Malta might be one of Europe's smallest nations, but it has no shortage of charming towns and villages to explore. Located south of Sicily, Malta has been inhabited for over 7,000 years. Historic landmarks such as centuries-old temples and towering ancient fortifications, along with cosmopolitan destinations are spread across this tiny island.

    While Malta enjoys spectacular weather year-round, it’s particularly popular during the summertime as holidaymakers seek out countless pristine beaches and secret coves. Despite its extensive history, Malta isn't stuck in the past – many towns present modern art galleries and innovative dining experiences that make the miniature country well worth exploring. Here are some of Malta’s towns and villages you can consider when planning your holiday.

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    Nadur

    Malta's own island getaway

    Nadur is the 2nd-largest city on the Maltese island of Gozo. Ferries travel between Malta and Gozo from Mgarr Harbour, approximately 5 km south of Nadur. Throughout the warmer months, the region comes alive with citrus trees, which provide a lush escape from Malta's typically arid landscape. The most prominent landmark to explore here is the Nadur Parish Church, a much-loved baroque basilica built back in 1760.

    Nadur is also positioned close to Gozo's beaches, with the best within touching distance being Ramla and San Blas. There's also the Daħlet Qorrot, a swimming bay with vibrant turquoise water. Enjoy great views of the surrounding countryside at the 17th-century Sopu Tower. Located within a 30-minute walk from Nadur, the tower overlooks the rough coastline and nearby shipping lanes.

    Location: Nadur, In-Nadur, Gozo, Malta

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    photo by Matthew Axiak (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    2

    Valletta

    The country's bustling capital

    A tiny capital city by European standards, Valletta presents visitors with some incredible experiences. Surrounded by grand fortifications, the city dates back to the 16th century, offering a glimpse into the past few other places can. But it's not all about history here, as there are a host of cultured restaurants and landmarks to explore.

    The Valletta City Gate is a standout highlight, which was redesigned by world-class Italian architect Renzo Piano in 2014. He also led the redevelopment of the Parliament Building, perhaps Valletta's most unique modern structure. Another must-visit is Valletta Contemporary, which presents a range of distinctive exhibitions by celebrated local and international artists. It showcases precisely why Valletta was selected as the European Capital of Culture in 2018.

    Location: Valletta, Il-Belt Valletta, Malta

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    3

    Mdina

    Featuring a maze of medieval streets

    Located high on a hillside, Mdina offers sweeping views of the Maltese rural landscape. With over 4,000 years of history, the city is surrounded by ancient walls, while its labyrinth of mazy streets overflows with historic architecture. 

    Mdina is also known as the 'Silent City' as no cars are allowed inside the city walls, making it is a peaceful destination to explore on foot. Wander through the 18th-century entrance to the town, named the Mdina Gate, and you'll be welcomed by a wide variety of fascinating places to explore. The Cathedral of Saint Paul showcases superbly preserved frescoes, while the Palazzo Falson is home to an exceptional collection of medieval artefacts.

    Location: Mdina, L-Imdina, Malta

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    4

    Sliema

    Malta's cosmopolitan destination

    Sliema was once a quiet fishing town that has been transformed into one of Malta's most popular holiday destinations over the last 50 years. Extravagant restaurants and cafes dot the waterfront, where food-loving travellers can sample the local cuisine, which is influenced by British, Italian and North African flavours.

    Considered the fashion capital of Malta, Sliema is a favourite destination for those who love shopping. You can find a wide range of retail options, from massive malls to independent designers spread along Manoel Dimech Street. Head to the coast for a morning swim before soaking up Sliema's glamorous atmosphere for the rest of the day.

    Location: Sliema, Tas-Sliema, Malta

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    St. Julian's (San Giljan)

    Dining and harbourfront walks

    St Julian's (San Giljan) is a striking coastal town located just to the north of Sliema. The section of town known as Balluta features a charming bay, which is a great place to start the day. There are many restaurants and cafes along the surrounding promenade for you to get a meal and escape the heat. You'll also come across the Carmelite Church, a neo-gothic structure overlooking the water.

