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August 12th, 2018

6 Reasons to Visit Malta, the Mediterranean’s Secret Gem

6 Reasons to Visit Malta, the Mediterranean’s Secret Gem

Ask most people where Malta is and odds are they won’t be able to tell you. Which is part of the reason why this European country—three islands nestled in the Mediterranean 60 miles below Sicily—is so charming.

 

Its cobblestone streets aren’t too jam-packed with tourists, its museums and historical sites are blissfully uncrowded, and its beautiful beaches still feel pristine. Even better, this lesser-known gem is a must-see spot for adventure lovers and history buffs alike—and the small size of the country means you can pack in a lot of activities in a short amount of time. Looking for a few good reasons to add Malta to your travel bucket list? Here are six that might surprise you.  

Reason No. 1: Malta is an English-speaking country.

While it can be a lot of fun, not to mention culturally enriching, to visit a country where English isn’t the predominant language, it can also make activities like ordering food or buying museum tickets a bit more stressful. In Malta, there are two official languages: Maltese (which sounds like a beautiful blend of Italian, Arabic, and French) and English. Which means you’ll find everything written in English, from street signs to menu listings, and everyone will speak English, too. 

Reason No. 2: You’ll love the country’s ancient history and beautiful beaches. 

Oftentimes, European travel involves days filled visiting historic sites and world-class museums or sitting on a Mediterranean beach. In Malta, you can do both within the span of a few hours. Pack your backpack for the day and visit one of the country’s three UNESCO World Heritage sites in the morning: the city of Valetta (a fortified city with hundreds of monuments), the Megalithic Temples (some of the oldest stone buildings in the world), and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum (a labyrinth of underground chambers probaby used as both a burial site and temple). Then, change into your bathing suit, slather on some sunscreen, and spend the afternoon on the famous Blue Lagoon (to do this take a boat to Camino, Malta’s smallest island) or at one of the many beaches along the coastline. Bonus: It’s a great destination for crowd-phobic travelers.

Reason No. 3: The Mediterranean food here is super-unique.

Thanks to Malta’s geographic location—it’s 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Sicily and 160 miles (257 kilometers) north of Libya—as well as the fact that the country was occupied by many other civilizations and countries over the centuries, you’ll find an eclectic mix of Mediterranean cuisine. Traditional Maltese dishes include fish pie, rabbit stew, beans, garlic, and lots of olive oil—and you’ll notice unique spices in dishes that give typical Mediterranean meals a Middle Eastern flair. Not only is the food incredibly tasty, it’s also gorgeous—perfect for practicing your travel photography.

Reason No. 4: Malta is a safe destination for solo travelers.

Whether you’re sitting on a beach in broad daylight or wandering Malta’s cobblestone streets at night, you’ll likely feel safe in this country. In fact, Malta is continuously ranked among the safest countries in the world. To wit: According to a 2018 analysis by consultant firm New World Wealth, Malta ranked second (just behind Australia) on a list of the world’s safest countries for women. So, while it’s still a good idea to carry your passport and money on you in a money belt, you likely won’t feel like you’ll get mugged if you also carry a purse.

Reason No. 5: It’s a scuba diving mecca.

You might think you have to travel to the Carribean, Mexico, or even to an exotic place like the Maldives for epic scuba diving. However, the waters around Malta are known for being some of the cleanest and clearest in the Mediterranean, which means people flock to this country to check out its underwater landscape. So, pack your dive gear in your carry-on. Or, rent equipment from one of the many dive centers you’ll find (which also offer beginners’ courses for those looking to try the sport). 

Reason No. 6: Traveling to Malta is really easy.

If you’re already in Europe, you’ll find fast (and inexpensive) direct flights to Malta every day. Traveling from the USA? You’ll likely be able to get to Malta with just one European layover. Even better, the three islands that make up Malta (one named Malta, and two smaller ones called Gozo and Comino) are easy to get around via rental car, Uber, bus, ferry, and even by foot. Because of this, it’s easy to feel like you’ve really seen the country—even if you only have a few days to visit.

Heading to Malta? Read our European packing list to make sure you bring all of the essentials.

While Eagle Creek is here to provide tips and insights on travel, we cannot accept any responsibility for any potential consequences arising from the use of this information.  Always conduct your own research and use your best judgment.

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Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

What to Pack for Europe: The 5-Step System

5 European Vacations for the Crowd-Phobic

Tips to Help You Improve Your Travel Photography

by Meghan Rabbitt

Meghan Rabbitt is a writer and editor based in Boulder, Colorado, who specializes in health, nutrition, fitness, and travel writing. Learn more at meghanrabbitt.com.

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