Maltese cuisine is a result of a 7,000-year relationship with the many civilisations that have occupied the Maltese Islands and is shaped by Italian, Provencal, Arabic and North African influences. Malta’s warm climate allows for al fresco dining the whole year-round.
Seafood lovers will be in seventh heaven in Malta and will have their choice of an array of different types of seafood, including fresh swordfish, tuna, prawns, lobster, calamari, and octopus.
Other major exports that Malta is known for are honey and salt. Indeed, Malta is regarded as the land of honey and travellers can even visit one of the many apiaries on the island or purchase local honey from shops in town. A trip to Gozo’s Xwejni Salt Pans is a must-see for foodies. The salt is produced based on traditional ways passed down from generation to generation and harvested in the summer months. And of course, you can’t travel to Malta without drinking a bottle or two of Maltese wine.
To dine like a local, we suggest not missing these traditional dishes:
Stuffat Tal-Fenek - Malta's national dish, a rabbit stew
Pastizzi - a delicious savoury filo pastry filled with either ricotta or pea puree
Bigilla - a paste made from beans & garlic
Imqaret - sweet pastry packages filled with dates and spices
Aljotta - a spicy fish soup
Ftira - Maltese bread
Ġbejna - a creamy cheese made using a combination of goat and sheep milk
Wine lovers should seize the opportunity to go wine tasting while in Malta. While Malta is not able to produce enough wine for export, the variety of wines made on the small island is large, including white, red and rosé. It is true, you will be able to taste the island and its many flavours in these special wines. Take a tour of the Wine Trail and sip your way through the different wineries Malta has to offer.
Did you know that Malta is home to five Michelin star restaurants? It’s true! Malta’s Noni, Under Grain and De Mondion were awarded stars in 2020 and Bahia and ION - The Harbour in 2021, which means Malta is on the rise in the gastronomy scene. While traditional Maltese food might seem a bit unfriendly to vegetarians and vegans, Malta boasts a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options.
Venus Restaurant, St. Paul’s Bay - Venus is a small family-run restaurant set in the heart of Bugibba best known for its endless range of fresh fish and meat. Price: ££-£££
Pash & Jimmy Café, St. Paul’s Bay - A cute cafe with a wide variety of vegetarian, vegan and meat options. A little bit of something for everyone is just what we like and we’ve been told that the vegan pasta and desserts here are not to be missed! Price: £-££
No. 43, Valletta - No. 43 is an eclectic hangout at Gugar where you will find a library and art gallery for emerging artists alongside delicious snacks. Price: £
Bridge Bar, Valletta -Take in spectacular views of the Grand Harbour whilst drinking Maltese wine and listening to atmospheric jazz music throughout the evening. Price: £-££
Trabuxu Wine Bar, Valletta - Serving customers for over 15 years, Trabuxu Wine Bar is a must-visit. Located in a 400-year-old stone vaulted cellar, visitors will feel as if they’ve been transported back in time. It’s also a local favourite. Price: ££
Sista Wine & Co., Sliema - Not to be missed for wine lovers, this wine bar features more than 400 different wines from around the world - including those from Malta and Gozo. Price: ££
Hugo’s Terrace, St. Julian’s - This venue is great for a night out and features views of St. Georges Bay. The pub also offers lunch and dinner which includes vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. Price: ££
Del Borgo, Birgu - Located in what was once a palace, Del Borgo allows you to wine and dine with a little bit of history. Sit al fresco and enjoy lovely views of the marina and Vittoriosa. Expect a varied menu with an extensive wine list. Price: ££
Cheeky Monkey, Qawra - If you’re looking for a night out with plenty of delicious drinks, look no further than the cheeky Monkey. Located in Qawra, this Gastropub is known for its top-quality cocktails. Price: ££
Gebuba Wine Bar, Gozo - Located in Nadu on the island of Gozo, Gebuba is for anyone looking to enjoy a great meal or a drink while listening to a range of pop, rock, soul and funk music. Price: £
Follow the Maltese gastro trail! Download the gastronomy map from www.maltauk.com and eat to your heart's content.
The past 7,000 years of history have left their mark on Malta. However, not only the ancient historical sites, like the famous Grand Master's Palace, are celebrated. The St. James Center for Creativity, a restored fortress, is home to a selection of contemporary works of art. Here history and modernity merge and complement each other. In the National Museum of Fine Arts, the MUZA, both paintings from the early Renaissance and contemporary art are exhibited.
Many archaeological sites also give an excellent impression of what is still hidden in terms of cultural wealth and treasures on and below Malta. In fact, due to Malta’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites (the Megalithic Temples, the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum and the City of Valletta), Malta is often described as an open-air museum.
Since the apostle Paul (and gospel writer Luke) was shipwrecked on Malta in 58 AD, the island has been strongly Catholic. In addition to the magnificent Co-Cathedral of Valletta, you will find beautiful churches everywhere, such as the Cathedral of Mosta with the third largest dome of all (after Rome and Florence). Church holidays are celebrated extensively and are a real experience.
St. John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta
St. John’s Co-Cathedral is considered to be one of the best examples of Baroque style in Europe and is also home to Caravaggio’s: The Beheading of St John the Baptist. Stop for a visit and gander at the lavishly adorned interior before setting eyes on Caravaggio’s largest masterpiece.
The church is only open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 to 14:30 (Last Entry at 14:00)
The suggested time to see the whole church is a minimum of two hours. Ticket prices are €15 (around £13) for adults and €7.50 (around £5.50) for students.
Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, Valletta
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is one of Malta’s three UNESCO World Heritage sites and can be found in the town of Paola located in Valletta. Discovered in 1902, the monument dates back to 4000 BC to 2500 BC. The site was previously a sanctuary and an underground cemetery that originally contained the remains of 7,000 individuals.
The site is open Monday to Sunday, from 09:00 to 17:00 by booking only. Travellers who wish to visit should book tickets at least a month in advance to secure a booking as access to the site is limited. Ticket prices are €35 (around £30) for adults and €20 (around £17) for students. You can book tickets here.
Ġgantija Temples, Gozo
Located on Gozo, the Ġgantija Temples were created 1,000 years before the Egyptian pyramids of Giza or Stonehenge, making them the oldest, free-standing structures in the world. One of Malta’s three UNESCO World Heritage sites, the temples are a true testament to the mysteries of prehistoric man and a true architectural wonder.
The temples are open from Thursday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 16:30. Ticket prices are €8 (around £7) for adults and €6 (around £5) for students.
The beautiful fishing village of Marsaxlokk in the south-east is still an insider tip. Here you will find a clean sandy beach and what is probably the most beautiful harbour on the island, where you can dine wonderfully al fresco in the evening.
Just a three-hour flight away, the English-speaking Maltese Islands are a great destination for those looking for a beach holiday or a city break. Located in the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, Malta offers everything you could want in a holiday destination: wild bays, wonderful sandy beaches and extremely interesting historical sites with temples, fortresses and underground burial chambers.