These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest travel guidance before making your journey. Note that our writer visited pre-pandemic.
Malta may be well-known for its sun and sea, but the island’s real USP is its extraordinary history (and pre-history) and the fabulous sights this has left behind. Dotted with unique stone-age temples, Malta has been owned or coveted by many of Europe’s leading powers from the Phoenicians and Romans, Arabs and Medieval monarchs, to the Knights of Malta and the Ottoman Turks, the Axis powers and the British. Each has left its mark here – some very beautiful too – giving Malta more historic sights per square mile than any other country.
Take a turn around one of Europe’s most important harbours
At the heart of Malta’s history – and Europe’s too – is the Grand Harbour, which lies between the towering bastions of the nation’s fortified capital, Valletta, and the first waterside city in the country, Birgu (Vittoriosa). The perfect way to see it is from a traditional bright-striped Maltese harbour taxi, a dghajsa (seats 6), rowed standing up – now with the aid of a motor.
Insider Tip: Take a half hour tour of the harbour, starting at Customs House, Valletta and ending in Birgu to explore the historic Three Cities, then take an inexpensive ride in a water taxi directly back across the harbour.