.” Even tiny Comino has played its part – its historic St Marys Tower featured prominently in “The Count of Monte Cristo.”