A vacation in Malta means sunbathing and dipping into the pool. You can also watch the lovely sunsets from the breathtaking coastlines. But Malta is more than just a Mediterranean escapade.
If you have set your eyes on Malta’s beauty, there are a few things you need to know about the little Mediterranean island.
Located between Sicily and Northern Africa, you may consider Malta a nice getaway for your summer holiday, especially with its pristine azure waters. But this island has so much more to offer.
Here are a few things you need to know about Malta and what makes it a dream destination. You can also add a few things to try in your travel itinerary.
Malta has excellent spots for long strolls
A honeymoon spent in Malta is one of the loveliest. With its majestic sunsets over crystal blue waters, you will definitely think there is no better place to spend a vacation in Malta.
Aside from that, you can also go for long walks inside old cities or go for a hike. Whether you prefer the lush, green nature, or historical sites along with palazzos and old buildings, Malta is the best of both worlds.
It is also great for watersports and activities
But if you prefer the depths of the ocean over land, worry not because Malta has a lot of adventure in store for you. Surrounded by the luscious Mediterranean Sea, Malta has many swimming spots.
If you like extensive watersports and activities more, you can try out scuba diving as well. With many coral reefs, caves, and shipwrecks, it’s definitely an undersea adventure waiting for you. Snorkeling is another fun activity you may want to try out.
If you intend to go scuba diving or snorkeling, you should visit the Blue Hole. Its sister island is Gozo, and it is one of the most popular diving spots in Malta. Diving schools use the Blue Hole when teaching beginners. Nevertheless, its beauty remains a superior wonder.
You can also try out Um El-Faroud Wreck. This spot is for those who are seeking adventures in abandoned shipwrecks. Originally a Libyan tanker, the Um El-Faroud sank in 1995 after a gas explosion and ended up in the coasts of Malta.
However, the place is not suitable for first-time scuba divers. The wreck is recommendable for experienced divers.
The MV Karwela Wreck in Gozo is also a sight to behold. Scuttled to the shores of Xatt l-Ahmar, this sunken treasure became an artificial diving spot in 2006.
The island also has preserved cities
It’s not just about the Mediterranean holiday escapade and the stunning paradise-like beaches and bays. Malta is also about culture and history. The island’s capital, the fortified city of Valletta, boasts of historical landscapes dating back as early as the 16th century and buildings sporting modern Baroque architecture.
Known as the oldest planned city in Europe, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem prepared and declared the urban planning. UNESCO even considered Valletta a World Heritage Site in 1980. You will definitely be taken back in time once you mingle along the streets of Valletta.
Aside from Valletta, there are also other UNESCO Wolrd Heritage Sites in Malta. In total, there are three World Heritage Sites that you also want to try out. Included is the Megalithic Temples which shelter the archaeological vestiges and remnants of Neolithic civilizations. It’s even older the prehistoric Stonehenge in England.
You should also include in your list the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, an underground complex of interconnected chambers. Archaeologists and historians believe that the structure is a prayer sanctuary site that dates back in 4000 BC.
With the relics such as decorated pottery items, amulets, and 7000 human remains, UNESCO referred to the Hypogeum of Outstanding Universal Value.
Malta has a lot of public holiday celebrations.
As a country brimming with history and culture, Malta sure has its fair share of public holidays — in fact, they have a total of 14 public holidays. During the celebration, the streets come to life with music, fireworks, festivals, plays, and reenactments.
If you love getting to know the Maltese locals, you’ll definitely enjoy your vacation. Just make sure to schedule your trip on the date of the public holiday.
Among the major public holidays you can participate in are the Sette Giugno, which commemorates the uprising against the British crown, and Republic Day in December, which celebrates the island’s independence.
One of the largest church in Malta survived World War II
We all know how the second world war destroyed a lot of structures and landmarks in Europe. Churches, tourist spots, and other historical places went down to dust.
However, the largest church in Malta, Mosta Dome, survived the war, and still stands up to this day.
In April 1942, German forces dropped thousands of a-bombs while a congregation attended by approximately 300 people was taking place.
In the present day, the dome-shaped church still stands with pride and claims to be the third-largest unsupported church found in Europe.
Malta prides itself with crafts and arts
Of course, as a civilization that dates back to centuries ago, Malta is no stranger to culture and arts. Evident in the preserved cities and relics found in heritage sites, the art in Malta has survived throughout its long history.
There are multiple craft-making techniques you can check out when visiting Malta. You can either get a souvenir or try making one yourself.
The Bizzilla or lace-making is a traditional Maltese craft associated with nobility and the elites. In the old days, the intricate patterns and the Maltese cross made with fine Spanish silk are sewn into dresses of the members of the upper class and the clergy.
Nowadays, Bizzilla is often sold at public auctions. You can check out small local artisan villages in Gozo as they still make Bizzilla.
Glass blowing is also another traditional craft that has been practised for centuries. Glass blowing is not your ordinary arts and crafts project. It needs precision and finesse as the artist melts beads and shapes it to glass by constantly heating, blowing, and shaping. Artisans and curators also made clocks mounted on churches and palazzos.
The l-Arloġġ tal-Lira, which translates to “one pound clock,” was famous during the 18th century. Its elaborate style and designs had a regal flair in it with a crown with gold embellishments added on top of the box-shaped clock.
Hollywood loves Malta for its famous filming location
Whether you are a feature film connoisseur or a sucker for TV series binge-watching, there are some sights that you must not miss when visiting Malta. The island is only popular for its historical land sites and beaches.
Many Hollywood-produced movies were filmed in Malta. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise featured Malta’s stunning landscapes, while Gladiator was also filmed in Malta.
Hit series Game of Thrones showed Valletta in some of its scenes, and the Azure Window in Gozo was the landscape backdrop in the wedding of Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen.
Malta was a colony of the British crown
Malta became a colony of the British Empire in 1800. Although the Mediterranean island considers to be a protectorate of Britain. Currently, Malta is still part of the British commonwealth.
They gained independence from the British Empire in 1964. On December 13th, Malta commemorates its independence and the creation of the republic.
British influences are prominent in the modern culture of Malta. Among these include driving on the left lane side of the road. Their influence is also evident in some architectures, palazzos, and buildings such as the Malta Stock Exchange.
Malta is a predominantly Catholic nation
The predominant religion in Malta is Roman Catholic, and according to its Constitution, it is their state religion. Catholicism heavily reflects in most of their culture and festivals.
According to a survey conducted in 2018 by Malta Today, 93.9% of the Maltese population identify as Roman Catholics.
Malta’s patron saints are St. Publius, St. Agatha, and St. Paul, who was shipwrecked in 60 BC. Many locals also believe that it was St. Paul who urged the Maltese to convert to Catholicism.
Villages and small settlements have their own patron saints. Townspeople hold village “festas,” in celebration of their patron saints. Most festas culminations last a week, with fireworks and band players blasting music.
Draped with damask tapestry and an adorned image of the village’s patron saint in the middle, churches are one of the best places to visit as well.
If you want to experience and take part in their religious festas, try visiting Malta during August. Although it is summer and peak season for tourists to flock Malta, August holds one of the best village festas. The city of Mosta celebrates the parish feast of the Assumption.
In August, you might want to check out other fiestas in the country.You may also want to take part in the Lija festival with its mesmerizing pyrotechnic displays.
By knowing these few facts, you can appreciate Malta better. It can also give you an idea of some things to do and sights to see while you’re there.