25 Fab Things To Do On Malta And Gozo - A helpful Video Guide
If you are looking for things to do On Malta and Gozo, this is the guide for you.
Malta is a beautiful Southern European archipelagic island country in the Mediterranean Sea. It is the tenth smallest country in the entire world, but albeit its small size, it is one of the most densely populated.
This small country has been already inhabited as early as 5900 B.C. and has played a significant role in European history. It has a strategic naval spot, and this small country has been under several rulers, namely Carthaginians and Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, French, British, Aragonese, and Knights of St. John. These foreign settlements and their influences have contributed to the rich Maltese culture that we get to enjoy today.
Malta is one of the most coveted tourist destinations in the world because of its many recreational attractions, rich and colorful history, warm climates, and architectural wonders, so much so that three of UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be found here, namely Valletta, Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni, and seven megalithic temples which are some of the few remaining ancient free-standing structures in the world.
Moreover, Malta has advertised itself as a medical tourism spot, but it also offers a plethora of attractions and activities that the whole family can enjoy:
Opulent Things to Do on Malta
1. Casa Rocca Piccola
Casa Rocca Piccola, once home to the noble de Piro family, was built in the 16th century and is situated in Malta’s capital city, Valletta. The palace began construction in 1580, when the Knights of St. John after winning against the invading Turks. Casa Rocca Piccola is adorned with opulent collections of furniture, silverware, and gorgeous paintings from Malta and all over Europe. It also houses Archivium de Piro, or de Piro family archives. The archives contain detailed records of family businesses from the 16th century till the present dates.
Furthermore, the palace is also home to Malta’s largest private collection of antique and classic costumes. Lace making is a prominent trade in Malta and Casa Rocca Piccola features the widest collection of Maltese lace.
Religious Things to Do on Malta
2. The Beheading of St John the Baptist (Caravaggio) at St. John's Co-Cathedral
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist is an iconic oil painting by Caravaggio, a well-renowned Italian artist. This work is considered to be his masterpiece and is one of the most significant pieces in Western painting. It was finished in 1608 and still hangs in St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Malta.
The Knights of Malta, where the painter, Caravaggio, himself served briefly as a knight, commissioned him to do the painting as an altarpiece. This painting was the biggest altarpiece that Caravaggio has ever painted and is one of the ten greatest works of art of all time.
Aside from its striking beauty, though, the painting also faced several controversies, particularly the one where the painter’s signature was also seen as a confession of his murder of Ranuccio Tomassoni.
Archaeological Gems to See in Malta
3. The Roman Villas in Rabat
The Roman Villas in Rabat, Malta, also known as Domus Romana, is a shambled Roman-era village situated on the boundary between Rabat and Mdina. It was built as a noble town house during the 1st century BC inside the Roman city Melite. During the 11th century, though, a cemetery for Muslims was set up on the ruins of the domus.
This archaeological site was discovered in 1881, and excavations conducted revealed some well-preserved Roman mosaics, monuments, other artifacts, and even old tombstones from the cemetery. The site has been open to the public as a museum since 1882, and is managed by Heritage Malta.
Prehistoric Things to See in Malta
4. Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is a subterranean ancient burial ground. It was unearthed in 1902 during construction works. The hypogeum was first exhumed by Fr Emmanuel Magri sometime between 1904 and 1906. Unfortunately, he died in Tunisia and his excavation notes were lost. Further excavations were then taken over by Sir Themistocles Zammit and had continued works until 1911.
This archaeological wonder first welcomed visitors in 1908 and since then it has been visited by a plethora of people. Sadly, this has taken a toll on the delicate microclimate of the burial site which has affected the preservation of the hypogeum and the one-of-a-kind red ochre paintings. Hence, a new visitation system was imposed where only 10 visitors an hour are allowed in for a maximum of 8 hours each day, and they have also installed an environmental control system which keeps temperature at required levels.
One-of-a-kind Things to do on Malta
5. The Tarxien Temples
The Megalithic Temples of Tarxien, also known as Tarxien Temples were built at the peak of the Temple Period. These structures were witnesses to the height of prehistoric art, engineering, architecture, and culture during the last stretch of Neolithic Malta.
This complex of temples is one of the rarest of its kind because of the intricate and sophisticated designs, so much so that they became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are four interconnected structures constructed with large stone blocks, adorned with animal reliefs and spiral patterns. The largest of the statues, though, is the one of the broad-hipped woman placed in the first temple.
