An archipelago between Sicily and Tunisia, Malta is located in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a unique destination that combines the traditions of Italian, African, and Middle Eastern cultures. The capital of Malta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site crowned with the opulent Grandmaster’s Palace, also the seat of the Maltese government. The island of Gozo is ideal for active hiking, scuba diving, and visiting Neolithic ruins, while Comino is a divine relaxing spot thanks to its serene beaches where guests can take in the tranquil environment of a village.
If you are a history buff, the walled city of Mdina is the place to add to your Malta itinerary. Game of Thrones fans will recognize it as King’s Landing. The cuisine of the region is a result of a long relationship between the islanders and many different civilizations. Hence, the food here is an eclectic mix of Mediterranean cooking mostly consisting of fish and meat. Intrigued by our little sketch? Keep on reading: with this guide, you will discover the most stunning sights and the tastiest treats to help plan your visit to the mesmerizing islands.
by Nick Fewings https://unsplash.com/photos/inaz3Iqs0LQ
If you appreciate culture and historic monuments, the elegant capital of the country is the place to be. Valletta is a testimony to the grandeur of the Knights of Malta – European noblemen who were granted the Maltese Islands by the King of Spain in 1530. It possesses 16th-century urban planning, complete with a grid area and orderly public squares. The small city is bound by two harbors – the Grand Harbor and Marsamxett Harbor, and it takes less than an hour to go over the entire place.
The heart of Valletta is St. John’s Cathedral – a 16th-century church with lavish interiors and opulent gilded decor. Nearby is the immense Grandmaster’s Palace which was once the residence of the Knights of Malta. Today, it boasts splendid paintings and an armory, telling the stories of the legendary military conquests and victories. After exploring the magnificent past of the country, let’s get back to the present and head down to Pinto Wharf – a lively waterfront area lined with inviting bars and restaurants.
Scallops are often referred to as gourmet seafood. While having very tender meat, they are considered to be rather sweet in taste. Scallops can be eaten raw or cooked.
Deriving its name from the word akitsu, meaning dragonfly, AKI is a contemporary restaurant and lounge bar that reflects the elegance, sophistication, and perseverance of a creature the Japanese call the victory insect. Located in the heart of Valletta on the iconic Strait Street, it offers incredible Asian flavors while putting a unique distinct spin on them. The chic establishment consists of two floors, with a cocktail bar on one level and the main dining room on the other. It possesses an Instaworthy decor complete with an open kitchen and lavish sleek interiors.
The food presented at AKI is a modern take on Asian-inspired dishes prepared using the freshest seasonal island ingredients. Some of the specialties you can sample here are tapas-style sushi like salmon tiradito and scallop roll, teppanyaki meats like grade 7 Wagyu beef and shrimp grilled on a Japanese robata grill, and dishes like soft shell crab bao and karaage chicken. Pair your culinary creations with a glass of wine selected from over 120 eclectic labels or choose from 21 artisan cocktails.
by Mike Nahlii https://unsplash.com/photos/ZeoR47X4VSM
Mdina was the former capital of Malta and is locally known as the Silent City, as it was abandoned in 1500 and nearly became a ghost town. Today, it is a walled medieval tourist magnet that lets its visitors step back in time and experience the allure of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The moment you enter the Main Gate, you are welcomed by honey-hued palazzos, centuries-old sandstone buildings, and numerous monuments.
Some of the cultural attractions you can find here are the glorious Baroque Cathedral, the 17th-century Carmelite Priory, and Palazzo Vilhena – an 18th-century Magisterial Palace which also houses Malta’s National Museum. Another noteworthy spot – Palazzo Falson – offers its guests a chance to see exquisite arts, antiques, coins, and Oriental carpets. The quaint town of Mdina is a delightful world of car-free streets and beautiful ramparts.
Prawns are delicious, whether stir fried, tossed through pasta, cooked in spicy curry, or placed in salads. Prawns can be served on their own, as a side dish, an appetizer or a snack.
After a wonderful day of exploring Mdina, head to the nearby center of Rabat for a unique gastronomic experience at Grotto Tavern. It is a one-of-a-kind place situated underground in and around a 2000-year-old cave system. The restaurant serves French cuisine combined with Maltese and Mediterranean influences. Grotto Tavern consists of three sections, a garden space, a main dining area with an open bar, and a private cave room that was excavated out of limestone rock.
