Geography of Malta
Malta is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. With a population of about 475,000 over an area of 316km², Malta is the world’s tenth smallest in area country. Its capital is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Union by area at 0.8km².
Malta has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers. Rain occurs mainly in autumn and winter, with summer being generally dry.
Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English. Maltese is the national language. The Maltese population is generally able to converse in languages which are not native to the country, particulary English and Italian.
The currency of Malta is the Euro.
A passport valid for three months beyond the length of stay and issued within the last 10 years is required by all nationals listed in the chart above except (1) EU/EEA nationals holding a passport or national ID card which is valid for the duration of the stay.
Visas for Malta are not required by nationals EU/EEA countries but must register with the local authorities if they plan to stay longer than three months. Australian, Canadian and US nationals can stay in Malta for up to 90 days without a visa.
Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Malta.
In Malta all traffic drives on the left hand side of the road as in the UK.
In Malta the power plugs and sockets are of type G. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Type G: this type is of British origin. This socket only works with plug G.
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St John’s Co-Cathedral
(Distance to venue: 7,2 km)
The Knights of Malta’s main church, this extraordinary place of worship is up there with the most important Baroque buildings in Europe. The outside is plain, even severe in style, having been designed by the military architects who built Valletta as the Knights’ citadel capital in the 1570s. Inside, however, is dazzling, every inch covered in gold, marble or paint. Even the floor is a sea of tombs in coloured marble.
Each language group of the Knights had a chapel here and they competed for the greatest and most sumptuous decoration. Recent restoration has only served to brighten the place further.
The audio guide is worth using and points up the highlights amongst the visual mêlée. Don’t miss the oratory which is home to Caravaggio’s largest (and only signed) painting, the superb Beheading of St John.
(Distance to venue: 12 km)
Malta’s first citadel capital, Mdina has been inhabited and fortified since the Bronze Age and was the Roman centre of Malta. What we see today began with the Arabs, continued through the medieval Christian period and slowly declined in importance after the arrival of the Knights in the 16th century. Still inhabited, it is something of a living museum.
Malta’s noble families have their ancestral homes here and its tiny, labyrinthine streets are a delight to explore. I like to start at the main gate and follow Villegaignon Street up past the cathedral to Bastion Square before zig-zagging my way back. Bastion Square offers panoramic views over the island.
Daytime is the only time to see the sights of Mdina, but I like to return in the evening when the tour groups have gone and the sun is setting, to wander the atmospheric alleys in peace before settling down to a good dinner in one of Mdina’s excellent restaurants.
(Distance to venue: 7,6 km)
Valletta was built by the Knights of St John (the Knights of Malta) after they nearly lost the islands to the Ottoman Turks in the Great Siege of 1565. The city was constructed on a barren, rocky peninsula with water all around except on a narrow landward side. It was state-of-the-art military architecture, intended to be impregnable. And so it was: for 200 years nobody even dared attempt invasion. The fortifications are still impressive today.
My favourite way to see them is to walk a circuit around the edge of the city on top of the walls (or as close as possible) looking down on the two harbours that flank the capital. The walk is circular so you can start anywhere, but I would start at City Gate – the main entrance to the City. Valletta is only 1km long so it isn’t too hefty a walk. At the tip of the peninsula, the far end from City Gate, stands Fort St Elmo, the only building here that predates Valletta and a key player in the Great Siege.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
(Distance to venue: 7 km)
These arcaded public gardens, built by the Knights of Malta and embellished by the British, sit perched on top of Valletta’s towering bastion walls and boast a spectacular panorama of the Grand Harbour.
Across the water is Malta’s oldest fortress and the historic Three Cities. Explore the monuments and sculptures, cool off by the fountain or grab a coffee at the little open-air café.
If you can be here at noon, you’ll be treated to British martial music, a little bit of loudspeaker history and the firing of the cannons on the Saluting Battery.
(Distance to venue: 14,1 km)
The best thing to do in Malta on a Sunday is, without a doubt, going to the fish market in Marsaxlokk.
Marsaxlokk is an authentic fishing port, with colored fishing boats called luzzu. Every Sunday takes place a traditional fish market. Don’t be fooled by the name though, you will find more things than just fish at that market, like souvenirs for example.
This market is huge and usually crowded, probably because souvenirs are cheaper there than in Valletta.
You’ll find many bars and restaurants along the port, perfect for lunch break.