Europe > Malta > Malta Island
Malta Island is the largest island and main population centre of Malta.
- Valletta — the capital, named for Jean Parisot de la Valette, a French nobleman who was Grand Master of the Order of St. John and leader of the defenders during the Turkish siege of Malta in 1565.
- Cottonera (Three Cities) — The name used when referring to the three historic and ancient cities of Birgu (aka Vittoriosa), Isla (aka Senglea) and Bormla (aka Cospicua), three towns conglomerated by 16th century fortifications called the Cottonera lines.
- Marsaxlokk — fishing village south of the island
- Marsaskala — an enchanting promenade ensures you a pleasant evening here
- Mdina — Malta's well-preserved quiet old capital. pronounced 'im-dina'
- Rabat — hosts numerous historical attractions such as St. Paul's catacombs and the Roman Villa
- St. Julian's — perfect area for nightlife & entertainment
- San Gwann
- Golden Bay - One of Malta's most beautiful sandy beaches, on the northwest coast of the island.
The old rattlers of the nineties were replaced with new air-conditioned coaches. Public transport on Malta covers much of the island and is cheap. It can get crowded in busy times though, with locals and holiday makers, depending on the route. Fares for non-residents are €1.30 for a 2-hour ticket, €1.50 for a 1-day ticket and €6.50 for a 7-day ticket; all these permit one to travel any distance on any routes within the validity period. Fares for Gozo are €1 for a 2-hour ticket or €1.50 for a 1-day ticket.
- 1 Hagar Qim and Mnajdra. Two very beautiful stone age temples set on the cliffside of south west Malta and overlooking the nature reserve of Filfla. If you are expecting to see acres of temples, this is not the case, but what you do see is a number of carefully constructed stone rooms and structures which were built around 3000BC. The sheer fact that they have survived all this time is quite amazing. Hagar Qim Temple in the nearest one to the road and access to this site is via a newly built visitor centre. Mnajdra is further down the cliff and there is about a 1 km walk downhill to the temples. This is the older of the two temples with parts dating back to 3600BC. This is a struggle if it is an extremely hot day as there is no shade whatsoever and you can easily get dehydrated. There are some beautiful views over the ocean and towards the little nature reserve island. Their majesty has now been marred by protective tents and a 2 storey new building nearby. You can get a bus from the bus Terminal in Valletta straight to the Hagar Qim and Mnjdra temples. After travelling through several seemingly deserted villages you kind of have the feeling that you are travelling into the middle of nowhere. The visitor centre also houses a gift shop, a restaurant and other facilities. You can get the bus back to Valletta or attempt to walk down the hill to the Blue Grotto. This is a nice walk with some stunning views, and takes probably about 20 minutes at a good pace. But again, there is no shade, so have a good supply of water with you. You can then get the bus here back to Valletta. Be careful of the taxis as they will tell you buses very rarely come and try to charge you 20E to drive you to the next town - don't be fooled by their helpfulness. During the day, buses go through Hagar Qim Park at least once every hour. Entrance to both temples and the visitor centre cost 10 Euro per person.
Malta Island has some excellent beaches, perfect for a day of sunbathing or water sports. Fine examples include:
Golden Bay and Għajn Tuffieħa
The Golden Bay and Għajn Tuffieħa are two adjoining bays carved in the coastline of northwestern Malta. Golden Bay is probably the most popular beach in the area and attracts people of all kinds. And for good reason, as you'll find everything you need for a day at the beach: perfect sands, some pleasant beach clubs and a good range of water sports activities. The water is good for swimming, water skiing, banana rides and (when the waves allow) boogie boarding. Red flags will warn you if strong currents are present. Għajn Tuffieħa boasts similar attractions but is slightly less crowded, possibly because of the long stairs leading to its sands. The beaches are easily reachable by car and a parking is a available. Alternatively, regular bus services run to and from towns in the region. Take bus 44 from Valetta or bus 223 and 224 from Bugibba. If you're not on a budget, you can also stay or eat at the beach in the 5 star Radisson Blu hotel, considered one of the best in the country.
It was often a shock to British people to find that it took nearly two British pounds to make one Maltese Liri, but since 1 Jan 2008, Malta has the euro.
There was a little rowdiness in the St Julians area a few decades ago but Malta is now generally very safe and is a quiet, family destination.