Why to visit MALTA

A tiny nation in the central Mediterranean 50 nautical miles from Sicily, Malta is a place that has yet to truly register in the consciousness of rank and file American travelers.

It certainly doesn’t have the instant name recognition of iconic tourist hotspots like France and Britain, both of which have attracted Americans in droves for decades. And given the island’s out of the way location, it’s not the sort of place you might accidentally stumble across while traipsing around Europe on a summer vacation.

 “Not a lot of people know where Malta is. We’re still in the education phase,” Michelle Buttigieg, of the Malta Tourism Authority, recently told TravelPulse.

With its 7,000 years of rich and fascinating history to explore including ruins linked to the Romans, Moors, and Knights of Saint John (all of whom once ruled the island), it’s remarkable Malta still remains so very under the radar. Here’s a closer look at some of the many, many reasons to visit.

History

Mysterious temples from the Neolithic period, a shipwreck in 60 A.D. by St. Paul, hundreds of years of rule by the Knights of St. John, these are just some of the highlights of Malta’s past. The three-island archipelago can trace its history back to the dawn of civilization and over the years the small nation has been ruled by the Arabs, the Normans and the Aragonese. The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans have also left their traces on the islands. “Some of the oldest freestanding megalithic temples in the world are in Malta, older than Stonehenge,” said Buttigieg “We have that ancient history all the way through to modern Malta, which is now part of the European Union. All of these civilizations passed through.”

Sand and Sea

Apart from its rich history, Malta is, after all, a Mediterranean island. In other words, it’s surrounded by beautiful ocean and there are plenty of outdoor activities to indulge in – everything from walking and cycling to diving. In fact, the clear blue sea surrounding the Maltese Islands is ideal for scuba diving. “We have 20 meters of visibility in the water,” Buttigieg noted. There’s also an abundance of reefs, caves and wrecks in the area to explore. And added bonus: the risk of encountering dangerous fish is extremely low, creating the ultimate conditions for first time divers and beginners.

Beaches

For those who prefer a slower pace, there are plenty of beaches on the Maltese islands including Mellieha Bay, the island’s largest beach (and an ideal family beach), and Golden Bay, on the north-west coast of Malta.

300 Days of Sunshine

The Maltese Islands are known for their pleasant, sunny climate. The daily average is about 12 hours of sunshine. “We love to be outside,” says Buttigieg.