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Things to do in Malta
While on holiday in Malta, there are various wonderful things to see and do, as well as beautiful island beaches to enjoy. Travellers can visit St John's Co-Cathedral to see Caravaggio's painting and the inlaid tombstones covering the floor in this celebrated place of worship.
Still in Valletta, the Malta Experience illustrates the history of Malta at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. The Three Cities are home to architectural displays of the island's maritime history, while Hagar Qim boasts a prehistoric temple complex, including the oldest human structures in the world.
Visitors should head to Marsalforn for great restaurants and bars or dive into the 'blue hole' at the Azure Window's secluded pebbled bathing pool. There is a wealth of historical sightseeing for tourists that, combined with the hedonistic glories of the Mediterranean coast, makes Malta a superb travel destination.
Getting around in Malta is easy thanks to the cheap and reliable public bus system that has an unexpected charm due to the use of vintage buses. Services radiate from Valletta, so visitors may find themselves doubling back to get to other destinations. Travellers can pick up schedules at terminals or on the buses themselves. They can also take the white taxis that will transport them anywhere on the island, though local pre-booked black cabs are cheaper. Hiring a car in Malta is another option, and visitors can do so at many hotels, harbours, and the airport. Another pleasant transport alternative is hiring a bike, which travellers can do in Valletta.
St John's Co-Cathedral
Valletta's magnificent medieval cathedral is famous for the painting by Caravaggio, which hangs in its oratory, and the 369 inlaid mosaic marble tombstones that cover the floor. Ea…
St John's Co-Cathedral
Valletta's magnificent medieval cathedral is famous for the painting by Caravaggio, which hangs in its oratory, and the 369 inlaid mosaic marble tombstones that cover the floor. Each tombstone depicts the lives of the Grand Masters of the Order of St John, buried beneath. The facade is rather sever and militaristic. Yet inside, the cathedral is lavishly splendid in the grandest tradition of high Baroque. Carvings cover every each of wall, while the vaulted ceiling sports paintings depicting the life of St John the Baptist, patron saint of the Knights. The cathedral benefitted greatly over the centuries from many donations given by the Knights and their Grand Masters. Some of the most impressive works of art were gifts from the order. It's still an active place of worship, with frequent services, and also operates as a beautiful venue for cultural events. The stunningly ornate cathedral is an exceptional sight and a must for tourist in Malta. Guided tours and rented audio guides help to greatly enrich the experience. Travellers should be sure to check the website for visiting hours to avoid disappointment.
The Malta Experience is a dramatic presentation that illustrates the history of Malta, from Neolithic to modern times. Shown at the Mediterranean Conference Centre at St Elmo's bas…
The Malta Experience is a dramatic presentation that illustrates the history of Malta, from Neolithic to modern times. Shown at the Mediterranean Conference Centre at St Elmo's bastion in Valletta, the building originally served as a hospital by the Knights of St John in the 1500s. Wards are now great sweeping halls with vaulted ceilings and marble floors, functioning as exhibition areas. A modern theatre the Malta Experience audio-visual show in 17 different languages. The show is a sweeping expose of 7,000 years of history covering the original stone-age inhabitants, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Knights of St John, and the nation's modern history. It is as entertaining as it is educational. Indeed, the Malta Experience is a great way to begin a holiday in Malta as it provides an overview of the archipelagos' dramatic history and greatly enriches the sightseeing to come. This is particularly useful as not all sites on the islands have detailed information for tourists. The documentary also offers great insight into the Maltese culture and people. About 45 minutes long, the Malta Experience is immensely popular and more than four million visitors have seen it since its opening.
Known as the Noble City, Mdini was the original capital of Malta before the arrival of the Knights of St John in the Middle Ages. Initially a Phoenician town, it underwent periods …
Known as the Noble City, Mdini was the original capital of Malta before the arrival of the Knights of St John in the Middle Ages. Initially a Phoenician town, it underwent periods of Roman, Arbaic and Norman occupation. Situated on a rocky outcrop about nine miles (15km) west of Valletta, the elegant walled settlement can trace its origins back more than 4,000 years. Although today, all that remains is the largely restored medieval town. At the heart of Mdina is the landmark Baroque Cathedral of St Paul. While the Knights reigned over Malta the city became the home of the Maltese nobility, who lived there under autonomous rule and deemed unworthy of joining the Order of St John. Descendants of some of these families still live in the city. Mdina and the ancient suburb of Rabat not only offer some fascinating and valuable sightseeing opportunities, but also come alive in their own unique ways when the sun sets. Lamplight accompany ambient evenings spent in restaurants, tucked away in bastions and palace courtyards. Motor vehicles are banned inside the city walls, and pedestrians have free reign to walk the streets and take in this precious site of Maltese heritage.
Malta's main maritime towns have merged into a fortified conglomerate known as the Three Cities, resting on the promontories opposite Valletta. Vittoriosa is the oldest town in Mal…
Malta's main maritime towns have merged into a fortified conglomerate known as the Three Cities, resting on the promontories opposite Valletta. Vittoriosa is the oldest town in Malta after Mdina, featuring plenty of historical architecture, including several of the Inns of the Knights of St John. There is also a hospital built by the Order in 1672, in which still lives a Benedictine convent of devout nuns. Dating from 1274, Fort St Angelo is the oldest fortified part of Vittoriosa and stands at the tip of the promontory. Additionally, the Museum of Maritime History is well worth a visit. Founded in 1717, Cospicua is the youngest of the Three Cities and features some fascinating churches. Senglea, designed by Grand Master De La Sengle in 1551, exists as an important pilgrimage destination. Its parish church contains a statue of Christ the Redeemer, said to have miraculous powers. There are many great restaurants and bars in the Three Cities and the marina area is becoming increasingly popular. The best way to explore is on a walking tour, wandering through the old districts and discovering unexpected joys and treasures. Apart from the rich history, the Three Cities are famous for their residents' enthusiastic celebration of holy days and festas. The most exciting of these is the Easter procession, when status of Jesus Christ are carried at a run through crowded streets.
