The history of the popularity of Malta hiking dates to the 1800s during the time when the country was a British colony, and rambling (as the British call it) was introduced to the British troops to promote their physical well being and prevent them from participating in the unsavory nightlife that surrounded the military bases. At the time, the military compounds were concentrated in the town of Floriana, just outside of the city of Valletta and its Grand Harbour. As found in the United Kingdom and most other countries in Europe, there is an official Rambling Association that continues to promote the preservation of the country’s natural spaces and keep hiking trails in Malta open to those who want to explore on foot.
Malta hiking is suitable for all experience levels. All the islands are relatively flat, and there are no mountains. And, thanks to the Rambling Association, hiking trails in Malta are very accessible with few fences and barriers that keep hikers out. Additionally, the islands are quite small. Hiking on Gozo Island places you on an island that is only about eight miles by four miles in area. It’s possible to disembark at the ferry terminal on the southern tip of the island in the morning, hike less than three miles to Ggantija (the most important of the country’s prehistoric megalithic temples), and be back at the ferry terminal for the early afternoon ferry back. Comino Island hiking is even easier. This little island with a population of less than a dozen residents is only about one square mile in area. There are also only about four cars, so walking or sailing are the only means of transportation for the typical visitor.
Don’t worry if more strenuous Malta hiking is on your agenda. These limestone islands have been battered by centuries of wind and weather, and coastal trekking (especially on the western coast of all three islands) will reveal miles of dramatic cliffs where even rock climbing and rappelling are possible. The Dingli Cliffs (highest spot on Malta Island) provide the best of these activities, and it is possible to rappel down to completely secluded beaches that are otherwise accessible only by boat. One of the best hiking trails in Malta is here, an almost twelve-mile uninterrupted trail along the coast that passes right by two more of the country’s megalithic temples (Hagar Qim and Mnajdra) and the fifteenth-century St. Magdalen’s Chapel. If you’re not up for this kind of strenuous activity, you can book sightseeing cruises to the seas beneath the cliffs.
Hiking on Gozo Island will reveal more rugged cliffs, especially from Dwerja Bay on the northeast coast and around the island’s northern tip, the area that also offers some of the best scuba diving in the country. Hiking on Gozo Island also has its roots in the country’s time as a British colony. This was a training area for the British soldiers, most of whom were based on Malta Island, and hiking in full gear was a standard training practice. Today, you can enjoy self-guided hikes with maps provided by many of the island’s outfitters or book fully guided hiking tours led by professionals. The island offers a surprising variety of landscapes, from the spectacular coastline to gentle country lanes and pastoral valleys. Xendli Bay offers the most challenging routes.
The best time of year for Malta hiking is from October to May when the weather is not too hot. However, the hiking is good all year long, and you can always take a dip in the sea (which is never too far away) to cool off.