The Maltese archipelago is located right in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily and north of Africa. It consists of several islands, only three of which are inhabited: Malta, Gozo and Comino, with a total population of 400,000. Malta is the largest and, being a cultural and administrative center, the most important among them. If you are looking for medieval towers, the world’s oldest known human structures and roadside chapels, then Malta is what you need, as the island is often called the “open air museum”. Check out our guide for a great weekend in Malta!
The first day is always reserved for the capital. Valletta may be the smallest European capital, but it is definitely one of the most intriguing. The city is protected by a number of ramparts, fortifications and moats, built in the 16th century as a system of protection against the Turkish invaders.
Start your day with a jeiss ride, a traditional Maltese water cab. This is the best way to see the city from the perspective of former intruders and get an idea of the high limestone walls that protect the city. Presently there are just a couple of pontoons left, yet they will get you from the Valletta or Vittoriosa waterfront (in the Three Cities) and take you thirty minutes along the harbor and every one of its streams.
Mdina and Valletta
Located just 23 km from Valletta, the former capital of Malta, Mdina, is a tiny hilltop settlement with a history of 4,000 years. Known as Cittadella (Citadel), the city fortifications date from the medieval period, when the city was ruled by Arabs and Normans. The most obvious impact of the Arab occupation is the plan for the labyrinth street of Mdina. The main city gate was built in 1724 in the fantastic Baroque style. Once you enter this dramatic doorway, be ready to leave the XXI century. Inside are allowed only the cars of residents, and even on street signs are written porcelain plates.
Village of Popai
All cinema fans among you have probably already heard of Popeye Village, also known as Sweethaven Village and Danish Village, built to shoot the village, which is now becoming a small amusement park and open air museum. The site is located in the Bay of Anchor, 3 km from the village of Mellinya.
A visit to Popeye Village is a must if you are travelling to Malta, especially for families, as your children can meet their favorite cartoon characters. This one-day trip is even better in summer because you can enjoy the many beaches and coves in the surrounding area or relax in the closed Anchor Bay with sun loungers, showers, bathing areas, swimming pools and a children’s area.