Where is Malta? Welcome to the Rock

Where is Malta

Whenever I travel abroad, especially in America and Asia, I am usually asked where I am from and I say Malta.  Here is when I am usually met with a frown and a subsequent question. Exactly, where is Malta? To be honest I am never surprised by this question.  We, Maltese, make a lot of fun about the size of the Island in the Mediterranean which we fondly call “The Rock”.

So Where is Malta Exactly? And other Trivia

  • Malta is a little island which looks like a rock south of Sicily (93km) and is bang in the middle of the Meditteranean.
  • It is close to the North African shore (160km) and sports a cultural mix that is amazing.
  • Malta is an independent country that is now part of the European Union, uses Euro for currency and was previously under British rule for more than 150 years – hence the reason why all Maltese speak English.
  • The native language is Maltese which sounds like Arabic but is written in Roman letters.
  • It is staunchly catholic and sports 365 churches (one for every day of the year) but is tolerant of all religions.  The Maltese name for God is Alla!  You get the culture mix!
  • The Maltese Islands are three.  Malta – the largest Island – Gozo sister Island – and Comino the little Island in between.  Together they have a surface of some 300 square kilometres with a population or about 500,000.
  • The number of tourists who visited Malta in 2019 was over 2 million.

 

Blue Grotto Malta

The Blue Grotto Malta – coral sea bed and spectacular rock formation

How to Get to Malta

Since Malta is an Island the only way to get to Malta is by ship or flying in.

It is fairly normal for travellers to combine a trip to Malta from Sicily – which is only a 90-minute ferry ride via Catamaran.

 

 

 

However, Malta has an International Airport and daily flights from all European destinations as well as the Middle East.  Emirates flies in daily from Dubai as does Turkish Airlines from Istanbul.  If you are flying from the US it will usually necessitate two flights to get to Malta. Air Malta is the national airline and flies all over Europe.  But in addition, Ryan Air and other budget airlines fly in from a huge number of destinations all over Europe.

 

What To Do In Malta

Now that we got the question of “Where is Malta” out of the way, we need to delve right into the fun part of your trip.  So, if you are a female flying solo and you are wondering whether it is safe to travel to Malta – then the answer is an absolute yes.  Malta is very tourist-friendly, and the people are warm and welcoming. Street crime is a very rare occurrence and it always makes the headlines and leaves everyone in shock!

Is Malta boring? That is again a standard question I get because of the sheer size of the Island.  My definite answer is – a categoric NO!  Malta is hugely interesting and if you stay for a week you are probably begging for more.  So let us dive straight in and get some detail!

 

 

Popeye's village Malta

Popeye Village – home to the “Popeye – The Sailor Man” filmed in 1980’s

 

 

Here are some highlights on what to look out for in Malta

 

  • Culture and Architecture –  I promise you to be blown away with the beautiful architecture of Malta. Malta was home to the Knights of Jerusalem – or the Knights of St. John as they were also known. The Knights were the second-born son of the most important families in Europe.  In order not to split inheritances, the second son was usually asked to join the ranks of the Knights and vow chastity.  Being affluent it meant that they built amazing palaces around Malta which they ruled for 250 years before the French and then the Brits. Their vows did not stop them from being promiscuous.  The Capital Valletta is teaming with Palaces which the Knights used as Auberges (or headquarters) each denoting the country where they came from.

 

  • An incredible day worth spending your hours on – will be Mdina – The Original Capital of Malta.  The City dates back to some 60 BC and it is known as The Silent City or even Citta Nobile (the Noble City) – If you are curious to know more about it you should take a look at my post written during Covid-19 – The Silent City has Never Been This Silent – it will transport you in time.!

 

Auberge de Castille Malta

Auberge de Castille – Valletta – The Prime Minister’s Seat. Image courtesy of Gino Galea

 

  • Megalithic temples of malta - where is malta

    Megalithic Temples in Malta

    History and Tradition – Malta has a history that dates back to pre-historic times.  The famous Megalithic Temples that are found in Hagar Qim, Mnajdra and Tarxien Temples are evidence of the long history of the Island. The temples are the oldest in Europe dating back some 3500 years BC and are older than the Stonehenge Temples in the UK.  It is highly recommended that you pre-book a visit to these temples as they have a quota on daily visitors.

 

 

  • Feast in Sliema Malta - where is malta

    Village Feast Malta daytime and nighttime – Sliema – Balluta Church

     

If you wish to see Malta at the height of tradition than a summer visit would be best.  Let us say that we Maltese are super exuberant and that we love to party.  The Village Festas in Malta are totally insane with a colourful display of fireworks every single night.

 

 

The Fiesta is traditionally commemorating the patron saint of the Village.  It is a great excuse for a street party with stalls of food and traditional Nougat stands which we call “Qubbajt”  For these traditional feasts, the churches are lit up, and the streets are adorned with curtains or Pavaljuni.  Brass bands play in the streets, and people – well they just party!

 

 

The Insane Churches of Malta – Now you Ask – Where is Malta?

Malta has insanely beautiful churches.  I told you earlier that there are 365 churches on the Rock.  Which means the devout can pick a different church every day of the year.  Some churches are totally opulent and are covered in art, silver and gold.  Others especially the smaller chapels are more austere.

These are the must-see Churches of Malta:

St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta   – an opulent display of art including several Caravaggio’s.

The Rotunda Church of Mosta – which boasts one of the largest Domes in Europe.

