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6 of the best Malta holidays, from Valletta to Mellieha

The best places on this Mediterranean island for families, couples, party-goers or culture vultures

Chris Wilson
Thursday 21 December 2023 12:07 GMT
Malta offers reliable weather in both summer and winter
Malta offers reliable weather in both summer and winter (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Though it is one of Europe’s smallest countries, Malta punches above its weight when it comes to tourism.

This small archipelago, consisting of three inhabited islands, welcomes millions of tourists every year.

And Malta caters to many types of holidaymaker too; this is more than just a fly-and-flop beach destination, with visitors discovering vibrant towns and a slew of natural and historic sights, along with a welcoming Mediterranean climate that makes it a viable destination for winter sun or a summer spent in 30 degrees.

Valletta, the capital, is a captivating city that chronicles the island’s storied history, while St Julian’s is at the other end of the spectrum – a resort centre popular for nightlife and beaches.

Towns like Mdina offer a slice of history in a quieter setting, while Gozo and Mellieha are the places to go if you want to be surrounded by Maltese nature. Whatever type of holiday appeals to you, we’ve rounded up a list of the best holidays in Malta for 2024 and beyond.

Best for couples, culture and sightseeing: Valletta

Valletta still carries remnants of French and British rule (Getty Images)

For first-time visitors, couples and those looking to really dig into Maltese history and culture, the Maltese capital should be the first stop. This is the country’s most characterful city, epitomised in its market squares and the bustling waterfront, and there are a dizzying array of monuments – about 320 to be exact – contained within its mazy streets and ancient walls.

While the entire city is a Unesco-listed site, parts of Valletta, such as the Grandmaster’s Palace and St John’s Co-Cathedral, date as far back as the 1500s, and its streets contain a host of beautiful Baroque, Renaissance and neoclassical architecture as well as large plazas, like Freedom Square, and delightful green spaces such as the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens.

Choose the Embassy Valletta for an elegant stay in the capital. Offered by Tui, this hotel is a luxurious base for a trip, with modern interiors, a rooftop terrace and an outdoor pool for whiling away lazy days. As a bonus, the city’s main attractions are all within a 10-minute walk.

From £482pp for three nights’ accommodation, B&B, return flights from London Gatwick and one piece of checked luggage per passenger. Departing 15 April 2024.

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Best for a family holiday: St Pauls’ Bay

St Paul’s Bay is named after an incident in which St Paul was shipwrecked on the island, according to legend (Getty Images)

St Paul’s Bay is a municipality in the north that includes the popular seaside resorts of Buggiba and Qawra, which are just a couple of hundred metres apart. These towns are comparatively new, lacking the medieval buildings of the towns and instead offering plenty of resort and hotel options that are popular with families.

The two towns are linked by a promenade, with Qawra being the quieter of the two and Bugibba offering more evening entertainment. Qawra Point and the areas around Xemxija Bay offer reliable swimming spots.

Jet2holidays offers packages to the newly renovated AX ODYCY. It is located on the Qawra promenade, providing contemporary rooms and seven restaurants. A series of swimming pools and hot tubs sit on a roof terrace overlooking the Mediterranean.

From £2,208 for a family of four, including four nights’ accommodation, B&B, return flights from London Stansted, one piece of checked luggage per passenger and airport transfers. Departing 4 July 2024.

Best for exploring the island: Mdina

Mdina is a small, walled city founded in the 8th century BC (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Mdina is one of the best places to base yourself if you want to see as much of Malta as possible during your trip, with Valletta, Sliema, St Julian’s and Mellieha all less than a 30-minute drive away.

A smaller walled city located near the centre of the island, Mdina was once the Maltese capital, and reminders of its once lofty status still remain, including its own St Paul’s Cathedral and an impressive city gate. Other sites, such as Mesquita Square, are so picturesque, and suitably medieval that they were used as filming locations for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones.

For a great-value stay near Mdina, opt for the Corinthia Palace Hotel, courtesy of British Airways Holidays. The hotel lies in nearby San Anton, 10 minutes from Mdina, and provides an oasis of calm in the countryside. It sits in a converted 19th-century villa, with landscaped gardens surrounding a large outdoor swimming pool, and also offers an indoor pool, spa, gym and a Michelin-starred restaurant that serves UK-style afternoon tea.

From £795pp for five nights’ accommodation, return flights from London Gatwick and one piece of checked luggage per passenger. Departing 12 September 2024.

Best for a quiet escape to nature: Gozo

Gozo is the second largest island in Malta (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Gozo is the other main island in the Maltese archipelago, and sits directly northwest of the main island. It is less visited than its larger neighbour, making for a more peaceful destination, and its nature is even more rugged, verdant and untouched than that of Malta.

For nature lovers, highlights include the waters of the Blue Hole, the towering cliffs around Dwejra Bay, the seawater lagoon of the Inland Sea and the sandy beach at Ramla Bay. There are also notable historic sites, including the neolithic Ggantija Temple and a well-preserved 15th-century citadel.

The Kempinski Hotel in San Lawrenz offers five-star quality. Thomas Cook offers holidays to this large resort boasting five pools and three restaurants. Set among the hills in several acres of landscaped gardens, it offers a serene setting, with elegant exterior facades and rooms that are both spacious and stylish.

From £635pp including five nights’ accommodation, return flights from London Gatwick and one piece of checked luggage per passenger. Departing 10 May 2024.

Best for nightlife: St Julian’s

St Julian’s is the island nation’s nightlife hub (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

St Julian’s is undoubtedly Malta’s party capital. A lively, upbeat seaside resort in the north, it is home to the country’s most (in)famous nightlife area, Paceville, which is known for its plethora of casinos, bars and clubs.

There are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants for curing hangovers, especially across the Marina and Spinola Bay, whose promenade leads all the way to the neighbouring town of Sliema, just across the water. Alternatively, spend the day on beaches like St George’s Bay and Balluta Bay, where swimming, snorkelling and jet skiing are all on offer.

The Malta Marriott Hotel and Spa lies right in the heart of St Julian’s, right on the waterfront overlooking Balluta Bay. An easyJet package gives access to the hotel and its spa, indoor pool and outdoor pool that sits on a rooftop terrace overlooking the city’s most famed landmark, Mont Carmel parish church.

From £720pp for five nights’ accommodation, B&B, return flights from London Gatwick, one piece of checked luggage per passenger and airport transfers. Departing 9 May 2024.

Best for a relaxed stay: Mellieha

Mellieha offers a peaceful atmosphere (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Mellieha is perhaps Malta’s most quiet, easy-going tourist destination, with a pleasant village feeling and a distinct lack of noise and nightlife.

Situated on the top of the cliffs overlooking Ghadira Bay, and surrounded by golden hills and azure waters, Mellieha is a great place for families with young kids or those simply looking to relax. The bay offers one of the largest, most scenic beaches in all of Malta, while the town’s monuments, including the 17th-century Red Tower, the Coral Lagoon and the Il-Majjistral Nature and History Park, are ideal for spending a day wandering through.

For a little bit of springtime sun, consider visiting Malta in March, when temperature highs will be around 18C. British Airways Holidays offers a stay at the db Seabank Resort, located right on Ghadira Bay and providing sweeping views across the Mediterranean. The hotel contains an impressive range of dining options – from Brazilian and Italian to a world buffet – and leisure facilities including three pools, three bars, easy access to the beach and a programme of adult and kids’ activities.

From £407pp including five nights’ accommodation, half board, return flights from London Gatwick and one piece of checked luggage per passenger. Departing 18 March 2024.

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