Famous for its great beaches with clear, turquoise water, crumbling ancient towns with cobbled streets and colourful balconies, and a wild nightlife parallel to none, it can be tricky to get off the beaten path in Malta. But, with a little digging, you can discover a different side of Malta and see the island with new eyes.
1. Attend a festival in the forest
Malta may be famous for its festivals, but this one is special. Known by the locals as the L-Imnarja Festival (the feast of St Peter and St Paul), it takes place on the eve of June 29th. Revellers gather at Buskett Gardens, Malta’s only forest planted by knights to serve as a hunting preserve, for bonfires and feasting by candlelight. The famous dish is a savoury rabbit stew, Stuffat tal-fenek, to be eaten on the day June 29th. L-Imnarja also includes horse and donkey races, so you can cheer on your favourite as you rub elbows with the Maltese locals!
2. Camp by the beach
It’s no secret that Malta’s beaches are famously packed in the summertime, but there is a way around this if you don’t mind roughing it a little. For as little as €15, you can rent a tent and pitch it on the majority of Malta’s breathtaking beaches, even at the Blue Lagoon! This will give you the chance to experience the beach without the hordes of visitors from the ferryboats and enjoy the sound of the waves and views of the moonlit sea.
3. Get a bird’s-eye view from the Maltese rooftops
After camping, why not indulge a little by visiting some of Malta’s rooftops? In Bugibba, head to the Café del Mar near the tip of the peninsula for some well-deserved relaxation and cooling off in the infinity pool overlooking St Paul’s Bay. Or, you could tuck into some tasty Asian-fusion dishes with panoramic views at TemptAsian in Sliema. If you find yourself on Gozo, feast on homemade wine and cheese at Ta’Rikardu while the breeze on the terrace blows your cares away. Getting off the beaten path in Malta never tasted so good!
4. Discover Malta’s little-known wines
Image credit: © viewingmalta
In the world of European wines, France, Italy and Spain may be the big players, but Maltese wine is nothing to be sneezed at! Yes, it’s much cheaper than other European wines, but the rocky terrain and the native sun-kissed girgentina and gellewza grapes give it a flavour all its own. Visit any of the local wine estates or check out the ritzier ones’ festivals, like the Marsovin Summer Wine Festival or the Delicata Classic Wine Festival, held under the stars in the Upper Barrakka Gardens. There is one reason why you might not have heard of Maltese wines before – the locals love it so much that they guzzle most of it up themselves rather than export it!
5. Go on the Girgenti Walk
Image credit: Steve Bonello, © viewingmalta
Get off the beaten path in Malta and onto the trail of the Girgenti Walk! This well-worn footpath is inland from the beaches, which is why you won’t find it on every top 10 list for Malta. History lovers will adore this half-day walk through the countryside, drenched in the Maltese sun. Pass the mysterious prehistoric cart ruts of Clapham Junction, the maze of caves known as Ghar il-Kbir, the Punic tombs, Girgenti Palace plus lovely little temples and churches. A nice flat walk, this is an authentic way to peek into Malta’s rich past.
As there are plenty of different things to do in Malta, there’s no reason for intrepid travellers not to make this their next destination for a language trip.