How about escaping the cold weather on a small Mediterranean island with beautiful turquoise blue bays and breathtaking beaches? Malta may be your perfect off-season destination or winter escape. Its picturesque coastlines definitely surprised me! On top of that it’s very affordable and ideal for travellers on a budget. If you’re up for some island life, hanging out by the sea, snorkelling, sightseeing or pretty coastal walks, check out these top 7 things to do in Malta:
Malta’s most beautiful beaches and hidden coves
The sunny weather invites you to explore the pretty coastline with its hidden bays and creeks. This is definitely Malta’s strongest point. The rocky bays are just ideal for snorkelling and diving.
Sandy beaches may be more difficult to spot as opposed to the more adventurous rocky coastlines. Ghajn Tuffieha Bay is a gorgeous sandy beach with shallow waters. You can also walk to the neighboring Gnejna Bay or climb the cliffs and hike to the watch tower.
There are also Paradise Bay and Mellieha Beach in the north of Malta, and Ramla Bay on Gozo.
The off-season starts September until May, and even in October you may still enjoy 24-27 degrees that are perfectly fine for swimming.
The second largest island in the north of Malta is often referred to as the more quiet and prettier island.
Azure Window is probably the most well known sight in Gozo. Its scenic pictures definitely made me decide exploring Malta! Make sure you arrive early in the day to avoid the tourist crowds, because it can get very crowded.
On a calm day it’s great for snorkelling and you’ll see plenty of diving schools taking groups on trips. The Inland Sea is very close by and you can stop for a coffee and a swim. They also offer boat tours through the grotto to the sea.
When you only have a short amount of time, make sure to stop by at Xiendi Bay for lunch and Ramla Bay which is known for its huge wide sand beach.
If you are looking for a small quiet bay to snorkel or a short walk to a watchtower, Mgarr Ix-Xini will be a great choice. There’s a little cafe right by the pebble beach.
When visiting Malta, you can’t miss out on the small island Comino, nestled between Malta and Gozo. The Blue Lagoon has definitely the most turquoise blue waters and even a tiny white sandy beach. However this is Malta’s most crowded tourist hot spot, so it’s best to take an early boat to enjoy more peace and quiet. We walked to other bays near the hotel and campsite which were equally beautiful and much more quiet. The hotel has quite affordable rates in May and October and you can also pitch your tent.
Lunch by the sea
Why not discover the islands through a different lunch spot every day?
When visiting the Blue grotto in the south, stop for lunch and a snorkel at Ghar Lapsi. It’s a beautiful natural swimming pool great for snorkelling and diving, with a feel of a fishing village to it.
Xiendi Bay at Gozo makes a fantastic lunch stop, too. There are many restaurants along the beach and we had a fantastic meal with sea view! It’s ideal to spend the day by the beach. Equally you can leave the crowds behind and walk to the beautiful watchtower and sunbathe on the salt planes nearby.
Most guidebooks recommend stopping for lunch at Marsaxlokk market, which I’d also recommend.
Culture and sightseeing
Visit the capital Valetta with its beautiful view across the Three Cities (Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua) or the old town of Mdina.
You can also check out some prehistoric Megalithic temples, some of which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Make sure to check out some salt planes, for example near St. Peter’s Pool or Xiendi Bay.
At first it may seem a little difficult to find attractive walks: partly because of the heat and partly because of the lack of good signposting.
However there’s the Malta Coastal Walk and a series of books that will inspire you for day trips. Chances are that you’ll often walk along a road. However I can definitely recommend these beautiful passages:
- Marsakala at St. Thomas Bay to St. Peter’s Pool is a 1-hour walking distance along a picturesque coastal walk. Marsakala also makes a nice place to stay because it’s a quiet and fairly non-touristy town close to the beach and the airport.
- Il-Fawwara to Dingli Cliffs – You can park the car further up the hill and follow the small road towards the cliffs to enjoy spectacular views.
- Gnejna Bay to Golden Bay
A hike to a cove that may not be reached easily or the watchtowers will always make a nice target for a walk along a bay. You can also check out Of course it’s best to hike in the mornings or evenings to avoid the heat.
Food and Nightlife
The rustic Mediterranean cuisine reminds me of island life with lots of local fish and seafood. They have their own special bread and you can find a lot of lamb and rabbit dishes, mostly in HUGE portions.
Bustling nightlife and clubs are all around St. Julian’s and Bugibba, which are also the more touristy areas.
Malta is a paradise for swimming and snorkelling with beautiful turquoise blue water. Possibilities seem endless. If you prefer sandy beaches to stepladders attached to the rocks, make sure to do your research and plan ahead. I personally preferred the rocky beaches.
Late summer and spring are best, to avoid the heat and tourist crowds. If you’re looking for a quiet and less touristy place to stay, check out Maraskala at St. Thomas Bay. It’s right by the sea, easy to reach and fairly close to the airport with plenty of Airbnb opportunities.
I recommend hiring a car with a local company, for example Car rentals Ltd. It’s a fairly small island and everything can be reached within half an hour. Public transport can be challenging, especially on Gozo.
Have you been to Malta? Please share your experience in the comment’s box.
This post was inspired by The Photo Challenge: Relax.