Cheap Holidays to Malta
Malta Holidays & Hotels
Hotels in Malta
Long under-the-radar as a holiday destination, holidaymakers are starting to get a taste for the island’s gin-clear, blue-green waters, prehistoric relics and golden beaches. Although its star turns in Gladiator (filmed at Fort Ricasoli) and Troy (filmed at the Blue Lagoon) have likely helped its profile. There are hotels scattered throughout the archipelago, with most crowded around capital Valletta, on north island Gozo’s west coast and in popular resorts Qawra and Bugibba in the north east.
Accommodation ranges from all-inclusive luxury and cheap budget-friendly beach resorts toting spas and playgrounds, restaurants and bars aplenty and other holiday-enhancing extras. Some are peaceful five-star stays suited to history buffs and nature lovers. Around Valletta boutique stays and aparthotels show the country’s design flair. There are family-friendly stays and adults-only minibreakers, bed and breakfasts and foodie-delighters: something for all.
Where to stay
Part of the cluster of villages in the north east of Malta (Bugibba and St Paul’s Bay), Qawra is popular for its lavish resorts, swimming and snorkelling and laidback attitude. There’s a 16th-century tower, an aquarium and a classic-car museum, and its famed for its salt pans, plus, it has a cinema – a rarity on the island. Its coast is rocky rather than sandy, but sunbathing is possible at Ta` Fra Ben beach. However, you’re guaranteed quality R’n’R on your holiday here.
The past is present here in Gozo, the second largest island in the archipelago. Tucked into its green hills (Gozo’s pride and joy) are the Megalithic Ggantija temples, Byzantine churches and crumbling farmhouses. As such, it’s hiking heaven. It’s beautiful by sea, too: Xlendi beach is photo-ready and the Azure Window does what it says on the tin (the lesser-known Wied il-Mielah Window is worth peeping through too). Gozo is renowned as a dive destination too, both offshore and in the electric-blue waters of the Inland Sea.
Maltese capital Valletta is petite (just 1km by 600m), but packs a punch. Built by the Knights of St John, it’s swapped churchiness for chic restaurants, bars and hotels. But, its Unesco-protected relics – the Saint John's Co-Cathedral, Grandmaster's Palace, Hal Saflieni Hypogeum necropolis – still impress. Architect Renzo Piano has added an ultra-modern Parliament Building and Opera House recently, and the capital’s upped its cool factor with music festivals and a popular Pride parade.
What to see
If you are looking to soak in some culture during your holiday start in Valletta, delving into the museums of archaeology and fine arts, spy the Caravaggio paintings in the Oratory and wander its ancient wonders and fresher landmarks. Spy the glinting Grand Harbour from the Barrakka Gardens and ride the ferry to Sliema or a traditional dghajsa boat to the fortified towns of Senglea, Birgu and Cospicua, dubbed the Three Cities.
Head inland to old-school citadel Mdina for catacombs, and cathedrals, south to seaside village Marsascala for a dip in the clear waters of St Peter’s pool. In Sliema, wander the palm-tree-lined promenade to St Julian’s to Balluta Bay and its small but swimmable sandy beach. Hit Spinola Bay for fly-boarding and scuba-diving. In Gozo, play on the sheltered beach Mgarr ix-Xini, wander the Villa Rundle Gardens and hike the Lunzjata Valley. Scuba-diving and snorkelling is a must off the coast, and within, you can maximise your view with a rock climb.
What to eat
Centuries of pass-the-parcel occupiers – the Romans, Arabs, French and british all laid claim to the islands throughout history – and the neighbourly influences of Sicily and North Africa have all contributed to Malta’s unique cuisine. Local cheese (Gbejna), rabbit and honey are popular ingredients, and street foods tend towards flatbreads and ricotta-stuffed pastizzi.
With seafront terraces, candlelit courtyards and historic dining rooms, Maltese restaurants can be terribly romantic, perfect for couples on holiday. Take Medina in Mdina, Barracuda in St Julian’s and Rampila in Valletta. Harbour Club has a unique 18th-century setting and Palazzo Preca does superb seafood in a swoonsome setup. Gozo has unassuming beachfront eateries and locally loved stops in flowery village squares.
To dance with excitable neon-bathed throngs, hit Paceville in Saint Julian’s, the main nightlife hub. It has a diverse mix of mega discos, jazz clubs, cocktail lounges, gay clubs and low-key pubs and bars. In In Qawra and Bugibba, bars do cater for tourists with footie screenings and hangover-forecasting cheap drinks.
Valletta has elegant cocktail bars and cosier, more casual venues, try Kingsway and Yard 32 gin and tapas joint, and the Charles Grech bar where the service is always on point. If you’d prefer culture over cocktails, see what’s on at Valletta’s Royal Opera House and Salesjan Theatre in Sliema.
Malta has sweet local boutiques selling handmade lace, basketware and knits; shop-till-you-drop malls and everything in between. Try Merchants Street and Republic Street in Valletta, and stop into The Embassy and Monti Shopping Centre. In Sliema, the cash-splashiest places are Bisazza Street and the Point Mall. In the north, Qawra’s shops tend towards souvenir-hunters and handicrafts, and in Gozo, stop in Rabat for daily markets and department stores.
Fast Facts about Malta
- Direct flight time: 3.5 hours from London
- Time Zone: CET (+1 hour)
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Maltese
- Average price of a domestic beer: €2–3
- Average price of a bottle of wine: €4–10
- Number of Brit tourists per year: 454,659