The Ta’ Pinu Church in Gozo – This Holy Shrine is not just beautiful to see architecturally – it is meant to be one of the holiest spots on the Island

St John's Co Cathedral Malta

St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta Malta

 

Swimming and Diving in Malta

Now let us get down to the fun business!  For those who love tepid, crystal clear waters in summer – Malta

Golden sands malta

Golden sands Malta

is a lovely place to go and worship the sun and be sunkissed.  The sea surrounding the island is nothing short of spectacular.  Crystal clear pools of water in either rocky or sandy beaches.  The middle Island of Comino boasts the famous Blue Lagoon where the Count of Monte Cristo was filmed some years ago. It has sparkling white sand and is best visited on a large boat as there is not much shelter.

Golden Bay, Riviera Martinique and Red Bay (in Gozo) are sandy beaches with red sand which make them look like green sea rather than blue.

 

Mellieha Bay is the largest beach on the north of the Island with yellow sand.

Sailing in Malta

Sailing in Malta – with my friend Ula

 

If you are passionate about diving, then Malta is the right place for you to be. Even if you are a beginner there are several Padi courses which will quickly give you certification. There are shipwrecks to visit and beautiful caves. Even if you were asking where is Malta, a diver would know the destination and mark it as one of the top ten places in the world for diving.

 

Sailing in Malta is a dream.  The mostly calm seas pick at breeze in the afternoons, making keen sailing a sheer joy not to mention the spectacular views you get of the coast.

 

Now That You Know Where is Malta – How About the Food?

Although Malta has had many influences in this food from many cultures and rulers – it is predominantly the

Fish Market Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk Street Market on Sunday morning

Italians who have most influenced the food in Malta.  If you are a fish eater then you have just landed in paradise.  The fish and seafood in Malta is fresh and caught daily and prepared to sumptuous heights!

You may want to visit the Fish Market in the Marsaxlokk Fishing Village on a Sunday morning to see the display of fish caught during the previous night and the locals haggling over the prices.

 

If you are looking for local food – you cannot be faint-hearted.

Traditional Maltese loaf

Hobz biz-zejt – Local bread with tomatoes olive oil and many bonus ingredients

Our specialities included bebbux or escargots in sauce or aioli and fried rabbit in garlic.  But fear not!  There are plenty of restaurants and food types to suit everyone in Malta.  And now you can get great food not just in the tourist hubs but in every village too.

Once in Malta, you MUST TRY our sourdough bread.  It is crispy from the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  Traditionally it is served with olive oil and tomatoes with some local CISK BEER.  It is truly to die for.  Once you try the Maltese Hobz-biz-Zejt which means bread and oil – you will never ask “Where is Malta?” again!

Other delicious snacks are the local PASTIZZI – a crispy dough snack filled with cheese or peas

as well as KANNOLI  which you may better know as Cannoli – which are deep-fried pastry shells stuffed with sweet cheese!  Absolutely yummy.

As I said previously there is so much variety in Malta, that you surely cannot go hungry.  And if you are feeling ambitious enough – you could also try DINNER IN THE SKY – as I did.  It is a platform restaurant suspended in the sky over the Grand Harbour from a crane.  Meet Chef Marvin Gauci who makes this experience truly incredible.

 

dinner in the sky malta

Dinner in the Sky Malta – watching the opening of the Rolex Middle Sea Race on the Grand Harbour

 

Partying in Malta – Night-Life

Partying in Malta is a Mecca for music-lovers.  Paceville, although in my humble opinion is rather sleazy, does offer a number of nightclubs, pubs, and eateries.  If you are into the boom-boom factor then it could be fun. There are plenty of Casinos too if you are that way inclined.  Some of the best hotels including The Hilton and The Intercontintal can be found in Paceville.  The St. Julians area generally speaking is the area for tourism and nightlife.

Every year Malta hosts one of the largest MTV shows.  This is called the Isle of MTV and usually collects thousands of music fans to Malta to see the hottest chart breaking singers in the world perform LIVE FOR FREE.  This is hosted on the Granaries in Floriana.

Other notable parties are LOST AND FOUND Malta.

Word of safety.  If you are a female flying solo – this is the only area where I would warn you to pay some attention to.  It is not dangerous, but booze and partying could relax your attention.  If you would like some safety tips and common sense read my post on SAFETY TIPS FOR FEMALES FLYING SOLO.

Value for Money Malta

If you were asking where is Malta, then you would not know the cost of living in Malta.  Whereas Malta, is still relatively cheap compared to other cities in Europe, such as Rome, London and Paris – it is not cheap.

If you compare Malta to Asia, or even to Eastern Europe it is relatively higher so plan your budgeting well before you come to Malta.  I would recommend that you either go to an Airbnb Apartment 

or you may wish to check out my little Boutique Hotel Casa Birmula for a very special stay.

But in terms of destination point Malta, you will find it hard to come by a place which will offer so much diversity for the same price.

What to avoid in Malta

Avoid rush hours if you have rented a car because the driving is quite challenging not to say downright crazy.  It still is far more civil than it is in Asia – but it is pretty bad.

I would avoid downtown Bugibba – which is the cheap tourist trap scenario which every country has.  It is still beachfront and it is probably cheaper than other areas – but only go there if you want to be in the mass tourist cheap holiday mainstream.

 

Malta is Not Perfect – But it is Special

If you started off reading this post and asking “Where is Malta” or where on Earth is Malta, well now you know a little bit more.  If you were thinking “is it worth going to Malta” – I believe that the diversity merits your time.  If you are planning to travel in the future look at May, June, July.  Then again in October and November for optimum weather. August is too busy and too hot.

If you are not European and reading this post, I truly believe that Malta deserves a lot more attention because it is truly quite magical.  And yes, perhaps I am biased because I am Maltese, however, I have travelled and lived abroad long enough to know it merits its title of “The Jewel of the Meditteranean”

Fishing boats of Malta

Traditional Fishing Boats of Malta – still found in all fishing villages

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