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Malta: Europe’s surprising best destination for family holidays

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Original blog post featured on The Journal by Intrepid, by Melissa Ariganello.

Malta has been gaining quite a lot of buzz recently, and for good reason.

If you aren’t familiar with this tiny country, it’s an archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and North Africa. Safe to visit, it is easily accessible by flight or by boat, and offers a unique culture and history that you may not be aware of. And it has plenty of activities and sights that appeal to all types of travellers, including families.

I had the pleasure of visiting Malta for the first time this summer and I wasn’t sure what to expect beforehand – the country felt unknown to me, and a little off the beaten path. But while discovering all that it had to offer, I quickly fell for its charms. From outdoor excursions to indoor activities, Malta offers a variety of adventures fit for all ages.

Here are five reasons why you should plan a trip to Malta for your next family vacation:

It has a complex history

For history buffs or curious travellers, Malta is a great destination to learn about the Vikings and the rulers of decades past. Malta’s historic sites will make any visitor interested in its naval past – children included. There are a number of museums to visit, including the National Museum of Archeology and Maritime Museum. Teens and children can also enjoy the 5D Malta experience, a cinematic experience detailing all the events that occurred in Malta in a fun and engaging way.

To experience history first-hand, we recommend visiting Malta’s capital city Valletta with Intrepid, where you’ll be led through the narrow streets and around the most charming houses you’ll ever see.

Balconies in Valletta

Near Valletta, you should also visit the three fortified cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua, where your whole family’s imagination will run wild thanks to the fortresses that still stand from the war.

Malta offers unique dining options

The culinary experience in this country will satisfy any appetite, from the adventurous foodie to the picky eater. Maltese food is pretty unique, as it combines tastes from nearby countries and past civilizations that occupied Malta. You’ll find Italian, Greek, and Arabic influences within the food, forming dishes that are simply delicious.

Popular items that can be enjoyed by everyone include Ħobż biż-żejt (bread with tomato paste), Ġbejniet (Maltese olives) and Aljotta (fish stew).

For fantastic restaurant options, we recommend heading to Valletta’s main square or roaming around Sliema’s waterfront for exquisite seafood.

Valletta at night

It has plenty of family-fun attractions

If you and your children dream of living among dragons and Vikings, you can escape reality and visit the locations where the show Game of Thrones is filmed. To enter the land of ice and fire, visit Mdina, Malta’s old capital and silent city. Its cultural and religious history dates back more than 4000 years, which will leave you and your entire family in awe.

For additional entertainment, Malta is also home to Popeye Village, a film set that was built in 1980 and an attraction you can visit on this trip.

Popeye Village

The set was used for the film Popeye, and was recently changed up a little to become a fantastic tourist attraction. Perfect for children, Popeye Village has water games, pools, animation shows, a comic museum and a mini-golf course.

And for even more family fun, Malta also is known for its Splash Water Park, an epic water park featuring water slides, pools and a lazy river. (Visit Malta on Intrepid’s 8-day Family Holiday and you’ll have free time to explore it!)

Malta is full of water adventures

On that watery note… As the Mediterranean waters surround Malta, you’ll likely want to spend many hours of the day out at sea. Malta offers plenty of water activities that will fill your family vacation with fun and adventure.

The best way to explore the country is by venturing out to the nearby islands that include Gozo and Comino. You can get to these destinations via powerboat, relaxing cruise or jet ski.

The islet of Fungus Rock in Gozo

We also recommend heading to the Blue Grotto, where you can swim underneath arches or take a small boat ride through the natural caves. If you agree that life is better under the sea, we advise looking into on a scuba-diving excursion to witness Maltese reefs, caves and wrecks.

It has countless breathtaking sights

Malta has scenic spots that will impress just about anyone. While on the Main Island, aside from visiting Valletta, Mdina, and the three fortified cities, we also recommend visiting Marsaxlokk, a traditional fishing village.

Marsaxlokk harbour

Its picturesque nature will allow you and your family to get a glimpse of traditional Maltese culture. Take in the view of the harbor filled with tiny boats and visit the open-air market.

We also recommend visiting the island of Comino, where you can spend an afternoon at the Blue Lagoon. A perfect spot for laid-back family fun, the crystal clear waters will be guaranteed to take your breath away.

Malta’s Blue Lagoon

The nearby islands also have worthwhile sights to see. In Gozo, we suggest visiting Dwejra Bay, the spot where the Azure Window used to be before it fell into the sea. Also visit the archaeological site known as Ġgantija, where you’ll witness Neolithic temples older than the pyramids in Egypt.

Yep, Malta might be small. But it’s certainly not lacking in beauty or attractions.

Tempted to visit this European gem? Check out Intrepid’s family adventures in Malta.

Take a look at Intrepid’s fantastic range of tailored family holidays all over the world.

(Image credits from top to bottom: Anne Frigon, iStock/Nadezhda1906, Intrepid Travel, Anne Frigon, iStock/Freeartist, Intrepid Travel, Anne Frigon, Intrepid Travel)

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