The interiors are made up of modern furnishings like brown side chairs with leather cushioning, hanging bulb light fixtures and wood-paneled floors. The kitchen is run under the guidance of Chef Mark Cauchi, who uses local ingredients to present a French bistro-style meal. Diners can relish scrumptious dishes, such as prawn tartare with saffron beurre blanc, roasted rabbit with pickled carrots in tomato chutney, beef cheeks with kohlrabi accompanied by onion purée, and Ibérico pork loin with fennel.
by Eva Darron https://unsplash.com/photos/zp8mAn3BrJg
Located near the serene island of Comino, Blue Lagoon is a mesmerizing scene of crystal clear turquoise blue sea lapping over a white sand bed. It is expansive inland water that feels as if several Olympic-sized swimming pools were put together. There are no waves, the shallow end is safe for children, and the core area is roped off to boats.
The location is perfect for splashing around, lazily floating on inflatable tubes, sunbathing on the small beach or the hillside, hiking on nature trails, and indulging in water sports like snorkeling and scuba diving. Across the lagoon, there is a rocky cove where good swimmers can reach for adventurous exploration. You can enjoy some snacks and drinks from the refreshments stands around the beach, or visit the island of Gozo for a delightful seafood indulgence.
A part of numerous Mediterranean dishes, octopus is a delicious meal with tender and buttery flavor that melts in the mouth. Octopus can be enjoyed grilled, with pasta, in a stew or a salad.
Ferdies is a spacious simple-looking modern restaurant situated at the Gozo Channel, offering picturesque views of the Mgarr Harbor. The elegant establishment specializes in Maltese cuisine with an emphasis on seafood and steak dishes. The interiors are spacious and inviting, with a minimalist decor designed like a beach shack on the outside. The main dining room has wood-paneled flooring, hanging globe lights, crisp white tablecloths, and the touch of orange-white color accents. Ferdies also features a small outside seating place with only four tables.
The kitchen presents a traditional cuisine with international influences. You can sample delicacies like chunky mussel soup, fried calamari with lime mayo, veal chop with pine nuts in porcini sauce, octopus in oyster sauce, whole sea bass with vegetables, ribeye steak with glaze, and cider-braised pork belly with mash. The restaurant also has a cocktail bar with an experienced maestro mixologist who crafts fabulous drinks to pair with your food.
by Rick Barton https://unsplash.com/photos/h0MZGFgpkGM
Blue Grotto is the most famous of Malta’s cave complexes boasting a breathtaking coastal vista with diamond blue waters. It is a series of nine tunnels with their rocky sides glowing green, purple, and orange based on the mineral content. Its magical sparkling quality combined with the clearest cobalt-blue waters in limestone gave rise to many myths.
According to a legend, Blue Grotto was home to sirens who would captivate sailors with their charms. If you do not fancy exploring the caves from within, you can take a guided boat tour on colorful Maltese fishing boats called luzzus. The 20-minute ride speeds through the calm sea covering six small and a 30-meter-high cave with a luminous pool. The natural wonder got its name from British soldiers who were stationed in Malta in 1950 and thought it was reminiscent of the Blue Grotto off the Italian island of Capri. It is also a popular scuba diving destination because of its bountiful marine life.
There are several different versions of how Scotch eggs were invented. Most sources state that it was first cooked by the Fortnum and Masons store in London. He was the supplier of products to the royal table, and the archives date back to the 1730s. Scotch eggs, prepared according to the traditional recipe have a golden and crispy shell, and their taste is out of this world.
Located in the stunning Blue Grotto on Malta’s southern coast, Aalto Restaurant derives its name from the Finnish word for waves. Its menu, decor, logo, and ambiance are all influenced by the ocean and the bounty it provides. It is a charming haven with a warm and inviting atmosphere. The setting is created using contemporary design elements, complete with chairs that appear to be floating, UFO-shaped table lamps, cream-marbled flooring, and a pastel-colored dining space.
