Malta is so small, you can walk it from head to toe in a single day. Here are some of the interesting sites you can stop and explore along the way.
Most of us locals know the islands through our car’s windscreen. Even though distances are short, they’re never short enough, and we drive everywhere. So when I was presented with the challenge of walking across my country, I couldn’t resist. It was a crazy idea, but nonetheless doable, all in a mere 8 hours.
Walking from the western village of Għarb in Gozo to Birżebbugia, the south-east point of Malta, provided an alternative perspective, lots of blisters and a chance to connect with my surroundings on a deeper level; walking across my entire country from point to point was a way to appreciate how diverse and accessible Malta is.
If you have the luxury of replicating this walk, these are some of the sites you should definitely spend more time in:
Island 1: Gozo
- Time: 2 hours
- Distance: 13K
- Terrain: Easy / downhill elevation
1. Ta’ Pinu Shrine, Għarb
Malta’s national shrine attracts pilgrims from all over the world. It is unlike most of the churches you’ll see in Malta and Gozo, which are planted in the heart of the village — Ta’ Pinu stands strikingly at the edge of a cliff, surrounded by the countryside in Għarb. No matter what your faith is, you will be sure to marvel at the sense of serenity this Basilica holds.
2. Victoria, Rabat
Get lost within the maze of the Gozitan capital’s narrow roads and tight alleys until you arrive in Pjazza San Ġorġ. Have a seat at one of the bars and relax over a pint of ice-cold Cisk, before emerging back into the Main Square where the market is usually set up. Across the road, you’ll find the Citadel, a majestic fortress boasting a view of the entire island of Gozo and on a day with good visibility, even Comino and Malta.
3. Mġarr ix-Xini
Nestled between the villages Sannat and Għajnsielem, the once forgotten bay called Mġarr ix-Xini recently rose to fame after featuring in an Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt movie titled By the Sea. It is a romantic place, and if you’re not brave enough to have a dip in January, you can go for a lovely hike around the watchtower until you reach Fort Chambray.
Island 2: Malta
- Distance: 32K
- Time: 6hours
- Terrain: Mainly elevated
Perched on top of a hill, the village most frequented during the summer season is renowned among locals and tourists alike for the largest sandy beach in the country, Mellieħa Bay (or as the locals call it, l-Għadira, literally, “the pond”). One of the most beautiful views you can get is from the little park tucked behind the cemetery. From there, you can admire the beach’s turquoise waters, the silhouette of Gozo and the enchanting Red Tower.
Malta’s farming hamlet is the country’s main source of genuine local products, such as potatoes, water melon, strawberries, artichoke, honey — depending what’s in season. If you’re interested in hiking, you will definitely appreciate Malta’s rural landscape here. Eventually, you’re bound to come across a small unusual building, inspired by circular stone huts ubiquitous in the region, where farmers store their tools. The building, is actually a chapel dedicated to St Joseph, and was designed by Maltese architect, Richard England.
3. Chadwick Lakes
Malta’s only freshwater stream, Chadwick Lakes, is situated between Rabat and Mtarfa and flow all the way to the limits of Mosta. They were built towards the end of the 19th century by a British engineer, Osbert Chadwick, to preserve rainwater and create a niche for biodiversity. Nowadays, the reservoir system doubles as a natural park where locals enjoy walking and trekking during sunny winters. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot tadpoles in the stream!
Located deep in the southeast, Birżebbuġia houses the earliest evidence of human presence on the Maltese Islands. Għar Dalam (meaning ‘dark cave’) contains artefacts dating from as early as 7,400 years, of which experts believe Malta was once connected to continental Europe via land bridge, which broke off during the ice age. History buffs should definitely visit the cave and its adjacent museum.
Originally appeared on Il-Bizzilla, Air Malta‘s inflight magazine.