A small archipelago floating in the Mediterranean south of Sicily, Malta packs a big punch with its fascinating prehistoric temples, rugged cliffs and delightful design and architecture.
There’s so much to see and do that you’ll definitely need to choose your activities carefully in order to pack in as much as possible during a holiday, which is exactly why you’ll love this legendary lowdown on three Maltese hotspots you shouldn’t miss!
Valetta is Malta’s capital and it must be one of the most heavily fortified places on the planet, surrounded by dramatic thick walls and strategic forts which protected the island through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and beyond.
The first formidable watchtower was built in 1488 under order of the Spanish Aragon dynasty but it was destroyed in 1551 in an Ottoman attack and the famous St Elmo’s Fort was built as a more robust replacement by representatives of the Knights of St John. Today you can stroll around the entire complex and it’s seriously impressive.
Tip: watch this video of St Elmo’s fort to whet your appetite.
St John’s Co-Cathedral
Another Valetta highlight, St John’s Co-Cathedral is considered by many locals and visitors alike to be the jewel in Malta’s architectural crown.
This ornate Roman Catholic cathedral is dedicated to St John the Baptist and was built by the Knights of St John between 1572 and 1577. It’s a beautiful example of Baroque architecture designed by Girolamo Cassar and during the 17th Century skilled artists like Mattia Preti enhanced the interior with stunning religious iconography. Today, it remains a gorgeous, glittering feast for the eyes.
Tip: take time to gaze at Caravaggio masterpiece The Beheading of St John while you’re here, it’s his only surviving signed work!
A fortified city in the northern region of Malta, Mdina is definitely worth exploring. Known as the ‘Silent City’ because of its serene streets, it has a strategic hilltop position overlooking surrounding towns and villages, lots of lovely Baroque and Medieval architecture and winding streets and alleyways revealing delights around every corner.
The glorious Vilhena Gate at the main entrance to Mdina sets the architectural scene for the treasures that lie beyond, which include the amazing St Paul’s Cathedral in all its Baroque splendour and the creepy caverns and passageways of Mdina Dungeons. Learn all about the island’s unique fauna and flora at the National Museum of Natural History and stop off for tea and cakes at Fontanella Tea Garden, which offers panoramic views of the verdant landscape below to accompany your cuppa.
Tip: hire a car in Malta from Enjoy and explore more historical sites and vibrant villages and towns.
These three must-see spots offer a mere taste of what’s on offer in this awesome archipelago, but you’re sure to discover more entrancing excursions when you get there!
What’s your favourite place in Malta? Let me know in the comments section.