Typical Maltese fishing boats in Marsaxlokk
The Maltese archipelago is located some 100 km south of Sicily. Besides the main island of Malta, the small EU state in the Mediterranean Sea includes six more islands. The inhabited islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino offer a variety of attractions for tourists.
Discover the region
The main island of Malta, as well as the sister islands of Gozo and Comino are relatively small with areas of 246, 67 and 3 square kilometres respectively. Nevertheless, the islands enjoy lush vegetation in spring and autumn, varied coast lines and beaches, a rich historical heritage and a varied gastronomy. The islands also offer opportunities to engage in outdoor sports in a Mediterranean climate.
The main island of Malta
The capital city of the main island of Malta is Valletta and it is the smallest capital in Europe. Since 1980, Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the busy city, located in the northeast of the island, you should explore above all the picturesque side streets. Here you will find a lot of small individual craft shops, fine boutiques and restaurants serving local Maltese food. You cannot get lost on your way through the side streets of the city. As the city was designed on the drawing board after the siege by the Ottomans in 1565 by the Knights of Malta, the streets were planned like a chess board. To be better protected against further attacks after the Great Siege, a modern fortress town was built during the reconstruction on Monte Sciberras with its strategic location between the two natural harbours, that is, the Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour. The city is since surrounded by massive ramparts and bastions and can be accessed through two very impressive and puristically designed entrances.
Photo: Leslie Vella, Leslie Vella
Attractions in Valletta
The award of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 reflects the rich cultural heritage of the city. In almost every corner, you will find a historic scene, mostly found on the main road, named Republic Street. Here, culturally interested visitors will find Palazzo Ferreria - a city palace in the Italian style of the 19th century -, the Archaeological Museum with its huge knowledge about the early history of the island and St. John's Co-Cathedral. Especially the cathedral that looks rather plain from the outside is worth a visit. The ornate and richly decorated church is even considered one of the most beautiful churches of the entire Mediterranean. A special highlight are the painted ceilings and the intricately carved stonewall designs by the Calabrian artist Mattia Preti. Other important works of art, which are located in the Cathedral, are "The Beheading of John the Baptist" by Caravaggio and the collection of ornate, colourful marble grave stones in the middle of the nave under which many important knights are buried.
Those who prefer to go exploring underwater will be stunned by the excellent visibility of the clear waters up to a depth of 30 meters. The species-rich underwater world attracts many amateur and professional divers to Malta, among others to Anchor Bay or Cirkewwa on the main island or the Dwejra Bay with Fungus Rock and Azure Window in Gozo.