    The soaring Portomaso Tower might stick out above the city, but it provides remarkable panoramic views stretching across Malta. For even more coastal landscapes, you can wander the promenade all the way back around the bay into Sliema.

    Location: Saint Julians, St Julian's, Malta

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    Mellieha

    Endless summertime swims

    Mellieha is a picturesque location to spend a few hot summer days in Malta. Set on the country's northernmost coastline at the top of a hill, travellers can experience views that span the entire Maltese countryside. This popular resort town is also where you'll find another array of top-notch beaches, including Mellieħa Bay – Malta's longest sandy beach. 

    But there's more to Mellieha than just the beach. St. Agatha’s Tower, built in 1649, provides great views of Gozo and Mosta. The Coral Lagoon provides a breathtaking diving spot, while Armier Bay is a quiet coastal hideaway without crowds.

    Location: Mellieha, Il-Mellieħa, Malta

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    7

    Victoria (Rabat)

    Food and history abound

    Victoria (Rabat) is the largest town on Gozo, showcasing a rich variety of cultural and historical landmarks. Featuring fortifications that date back to the Bronze Age, Il-Kastell's scenic city walls let you gaze out across town. Below, numerous arts and crafts shops sell handmade goods.

    Set about 3 km outside Victoria, the Ggantija Temple is another ancient monument widely regarded as one of the region's most significant archaeological sites. You can find a wonderful dining experience at the Ta’ Mena Estate, which presents rolling hills covered in grapevines and fruit trees. Through food and wine tastings, you can gain insight into Gozitan farming and cuisine.

    Location: Victoria, Ir-Rabat Għawdex, Malta

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    photo by Martin Lopatka (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    8

    Marsaxlokk

    Explore open-air markets

    Marsaxlokk is a charming fishing village on Malta's south-eastern coast. It's famous for its colourful fishing boats, known as luzzu, which line up along the shoreline. It also has bustling open-air markets, which attract many of Malta's residents on Sundays. Meanwhile, Marsaxlokk's fish restaurants are often described as the best on the island.

    Marsaxlokk's population might only be about 4,000 people, but there are lots of highlights for travellers. The Marsaxlokk Parish Church, in the main square, was built in 1897 and dedicated to the Madonna of Pompeii. Eateries and bars along the harbourfront promenade are the perfect spots to get a cold drink and watch the fisherman head out to sea.

    Location: Marsaxlokk, Malta

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    9

    Dingli

    Malta's highest town

    Set along the remote western coast, Dingli is one of Malta's most serene towns. Situated on a plateau about 250 metres above sea level, the town marks the highest point in the country. With its position close to the sea, Dingli is renowned for its striking cliffs, which offer fabulous coastal landscapes that drift into the distance.

    Back in town, the Buskett Gardens provide a fantastic picnic spot hidden amongst pine and orange trees. There's also the Verdala Palace, which was constructed in 1586 and is now the summer residence of the Maltese President. You're welcome to head inside, as the palace is often open for public tours. 

    Location: Dingli, Malta

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    photo by Tony Hisgett (CC BY 2.0) modified

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    Gharghur

    A tiny but tranquil hideaway

    Gharghur is one of the smallest villages in Malta. However, it's a great choice of destination away from the summertime crowds, as you'll gain awesome insight into the everyday lives of the Maltese. It's also one of the highest points on the islands, featuring scenic vistas that stretch across the entire island.  

    The historic town centre has some remarkable architecture to explore, including the early 19th-century Lieutenant’s Palace and the Old Bakery, which provides insight into the region's Arabic history. As you get lost amid its narrow streets, you're bound to come across some delightful cafes and restaurants. Gharghur is a lovely retreat away from Malta's busier towns.

    Location: Gharghur, Malta

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    photo by Frank Vincentz (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Hudson Brown | Contributing Writer

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