At the end of September, I decided to visit a friend of mine who studies in Malta. This two week visit turned into an impromptu study abroad, as I’ve decided to stay until February 2021. The reason that I decided to stay is because the country is beautiful, the weather is amazing, and I live a two-minute walk from the beach, so why not? This is an opportunity that I may never have again. I have come to realise that a lot of people, including myself, don’t know a lot about Malta so I wrote this article as an introduction to the country.
Malta is officially known as the Republic of Malta and is situated in the south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. The country is an archipelago that consists of three islands: Malta, Comino and Gozo. The total area of these three islands combined is only 316 kilometres squared, which is smaller than Rotterdam. The population only consists of 493,559 people, which is less than The Hague.
Valletta is the capital city of Malta and is one of the smallest capital cities in the world and Europe’s smallest capital with an area of less than one square kilometre. The city is also recognised by UNESCO World Heritage due to its historic and cultural importance. Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English. It became a British colony in 1813 and the archipelago didn’t gain independence until 1964. Italian was also one of the official languages until 1934, but most people still speak it today. Malta is a member state of the European Union and part of the Eurozone. The Maltese language is a latinised variety of historical Arabic, but also has Italian, French and English influences. Maltese is one of the EU’s official languages. Religion plays a very important role in Malta; the Christian country houses 359 churches.
The Maltese Islands are a popular film location. Gladiator, Troy, Game of Thrones, Assassin’s Creed, By the Sea, Queen of the South and Clash of the Titans were (partly) filmed in Malta to name a few. The popular children’s movie Popeye was also filmed in Malta. In fact, the set of the film is now a popular tourist attraction named Popeye’s Village.
The country enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Its summers are hot and dry with an average of 27°C. Its spring and autumn are a bit cooler, with the average temperature in spring being 18°C and 20°C during autumn. Autumn is known as the wet season, with November having the most rainfall. Its winter is mild with an average of 15°C. But, the sun shines approximately 300 days of the year, even during the wet season.
When visiting Malta, one thing that you have to try is pastizzi. It’s the most popular national dish that can be found nearly everywhere. It is a type of pastry filled with either ricotta cheese or mushy peas. They’re very inexpensive and only cost about 30-40 cents a piece. They’re seen as a type of street food and can be eaten at any time of the day.
The must-see sights on the archipelago are Golden Bay Beach, Blue Grotto, Popeye Village, Dingli Cliffs, Ramla Beach, Ta’ Cenc Cliffs, and the Blue Lagoon. Golden Bay Beach can be found on the island of Malta and is regarded as one of its most beautiful beaches, as the name suggests. You can take a boat tour at the Blue Grotto to see the network of caves located in the south of Malta. As discussed before, Popeye Village is the film set of the movie Popeye in the north of Malta marked by its iconic and colourful houses. The Dingli Cliffs are in the west of Malta and are an amazing spot to watch the sunset or the stars at night. Ramla Beach is located in the north east of Gozo and is a sand beach where you can find Roman ruins. I advise hiking up to the Calypso Cave from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the beach and everything surrounding it. The Ta’ Cenc Cliffs are located in the south of Gozo and are a prime hiking spot that offer an extraordinary view of the Mediterranean Sea. The Blue Lagoon can be found in the north west of Comino and owes its name to its intense blue waters. Marine life, such as dolphins and sea lions can be found here.
The beautiful country of Malta is definitely worth visiting. It has a little bit of everything. It’s not only perfect for city breaks, but all its hiking trails and diving schools make it great for the active traveller, and its amazing beaches are very attractive for the ones that prefer to relax on their holiday. Once health and safety precautions allow it, it’ll make for the perfect trip!
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