A handy guide to the Maltese Islands

If you have never heard of Malta before there’s nothing to be embarrassed of, as the old saying goes, it happens to the best of us. Located at the centre of the Med, less than 100km away from Sicily, Malta is linked to Europe primarily via air and sea. If you happen to be visiting our sun-kissed archipelago any time soon, here’s what to look out for.

Sliema

Located right across the bay from Malta’s capital city, Valletta, Sliema was once a peaceful fishing village but has since then evolved into one of the Island’s busiest cosmopolitan hubs. Apart from being one of the largest commercial centres, Sliema also enjoys a wide number of bars, restaurants, cafes and shopping centres, as well as a number of leisure establishments.
This area is particularly busy during the summer, however off-season months are equally vibrant since this city is considered one of the most popular entertainment venues for locals.

Valletta

Malta’s Baroque capital city is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and today is home to a number of office buildings, retail franchises and entertainment areas.

Originally planned against a grid-iron military design with straight streets running in parallel both horizontally as well as vertically, today’s city definitely exudes a unique look and feel.

Open squares were planned to provide space for soldiers to gather or regroup in the case of an attack, whereas narrow alleys and low-laid steps made it possible for the city to be travelled across on horseback.

South Malta

Characterised by quiet bays and quaint fishing villages, the south of Malta represents an authentic portrayal of the more traditional aspects of the Island.

Despite being less commercially developed than other parts of the island, the establishment of Smart City has breathed in fresh life into the area, offering locals and visitors the opportunity of visiting one of the most advanced commercial centres in Malta.

The historically fortified ‘Three Cities’ are also located within this region, as is the picturesque traditional fishing village of Marsaxlokk.

Central Malta

The central areas of Malta are considered the diplomatic centre of the island, being home to most of the international embassies, as well as the Presidential Palace located within the beautiful San Anton Gardens.

Nearby, the sprawling city of Mosta represents one of the oldest settlements on the islands, with archaeological finds dating back to thousands of years.

In this part of the island, it is not uncommon to come across old men sharing a bench outside the local band clubs, or spotting a vegetable hawker parked on the side of the road loudly greeting passers by and inviting them over to view and sample his wares.

North Malta

The North of Malta features some of the country’s most stunning landscapes and beaches that include the vastly popular Mellieha and Golden Bay beaches, as well as the perhaps more secluded Gnejna, Ghajn Tuffieha, and Slugs Bay.

Overlooking the entire island, the majestic old capital city of Mdina stands proud with its fortified walls and centuries of history and intrigue. This medieval city dates back to around 700 BC.

Gozo

Literally translating to “joy” in Castilian, Gozo is the name the Aragonese gave this island when they took over in 1282.

Located a mere 20-minute ferry ride from the mainland, this smaller sister island is known for being more rural and peaceful. Known for its picture-perfect scenery, untouched country trails, and pristine coastline, Gozo is speckled with baroque churches that rise from the centre of small villages, traditional farmhouses, and of course, its several hills, which are also depicted on the island’s unofficial flag.