Malta's top 10 treasures
In the Maltese Islands you can steep yourself in ancient culture and refresh the soul in pristine waters in a matter of hours. The following guide provides 10 pointers to a memorable visit.
The capital city of the Maltese Islands, which was built by the Knights of St John in the 16th century, following the Great Siege of Malta. This historic city, which has impressive fortifications around the perimeter, has recently been awarded the title of European Capital of Culture 2018, which is being handled by the Valletta2018 Foundation. Valletta is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the most stunning and must-see attractions to be found in Valletta is without a doubt St John's Co-Cathedral, home to several masterpieces by world-renowned artists Caravaggio and Mattia Preti.

Other notable attractions which definitely deserve a visit include the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens, The Grand Master's Palace and Fort St Elmo.

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Marsamxett harbour in Valetta Photo: Luke Scicluna I MTA
Megalithic temples
Around the Maltese Islands, one may find a number of megalithic temples, some of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These temples date back to 3500-2500 BC, which means that they are even older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids!

Two of the most popular are the Mnajdra and Ħaġar Qim Temples, which are located just 500 metres away from each other. A visitor centre has also recently been constructed in the vicinity so that people can further understand why and how these amazing structures were erected.

Another truly special site is the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, which is a unique underground monument consisting of halls, chambers and passages hewn out of the rock. The Hypogeum, which is listed as a UNESCO World Site, is strictly regulated in order to ensure conservation, so if you wish to visit, ensure that you book your tickets well in advance!

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Blue Flag beaches and Beaches of Quality
Despite its small size, the Maltese Islands are blessed with a number of outstanding beaches, including a number of Blue Flag beaches and Beaches of Quality. The Blue Flag beaches are St George's Bay, Fond Għadir Bay, Westin Dragonara Resort, Qawra Point, Buġibba Perched Beach, Għajn Tuffieħa, Għadira Bay, Paradise Bay, Golden Bay and Ramla Bay (Gozo). Both Beaches of Quality are found in Gozo, namely Ħondoq Bay and Marsalforn Bay. For more information, go to
Bajja ta lGhazzenin
Photo: Jürgen Scicluna I MTA
Sunset over Paradise Bay
Photo: Gregory Iron I MTA
Gozo is Malta's picturesque sister island, located a short 25-minute ferry ride away from the main island. The island caters for any type of visitor, from those wishing to laze on one of its amazing beaches, to other who wish to challenge themselves through abseiling or other adventure-sport activities.

Gozo was home to the iconic limestone arch Azure Window, which collapsed and disappeared amid a heavy storm in early March. More than almost any other maritime rock formation, the Azure Window had achieved celebrity status after featuring in films such as Clash of the Titans and The Count of Monte Cristo, as well as the immensely popular television series Game of Thrones. While Azure Window has suffered damage, divers still have the spectacular Blue Hole to relish, as well as the intriguing Inland Sea.

Another site not to be missed is the newly restored Ċittadella - a fortified hilltop citadel found at Gozo's centre and visible from almost anywhere on the island.

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Mdina and Rabat
Mdina, Malta's former capital city, is another fine example of a walled city. The city, referred to as 'The Silent City', is also known as 'Città Notabile' or the noble city. This city is full of amazing palaces and restaurants, as well as the magnificent cathedral dedicated to St Paul. Either for a wander through its mazy ancient streets or just gazing out over the bastions, Mdina is not to be missed.

Rabat, a town located just outside the fortifications, is home to many places of interest, including St Paul's Grotto, St Agatha's Catacombs, St Paul's Catacombs and the Domus Romana, which is an old Roman Villa containing numerous artefacts. On the outskirts of Rabat, you will also find Buskett Gardens, which is one of Malta's few woodland areas. It is also home to Verdala Palace, which is the Maltese president's summer residence.

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Aerial view of Mdina Photo: MTA
Southwest Malta
The southwest of Malta provides some of the more scenic views due to the Maltese Islands' natural slope, thus causing the southwest area to be made up of cliffs.

Perhaps the most iconic to locals are the Dingli Cliffs, due to their magnitude in relation to the island. Other picturesque areas in the region include Għar Lapsi, Wied iż-Żurrieq and the magnificent Blue Grotto. With steep cliffs and pristine waters, these areas are ideal sites for divers.

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Blue Grotto
Photo: MTA
Dingli Cliffs
Photo: MTA
Marsaxlokk and Marsascala
These two neighbouring towns are often referred to as fishing villages, where many fishermen used to reside so that they would be able to go out fishing early in the morning from the nearby harbour. In fact, to this day, the bay is still full of traditional, brightly painted Maltese boats known as luzzu.

Marsaxlokk plays host to a traditional fish market every Sunday, where numerous stalls manned by fishermen sell their fresh catch.

There are also plenty of good places to swim in the area, such as St Peter's Pool, Xrobb l-Għaġin and Pretty Bay.

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Marsaxlokk harbour Photo: Peter Vanicsek I MTA
Diving sites
The Maltese Islands have won a number of awards relating to diving over recent years, partly thanks to the pristine waters surrounding the archipelago, and also due to the underwater experiences on offer. Divers are drawn by the variety that Maltese waters have to offer, ranging from reefs and caves to wrecks, and from shallow dives to more challenging ones. There is something for divers of all levels.

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Diving in Malta's water Photo: MTA
The Three Cities
The Three Cities is the collective name used for the trio of fortified settlements, Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa, which are located across the Grand Harbour from Valletta. Due to the harbour inlets which are found in these areas, the Three Cities have always been involved in seafaring activities, from Phoenician times up to the British era.

The Three Cities are full of lavish palaces and churches, as well as forts and towering bastions. This area used to play home to the Knights of St John before they went to build Valletta.

Places of interest include the Maritime Museum, the Inquisitor's Palace and Fort Rinella.

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The third and smallest of the inhabited islands that make up the Maltese archipelago, Comino is located between Malta and Gozo. The island is famous for its magnificent Blue Lagoon, which is an extremely popular swimming area in summer. Alternative hotspots for a soulful dip are Santa Marija Bay or San Niklaw Bay.

Besides attracting those that would like to relax in its sparkling waters, Comino is also a superb location for ramblers and nature photographers.

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Comino Photo: MTA