Tourism was taking a toll on the preservation of these ruins so a visitor center and covers were put up in 2015 to protect these historical wonders.
Places to Get a Caffeine Fix in Malta
6. Cafe Cordina
There are numerous coffee shops and cafes in Malta, but Café Cordina stands out among the rest because of its charming location, quality food, and outstanding tradition. This café first opened its doors to the public in 1944 and has grown extensively since then. Café Cordina now has tea rooms, an ice-cream parlor, pasticceria, and a coffee bar.
Piping hot coffees are freshly prepared and the ambiance is generally busy since there are a lot of people scrambling to get their cup of coffee before heading to work. Nevertheless, it is all part of the Café Cordina experience and you can rest assured that the coffee the barista will prepare is one of the best in South Italy.
Historic Places to See on Malta
7. Inquisitor's Palace
The only structure of its kind in the world, the Inquisitor’s Palace is located in the old village of Vittoriosa. It was built in the 1530’s and first served as a civil law court complex, known as Castellania. The first Malta Inquisitor, Pietro Dusina, managed the palace in 1574, and after that, the building was passed on to the next and succeeding general Inquisitors for all the two centuries of the Inquisition’s presence in the country.
Majority of the palace was wrecked because of the numerous revolts against the Catholic Church and due to natural causes. Nevertheless, it is this wreckage and the centuries of historical significance embedded within the walls of the Inquisitor’s Palace that continue to draw thousands of tourists from all over the world.
Educational Things to See and Do in Malta
8. Malta Maritime Museum
The Malta Maritime Museum in Malta is a museum that features maritime archives and artifacts. It is located in the previous Royal Naval Bakery, which was constructed sometime in the 1840s as the primary bakery for the Mediterranean Fleet.
This museum has an exhibit of more than 20,000 artifacts illustrating Malta's maritime history, and it is the biggest museum in Malta. Its collection has boats, models of different ships, anchors, boats, amphorae, cannons, artillery, weapons, documents, photos, paintings, uniforms, and a genuine 1950s steam engine.
One of the most notable artifacts in the museum is the hugest known Roman anchor in the entire world, which weighs approximately 4 tons.
Cultural Things to Do on Malta
10. Manoel Theatre
The Manoel Theatre is a significant performing arts spot in Malta. This theatre is often referred to as "The Manoel" and was named after Fra António Manoel de Vilhena, who arranged its construction sometime in the 1730’s. The Manoel is reputed to be Europe's third-oldest working theatre, and the oldest theatre still fully functional in the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Manoel Theatre is just a small venue that accommodates more than 600 people, with an oval-shaped auditorium, three tiers of wooden boxes, adorned with gold leaf, and a blue trompe-l'oeil ceiling that looks like a round cupola.
Presently, the Manoel Theatre still continues to arrange a wide variety of theatrical productions in both English and Maltese, poetry recitals, interpretations, dramatic readings, and a yearly Christmas pantomime, produced by the Malta Amateur Dramatic Club.
Memorable Things to See and Do in Malta
11. National War Museum
The National War Museum features an excellent collection of items that takes us back to prehistoric eras. The items are shown in chronological order and begin with the early stages of the Bronze Age approximately around 2,500 B.C. In the second Punic war, Malta changed stance and became part of the mighty Roman Empire.
The collapse of this empire paved the way to a time of unrest where it is assumed that Malta was subject to vandal attacks.
The Eastern Roman Empire officially recognized as the Byzantines, and conquered Malta again in 535AD. A couple of halls are dedicated to Malta's significant role in the Second World War, the Inter-War Period and Malta's historical role in the WWII.
Featured in these halls one can see probably the three most important icons and exhibit of this museum: the Gloster Sea Gladiator N5520 FAITH, Roosevelt's Jeep 'Husky' and Malta award for gallantry, the George Cross.
Relaxing Things to Do on Malta
12. Chinese Garden of Serenity
Chinese gardens symbolize several different philosophical concepts. This Chinese Gardens in Malta encourage its visitors to roam freely and contemplate on their thoughts and help them relax. The “Serenity Garden” in Malta represents life, birth to death.
It has a fountain at the entrance is birth. The water symbolizes the mother giving birth. Childhood is symbolized by the space between the fountain and the garden door, where the door represents maturity.
