One of the main resolutions people make come January is to travel more. But there’s just so much to see out there, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and be at a loss on where to start. Well, here’s where you need to start.
Whether you’ve already been to Malta before or you’ve been meaning to visit for a while, you definitely need to keep the tiny Mediterranean island on your radar. Here’s why, when it comes to 2018 dream destinations, Malta should be at the top of your list.
1. It’s constantly featured on practically every recommended list
Seriously guys; if you’re not ready to take our word for it, take everyone else’s.
2016 saw Malta being hailed the top ‘secret’ destination to visit in the world.
2017 came to an end with CNN listing Malta as one of the best places for a Christmas vacation (y’all, we don’t even have snow but we still made it to the top!)
A couple of months ago, lonely Planet ranked Malta as one of the top places to visit in 2018.
And by December, Conde Nast Travellers echoed that sentiment by putting the tiny Mediterranean island as the top destination to watch for 2018. Malta was dubbed one of “the buzziest hotspots in the world right now”, and the popular travel blog commented on how “top tastemakers have been quietly rediscovering the history-soaked Mediterranean island of Malta for a while”.
The Associated Press put Malta bang on its recommended list for the year ahead (heck, they even mentioned us in the title). On New Year’s Eve, the Telegraph threw in its own must-visit destinations list for 2018, and you guessed it – we were on it.
And if you’re more likely to be influenced by what celebrities say, then why not take Meghan Markle’s word for it? The Suits actress turned soon-to-be-princess was more than impressed after her visit to the island in back in 2015. “I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world and I love a different cultural experience wherever you go, but to come somewhere where you so quickly settle in to feeling welcomed is really special,” Markle had told LittleRock. “It’s this Maltese hospitality that is really special to the place.”
If all of that doesn’t sound inviting, we don’t know what does.
2. Everyone’s noticing that Malta’s the place to be – fast
Here’s the story of how Malta broke its own impressive record on tourism… four years in a row.
As children, many Maltese people remember being taught that Malta gets around one million tourists per year, an impressive figure that definitely stuck in their minds considering our small population.
In 2014, Malta saw a record number of tourists visit the island, a staggering 1,714,533. One year later, that number was increased by six percent, going up to nearly 1.8 million.
By 2016, that number was up to 1,988,446. with December alone seeing an increase of 32.8% when compared to the previous year. Just like that, Malta had managed to set three consecutive record years. But we were only getting started.
In 2017, nearly one million tourists visited Malta in the first half alone, with the total inbound visitors for June being estimated at an increase of 19.4% when compared to June 2016. The previously just-unattainable annual quota of two million was reached by October.
Not bad for a tiny island with a population of less than 500,000 people.
3. Valletta is about to be on everyone’s lips
To be fair, the gorgeous 16th century capital is already world-famous despite its minuscule size. But with Valletta being crowned the European Capital of Culture this year, we’re about to see a rush towards the city that we’ve never really witnessed before.
On one side, Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre with enough stories squeezed in between 1565 and 1945 to satisfy even the most insatiable history buffs. On the other, it’s a bustling city which has seen an absolute rejuvenation in the last couple of years. Everything from the newly-refurbished Triton Fountain square at its entrance to the glorious Fort St. Elmo at the very edge of the peninsula, a new Valletta has been born.
Valletta 2018 will turn the capital city into a year-long festa for everything from dance and theatre to concerts and parties, and you can check it all out here.
4. All the music you could ever desire
Speaking of events, the island is chock-full of them.
Whether it’s down to the Mediterranean climate, our lifestyle, or a beautiful mixture of both, Maltese people sure know how to party.
5. Love food? You’ll adore Malta
Mediterranean cultures are filled with food-lovers, so this one was a given. The Maltese Islands, however, manage to take this passion one step further.
With anything from exotic Asian cuisine to mouthwatering American-style diners, Malta’s got it all when it comes to international restaurants. If you’re more into trying out a country’s traditional dishes, then you’re in luck’ Maltese food is incredible.
And if you’re a fully certified foodie, you couldn’t have picked a better year to visit Malta; the islands are about to get another round of new and exciting restaurants.
6. Is 7,000 years worth of history enough?
Picture a country that’s so rich in history, you can visit anything from a 16th century city that’s seen one of the worst sieges in history, to some of the oldest free-standing structures on the planet. Well, such a country exists, and it’s only 27 kilometres long.
Prehistoric temples that complete outdate Egypt’s pyramid, interconnected underground Roman cemeteries, nationwide fortifications… if you’re into it, Malta’s got it.
7. It’s also great for people who prefer fiction over history
If you’re not that much into history and prefer the film industry, then Malta still has you covered.
Malta has been dubbed the “mini Hollywood in the Mediterranean”, hosting everyone from Brangelina to Michael Bay for shoots. From Game of Thrones locations to more than 25 beloved productions across the years, Malta’s the perfect destination for any film buff.
And if you’re not a huge Hollywood fan, don’t worry; last summer saw Bollywood’s biggest blockbuster starting filming in Malta!
8. That beautiful blue isn’t just there to look at
Malta is so chock-full of gorgeous beaches, choosing your favourite is an absolute headache. But it’s not even just about sunbathing, swimming or snapping stunning Instagram shots.
Check out every list of top dive sites from around the world, and you’ll find Malta constantly featuring. It even featured twice on Scuba Travel’s top 100 sites. The islands were recently voted the second best diving spot at an international dive awards, being also awarded the ‘Best Dive Centre’ award.
Situated right in the heart of the Mediterranean and full of colourful marine life and stunning shipwrecks, Malta’s underwater world is as varied as it is beautiful. And with the very first European Freediving Festival coming to Gozo last year, it’s only getting better.
If you’re stuck on where to begin (and we don’t blame you), check out these five beautiful diving spots around Malta.
BONUS: Oh yeah… the weather
Lest we forget, the biggest and most glaring reason people flock to Malta.
When all else fails, remember that Malta famously gets 300+ days of sunshine. If you hate rain, welcome home; even our winters have been dry AF. We’ve literally had farmers going on pilgrimage-style walks to pray for rain.
And that makes for some of the most FOMO-inducing video clips ever uploaded to the internet.