- Andrew Ricca
This small Mediterranean country enjoys the reputation of a sun kissed island, rich in cultural heritage, and a night-life to match. All of which contributes to the millions of visitors chasing their yearly fix of beach time. Despite the tourist numbers, stretches of countryside and coastline remain effectively unknown. Here we help you discover some of the less crowded, and all the more beautiful, walking trails and places of interest Malta has to offer.
Fomm ir-Riħ, literally ‘wind’s mouth’, is a bay on Malta’s western coast. A geological fault line running through the area has made the spot the unlikely combination of a steep vertical cliff face and a small pebble beach rest side by side. More so than for other places on this list, the relative obscurity enjoyed by this bay is also due to the increased difficulty reaching it. Getting to the bottom of the bay for a swim after following a steep narrow path is reserved to the truly adventurous but it can also be enjoyed from the scenic road above.
The Delimara peninsula stretches out at the island’s south east, just beside the fishing village and Sunday market tourist draw that is Marsaxlokk. On one side, and thankfully only a relative blemish to the area, rests the country’s most significant electricity source; on the other, a sequence of white limestone bays, inlets, and curious rock formations stretching a couple kilometers up to Xrobb l-Għagin Nature Park. Archaeological and historical sites dot the landscape, most notably with remnants of British rule in the shape of fortresses and a lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula, and the ruins of a Phoenician temple further inland.
Birgu Flea Market
The city of Birgu is worth a stroll every day of the week, but especially on a Sunday morning. The Fortini grounds just outside Birgu’s city walls fill up with stalls and sellers displaying an odd mix of quirky trinkets, brass items, books, beautiful antiques and anything in between. The combination of kitsch collection and local bargain hunters always makes for a good people watching opportunity. Should you decide to head there, make sure to rise early; stalls start to close around midday by which time the best deals have been done.
Wied il-Għasri, or Għasri Valley, runs from the rural village of the same name on Malta’s sister island, Gozo, all the way to the coast a couple kilometers away. The countryside road along the valley is sparsely populated with opulent farmhouses, some of which are available for rent, and a chapel dating back to the 16th century. The remarkable spot is where the valley finally meets the sea in a tiny inlet wedged between imposing cliff faces. Should you feel like a longer hike, consider starting with a climb up the hill towards Giordan Lighthouse, the panoramic views are worth it.
Valletta Coast Walk
Every visitor to the island is sure to visit Valletta. Once through Renzo Piano’s new City Gate however, few venture out of its city walls at the other end. Going down a series of narrow steps situated across from the Mediterranean Conference Centre will grant you access to Valletta from a rarely seen angle. A path starting from a group of boathouses takes one round the city walls and bastions of Fort St. Elmo, all the way to the Grand Harbour’s breakwater and further on. You are sure to see imposing walls, curious bays and inlets, and most likely, cats and fishermen!
The cliffs at Dingli, rising well over 200m from the sea, are some of the highest of the island. The chapel dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene on Panoramic Street stands at the very edge of cliffs and, surrounded by a couple benches, makes for a good shady resting spot to take in the views. In the vicinity is an area known as Misrah Ghar il-Kbir, or Clapham Junction, the most extensive collection of Malta’s obscure cart-ruts, a Bronze Age network of tracks dug in the surface of the rock, and a series of interconnected adjacent caves. Making the most of a visit to this side of the island, combine this with stops in the towns of Rabat and the country’s old medieval city of Mdina.