At the threshold, which all of us have to go through, provides a welcome through a big portico that provides shelter inside. Inside that shelter are rocks to represent the image of a god. From there, the choices of life start. This then leads to hallways that symbolize an active life.
Exciting Things to See and Do on Malta
13. Blue Grotto
The most coveted of Malta’s cave complexes, the Blue Grotto consists of nine caves where the jagged sides glow green, orange, and purple depending on their mineral content. Enveloping the caves are some of the purest, clearest, brightest turquoise-blue waters ever. This natural marvel got its name from the British soldiers stationed in Malta sometime in the 1950s who believed the caves were akin to the Blue Grotto in Capri, Italy.
The most ideal time to visit the Blue Grotto in Malta is during a sunny morning when the sea is at its calmest. Cave views, though, are best between 5am and 1pm, with some caverns reflecting the phosphorescent colors of the flora underwater.
Unforgettable Things to See and Do in Malta
14. Marsaxlokk Fishing Village
Marsaxlokk is a quaint, traditional fishing town in the South East of Malta. It has a dock and is a tourist attraction notable for its stunning views, its friendly fishermen and rich history. It is also famous for the Marsaxlokk Market, a large fish and seafood market that takes place along the waterfront every Sundays, and a tourist market on all other days of the week.
This town has been inhabited and quite known since the earlier days. Initially a part of Zejtun City, Marsaxlokk became a separate community in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Marsaxlokk is also a favorite among locals and tourists for its serene walks along the coast and dock, its excellent restaurants, and its isolated swimming zones.
Romantic Things to Do on Malta
15. Dine at Osteria.Ve
Tucked away in a seventeenth=century townhouse is the charming restaurant of Osteria.Ve. It is managed by a warm Venetian couple, doing what Italians do best: cook simple yet amazing food made with only the best ingredients.
Their popular dishes are tagliatelle with tomato and sausage and beef with rosemary. Osteria.Ve boasts of a great location, stellar culinary knowledge, and old=world charm. The very Italian Tiramisu is to die for and would probably convince you that it is the best you will ever taste in Malta. They also feature really good and fine wines that go well with their dishes.
The prices of their food are very reasonable and their staff would make you feel like you’re dining in a much expensive restaurant.
Things to See and Do with Kids on Malta
16. Popeye Village
Sweethaven Village, also known as Popeye Village, was once a film set village but is now renovated into a charming yet small amusement park that consists of rustic wooden structures and ramshackle buildings. Popeye Village is situated at Anchor Bay in Malta.
It was originally built as a set for the 1980 musical feature film, Popeye, which was produced by Paramount Pictures and starred by the late Robin Williams. Presently, though, it is open to the public as a sea-side resort and open-air museum.
Popeye Village is open seven days a week and features several family attractions for the visitors to experience and enjoy. Moreover, there are also rides, shoes, museums, and playhouses.
Educational Things to See and Do in Malta
17. The National Museum of Natural History
Located inside the Vilhelna Palace is The National Museum of National History. It features displays ranging from different areas like exotic mammals, Maltese Geology and Paleontology, marine fauna, shells, insects, and even human evolution.
Vilhelna Palace once served as a temporary infirmary in 1837, at the peak of the cholera outbreak, as a temporary hospital for the British troops in 1860, and even as a sanatorium in the early 20th century for tuberculosis patients. In 1973, though, it was formally opened as the National Museum of Natural History.
Its main objective is to acquire, collect, preserve, and conserve natural history material and artifact, with weight given to local data.
Artful Things to See in Malta
MUZA is situated at the southern end of South Street in Valleta, inside a location together with other fine historic structures since the times of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. Established in a complimenting historical edifice, MUZA offers a comprehensive outline of art and expression in Malta from the late medieval period to modern times.
The exhibit also includes masterpieces by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Albert Bierstadt, Jusepe Ribera, Valentin de Boulogne, and Guido Reni. The most notable works from the exhibit on display include paintings by local and internationally famous artists, precious Maltese silverware, fine furniture items and excellent majolica pieces.
Things to See and Do with Kids in Malta
19. Falcon Archery Malta
Archery is not a very common theme in pop culture. There are movies like Disney’s Brave, Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, etc that feature archery as one of its concepts. Although not very popular, archery is nevertheless an interesting sport that is perfect for young and old alike.
