Malta – it’s one of Europe’s smallest islands. Many people travel to Europe to see what I like to call the ‘Hero’ cities – these are places like Italy or France (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – those countries are incredibly beautiful)…but there is totally a reason why Malta is appearing on the travel ‘must-see lists’ of all the big companies (think of guys like Lonely Planet) and why you should definitely visit Malta in 2017. In fact, there are five big reasons, all of which I am going to explain to you in this post. So grab a cup of something delicious and a notebook, because after reading this, you’ll want to book your next flight to Malta…so let’s get started!
1. Malta is one of the world’s oldest islands (you better believe it!)
Malta was actually discovered around 4000 BC by a group of late Stone-age Sicilian families – its actually older than the pyramids, crazy I know! These families bought their animals and farming equipment with them, enabling sustainability for life on the island. Over the years, more and more people made the move over to Malta, settling and building various city structures, like temples. Many of these structures and particularly, temples date back to the Neolithic period (around 1800 BC) and have been well preserved, meaning – you can still visit them today! If you do decide to visit any temples, I highly recommend checking out Tarxien temples (which are believed to be the remnants of a cemetery dating back to 3600 BC) and Hagar Qim temples, which are old building ruins overlooking the sea and beautiful islet of Filfa.
2. Visit Malta and you’ll get an awesome history lesson!
Malta is actually made up of a group of islands including Gozo, Comino and Malta (inhabited), as well as Cominotto, Filfla and St Paul (uninhabited) and lies in the centre of the Mediterranean. This locations totally explains why Malta is so beautiful (we’ll get to that a bit later)…but also why the country has one of the most tumultuous histories in Europe. As you just read, Malta was discovered by Sicilians in the late stone age and has deep roots in Italian culture, however since that time a number of different empires (including the Phoenicians, Arabs, Romans and the British) have all tried to make their claim for the coveted island and it’s amazing geographical position. When you visit Malta, all of this history will become clearer in your mind as you will discover that virtually everything, from the food to architecture to the language (it’s extremely difficult to pick up – and I’ve tried learning from when I was little) is a rad fusion of Italian, Arabic and French. You simply don’t get that kind of cultural diversity anywhere in the entire world – trust me, you’ll grow an appreciation for being able to eat amazing, authentic Italian and Turkish food all in one place (I know, I certainly did!)
3. A diverse, raw and naturally beautiful landscape
I would definitely say that one of the biggest reasons why travellers are planning to visit Malta more often is due it’s diverse landscape and natural beauty. I’m sure you’ve seen it…perhaps you’ve even pinned it – the iconic ‘Azure Window’ rock formation (if you haven’t seen it, definitely check out my pic of it below!) or perhaps the blue lagoon in Comino (also pictured below) is more your taste? Malta offers every flavour of Mediterranean landscape, from picturesque bays studded with lots of little Luzzu (like Sliema or St Julien’s) to stark rock and the deep blues of the Mediterranean, such as the Blue Grotto. What’s even more awesome about this diverse landscape are the buildings that surround it. All throughout the islands, you will find quiet, charming villages, like Mdina, Malta’s amazing fort city which displays a wonderful southern Italian influence, as well as engrossing historical landmarks, such as St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valetta.
4. Malta is totally easy to get around (yay!)
Being only 14km in width and 27km in length, Malta is a super tiny island – which is why you barely see it on a world map (totally frustrating if you are trying to tell people where you come from and can’t show them…Maltese people problems haha!). However, the beauty of such a small distance is being able to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. Yep, you guessed it – this means less time actually travelling and more time seeing/doing. I don’t know about you, but immersing myself in a country is far more appealing than spending hours on a bus, train or plane! To get around Malta, you can either catch a public bus or a private travel company bus like Citysighseeing Malta (it takes roughly 4 hours to drive around the whole island with no stops) or you can catch a ferry around the various bays of the island. If the fact that visiting Malta is completely easy didn’t get you excited, then this totally will – the main languages spoken in Malta are Maltese and…wait for it, English! I know, I know…learning the language is all part of the fun of travelling (well certainly an aspect that I really love) but for those who may struggle with picking up the essentials, the fact that you can communicate in (hopefully) your native tongue is a bonus! Even if you speak another language or perhaps your English isn’t that great, Maltese people are generally very friendly and welcoming – so there’s no need to worry! 🙂
5. Just a stone’s throw away from Italy…
If you find that you have seen what you would like to in Malta, or perhaps you want to shake things up a bit – you can always catch ferry over to Sicily (yay)! As Malta is so close to Italy, many people catch a day return ferry over to the Italian island of Sicily (yep, that’s the ball looking shape underneath the Italian boot on the world map). I recommend catching a ferry with Virtu ferries, as they offer quality service, have well maintained vessels and offer special touring packages to Mt Etna (dormant volcano in Sicily) and Modica. The wonderful thing about Virtu ferries is that a return trip to Sicily will only set you back 75 Euros – and you’ve travelled to a whole different country (being Australian, I still find this aspect of travel truly amazing!)