STOIC AND ANCIENT
Malta is a small island in the Mediterranean sea about 100km from the coast of Sicily. It has an incredible history from the stoic defence it put up in World War Two (it is the only country to have been awarded a George Cross) to the 6,000 year old neolithic temples that are said to be the oldest free standing structures on earth.
In its more recent history it has also been the set for many movies and shows with Game of Thrones, Gladiator and Troy all shooting scenes here and the 1980s classic Popeye even leaving the film set behind that can still be visited today!
Malta also is the 9th most densely populated country in the world with the 9th highest car ownership per 1,000 people, so prepare yourself for an intense trip.
Places Of Interest In Malta
Malta Travel Guides
- Game of Thrones Filming Locations on Malta and Gozo
- 8 Movies Filmed on Malta
- Perfect 7-day Malta Itinerary
THE OLD CITY OF MDINA
- Il Veduta – Restaurant with the most spectacular views in Malta!
- The Jesus Tree of Malta – A tree hit by lightening that now looks like Jesus on the cross.
NORTH OF THE ISLAND
- St Agatha’s Tower (The Red Tower) – One of the best value attractions on the island at only €2 entry. Stunning 360° views, amazing history and even a suit of armour to try on!
- Rotunda of Mosta – Malta’s Miracle Church of the Unexploded Bomb
- Popeye Village – The film set for the 1980 Robin Williams classic was reclaimed by locals and turned into a tourist attraction.
- Selmun Palace – Malta’s Real-Life Minecraft Castle
SOUTH OF THE ISLAND
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VALETTA & SLIEMA
- Valletta City Guide – A Day In Europe’s Smallest Capital City– Valletta is a UNESCO world heritage site that has been isolated from modern developments due to its location on a small peninsula. Thanks to its small size you can experience most of the key sites in a day. Read my guide to find out how.
ISLAND OF COMINO
WHEN DID WE GO?
- We visited for 5 nights through mid November 2017. The weather reached a high of 20 degrees in the day and a low of 14 degrees at night.
- This didn’t quite tell the whole story though as the wind was quite often around 15 mph so the wind chill factor of being an island kicked in.
OUR TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS (TO GIVE AN IDEA OF COST)
- AIRLINE: RyanAir
- COST: £62.50 for return tickets from London Luton to Malta
- COMPANY: Budget
- COST: £30 for Sunday-Friday rental. (Yes really! We went in the off season).
Useful Malta Information
Malta is a group of three Islands (Malta, Gozo & Camino) in the Mediterranean sea about 100km off of the coast of Sicily. The main island is only 27km across.
Maltese is the official language of Malta but the majority of people speak English. Malta has been governed by many different countries so the population are able to converse in a number of languages. According to the Eurobarometer poll conducted in 2012, 98% of Maltese people can speak Maltese, 88% can speak English, 66% can speak Italian, and more than 17% speak French
The population of Malta is around 450,000 (roughly the same as the population of Bristol). This might seem quite low but this actually makes it the 9th most densely populated country/territory in the world.
Malta is GMT +1.
The flag of Malta is half red and half white which were the traditional colours of Sicily’s Count Roger who took control of the Island in 1091 after centuries of Arab rule. These flag’s colours were also used by the Knights of Malta who ruled the island from 1530-1798. In the top left corner is the George Cross which is the highest honour that can be awarded to civilians. In 1942 Malta became the only country to have been awarded the George Cross. The King’s message read: “To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta, to bear witness to a heroism and a devotion that will long be famous in history.”.
When To Visit
Malta (along with Cyprus) are on average the warmest countries in Europe.
This makes Malta an incredibly popular tourist destinations and this, coupled with the already densely populated island can make it very busy in the peak seasons.
The hottest weather is in mid-summer but, as you can see from the chart below, the shoulder seasons offer a good temperature but the island will be much quieter.
The current of Malta is the Euro since it was adopted on 1st January 2008. Getting Around
I’m going to be upfront here – driving on Malta can be a somewhat crazy experience! Fading road markings, cities designed long before the invention of cars, crumbling roads and the 9th highest vehicles per 1,000 people* in the world on a very densely populated island contribute to a somewhat manic affair. Keep your wits about you, be assertive and expect the unexpected and you should be ok. Driving is toughest around the heavily populated capital of Valetta. *Malta has 693 vehicle per 1,000 people. To context UK has 519 per 1,000 people. with a much smaller population density.
Number plates in Malta are pretty cool (well within reason. They’re cool to me so, um, well take it or leave it!) They work on a system that feels a lot better to my super organised mind. Taxis, for example, are TAXI123M, They start with the word taxi, then three numbers then M or G for Malta or Gozo. Simple right! There are so many examples of this, the best one being the President and Archbishop who only have to display their respective emblems! All the examples are below:
- Rental cars: all end with a K or QZ (e.g., XXK 001)
- As from 2017, Vintage and Classic vehicle registration plate characters are printed in silver on a black background
- Cars which are being leased: all end with a QZ (e.g., XQZ 001)
- Taxis: letters TAXI and after three numbers one letter M or G (e.g., TAXI 001M for the island of Malta or TAXI 001G for Gozo)
- Buses/minibuses/coaches: all end with a PY (e.g., XPY’ 001)
- Malta buses (now they are replaced) were formerly registered with DBY, EBY or FBY (e.g., DBY 001, EBY 001 or FBY 001)
- Arriva buses are registered with BUS as their letters (e.g., BUS 001)
- Tax-free cars: all begin with a TF (e.g., TFX 001)
- Mobile post offices of Malta: begin with a POSTA (e.g. POSTA 1)
- Government-owned cars: all begin with a GV (e.g., GVX 001)
- Diplomatic/embassy vehicles use CD as their first 2 letters (e.g., CDX 001)
- Chauffeur driven vehicles used by Ministers of Government use the format GM 99 (the letters GM followed by two numbers; e.g., GM 01)
- The President, the Prime Minister and Archbishop are exempt from number plates and affix their respective emblems instead
Plugs are the square pin British style. 230 Volts, 50Hz. Plug type G (3-pin plugs, UK)
Health & Emergency
The tap water in Malta is perfectly safe to drink, though some locals advise you not to (we had this happen as we checked in). This may be because of the taste of the water. There is very little rainfall on Malta therefore most of the water is desalinated seawater so can have a funny taste. Bottled drinking water is very cheap if you do not like the taste.
The number for all emergency services on Malta is 112