When it comes to sun-soaked travel destinations – we’re thinking oversized hats and frozen margaritas – this Mediterranean island is attracting a lot of chatter across TikTok, Instagram and the great barometer of human interest, Google search.
Known for its white sand beaches, sparkling turquoise sea and stunning cliff walks, Malta is fast becoming this year’s go-to European holiday.
We’d like to note we were ahead of the crowd — Metro.co.uk’s Chris Rickett visited the island in May 2023 and created some serious ‘travel inspo’ content as he went.
The island has served as a backdrop for a string of iconic films including Gladiator and Troy, as well as for the cult favourite TV series Game of Thrones.
Well over three million tourists visited the island in 2023 alone, but that doesn’t mean it’s full of tourist traps. Metro has the scoop on all things Malta for you to plan the Mediterranean getaway of your dreams…
How to get to Malta
Malta is a little over three hours flying time from London, with one-way flights from £22 per person.
You can fly from any London airport, including Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as Luton and Stansted.
A 6am flight from Luton will get you to Malta at 10:20am and a 5pm return will get you back to London at 7:30pm, which means you can make the most of your time away.
If you’re looking to travel to Malta in its peak season, which is July and August, flights start at £39 for a one-way ticket, which is still not too bad if you ask us.
Prices don’t vary much if you’re flying from Manchester or an airport further north, which is more good news.
Malta weather and best time to visit
Cruise expert and money-savvy traveller Hannah Dorling has given us the low down on the best time to pack your bags for Malta.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The best time to visit is April through October when the weather’s fabulous and the crowds are smaller.’
But if you’re not a sunworshipper and don’t mind a crisp to the air, travel expert Jackson Groves tells Metro.co.uk it’s worth considering a trip between October and May. This is called the “off-season”, he says.
Did you know?
Malta is the smallest country in the European Union with a population of just 516,000.
Jackson adds: ‘During these months you can avoid huge summer crowds and get a more real feel for the islands. The weather is also nice while sights and events have smaller groups.’
Generally speaking summer in Malta is hot and dry, with temperatures reaching 32°C in July and August.
Winter is mild and wet, but the mercury only drops to around 15 – 17°C between December and February. The UK could learn a thing or to.
Things to do in Malta
Malta has pure white sand and turquoise waters at popular beaches such as Golden Bay and Mellieħa Bay that will genuinely take your breath away.
There’s also the world-famous Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino, one of Malta’s not so hidden gems.
It’s a bucket-list location known for crystal clear waters and jagged cliffs, plus winding trails where you can capture some of the best views in the country.
But our holiday guru Hannah says it’s worth reading up on local laws before you dive in — some areas have strict rules about attire for swimming and sunbathing.
And if you’re after suggestions for things to do and see in Malta that aren’t beach or bikini based, then Metro has you covered.
Hannah says: ‘Some of my favourite hidden gems were seeing a traditional folklore show at the Limestone Heritage Park, exploring the old street signs there, and attending the incredible Notte Bianca festival in Valletta.
‘I also loved touring the Meridiana Wine Estate since wine making has such deep roots on the island. One of my top tips is to stay in the fishing village Marsaxlokk and watch the fishermen haul in their catch at sunrise – it feels like another world!’
The Limestone Heritage Park is in the traditional Maltese village of Siggiewi, which gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the limestone of the Maltese Islands which was formed in shallow waters about 22 million years ago.
Malta’s traditional dishes to try on your travels
- Pastizzi – These savory pastries are typically filled with ricotta cheese, eggs, onions, and peas. They can be found in cafes, bakeries, and street food locales.
- Rabbit Stew – Often served with herbs, tomatoes, vegetables, or red wine, no dish on the island represents the rural lifestyle like this one.
- Aljotta – A simple yet flavourful Mediterranean seafood soup.
- Timpana – A Maltese classic, Timpana combines pasta with meat, tomato sauce, and cheese for a delicious pasta pie!
