To clarify, Malta is both the country and the name of the main island of the archipelago. It’s history central and packed with things to explore. I barely scratched the surface on my trip, but can’t wait to go back! Here’s a look at what caught my attention:
Top Things To Do on Malta Island
The capital city of Malta, Valletta, is a 16th-century fortress that has evolved into a city that is bustling with modern life. The visual contradiction between the old-world bones and the new-world people, dining, and shopping is astounding. Grand public buildings and distinctive architecture give Valletta a very unique sense of place.
Malta was founded by the Knights of St. John as their permanent home to symbolize their wealth and power. And that it does. The city’s jewel is St. John’s Co-Cathedral, a magnificent structure decorated to the nines with gold and and marble.
The Cathedral is also home to two coveted Caravaggio paintings, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Jerome Writing.
This UNESCO-protected burial chamber dating back to 3,300 B.C. is one of the most fascinating ancient places I’ve experienced. It is the only known prehistoric underground temple in the world (per Wikipedia).
Although the remains of 7,000 people have been found here, it’s too amazing to be creepy. Because the temple sits in total darkness underground, the preservation of prehistoric decorations and the temple structure is remarkable, so much so that you are really able to imagine clearly what the temple looked like 5,000 years ago.
Daily access is very restricted and tickets are booked months in advance. Visit the Heritage Malta site for more information.
Walking through the gates of the medieval walled city of Mdina, Malta’s original capital, is like stepping into a movie set, the sense of traveling back in time is so strong. Car-free, the town is a maze of narrow alleyways, beautiful old buildings and spectacular vistas over the surrounding landscape from the edge of the city.
There are also a few museums in town that we, unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to explore, including the islands’ Natural History Museum.
World War II History
There are so many things that we didn’t explore on Malta, including understanding its significant World War II history. The islands were an important stronghold for the Allies, but they also sustained some of the most significant bombing of the entire war. There’s a National War Museum in Valletta documenting these events.
Where To Stay on Malta Island
I fell in love with the Maltese-owned Corinthia Hotel London en route to Malta. Corinthia also operates two luxury hotels in Malta, Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay and Corinthia Palace Hotel and Spa. Both properties are amenity-filled destination resorts and offer families the perfect balance of downtime entertainment with easy sightseeing access.
Want Help Planning a Family Vacation to Malta?
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Best family hotels and things to do in Malta with kids on Ciao Bambino
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.