Malta Travel Guide

At A Glance

Malta is a tiny island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, deep in history going back to ancient times. It was even mentioned by name in the Bible as a place with friendly locals. More recently, it has become a popular destination for European holidaymakers, drawn to its abundant sunshine, warm, vibrant towns and villages, historical sites and architecture, and many picturesque bays, coves, and harbors. Today, Malta is a developed, English-speaking modern Western European country and is a member state of the European Union.

Population

450,000

Capital

Valletta (Pop. 6,500)

Notable Cities

Birkirkara (Pop. 22,000)

Government

Malta is a parliamentary republic and member state of the European Union (the smallest EU country, in fact.)

Ethnicity

Mostly ethnic Maltese

Language

Maltese

Overview

  • Maltese Words and Phrases

    Hello! Merħba!

    How are you? Kif int?

    My name is…  Jisimni…

    Hotel  Hotel

    Where is the toilet? Fejn hi l-tojlit?

    Where is the restaurant? Fejn hi l-ristorant?

    Food  Ikel

    Beer  Birra

    Water  Ilma

    Please?  Jekk jogħġbok?

    Thank you!  Grazzi!

    You’re welcome Ta ‘xejn

    How much does this cost?  Kemm tiswa?

    I’m sorry Jiddispjaċini

    How do you say … in Maltese? Kif inti tgħid … bil-Malti?

    Goodbye! Addiju!

    Cheers! Evviva!

  • Travel Requirements / Visas / Passports

    Because Malta is a member of the Schengen Agreement, Americans can enter Malta for up to 90 days without a visa. Malta is member of the European Union and has open borders for all EU citizens.

  • Money

    As a member of the European Union, Malta uses the Euro.

  • Food

    Traditional Maltese cuisine is rustic, with the full flavor and color of Mediterranean fare influenced by proximity to Sicily and Northern Africa, but with a unique flair. A smooth glass of local wine with friends in a village bar comes with a dish of olives, ġbejniet (local sheep’s cheeses), zalzett (coriander flavored Maltese sausage), galletti crackers, and bean paté. On a cool day, savory ricotta-filled pastries with wine or coffee nourish the soul. Warm beach days mean ħobs biż–żejt, a snack made from thick, crusty Maltese bread with juicy tomatoes, onion, sheep’s cheese, mint, and anchovies soaked in olive oil. Fish straight from the Mediterranean is an important feature to the cuisine, often found in dishes like aljotta, a garlicky fish soup. At summer festivals in the villages, you’ll find sweet treats like imqaret (date pastries), nougat, almond pastries, and honey rings.

  • Climate and Weather

    International Living declared a few years ago that Malta has the best climate in the world. During the summer, the sun shines for 12 hours a day, and annual rainfall is low, averaging about 568 mm per year. The winters are mild, and swimming in the sea is quite possible well into the winter. The summers are warm to hot, and daytime temperatures are often mitigated by cooling sea breezes. Spring and autumn are cooler, but occasional Scirocco winds from Africa sometimes bring unseasonal warmth and humidity. The peak season is between April and October.

  • Festivals and Holidays

    Religious festivals and feast days are important to Malta’s cultural calendar. Some are even national holidays, like the Feast of Santa Marija in August. The harvest festival of Mnarja in June is steeped in folklore. The most important events to the villages are their individual festas, each one honoring the local parish patron saint. During the festas, streets are lined with carts selling all sorts of traditional foods and delicacies. Christmas and Easter are widely celebrated, and Maltese turn out for church services during these times and throw large, festive lunches with families and relatives. Other important national holidays include the Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck on February 10, Good Friday, Holy Week, and Easter, Freedom Day on March 31, which commemorates the withdrawal of British troops from the country, Independence Day on September 21, and Republic Day on December 13.

  • Religion

    Malta is a deeply devout Catholic country. It was mentioned by name in the Bible because the apostle Paul crash landed here on his journey to Rome, survived a snake bite, and healed the sick, so the country is an Apostolic See of the Roman Catholic Church. For a while during the 18th Century, Malta was governed by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the descendants of the medieval Knights Hospitaller, a Papal military group who used the country as an important base during the Middle Ages.

  • Health and Medical

    Medical care in Malta is excellent and state-of-the-art, available at public and private hospitals. Hospitals are supported by a regional network of health centers around the country. In 2007, Malta opened the new Mater Dei General Hospital, a half-billion Euro project with world-class facilities. Private hospitals have been described as hospitals with 5-star hotel amenities.  Thanks to reciprocal agreements with Australia and the UK, travelers from these countries are entitled to free medical and hospital care in Malta and Gozo.

  • Safety

    Malta is an exceptionally safe country. Violent crime against tourists is practically unheard of. The biggest risk tourists run is getting pick-pocketed in places with nightlife, but even here the risk is limited. Beaches, especially when crowded, can become sites of theft, particularly when you’ve left your belongings on the beach to bathe in the sea. Malta is safe for anyone walking around in the evening and at night.

  • LGBTQ+ Travel

    The attitude to the LGBT community is fairly positive in Malta, especially among the younger generations. Gay travelers may find that among the glistening beaches, perfect weather, nightlife, and shopping, they feel quite at home in Malta. Thanks in part to its devout Catholic tradition, explicit public displays of affection are generally considered impolite, but in general Maltese are supportive.

  • Solo Female Travel

    Malta is a safe and open destination for women traveling alone. It’s always wise to take normal precautions around nightlife spots.

  • Disabled Travel

    While newly-constructed facilities are up-to-date on handicap accessibility, many of the historic sites and old churches feature challenging terrain, steps, and a lack of ramps or elevators.

  • Cultural Customs

    The culture of Malta reflects various societies that have come into contact with the Maltese Islands throughout the centuries, including neighboring Mediterranean cultures, and the cultures of the nations that ruled Malta for long periods of time prior to its independence in 1964.

    The earliest inhabitants of the Maltese Islands are believed to have been Sicani from nearby Sicily who arrived on the island sometime before 5000 BC. They grew cereals and raised domestic livestock and, in keeping with many other ancient Mediterranean cultures, formed a fertility cult represented in Malta by statuettes of unusually large proportions. Pottery from the earliest period of Maltese civilization (known as the Għar Dalam phase) is similar to examples found in Agrigento, Sicily. These people were either supplanted by, or gave rise to a culture of megalithic temple builders, whose surviving monuments on Malta and Gozo are considered the oldest standing stone structures in the world. The temples date from 4000–2500 BC and typically consist of a complex trefoil design.

  • Tipping

    Tipping is customary in Malta and a gratuity of between 5% and 10%, whenever good service has been provided is reasonable. However, if a service charge has already been included in the bill, a tip is not necessary. Tipping in Malta is similar to tipping traditions in the rest of Europe.

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Top Experiences in Malta

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