- Kapunata – This mouth-watering salad is filled with sliced zucchini, fresh tomatoes, high-quality olive oil, and a wide array of herbs and spices. Served with Maltese bread, it can be enjoyed at all temperatures.
Source: Malta Go With Guide
Then there’s Notte Bianca, one of Malta’s largest annual arts and culture festivals. On the first Saturday of October, the Valletta cityscape lights up with a spectacular celebration of the arts that’s open to the public free of charge.
Jackson adds: ‘One really cool unique place is the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum. This is an underground area carved out thousands of years ago as burial chambers. Stepping inside was surreal – it was like traveling back in time. Narrow paths opened up into huge rooms, some with old spiral paintings that glowed on the walls.
‘You have to crouch through tight spaces carved by hand long ago. The echoing sounds in the “Oracle Room” made it feel creepy. Best of all, only 300 people per day can visit, so it never feels packed.’
We also got expert advice from Lucia Polla, founder of Viva La Vita – a travel blog that covers hidden gems and popular destinations in Southern Spain.
Lucia tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Forget boring old snorkeling – you have to try paddleboarding. Gliding across the crystal clear waters while schools of colourful fish swim beneath you, it really does feel like you’re Ariel exploring her underwater realm. No Ursula here!
‘And for all you Game of Thrones fans out there, the ancient temples of Mnajdra will have you fully feeling like a Khaleesi. Of course, there are no dragons, but you’ll spot some adorable iguanas soaking up the sun if you’re lucky.’
The ancient temples on Malta are the oldest free-standing structures in the world, so they’re definitely worth a visit.
For another dose of history, Lucia suggests the Old Prison of Gozo, which is Malta’s oldest prison. It was used by the Knights of Malta to intern their more disruptive and unruly members, the prison remained in use for over 400 years!
‘It’s truly something special,’ she says. ‘The haunting yet intriguing history practically oozed from the place. It really let me tap into the spirit of the islands in a way nothing else has. Best of all, hardly any tourists! I had the run of the place and could really take my time soaking up every detail. The exhibits were excellently done, too.’
Another of Lucia’s hidden gems is the Wied il-Mielah cave, a natural wonder carved into a cliffside.
She says: ‘Swimming through that translucent turquoise water was unreal, like being in my own private pool. And exploring the hidden nooks and crannies, it really did feel like I’d stumbled upon paradise! Just be prepared for a bit of a climb down – adventure always comes with exercise as they say.’
Getting around in Malta
It’s suggested that walking is one of the best ways to soak up Malta in all it’s glory but a) this isn’t ideal for those with disabilities and b) walking is pretty tiring.
You can get around just fine by bus if you need to. The daytime fare for a bus ticket is £2.14 (€2.50) while the night-time fare is £2.56 (€3). Don’t waste your time trying to find a ticket stand because you can buy direct from the bus driver.
These cash tickets are single journey fares, valid for travel to any location within two hours, including transfers.
If you’re in Malta for a week you can purchase a tallinja card and the Seven-Day Explore Card means you can go to all of Malta’s sites of interest, in any part of Malta and Gozo. You can hop on or off anytime, as many times as you want.
This will cost you just £21.36 (€25) for the entire week.
If you would rather have access to your own car, car hire starts at £15, according to KAYAK or you can rent a bike.
Where to stay in Malta
The good news just keeps coming with this travel destination, with hotels starting from £30 to £40 per night.
If you’re happy to splash out and relax in the lap of luxury, upscale hotels such as the AX ODYCY Hotel in St Pauls Bay, Qawra, offer rooms from around £130 per night.
It’s a stunning seafront hotel just a 30-minute drive from the capital Valletta. Right opposite the resort is a bus stop with services to the rest of Malta. The nearest rocky beach is just 5 meters from the pool.
You can opt for an even cheaper stay in an Airbnb, where prices start from £16 per night. Sold.
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