Places of Interest and Things to Do in Malta
Information about places to visit and things to do in Malta, with details of some of the must-see sights...
Although very sparsely populated in comparison to the central and north-eastern parts, the south-western side of Malta has some impressive sights to see, including the Dingli Cliffs. At 250m high, these cliffs also mark the highest point in Malta.
Along the south coast of Malta are a cluster of sea caverns known as the Blue Grotto. The sandy seabed helps to give the caves their distinct cobalt blue colour. The crystal clear, turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon are situated between the island of Comino and the islet of Cominotto.
In Dwejra Bay on the Western end of Gozo, is the 130m high natural arch known as the Azure Window. Made of coralline limestone, it is believed that it will eventually fall away, so caution should be taken to not walk over the arch.
Overlooking Gozo’s Ramla Bay is Calypso’s Cave. It is believed to be the cave mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, where the nymph Calypso kept Odysseus as a prisoner.
?al Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground complex where the rock has been cut out to make up a series of interconnected chambers. It dates back to about 4,000BC. The walls are carved in intricate patterns and include detailed red ochre wall paintings; this is another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The world’s oldest free-standing temples, dating back to 3,600BC, are the Megalithic temples of ?gantija. They are found in Xag?ra on Malta’s sister island of Gozo. They were originally believed to have been built by giants.
Other ancient sites not to be missed are ?a?ar Qim, Mnarjdra and Tarxien. Mnarjdra and ?a?ar Qim can be found on the Southern Coast of Malta, overlooking the isle of Fifla. The temples date back to at least 3,200BC. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites,and were built to mark the position of sunrise on the first day of each season. Within the archaeological complex is a visitor centre which sheds light on Malta’s archaeological past, and includes a new 4D Experience.
- Find out more about these sites on Heritage Malta
Churches and Catacombs
Malta is home to two cathedrals. St John’s Co-Cathedral was built by the Knights of St John in 1577. Its interior was refurbished in the 17th century in the Baroque style that can still be seen today. It is also the home of famous works by Caravaggio –– The Beheading of St John the Baptist and Saint Jerome Writing.
The second cathedral, St Paul’s, can be found in Mdina. It was built on the same spot as the original medieval cathedral which was destroyed during the earthquake of 1693. St. Paul’s was completed in 1705 and is another example of the Baroque style that was so common during the reign of the Maltese Knights. The rich tiled floor that can be found here is similar to those seen in many old Maltese homes.
The parish church of Mosta, the church of The Assumption of Our Lady, has the fourth largest dome in Europe. It is famous for an incident during WWII when a bomb dropped through the roof but failed to detonate.
The earliest archaeological evidence of Christianity can be found at St Paul’s Catacombs, which consist of a series of interconnected, underground cemeteries. The catacombs have a long history, dating back to Roman times; more recently, they were used as shelters during WWII.
Festas are traditional celebrations honouring the patron saint of each of the parish churches across the islands. Those attending the Festas can get a real feel for village life, as each event is a festive occasion focusing on food, drink and more often than not, fireworks.
Golden Bay is located in the north-west of Malta and is one of the island’s largest sandy beaches. Adjacent to Golden Bay is G?ajn Tuffie?a, one of the less-visited beaches. Its relative lack of visitors can be explained by its slightly more isolated location and because access to the beach is via a long flight of stairs. Although more remote, all necessary facilities are available on the beach, including toilets, showers and a kiosk.
The longest sandy beach can be found at Mellieha, locally known as Ghadira Bay, in the north-western part of Malta. During the summer months Ghadira Bay is also home to an inflatable water park. Paradise Bay and Armier Bay, two of the smaller beaches on the island are situated near by. Both provide excellent views of Gozo.
One of the most remote beaches is Ramla il-Hamra in Gozo. The beach is an expanse of red sand, and is probably the most unspoilt beach in the archipelago.
Blue Flag beaches
There are a number of beaches in Malta which have been awarded the Blue Flag, an eco label award for beaches with good water quality, environmental management, safety and services, and environmental education. Introduced in France in 1985 under the name Pavillon Bleu, it is now used in nearly 50 countries across the world.
- Find out more about Maltese Blue Flag beaches
As with most beaches around the world, there are a number of dangers to be aware of such as rip currents, dangerous marine life and big waves.
- To download an information booklet about beach safety in Malta see the Eco Gozo website
The calmness and clarity of the water make Malta a hugely popular spot for diving. There is an abundance of caves, reefs and wrecks to explore. The most popular are the P29, an ex-German Kondo class minesweeper, and the Rozi, a purposely sunk 40m tugboat. A third is the Um El Faroud, an oil tanker that exploded at the Malta Dockyards in 1995 and was scuttled at Wieq iz-Zurrieq in 1998.
- Find out more about these attractions on Malta's official tourism website, Visit Malta