There’s much to see and do in Malta and its sister islands Gozo and Comino. From medieval cities to the oldest freestanding structure on earth, here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ selections for the can’t-miss places in Malta:
1. Hypogeum of Hal-Saflieni. This underground structure consists of halls, rooms and chambers entirely carved from rock. Originally built as a temple and later used as a burial spot, the Hypogeum dates back to 2500 BC, but was only discovered accidentally in 1902. Only about 80 people are allowed to enter the site daily, so tickets are very limited and can sometimes be sold out a month in advance — make sure to buy them as far ahead as you can at visitmalta.com.
2. Mdina. The walled-in city of Mdina is known as the “Silent City” because only certain service vehicles are allowed in. It is believed that Saint Paul lived here when he was shipwrecked in Malta. Stroll Mdina’s narrow streets and take in the medieval architecture, palaces, small chapels and dungeons. Also stop by the ornate St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose red and white dome is hard to miss, and walk the city’s limestone wall to see views of the entire island.
3. Gozo. Malta’s sister island Gozo, known for its pristine beaches and friendly people, is a 30-minute ferry ride away. It includes Ramla Bay, a stretch of beach with red sand that’s popular with tourists and locals. If you’re looking for something a little more private, neighboring San Blas Bay is equally beautiful but not accessible by car — you’ll need to walk down a steep road. Check out the island’s fortified city, known as the Citadel, in Victoria. And don’t miss the Azure Window at Dwejra Bay: It’s a rock that was shaped into a window by the sea. Go an hour before sunset and don’t forget the camera.
4. Ggantija. Located on Malta’s sister island Gozo, Ggantija is one of the oldest-standing structures in the world. It’s a temple made from large slabs of limestone rock — local folklore says that giants built it. Historians say Ggantija was built between 3600 BC and 3200 BC, which means it’s even older than Egypt’s pyramids. Ggantija is widely thought to be one of the world’s most important historical sites, especially considering the limited tools available when it was built.
5. Blue Lagoon. The clear turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon are some of the most dazzling in all the Maltese islands. The lagoon is located on the uninhabited island of Comino; you’ll need to take a boat from Malta or Gozo to get there. The Blue Lagoon gets very crowded on weekends, so it’s best to go on a weekday. There are beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent, and food trucks sell hamburgers, ice cream and drinks near the lagoon.