Megaliths, medieval dungeons and Calypso's Cave – The Maltese Islands are positively mythic. The narrow meandering streets of their towns and villages lead to the main square, which the enormous baroque church invariably dominates. As the countryside is dotted with medieval towers, wayside chapels and the oldest known human structures in the world, the Islands have rightly been described as an open-air museum.
The Maltese archipelago lies virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean, 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km north of Africa. The archipelago consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino, with over 400,000 inhabitants occupying an area of 316 square kilometres.
Malta is the largest island and the cultural, commercial and administrative centre. Gozo is the second-largest island and is more rural, characterised by fishing, tourism, crafts and agriculture. The smallest of the trio, Comino, the smallest of the trio, has one hotel and is largely uninhabited.
There is a great deal to see and do with super sunny weather, attractive beaches, a thriving nightlife, 7,000 years of intriguing history, climate, stunning beaches, a thriving nightlife and 7,000 years of fascinating history; there is a great deal to see and do.
Valletta, The Fortress City, Citta' Umilissima, "a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen," is Malta's capital city: a living, working city, the administrative and commercial heart of the Islands. Valletta is named after its founder, the respected Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean Parisot de la Valette.
The magnificent fortress city grew on the arid rock of Mount Sceberras peninsula, which rises steeply from two deep harbours, Marsamxett and Grand Harbour. Starting in 1566, Valletta was completed, with its impressive bastions, forts and cathedral, in the astonishingly short time of 15 years; even more remarkable is that mechanical tools did not exist at the time, and the whole city was built entirely by hand.
Valletta has many titles, all recalling its rich historical past. It is the "modern" city built by the Knights of St John, a masterpiece of the Baroque, a European Art City and a World Heritage City. Today, it is one of the most concentrated historic areas globally.
The city is busy by day yet retains a timeless atmosphere by night that gives the feeling that you are walking back in time. The grid of narrow streets boasts some of Europe's finest artworks, churches and palaces.
The only type of public transport in Malta nowadays is a system of route buses with about 80 routes. They generally operate daily between 5:30 and 23:00hrs but also have a night service running Friday and Saturday nights and on public holidays.
Google Maps is handy for seeing what bus routes are available, but you can also use the official journey planner to find your way around.
Fares and Ticketing
To facilitate boarding, please give the exact fare. In Winter, a bus ticket costs €1.50 while in Summer it costs €2.00. The night rate is €3.00 all year round.
If you’re planning to stay for seven or more days, it’s usually more economical to buy a Malta public transport chip card, locally referred to as the ‘tallinja card’. Two card offerings are most suited for visiting travellers:
One from The Strand – Sliema to Valletta and from Valletta to the three cities.
This service runs daily from early morning to late afternoon/evening, till late night in summer all day, every day.
Travel between the Grand Harbour in Valletta and Mgarr in Gozo in less than 45 minutes with Gozo Fast Ferry. A seamless, interoperable and fast journey to all customers...
The fastest connection between Valletta and Gozo!
You can get a Gozo Fast Ferry from Lascaris Wharf Terminal in the Grand Harbour in Valletta in Malta and from Mgarr Harbour Terminal in Gozo.
You can find the best way to get to the Valletta Terminal from this link: Valletta Terminal.
Malta is part of the European Union and the Schengen Area.
Malta Entry Restrictions in Response to Coronavirus
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Malta and the rest of the EU and Schengen Area members imposed an EU-wide entry ban on third-country nationals in mid-March 2020.
Malta extended the entry ban to include EU and Schengen Area nationals.
It, however, reopened borders for the residents of Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland.
Whereas, as of July 15 2021, Malta has lifted the entry ban for the residents of:
Travel from other third countries is allowed only on humanitarian grounds or if their travel is deemed essential, following a specific authorization issued by the Superintendent of Public Health.
Malta is highly progressive!
…or to quote the United Nation's Equality and Non-Discrimination team:
“Malta has become the gold standard of LGBTQI reforms – a beacon of human rights for LGBTIQ issues!”
This says a lot for a country where up until 2013, divorce was illegal. This gives you an idea of just how Catholic and religious Malta is. It all began in 2013 when the progressive centre-left Labour Party came to power and prioritised gay-friendly policies led by the proactive Minister for Equality, Helena Dalli. They started by passing a full range of anti-discrimination laws, recognised civil unions, and passed adoption laws within their first year in power.
The progressive Labour Party then banned conversion therapy in 2016, becoming the first country in Europe. Then in 2017, the Maltese government gave the LGBTQ the ultimate prize: gay marriage!
Regarding transgender rights, Malta is also ahead of the pack. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2015, and since 2017, a third gender option, “X”, has been permitted/recognised in identification documents. In addition, the government has changed the language used to refer to domestic and family relationships in legal documents, making them gender-neutral.
There is a good reason why Malta is rated as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world. This is one of the few places where gay travellers can feel comfortable with public displays of affection almost everywhere. And that's saying a lot: this is rarely done unless you're in a “known” gay part of town like in Chueca in Madrid or Soho in London. Yet walking through the streets of Valletta, you can feel comfortable with public displays of affection and will frequently see other gay couples also doing the same.
Of course, as with anywhere in the world, you need to be cautious, especially when heading to more remote/rural areas outside of the big cities where attitudes are more conservative.
