Want a Unique Family Vacation in Europe? Head to Malta

When I told people I was heading to Malta last week, the most common answer was: “Sounds fabulous, but where’s Malta?”

malta-map

Map courtesy of Google Maps

One of the smallest countries in Europe, Malta is an island nation located between Sicily and Africa. In fact, they celebrated 50 years of independence from England on the day of our arrival. This was extra fortuitous as Prince William was on my Air Malta flight from London to Valletta, the capital city. A most exciting 2.5 hours for everyone on that plane!

Malta has its own language, Maltese, a combination of Arabic, Latin, and Italian. The country may be physically small, but they have extensive ancient and modern history to explore as a visitor. It’s not a watered-down version of anything else in Europe.

This fact alone makes a trip to Malta worthwhile. Should you bring kids? I didn’t have mine with me on this trip, but I discovered some great reasons why Malta should be on your family travel bucket list:

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Europe meets North Africa in Malta

Reasons to Head to Malta with Kids

An Exotic Travel Experience in Europe

Malta is exotic. Some of the architecture reminded me of North Africa and the arid landscape reminded me of the Middle East. But Malta is in Europe with all the associated travel benefits. It’s politically stable, safe, clean, everyone speaks English, and the people are unbelievably warm and friendly. Kids have the opportunity to experience a very different culture in a safe and easy-to-travel environment.

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5,000-year-old standing Tarxien Temples

Unique, Global Historical Significance

From UNESCO-protected one-of-a-kind prehistoric temples to war tunnels from World War II, Malta’s strategic position between two continents has resulted in consequential historic sites throughout this island nation. Families can explore fascinating ancient and modern history within an insanely small geographic area.

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Swimming at Marsalforn Harbor on the island of Gozo

Sightseeing + Adventure + Beach Vacation

Malta is comprised of three rugged islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. Active adventures both in and out of the water are popular here and include hiking, biking, sailing, kayaking, fishing, diving, and snorkeling. There’s a growing list of adventure tour agencies like Gozo Adventures, who provide guided activities and handle all logistics.

The shoreline is rocky but there are a few sandy beaches, as well as harbors with cordoned-off areas for swimming. Kids of all ages are playing in Malta’s warm waters (the annual average is 20 C/68 F per Wikipedia). I wouldn’t travel to Malta just for the beach, but having a place for extensive family downtime, in addition to cultural and active adventures, is certainly a big destination benefit.

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The otherworldly glow of Ta’Pinu church on Gozo

Foreign Family Travel Perks

There’s something about travel to foreign destinations that pulls families together. The more a destination feels different, the more some families join forces to experience the unfamiliar as a single family unit. Malta feels foreign — the landscape, the language, and the architecture all contribute to a very strong sense of being in a distant place, yet it’s only a few hours from all of Europe’s cosmopolitan hubs.

Our press trip was comprised of a small group of bloggers from different countries; we pulled together at different points in the trip just like a family would. This bonding is fun, exciting, and even when you bond over frustration, this sense of togetherness is not something we get in our daily lives.

Curious to learn more? I’ll share more specific details about our trip in my Malta series over the next several weeks.

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Home of the Knights of Malta, St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta has no shortage of gold

Want Help Planning a Trip to Malta?

We can help! Fresh from this trip, we have all kinds of important insider tidbits to share. Request assistance on My Trip Planner.

Relevant Links:

Ciao Bambino’s top family travel destinations

Family adventure travel tips and advice

Best family beach vacations

Editor’s Note: Ciao Bambino was invited on a media trip to experience and write about Malta. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy.

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