Malta may seem like a not-so-friendly destination for children due to its old-world charm, but it still has several activities that can keep children immersed. Falcon Archery Malta offers archery classes from a trained expert. Students also learn a lot from the guides who tell them all about this history of archery as they concentrate for the next shot. Group events are also available for team building sessions.
Luxurious Things to Do in Malta
20. Have Tea at Palazzo Parisio
Palazzo Parisio, previously known as Scicluna Palace and now officially Palazzo Parisio and Gardens, is a 20th-century palace located in Naxxar, Malta. The site was once a hunting lodge constructed in 1733 by Paolo Parisio, and served as a permanent residence before being purchased by the Marquis Scicluna in 1898.
Today, Palazzo Parisio and its charming gardens are open to the public. Aside from marveling at the Baroque beauty of the palace and the surrounding gardens, one of the luxurious activities that Malta offers is having tea there. Having afternoon tea at Palazzo Parisio was inspired by the time the Baroness’ experiences in the British Isles.
Traditional English tea is served outside in the amidst the beauty of baroque gardens when the weather is lovely, or indoors in the tea rooms of the majestic palace when it gets a little too windy.
Spectacular Things to See and Do on Gozo
21. Ramla Bay
Ramla Bay is definitely Gozo’s only truly sandy beach, so much so that it is often cited as the best and most beautiful beach in Gozo. Its deep yellow sand beneath your feet is enough to convince visitors that Ramla Bay is indeed the best in Gozo.
It’s one of the most coveted spots in Gozo because of its amazingly clear water, glorious spot, and lovely yellow sand, but it could get very busy in the peak of summer, so the ideal time to enjoy the beach is early in the morning or late in the afternoon or evening to escape the crowds.
Umbrellas and sun loungers are available to rent, and there are an ice cream truck and a bar in the area for refreshments. After basking under the sun, Calypso Cave where visitors can see the remains of a Roman villa that was built almost 2000 years ago.
Architectural Marvels to See on Gozo
22. Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu Basilica
There are a lot of charming and peaceful churches in Gozo, but Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu Basilica is one of the most impressive. It is situated on the edge of a sharp seaside cliff, giving spectacular views and an extremely tranquil atmosphere.
Its origins are indefinite but records of it date back to 1534. This Basilica provides a diverse range of spiritual and religious ceremonies, but visitors can also visit just to admire the amazing architecture and marvelous sculptures.
Admission is free but visitors shouldn’t wear shorts, and women must cover their shoulders out of respect for religious beliefs and traditions.
Unique Things to See in Gozo
23. The Salt Pans
The northern coast of Gozo is characterized by the checkerboard look of natural salt pans projecting into the sea. Some of the salt pans are still in use and visitors can visit to watch fresh salt being extracted from the sea. Once collected, the salt is stored and then processed in the caves along the coastline.
The rock formations and the surrounding scenery are equally breathtakingly beautiful and Instagram-worthy. This could also be an educational tour since visitors can learn a lot about the place’s local history when they visit here, as the three hundred and fifty-year-old salt pans have been passed down through several family generations.
Historical Things to See in Gozo
24. The Citadel
Citadella or the Citadel is a charming walled city in the heart of Victoria in Gozo. The location has been populated since the Bronze age, and was recognized in the Medieval period as the Gran Castello. The initial fortifications of the Citadella were constructed in 1500 BC, while the contemporary ones were built in 1622, thus the Citadel is rich and colorful in history. Visitors can climb onto the battlements to view the spectacular sights of virtually the entire island, discover the deep, dark (and scary) tunnels of the fortification, and visit the lovely Citadel Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Assumption.
Small but Significant Things to See in Gozo
25. Dwejra Tower
Dwejra Tower is a little watchtower situated in Dwejra Bay which was erected for a rather special purpose: to prevent unauthorized persons from collecting “fungus melitensis” (Maltese Fungus) from the area, which was mistakenly assumed to have unique medicinal properties.
The tower was completed in 1652 and is one of four remaining Lascaris towers constructed by the Order of Saint John. Sometime in, 1715 the Dwejra Tower was fortified into a coastline battery with a gun platform put up around the sea-facing side. Recently refurbished by Din l-Art Ħelwa (Malta’s National Trust), the Dwejra Tower now welcomes the public for tours.
The area also has a restaurant selling traditional authentic Maltese food.