Meet Malta — an archipelago of islands, set in the middle of the Mediterranean. Within an earshot of southern Italy, this destination is one that is hardly known by most.
When I told people I was heading to Malta, many asked where in the world this place was. Noted as one of the best secret destinations of Europe, I’m happy to report back it is everything I hoped it would be.
A brief history
With a historic and strategic location, Malta has had a hand in almost all chapters of history. In short, the Phoenicians, Romans, and Byzantines all made their way through the islands. Christianity came to the island by way of St. Paul in 60 A.D. and then in 870 A.D. the Arabs conquered the island. The Arab influence played a large hand in the Maltese language, where traces of Arabic can be found in the verbiage. The story continues on to the short-lived conquering of the island by Napoleon Bonaparte for the French in 1798. The final chapter landed with a British ruling until 1964 a few years after the French conquered. Malta then became a Republic in 1974 and is now part of the European Union as of 2004.
The islands of Malta
Malta is an archipelago of 7 islands, of which three are inhabited. Malta is the larger island, with the capitol city of Valletta, and many sights. Gozo is the smaller island, reachable by ferry and maintaining a calmer temperament and a coastline that is out of this world. Between the two lies Comino, which is car free and only has two residents.
Why visit Malta?
You know when you find a secret spot, that feels like it’s just yours, and suddenly you don’t want to share it? That is exactly how I feel about Malta. Named the number three spot on NY Times’ 52 Places to Go this year, the Mediterranean destination is a lesser-known island that truly has it all.
- The Mediterranean influence is alive and well in Malta. An easy take on life, a slow-paced island vibe, and warm hospitality is the determined atmosphere of Malta.
- The climate is something that I found to be the most attractive aspects of visiting Malta. With three hundred days of sunshine, it truly feels like an endless summer on Malta.
- The approachable size gives you an opportunity to experience the rich history and culture at a proper pace. Though the island is small, there is enough to do to fill more than a week’s time.
- There’s endless culture and history. Malta, Gozo, and Comino are drenched in history. There are multiple historic sites, like the UNESCO World heritage site of Ggantija Temples which are the oldest, free standing monuments in the world (1,000 years older than the Egyptian pyramids of Giza.) Valletta, the capital city of Malta, is a fortified city also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcasing many monuments and historic streets. Also to note: Valletta is set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2018.
- Malta feels untouched. Hardly known, the island doesn’t feel ridden with tourists. The streets are lively, yet not packed.
- It’s easy to travel in Malta. With two languages spoken, Maltese and English, there is no need to fear if you haven’t brushed up on the local language.
- Traveling to Malta is affordable. The Mediterranean islands typically have a reputation for being costly — well not Malta. Affordable, and well-priced accommodations and food make it easy to live like a Maltese king or queen.
- The cuisine of Malta is delightful. It is as if the best of three worlds came together and produced the Maltese Cuisine. Flares of Italian, traditions of Arabs, and Mediterranean ingredients combine together to produce Maltese food. Local cheese, fresh white wines, and fresh seafood are just a few of the opportunities to taste Malta.
- The coastline is the ultimate ocean-lover’s destination. Whether you go dive in the Blue Hole of Gozo, float in the Blue Lagoon of Comino, or sunbathe on the rocks of Anchor Bay, one thing is for sure: these are the clearest waters in the Mediterranean.