The kitchen is led by Head Chef Cliff Busuttil, who specializes in a fusion Mediterranean menu that blends traditional flavors with modern culinary techniques. You can indulge in delicate dishes that range from fresh seafood to succulent meats. Some of the tantalizing specialties at Aalto are chicken 'nduja arancini with smoked paprika aioli, smoked fish Scotch egg, wild boar ham with gnocchi, lime-crusted cod with zucchini, pork filet with mustard carrots, beef sirloin with garlic wilted kale, and rabbit ravioli with peas. End your meal on a sweet note with delights like hazelnut tiramisu and lemon fondant.
by MARCIN CZERNIAWSKI https://unsplash.com/photos/SGSuXZS7ML8
The island of Gozo is the most idyllic tourist destination in Malta. It is the perfect place to have a relaxing vacation, owing to its quiet town and pristine beaches. Gozo is less developed as compared to other travel spots in Malta, but it has plenty of cultural attractions for exploring. You can find a fortified medieval city – Victoria, a bustling seaside resort – Marsalforn, and the archeological site dating back to 3500 BC – Ggantija Temples.
Even the countryside of Gozo is a beautiful place, filled with traditional villages, old fishing ports, rolling hillsides and grand Baroque churches. The most famous beach on the island is Ramla Bay, known for its white sandy shores and gentle waters. One of Gozo’s top attractions is a breathtaking natural limestone arch with a flat top called the Azure Window. It has been featured in movies and television shows and is considered an indispensable part of Malta.
The lamb meat is tenderer and more nutritional if compared to any other meat and has a particular gamey taste. It is not as firm as beef but chewier than chicken.
Tucked away in the serene little village of Xagħra in Gozo, Il-Logga is a family-friendly boutique hotel and restaurant that guarantees an exquisite ambiance and flavorful meal. The name Logga is a literal translation from the Maltese language meaning the arch. It refers to a building technique adopted by local people since Roman times. The decor is unique and vintage: limestone brick archways, hanging chandelier lights, Italian marble flooring, polished wood tables, and leather-furnished chairs.
Chef-owner Christof is at the helm of the kitchen, while his partner Joseph handles the front of the house. The menu is made up of Gozitan cuisine immersed in rustic Mediterranean traditions. Some of the mouthwatering dishes you can find here are grilled octopus in black garlic sauce with caramelized onion, lamb loin with pistachio crumble in onion jus, seafood spaghetti with herbs, lamb shank with butter bean ragù, and duck breast in orange-fig sauce.
by Magdalena Smolnicka https://unsplash.com/photos/Exf495AtWZI
Mellieħa is a scenic tourist destination in the Northwest of Malta famous for its peaceful waters. It is a seaside town with the largest beach on the Maltese Islands with a 1.5 km long shoreline of fine white sand. Mellieħa Bay is next to a picturesque village that stands on a hilltop overlooking the pastoral landscape of rocky outcrops, vine-covered hills, and small farms.
On the highest point of the village is a lovely 19th-century Baroque parish church that contains the Shipwreck Paul painting done by renowned artist, Giuseppe Cali, and a statue of the Virgin Mary. The statue is venerated during the annual Mellieħa Village Festa – a nine-day festival that features snacks, traditional desserts, marching bands, and fireworks. Opposite the cathedral is a mystical cave shrine dedicated to Madonna, and an underground spring that flows through is rumored to have healing powers.
Sashimi is raw seafood, typically salmon or tuna, that is sliced into small bits. It is one of the most popular Japanese dishes.
Amami is a fine-dining establishment that offers the best tastes of Asian cuisine in a sophisticated combination with local flavors. The restaurant is named after the Amami Islands – an archipelago of small land masses located southwest of Japan. The decor is accented by linen tablecloths, wooden furniture, rugged brick walls, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows to enjoy the seaside view.
The kitchen creates a menu made up of modern Japanese dishes like tonkotsu ramen, scallop nigiri, salmon sashimi, pork dumpling with Thai dipping sauce, Wagyu beef gyoza, prawn tempura with wok-fried vegetables, and chicken katsu curry with jasmine rice. Do not miss out on their decadent desserts: matcha fondant with miso crumble, black sesame sponge cake with lemon cream, and baked cheesecake with melon sorbet – the sweet indulgence worth forgetting about the calorie count for a little bit.
Malta is a small island country that packs a big punch: it is full of fascinating treasures, breathtaking ancient sites, charming villages, and pristine beaches. Whether you want to chill by the sea, sample Mediterranean delicacies, or discover a romantic piece of the past, the top attractions in Malta can certainly offer something for everyone.
What would your vacation in Malta look like? Share your ideas with our community in the comment section below. And don’t forget to check out our latest food & travel guides and top restaurant reviews.