Best of Malta: 5 Unusual Ideas for Your Next Trip

Malta

Just south of Sicily lies one of the most unique islands in Europe: Malta. A tiny island country, it is home to some of the world’s oldest archaeological sites. Over the course of its long history, the island has hosted groups from the French to the Normans to the Arabs to the Carthaginians. 

Today, it’s popular for those seeking out a sunny and cultural trip. Not only does Malta have stunning weather year-round and coastlines worth fawning over, but its winding Medieval streets are also a sight to behold. With so much intrigue and sunny weather, it’s hard not to see the merits of visiting this tiny island-nation. 

However, you should still know a bit about what to do and where to go. If you’re crafting your Maltese itinerary, then you’ll have plenty of quality suggestions to sift through from travel websites. We’re taking things in a new direction to highlight some of Malta’s coolest annual festivals, along with its best underground tourist attractions.

Live Poker Games

Did you know that Malta regularly hosts multiple poker tournaments? Last year, the highly prestigious European Poker Tour made a stop in Malta where poker buff Simone Andrian took home a massive prize purse. Despite the big win, Andrian got his start playing poker online—which is true for most other competitors. Events like these are geared toward online players who want to advance to in-person tournaments, highlighting the best of both virtual and live poker. 

This year, the EPT isn’t going to make a stop in Malta for 2024, though it will likely return in the coming years. And that doesn’t mean there aren’t other competitions worth checking out. There’s the Malta Poker Festival, along with the Battle of Malta. If watching or competing in live poker is your thing, then make sure to schedule these dates for your trip.

Playing a card game

Carnivale: Grandmaster’s Ball

Each year, the Grandmaster’s Ball takes place during the Carnival season in February—and every year, Grand Master Lascaris invites revellers of all stripes to join in the masked ball. The evening includes a lavish four-course meal before transitioning into a night of social intrigue and dancing. 

The event is hosted at La Valette Hall, a historical venue that the Baroque Carnival transforms into a mystical and unforgettable atmosphere. Rather than build on the hype of a Brazilian party-type Carnivale, it’s worth pointing out that the Maltese event more closely mirrors the mystery and intrigue common to masked balls in Venice and Florence.

Peter Pan Masks, Venice

Fiat 500 Gathering

As demonstrated by poker events and Carnivale balls, there’s a surprisingly diverse range of things going on in Malta. Another great addition worth checking out is the annual Fiat 500 event. The Fiat 500 Raduna (or ‘car show’) sees more than 100 classic Fiat 500s strut their stuff in the capital. 

Attendees come from far and wide to display their Fiats and enjoy the show. Aside from a bit of engine-revving and showboating, attendees are also treated to goodie bags and a sit-down meal with their fellow enthusiasts. Similar to Malta’s poker events, the Fiat 500 Raduna is a great chance to rub elbows with fellow Fiat fans.

Exclusive Mediterranean Dives

If you’ve been researching Malta as a potential vacation destination, then you’ve probably seen the island touted as Europe’s number one diving hot spot. While it might seem like an exaggeration, it isn’t. Along with plenty of water adventure groups, the island is home to over 50 certified scuba diving schools, with students traveling from around the world to earn their certifications. 

Scuba diving

Diving’s popularity comes down to the Maltese climate. As outlined above, it’s a highly sunny and temperate location, which means diving is possible year-round. However, Malta’s historical significance in the center of the Mediterranean also bodes well for divers. Shipwrecks and other explorable underwater sites dot the country’s coastline. Shipwrecks aside, there are also natural wonders to explore, such as deep caves and stretches of colourful coral.

Behind the Scenes: Aristocracy and the Last Knight

Lastly, let’s cover two of the most exclusive and unique ways to experience Malta. First, we recommend booking a visit to Mdina Palazza, which will take you outside the capital city. This limestone palace is the second-oldest structure still in use in the city of Mdina and, until recently, remained occupied by an aristocratic family. The palazza has been painstakingly restored and includes multiple exhibitions worth looking into.

We also recommend booking a visit to the very last Knight of St. John. In case you don’t know, Malta belonged to the Knights of St. John, a Catholic order, from 1530 to 1798. However, Malta is still home to Marquis de Piro—the very last Knight of St. John. De Piro lives in Casa Rocca Piccola, which remains open to the public. Inside, you’ll find some of Malta’s oldest treasures, from rare paintings to ancient chests.

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