Maltese cuisine reflects the diverse influences on this archipelago of islands located at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
There are some excellent Pride Friendly restaurants listed below that have been reviewed by the Nomadic Boys.
Balance Bowl is a short walk down the promenade from the Sliema ferry wharf, a gay-owned and run vegan restaurant/cafe!
Even non-vegans will love this place as the food is delicious, from the vegan cheese platters to the luscious chocolate cake to the unlimited nutrition bar where you pay once and can eat as much as you like.
Open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There's also a cool chill-out area upstairs with beanbags for working or hanging out. It's also a popular hangout for LGBTQ locals for a meal.
In the heart of Valletta, La Sfoglia Restaurant is one of the best on the island for delicious fresh seafood (and also an excellent spot for people watching on the outdoor terrace).
They serve superb seafood like wild sea bass, king prawns or marinated octopus, and other options such as traditional Maltese rabbit stew, beef, duck and pasta dishes.
The service is impeccable, with friendly waiters who will recommend wines to accompany your meal. But make sure you leave room for some of their mouthwatering desserts, like the ricotta and Nutella cake or their famous Panna.
Naar Restaurant is a lovely place with live music, a view of the ocean, and a nearby small beach.
The food is delicious, with the menu full of rustic nomadic dishes bursting with authentic flavours and plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.
Two Buoys is an Australian inspired restaurant serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner in the hip St. Julian's neighbourhood.
It's owned and run by three friends, including cute Maltese lad Jessie who grew up in Melbourne. The restaurant's catchphrase is “where Melbourne meets Malta”, and it's not far off!
Many dishes on the menu are named after Melbourne neighbourhoods, like the ‘Footscray Fritters' or ‘St. Kilda Linguine'. There is plenty of yummy Mediterranean dishes and vegan and gluten-free options to enjoy as you look out over Spinola Bay.
Located in Sliema on the roof of the stunning AX The Palace Hotel, TemptAsian is one of the best restaurants in Malta for Asian food.
Since you're nine floors up, you can experience magnificent panoramic views of Sliema and Valletta’s Harbour while you dine on various Asian cuisine. This is a lovely spot for a special occasion with a vast selection of food that will transport you to China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, and even India.
There's an outdoor terrace next to the hotel pool where we enjoyed some divine sushi and cocktails at sunset; so romantic!
You can't pass up Rubino in Valletta for yummy local food in a cosy atmosphere. The building was originally a confectionary store (so don't be confused when you see Rubino Confectionary over the door) established in 1906 and is now a restaurant serving classic Mediterranean fare.
There are lots of historical memorabilia on the walls of this family-run spot. The menu is written on a blackboard as it changes regularly based on what's in season.
The dishes are simple yet delicious, like fresh calamari on a bed of seaweed and spaghetti with sea urchins.
Maori is a cool lesbian-owned bar located right on the waterfront of St Elmo Bay overlooking (and named for) the wreck of the HMS Maori.
It's a popular hangout for local artists, poets and musicians who come to drink, dance and trade inspiration. Located at Maori Triq il-lanca, Maori is open Wednesdays to Sundays and is open….(in the words of owner Simone Falzon): “from around sunset 'til whenever”.
At Yard 32, the staff are super sweet and love having a bunch of gays take over the place! They have one of the largest collections of gins ever. They're very passionate about their gin and will tell you everything. It's worth a visit for this alone.
Located at 32 Strait Street in Valletta, Yard 32 is open from 6.30 pm until 1 am on Wednesday-Sunday.
131 City Lounge is in the heart of Valletta and is an establishment of traditional structure and modern twists. It's inviting to the curious foreigner and engaging to a regular local crowd. It also hosts a regular monthly Pride meet up on a Wednesday night.
The menu offers a vast range of platters, bites and tapas. This place is perfect if you enjoy sipping cocktails in the historical city.
Also, in the heart of Valletta, Pride Saturdays is located at -1 level of the Queen Victoria Pub. This is becoming a popular hangout for the Pride and Pride friendly crowd.
This is a swanky establishment where the drinks are flowing, and good club music is always playing. This is a place to be.
The Lollipop parties always attract a fun crowd of both locals and foreigners. They are a favourite of the gay parties in Malta.
They're FABULOUS! Think a colourful swirl of pop music, glitter and loads of sequins, with the odd leather body harness thrown in for good measure
Every few months, S2S throw a huge themed gay party. Some of the best are Pride in September, the Dia de Los Muertos in early November and the parties in Rabat during the summer months like Super Bordello in mid-August.
Riviera Beach is located close to the Dingli Cliffs on the island's west coast, which means you get some killer sunsets.
Also known as Għajn Tuffieħa (Maltese for ‘Apple’s Eye’), this beach has a snack bar off to one side, where you can also hire sunbeds and umbrellas to lounge around for the day.
While many of Malta's beaches are very rocky, this one has beautiful smooth sand and crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming.
Ras il-Qarraba Bay has a rocky outlook nestled between Gnejna Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha Bay.
LGBTQ community locals like to hang out on the west side, where big fallen rocks provide privacy for a spot of secluded sunbathing.
You can only get there by hiking from Ghajn Tuffieha Bay or taking a private boat from Gnejna Bay, but you'll also be treated to some fantastic views.
For any information on Euro PRIDE Valletta 7th till 17th September 2023 then please visit the official website www.europride2023.mt