One of the warmest, friendliest countries in Europe it has everything from eco-credentials and awe-inspiring scenery to world-class art and fantastic food. So where should you go and what should you do for an unforgettable Maltese experience?
Almost right in the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta has 3000 hours of sunshine a year and temperatures of 20˚C in late autumn.
It’s one of the smallest countries in the world but has three World Heritage sites including the entire historic centre of the capital city, Valletta.
You can fly direct from London to Malta in three hours, all-year-round.
Many of Malta’s range of 4 and 5-star family resorts are Eco-Certified.
In 2018, Valletta was the European Capital of Culture.
There are over a dozen islands in the Maltese archipelago but only three are inhabited: Malta, Gozo and Comino.
Malta is home to five European Destinations of Excellence – Nadur, Santa Lucija, Melliefia, Senglia and Gharb.
Where to go
Malta isn’t the island to find dense Mediterranean pine forests or impressive mountains. It’s all about the dramatic coastline, remarkable beaches and wonderful geology here. Cliffs, sea caves, grottos, lagoons and gorgeous beaches trim the island and when kids aren’t playing in the warm waters, rambling round Malta’s rugged edges is an incredible adventure.
Malta’s small and getting about is quick and easy. Families have a good choice of 4 and 5 star beach hotels and holiday villages in Millehia, St. Paul’s Bay and Bugibba on the south and south east coast.
Valletta is less than 45 minutes from the south coast resorts.
Wonders like the Dingli Cliffs and Hagar Qim Temples are half an hour to the west of the main resort towns.
Millehia’s nearest neighbour is Popeye’s Village – built for the 1980’s movies, lovingly preserved and fantastic for a whole new generation of kids almost 40 year’s later.
Surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean and on all four by immense fortified walls, Valletta is one of the loveliest cities in Europe. Historic down to the last narrow, cobbled street and endlessly atmospheric, it’s also a colourful delight for kids to explore. The forts and towers are adventures in themselves and every quarter has a long and enthralling story to tell. Fortunately there are plenty of excellent local guides in the city to narrate for you and a tour – even for an hour – is a great way to get your bearings before going it alone.
The original city was built entirely by hand in under two years at the end of the 16th
Caravaggio lived in Valletta for 15 months during the early 17th century and two of his works hang in the city’s Church of St. John.
Walk around Valletta as much as possible and remember to get kids to look up, the famous colourful balconies alone are amazing.
The city has a good choice of 4 and 5-star hotels and self-catering apartments.
Malta’s a small island and beach resorts or holiday villages on the south and south west coast are great for kids and less than 40 minutes drive from the city.
Green and gentle Gozo is the second largest inhabited island in the Maltese Archipelago. There are no cities here, just charming Baroque towns surrounded by fields, farms and tiny villages. Huge, white cliffs overlook a Mediterranean punctuated by enormous sea arches and golden beaches. Rural trails criss-cross the countryside. And you can take kids on endless expeditions to discover everything from prehistoric temples to herds of inquisitive goats, acres of wildflowers and skies full of butterflies.
Gozo has a small selection of hotels ranging from 2 – 5 star and a handful of guesthouses.
Best for families are the intriguing farmhouses scattered everywhere across the island. These traditional buildings have been beautifully converted into individual holiday homes, often with their own pools and pretty gardens. Many are ancient and every one is characterful and completely unique to Gozo.
Miniature Comino sits between Gozo and the main island. It’s car-free, with just one hotel and the air is so clear and fresh it smells of herbs all summer long. Possibly not the best base for energetic kids but you have to visit at least once to swim in the transparent waters of the famous Blue Lagoon. It’s a wonderful day out from either of the neighbouring islands – don’t forget to pack a picnic because there are no towns here either.
What to do
Ghar Dalam Cave & Museum, Malta The first evidence of human life in Malta dates back 7000 years to this cave where the life of the island itself is traced back 500,000 years.
Cliffs’ Interpretation Centre, Had-Dingli, Malta The impressive Dingli Cliffs on Malta’s west coast are explained in brilliantly engaging detail – go before you see the marvels themselves.
Splash & Fun Waterpark, Malta Take a break from the beach and ride the chutes and slides instead.
Sweethaven aka Popeye’s Village, Malta Originally a movie set, now a cute activity park for kids.
Falconry & Archery, Malta Valletta was built by the Knights of St. John so where better than Malta to learn the noble art of archery.
Dwerja Bay, Gozo From vast sea arches to hills of fungus, this is where to see most geological wonders all at once.
Malta National Aquarium, Malta From serious sea creatures to an excellent Kid Zone this big aquarium works for all ages.
The Mdina Dungeons Museum, Malta If haunting tales of ancient Malta aren’t chilling enough, this experience is guaranteed bloodcurdling.
Domus Romana, Malta The tiled mosaics in this Ancient Roman villa are dated to the same era as Pompeii.
Inquisitor’s Palaca, Malta In the 16th century, Inquisitor’s Palaces were found all over Europe, this is the only one remaining open to the public.
Educational value for kids
Malta’s collection of Megalithic Temples have World Heritage status. Interesting prehistory lesson for older kids and awe-inspiringly huge for younger ones. Ħaġar Qim at Qrendi on Malta is particularly impressive.
Follow one of the Malta Heritage Trails on any of the three islands and, if you’re going to visit more than one museum or site, think about getting a Heritage Card to save on admission costs.
The country is world famous for its diving conditions and there are several PADI schools for beginners to learn and the more experienced to venture out into the warm Mediterranean with expert locals.
Visit the Folklore Museum on Gozo and learn all about the customs of the country from cooking to farming and today’s eco-initiatives.
Malta’s Mardi Gras in February or March (depending on when Easter falls) is a brilliantly exciting and extravagant event with all the masquerade and thrills of Venice and none of the crowds – lots for kids too.
Take kids to look at the trompe d’oei dome in Gozo Cathedral and see if they can spot the trick, then go visit the superb museum to find out more.
In true Mediterranean tradition, Malta has village fiestas almost every weekend all summer long, a good way for kids to learn about local life away beyond resorts and beaches.
Getting around with kids in Malta
Both Malta and Gozo have bus services with over 80 routes across the islands from early in the morning until 11pm. There are regular car ferries between Malta and Gozo, a range of water taxis and a small passenger ferry for Comino. It’s also a wonderful country to cycle and there are bike hire companies in Valletta and a Hertz Bike Hire in the airport arrival hall.