MALTA is the ultimate family-friendly Mediterranean island.
The main island, along with its sister islands Gozo and Comino, offer a wonderful setting for a holiday in which parents and children can experience the thrill of an action-packed vacation or just chill out together – all in a safe and friendly environment where for once, kids are welcomed not made to feel a nuisance.
Malta’s beaches are breathtaking and cater for a wide range of watersports. But be warned. Although there are no tides around the islands, some waters have very strong undercurrents – always check locally before going bathing. Here are the pick:
Malta’s largest and most popular sandy beach. There are no undercurrents here so the bay offers safe bathing and the shallow waters make it ideal for children.
Just a short drive from Mellieha Bay but a different vibe. More for the younger crowd with beach parties every weekend.
Pretty Bay is a lively seaside town in the south of Malta. The beach lies right in the town centre so there are plenty of shops and restaurants along the coastline.
Close to the town Mgarr (not to be confused with Mgarr on Gozo) is the secluded Gnejna Bay. Used mostly by locals, so if you’re looking to escape the tourist crowds, this is the place to go. Good family-friendly beach – water is shallow enough for toddlers.
Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay
This sandy bay is very popular with windsurfers. It can get busy at times but there’s loads to do.
NIGHTLIFE IN MALTA
The best nights out are spent mingling with the locals in Valletta, Mdina or Birgu. The locals know the best places to have a good time so follow them to wherever they go.
If, on the other hand, you are after a younger vibe with current music, then head for Paceville where the bars crowd together along narrow walkways, interspersed with pubs, bars and fast food joints. On summer weekends the party spills out onto the street until 4am. World-class DJs flock to the island during the summer months, with Gianpula, Malta’s largest open-air club, attracting the likes of Cream and Ministry of Sound.
SHOPPING IN MALTA
Malta has many of Europe’s usual chain stores from Marks & Spencer in Valletta to the clothes shops of Sliema and the Bay Street Shopping Centre in Paceville but by and large there are no major malls or retail parks on the islands.
The narrow streets of Valletta, Mdina/Rabat and Victoria have a wealth of smaller shops hidden away around every corner. Markets are also very popular and the chief markets in Valletta are the open market on Merchant Street and the huge Sunday market at St James Ditch.
Most markets sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to collectibles, even animals. Markets take place in the mornings and the stallholders will have packed away by noon.
There are also two crafts centres – Ta’ Qali in Malta is situated near Mdina and on Gozo you will find the craft centre at Ta’ Dbiegi, San Lawrenz.
A SHORT hop from Malta’s main island are two others – Gozo and Comino, both popular as either holiday bases in their own right or as must-do day trips by boat.
They might be a short distance away from the “mainland” of Malta but they are culturally independent and have their own unique history.
All roads in Gozo lead to Victoria, also known as Rabat, which is where the fortified citadel sits high above the town. Victoria manages to combine the bustle of its market and shops with a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. It is a great place to watch the Islanders go about their day, especially when the main market square, It-Tokk, comes to life. The island is home to the Maltese islands’ best-preserved prehistoric temples, called Ggantija (Maltese for “giant”) because of their enormous size.
Between Malta and Gozo lies the car-free island of Comino, a paradise for snorkellers, divers, windsurfers and walkers. The island’s main attraction is the Blue Lagoon, a sheltered inlet surrounded by beaches of white sand and a popular day trip by cruise tour or sailboat.