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
Just southwest of the Three Cities in the suburb of Paolo, the Hypogeum is a labyrinthine limestone complex of man-made chambers extending some 36 feet (11m) below the surface. Exp…
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
Just southwest of the Three Cities in the suburb of Paolo, the Hypogeum is a labyrinthine limestone complex of man-made chambers extending some 36 feet (11m) below the surface. Experts believe it was a burial site and temple for Neolithic humans who used antlers and stones to carve it out more than 5,000 years ago. It's comprised of several interconnecting chambers on three distinct levels. Used over a span of many centuries, the oldest remains at the site date back to about 4,000 BC. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Archaeologists have recovered numerous statues, amulets, figurines, and vases, many of which are on display in the Archaeological Museum in Valletta. The Hypogeum has been open to the public since 1908 and the droves of visitors have unfortunately had a negative impact on the ancient environment. Now, only eight tours a day take place with 10 people permitted on each tour. They are often booked up weeks in advance so tickets should be booked early to avoid disappointment. The tours are more or less an hour long and provide audio guides.
Haqar Qim is a prehistoric temple complex located in western Malta. Discovered in 1839, it dates back to around 3,000 BC and boast some of the oldest human structures on the planet…
Haqar Qim is a prehistoric temple complex located in western Malta. Discovered in 1839, it dates back to around 3,000 BC and boast some of the oldest human structures on the planet. The Hagar Qim and nearby Mnajdra ruins are close to the village of Qrendi, about nine miles (15km) southwest of Valletta. The megalithic temples are carved from giant limestone slabs, housing sacrificial altars, oracular chambers, and carved animals and idols, themselves fashioned by flint and obsidian. The largest megalith is 23 feet (7m) high and weighs about 20 tons. Although the ancient ruins of Malta are generally called temples, very little is actually known about their purpose. Many of the relics recovered from the Hagar Qim site, including the famous Venus of Malta and her accompanying fat lady statues, are on display in the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta. Unlike some of the other temples on Malta, Hagar Qim has an impressive visitors' centre that offers plenty of background information through interactive displays. While there are shelters around the site to protect one from the elements, they hardly detract from the otherworldly experience of the ruins.
Sometime between 4,100 BC and 2,500 BC, Pre-Phoenician Gozitans carved two massive megaliths into temples that now stand as mysterious monuments to a bygone age. Legend has it that…
Sometime between 4,100 BC and 2,500 BC, Pre-Phoenician Gozitans carved two massive megaliths into temples that now stand as mysterious monuments to a bygone age. Legend has it that they were transported to the island by a giantess called Sansuna, hence the site's name: A gantija. Large stone balls in the area have led archaeologists to conclude that the massive blocks were rolled into place. Two temples have a common facade but each has a separate entrance. Inside the walls, animal sacrifices occurred during ritual observances. The temples, along with other similar complexes on the main island of Malta, are documented as the oldest free-standing structures in the world. For this reason, the extremely impressive A gantija Temples are a famous UNESCO Word Heritage Site. But the site is not equipped with as much information as some visitors might desire. It's best to do some research beforehand or to join a guided tour as added knowledge greatly enriches the A gantija experience.
Also known as Sweethaven, Popeye Village is the actual set used in the 1908s musical of Popeye starring Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall. Since then, the set has grown into one of …
Also known as Sweethaven, Popeye Village is the actual set used in the 1908s musical of Popeye starring Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall. Since then, the set has grown into one of the country's major tourist attractions and is a must for those travelling with children in Malta. Kids can wander around the authentic wooden buildings such as the bakery, post office, and school house. But there's also lots of fun activities for the whole family, including meeting famous cartoon characters, boat rides, water trampolines, sun bathing decks, and games. The park now boasts the Popeye Comic Museum, showcasing more than a hundred original comics dating back to 1936. Sweethaven hosts fun stuff for kids but also organises adult events like team building exercises upon request. The little village is gorgeously situated and quite charming. The opening times and activities vary according to the season so it's best to check the official website for information before visiting in order to avoid disappointment.
A marvellous Maltese treat, the Azure Window is a distinctive rock formation forming a large arch over the brilliant blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Formed when several enorm…
A marvellous Maltese treat, the Azure Window is a distinctive rock formation forming a large arch over the brilliant blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Formed when several enormous caves collapsed, it's often been a perfect location for film shoots. Located in Gozo, near the tourist village of Dwejra, the Azure Window is a popular scuba diving site in Malta. Unfortunately, tourists aren't allowed to walk across the arch due to erosion, with the site in danger of falling apart altogether. If this happens, it will be renamed the Azure Pinnacle. This coastline boasts many secluded pebbled bathing pools and crystal clear water. The strange formations formed in lovely little pools makes swimming exciting, providing enjoyable diving in the blue hole near the Azure Window. The area's most famous formation is Fungus Rock, found near the entrance to a black lagoon. Heavily guarded during the era of the Knights of Malta because of a special plant with healing properties which grew upon it, stealing the plant meant death penalty.