An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983.
The tiny islands of Malta sit at the very heart of the Mediterranean. Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans all fought for control of this prized location. In the 16th century it became the focus of Suleiman the Magnificent, ruler of the Ottoman Empire. His invasion threw the might of his land and sea forces against the Knights of St John of Jerusalem and the Maltese people, an event known as The Great Siege. 400 years later, Malta was again under attack. This time the air forces of Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy fought Britain’s Royal Air Force and Navy. Subsequently, the islands and their people were collectively given the George Cross for their bravery and endurance.
Exploring Malta today
Visitors to Malta today explore 7,000 years of history. Follow in the footsteps of ancient temple builders, St Paul, Caravaggio and the Knights of St John on one of Odyssey’s small group tours.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. The public bus service on the islands of Malta and Gozo provide extensively cover the two islands, and are an inexpensive way to get around. Taxi services are also widely available. To travel between islands, ferry services and water taxis are available.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, Environment, & Weather
The country of Malta is approximately 316 square kilometres in area. Malta is comprised of a cluster of seperate islands, although only the three largest (Malta, Gozo, and Comino) are inhabited. The Maltese islands are largely composed of limestone formations, with their coastlines consisting of steep cliffs, coves, bays and islets.
Malta has a mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Depending on when you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.
World Heritage sites
Malta has 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can view the official list of the sites here (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/lt). The listed sites include:
City of Valletta, an area of rich history, containing 320 historical monuments in an area of just 55 hectares
Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, an immense subterranean necropolis
Megalithic Temples of Malta, ancient archaeological sites that date back to the Bronze Age.
Festivals & Events
Numerous festivals and events dot the calendar in Malta. Notte Bianca is one of Malta’s biggest yearly arts and culture festivals. Held in October, museums across the island of Malta are opened to the public and public performances and exhibitions are staged in the streets and piazzas. Carnival is another important event celebrated in Malta. Held in the lead up to Ash Wednesday, Carnival features vibrant costumes, exuberant parades and general revelry. For those fond of pyrotechnics, the Malta International Fireworks Festival is held in late April and features a dazzling display of fireworks over three nights.
Empires of the Sea, by Roger Crowley
Splendor of Malta, by Shirley Johnston
The Knights of Malta, by H.J.A Sire
Malta, Prehistory and Temples, by David H. Trum
Eating & Drinking
Maltese food is characterised by rustic and hearty flavours, with ingredients drawn from the fields and waters of the Maltese islands. The national dish of Malta is considered to be stuffat tal-fenek, a slow-cooked stew made out of rabbit meat, tomatoes, red wine and garlic sauce. Seafood is widely consumed in Malta, and features as a key ingredient in dishes such as torta tal-lampuki (fish pie made with fresh fish, potatoes, spinach, capers, mint, and olive oil) and Ħobż biż-żejt (open-faced sandwiches with tuna, tomatoes, cheese, and onion). Regional Mediterranean influences appear throughout Maltese cooking in dishes such as cannoli (pastry tubes filled with sweet ricotta) and cassata (cakes made from marzipan, almond paste, and ricotta).
Health & Safety
Generally speaking, Malta is safe to travel in, though always exercise common sense while travelling.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. Malta’s electricity supply runs at 240V and 50Hz. Malta uses the Type G electric plug, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.
Saint John's Co-Cathedral
Mdina medieval hilltop town
Malta has a single time zone, Central European Standard Time (UTC+1). Daylight savings begin on the last Sunday of March and conclude on the last Sunday of October.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is customary in Malta, with a tip around 10% commonly accepted for most services.
Wifi should be freely available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants when travelling in Malta.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Malta. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Malta
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although many locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums and galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of euros in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.