The Uncommon Path: 8 lesser-known sights of Malta you need to visit

View of Malta from Valetta. Image by Berit Watkin.

When it comes to Malta, it’s usually one of those dream destinations you’ve had your itinerary picked out for since the first day you saw a picture of the Amalfi Coast in National Geographic or Travel + Leisure. But if you leave it up to the mainstream travel guides, you’ll miss all the cool spots that they are bound to miss, and with a list like this, that would definitely be a shame.

So ditch your plans and start with a clean slate—these picks are definitely deserving of a first look on your next holiday.

Wander the Ta Hagrat Temples

Ta Hagrat Temples in Malta

As an UNESCO World Heritage site, the Ta Hagrat Temples may not be so far off the radar that you’ve never heard of them before, but for an ancient religious ruin, they are sometimes sadly overlooked for other larger temples in the area. Don’t make the same mistake and take a trip out here to visit the temples because their compact nature and lesser-visited ruins mean you can meander as leisurely as you please.

Catch dinner at the Sunday Fish Market

Marsaxlokk fish market in Malta

In recent years, the Sunday Fish Market in Marsaxlokk has gone from obscure to world renowned, but that shouldn’t deter you from checking it out. Known for being full of vendors that drive a hard bargain and selling more than just fish (grab some honey or wine, it’s local and makes for excellent souvenirs), this market also has the water as its background and the beautiful boats make for more than one perfect photo op. Take your dinner recipe and a basket—you’re going to want to bring home the whole lot.

Dig deep in The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum. Image by Damian Entwistle

The Hal Sflieni Hypogeum is the Tarxien Temple’s answer to cemeteries, and it’s way cooler than any traditional above-ground burial site. With an estimated 1,500 bodies, this crypt is a twisted adventure into the belly of Malta’s history, so take a day and your camera to get lost and maybe surprise yourself with a couple exposures featuring paranormal activity.

Hike along the Dingli Cliffs

Dingli Cliffs. Image by Infinite Ache

While this may be a hidden gem on the vacation path of many tourists in Europe, the Dingli Cliffs are no newbies to the game of picturesque panoramas. Take a walk along the cliffs via the sidewalk or if you just want to admire, grab one of the benches that is perfectly positioned for getting out your camera and snapping a couple. The horizon is beautiful at any time of the day so bring a picnic and a thermos of coffee—it can get chilly on windy days!

Another word to the wise: if you’re going to be snapping photos of the gorgeous Dingli Cliffs, grab a SIM card from the airport on your way to Malta. Not only will this save you lots of money on the front end (global roaming can cost a fortune, trust me), but it also means you’ll have a signal wherever you travel. All you have to do is purchase the SIM card, unlock your phone, and then you’re #Instaready—it’s that easy.

Visit Gozo

The Maltese island of Gozo

The number one reason for visiting Gozo: snorkeling paradise. Off the coast of the small island, and between the Malta coast, is a sea lover’s paradise and it doesn’t get much better than that anywhere in Europe. Not only is it the jewel of the Mediterranean when it comes to deep dives, it also has a laidback vibe, a culturally rich atmosphere, and is just less traveled than the mainland of Malta, making it perfect for that getaway you’ve been dreaming of taking. Hit up a club (they’re well known for their active nightlife) or just grab dinner at one of their local eateries—you certainly won’t regret it.

Swim in the Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto. Image by Glen Scarborough

The Blue Grotto is another beachgoer’s paradise, and it’s all because of that early morning sun glinting off the water and turning it thousands of different shades of blue—it’s why it’s been featured in many commercials and films, including the 2004 film Troy, starring Brad Pitt. But more than just for movie stars and surfers, the Blue Grotto has a secret: you don’t need a boat to see the beautiful cave. On days when the surf is high or rough, the boat tours will close and cancel their trips to the caves, but this doesn’t mean you don’t get a visit—on the contrary, your visit will be that much better!

For a private tour, make sure you get to the snack bar and bait shop at the top of the stairs to the cave, and then just walk straight on down! It’s safe to swim and you’ll get a relaxed moment in the cave without all the singing tourists.

Head out West

Gnejna Bay. Image by Giorgio Minguzzi

Like sandy beaches? Like rocky beaches? Off the western coast of Malta, you don’t have to choose—they have both! Check out Gnejna Bay for its crystal clear waters and white sand or head to Ghajn Tuffieha for something a little more remote and secluded. If tourist hotspots is where you want to be then you can always go for a dip at Golden Bay where BBQ’s, pool parties, and plenty of people to hang with are always out and about.

Ghar Lapsi

Swimming at Ghar Lapsi. Image by  Hans Woltering

This is another great swimming hole, built for sunbathing, grabbing a drink, and uploading bikini selfies. Mostly popular with locals and the fisherman who frequent the waters for their daily catches, Ghar Lapsi has the kind of charm that deserves constant tourist attention, but is delightfully lacking in it (which is definitely good for you). There’s a boathouse for snacks open during the summer, or you can grab dinner at the closest bar & restaurant all year round—just make sure you pack your camera, this one is almost too beautiful for words.

Whether you’ve been to Malta and are looking for a second set of destinations this time around, or are just more of an “off the beaten path” kind of traveler, you won’t be disappointed with these picks that are both a little off the record and definitely deserving of being on the record. Bon voyage!

 

About the author

I’m Claire – a self-confessed travel nut. I’ve been travelling around the world since my mum farewelled me in a teary goodbye and I haven’t looked back since. You can read all about my adventures through 48 cities in 26 countries on 4 continents on my blog Traveltio.com.

 

 

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