Not bad, I think you'll agree? That's an awful lot of sunny days to lap up. Add to that, sparkling azure waters, great Mediterranean food along with the greatest concentration of historical sights, monuments, grand cathedrals and magnificent basilicas. All this is amidst many other impressive architectural and cultural wonders. Suddenly, the tiny island of Malta seems to have all the essential entrapments to tempt even the most discerning of travellers.

In recent years Malta and its sister island Gozo have invested heavily in providing a great choice of new hotels as well as some pleasing family attractions to complement their disproportionate wealth of natural, historical and architectural wonders.

Author: Douglas Hughes;

Getting around Malta is easy enough too. It’s such a tiny country. It feels almost surreal to have so many amazing things crammed onto such a small space. It's rarely much more than an hour’s drive to find yourself literally anywhere on the main island. It's only half an hour’s ferry ride to get yourself (and your car) over onto the even tinier island of Gozo. But it's well worth it. We paid just 20€ for a return ticket to take our car (and two passengers) over for a day’s sightseeing. Gozo is tiny but there's so much to see. Plus, it's unbelievably beautiful. We observed that most places on Gozo are noticeably well-kept.

Fortified towns

Malta is an island that boasts more than its fair share of traditional fortified towns. The 16th-century capital Valletta (built by the Knights of St John) is a labyrinth of narrow streets adorned with Malta’s trademark painted wooden balconies. They really are an absolute joy to behold and are just one of those wonderful quirks that make a place feel unique and special. As soon as you see those trademark Maltese balconies, you really do begin to sense the unique vibe of this charming island. What Malta lacks in terms of its physical stature, it more than makes up with its unique abundance of character and beauty.

Author: Douglas Hughes;

My first view of Valletta’s Grand Harbour was from the imposing Siege Bell War Memorial. And what a view it is! This was what I came to Malta to see and, my word, I haven't been remotely disappointed. None of the holiday brochures can possibly do it justice, you just have to see it for yourself! Something magical happens when the setting sun casts its reddish hues onto the already reddish masonry from which much of the older buildings set around the Grand Harbour are fashioned. It's the contrasting colours, the breathtaking architecture and how they’re all set within a pristine canvas of endless blue skies and shimmering azure Mediterranean waters.

Author: Douglas Hughes;

From the Valletta waterfront, you can take a variety of short boat tours across the Grand Harbour. One option is to visit the “Three Cities”. Really, the Three Cities are the small towns of Senglea, Vittoriosa and Cospicua which reside on the opposite shores of the Grand Harbour. But if the Maltese people refer to them as “three cities” - that's a good enough reason to follow suit. Whichever boat trip you eventually choose to take, it's going to provide a great opportunity for you to simply get out onto the water, even if it’s only to appreciate Valletta’s sublime vistas from a mariner’s perspective.

Author: Douglas Hughes;


If you like delving into a bit of history, you'll soon appreciate that Malta has an abundance to share. Once again, this tiny island punches well above its weight. With the help of a guidebook or two, you can explore and marvel at the rich historical tapestry that unfolds at Malta’s unique megalithic temples.

There are also underground catacombs containing legacies from Byzantine and Roman times, some of which are far older than Stonehenge. Malta’s subterranean world will let you discover secret tunnels which played a vital role in the story of how the Allies defeated the Axis powers during the Second World War.

Author: Douglas Hughes;

Sadly, Malta also suffered disproportionately during WW2, with terrible bombing raids raining terror and bloodshed all over the island. The Axis resorted to bombing and attempting to starve the native population into submission. As part of this offensive, they also destroyed any allied shipping that attempted to supply the island. As a result, Malta’s beautiful cities, towns, and ports were destroyed beyond recognition. The island was one of the most intensively bombed areas during World War II. All this is almost unimaginable nowadays but, the violence and destruction that befell this lovely little place in such relatively recent times confounds me. But, luckily for us all, Malta recovered to become what it is today. That is a truly beautiful and vibrant island.

Before we leave the WW2 era, it’s impossible to omit to tell the incredible story of The Mosta Dome bomb. This dome itself is a very impressive and beautiful creation; the fourth largest dome of its type in the world. Better still, it lays claim to its very own miracle.

Author: Douglas Hughes;

This really was a full-on ‘miracle’ which came to pass when a WW2 German bomb actually pierced the dome in 1942. The massive bomb landed on the church floor, slid across at speed but failed to detonate! At the time, the church was actually crowded with over 300 people when the bomb came through. Luckily, everyone was spared. Both the bomb and traces of where the dome was damaged have been preserved for posterity.

Accommodation-wise, Valletta is a perfect base for sightseeing. Everything inside Valletta’s impressive walls is within easy walking distance. Prepare for loads of steps and inclines though! Around the busy City Gate, you’ll find the nation’s main bus station from where you can be bussed off to almost any corner of the island.

For our Maltese stay, we chose St Julian's. It suited us on our first-ever trip to Malta because there's an abundance of centrally located hotels with plenty of amenities to enjoy within a couple of minutes walking. Ten minutes walking gets you to nearly any corner of this picture-postcard resort with its pretty bays, marina or even a sandy beach at St George’s Bay. It's noteworthy that Malta’s coastline is mainly quite a rocky affair, so you might need to head towards Golden Bay or Mellieha if you fancy the soft, sandy beach experience.


If you prefer culture to cocktails, a more sedate Maltese experience is offered at the ancient capital Mdina (the so-called silent city). Pristine Mdina only has one hotel, a five-star option. But nearby Naxxar and Rabat offer a choice of stylish B&Bs.

Author: Douglas Hughes;

If living like a local is more your cuppa tea, the teeny-weeny island of Gozo might suit you best. There are a limited number of four and five-star hotels amidst a plethora of Airbnb-style farmhouses complete with swimming pools.

Yep. Malta has something for everyone. I've barely scratched the surface of this piece. All I can say for sure is that visiting Malta is highly recommended!


Douglas Hughes is a UK-based writer producing general interest articles ranging from travel pieces to classic motoring. 

Douglas Hughes