Malta is an independent republic consisting of several Maltese Islands—only three of which are inhabited. It is located in the Mediterranean Sea about 60 miles south of Sicily and about 180 miles north and east of Tunisia. It is one of the southernmost countries in Europe. It is also one of the continent's smallest countries; only a few of the Greek Islands are more southerly. Malta travel has become increasingly popular over the last 20 to 30 years because of its scenic natural beauty and long history that has left many magnificent structures dating as far back as prehistoric times.
The Island of Malta is the largest of the three inhabited islands, and is home to the capital city of Valletta (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). It is the center of Malta tourism as well as its cultural and commercial center. Malta travel will also take you to rural Gozo, the second largest island, and rugged Comino, which boasts only a handful of permanent residents. Several megalithic temples, located both on the Island of Malta as well as Gozo, make up a second UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the third UNESCO Site is a vast underground temple beneath the port city of Paola (the Hypoguem).
Malta travel may actually give you a sense of déjà vu during your visit, as its dramatic rugged coastline, pristine beaches, and the ancient fortified cities have appeared in numerous films including the Oscar winner Gladiator, The Count of Monte Cristo, Troy, and Munich.
Some of the most popular things to do as a tourist in Malta include tours of these fascinating historic sites, especially in the city of Valetta whose Grand Harbour is the main port for cruises that dock here for a night or two and offer shore excursions to explore the city's magnificent cathedrals and churches, castles and palaces, and fascinating museums displaying artifacts from the prehistoric era to the golden age of the glorious Byzantine Empire and the Knights of St. John (also known as the Knights Hospitaller) who set up their headquarters here after fleeing from Rhodes and the Ottomans.
Hiking and cycling in the countryside and along the coastline, which both offer breathtaking views, are very popular activities. Many of the busier beaches near cities like Sliema, Valetta, and St Julians offer a number of water sports from renting pedalos to parasailing. Scuba diving in Malta will take you to secluded coves and deserted beaches, and sailing can take you to all the islands as well as to nearby Sicily.
For such a small and relatively off-the-beaten-path destination, Malta boasts several sophisticated resorts and hotels, and you may be surprised to learn that there is a good deal of nightlife as well. The area around Paceville (the point just north of Valetta) is where most of the bars and clubs are located, although you will also find them around the cities of Mdina and Rabat on the eastern Island of Malta side. You will also find some more subdued nightlife on Gozo.