Instant Expert: Malta
You might know Malta for its gin-clear sea and red-gold beaches (if not, you should look them up), but it has UNESCO World Heritage Sites, hilltop towns and activities aplenty, too. And did you know, it has a temple that’s 1,000 years older than the Egyptian Pyramids? Read on to find out more…
Malta at a Glance
Official language: Maltese
Flying time from the UK: 3 hours
Timezone: GMT +1
Visas: No visa required for British citizens
Tipping: Customary in Malta, and a gratuity of between 5% and 10%, whenever good service has been provided, is reasonable
10 Things You Need to Know About Malta
1. Malta is actually an archipelago. It’s made up of four islands, but only the three main ones – Malta, Gozo and Comino – are inhabited.
2. The Maltese drive on the left, and their plug sockets are the same as ours, too. Easy travelling!
3. Malta has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the City of Valletta, the Megalithic Temples of Malta and Hal Saflieni Hypogeum. According to UNESCO, Valletta is “one of the most concentrated historical areas in the world”. The Megalithic Temples are the oldest freestanding structures in the world. They even predate the Pyramids of Egypt by some 1,000 years.
4. The Maltese islands are in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, between Sicily and Tunisia.
5. Valletta has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2018 – the smallest capital ever to have been given the honour.
6. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had their honeymoon in Malta in 2014.
7. The traditional Maltese drink is Kinnie, a slightly bitter, fizzy beverage which tastes of oranges and herbs and can’t be bought anywhere else in the world.
8. Malta’s varied landscape has provided the backdrop for countless films and TV programmes, including “Gladiator”, “Troy” and “Game of Thrones”.
9. Calypso Cave on Gozo is thought to have inspired a location in Homer’s Odyssey – where Calypso, the beautiful nymph, kept Odysseus as a prisoner of love for seven years.
10. You won’t find a single forest, mountain or river in Malta, but the secluded coves, blue lagoons and stunning countryside more than make up for it.
When to Visit Malta
Malta has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, humid winters – temperatures can reach 18°C even in the colder months. From November-April, expect averages around 15°C, rising to highs of 33°C from May-October. The sea is relatively warm by May and stays pleasant for swimming until October/November.
Malta is Best For…
History buffs. From 16th-century cathedrals to medieval walled towns, Malta has ancient architecture covered.
Foodies. The colourful Marsaxlokk fish market is a case in point. Watch as traditional boats bring in that day’s catch and then feast on the freshest fish at a waterside restaurant.
Adventurous types. Cycle to archaeological sites, walk through hidden villages, abseil down craggy cliffs or dive in crystal-clear waters.
Families. With waterparks, glass-bottom boat safaris and an antique toy museum, Malta has plenty to keep the children entertained.
Snap-happy tourists. Stunning panoramic views are around every bend – the Azure Window on Gozo provides a particularly impressive photo opportunity. Like this one:
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