- We arrived in Malta in early August when the weather was very hot. There are a host of good beaches, stunning rugged coastlines an island packed with summer tourists, cultural heritage, restaurants and bars. (See: http://www.malta.com/en) Most bars and beaches in Malta are gay friendly, but not gay. Malta has recently been ranked third in the 2015 Rainbow Index, making it one of most gay friendly countries in the world (http://www.ilga-europe.org/resources/rainbow-europe/2015).
- Unfortunately we found only two gay bars on the island and former gay hot spots like Toms, Klozet and Chandelier have sadly all disappeared. Paceville (pronounced patch-a-ville) is where most of Malta’s bars and clubs are, as is the only gay club AXM (https://www.facebook.com/axmclubmalta). AXM has parties most nights in summer, including Pink Pounder on Sundays and in late August they have a Boat Party! Well worth a look but be prepared to be accosted along the way by the girls who are trying to drag people into their clubs to drink and spend money.
- Monaliza Lounge (http://monaliza.com.mt) in Valletta, with its motto ‘The Art of Diversity’, has a mixed crowd and is very gay friendly and can become very busy on weekends. This swish, modern cocktail lounge bar overlooking the sea serves a large range of glam cocktails and drinks.
- We can also highly recommend eating at Malata Restaurant (http://www.malatamalta.com/ ) right on St Georges Palace Square in the centre of Valletta. The restaurant has been operating for more than seventy years and the food and friendly service made it a standout.
- We suggest staying in the St Julian’s area. It is picturesque with yachts and fishing boats bobbing lazily about, the promenade filled with relaxed tourists and great restaurants hugging the water’s edge. Best of all we loved the way you can swim anywhere around the bay. We found St Julian’s a great place to stay in Malta, just out of the madness and backpacker heaven of Paceville. Of course if the budget allows, the The Hilton Hotel Malta located in the newly constructed Portomaso Yacht Marina would also be a great choice.
- We stayed in St Julian’s right opposite Spinola Bay at the four and a half star Hotel Juliani. Our time in the hotel was made even more perfect by being upgraded to one of the new luxury suites directly facing the bay. Hotel owners Georgios and Erika and their fantastic staff were very hospitable, gay friendly and went out of their way to ensure our stay in Malta was enjoyable. See our story (Juliani Luxury) for a full description of this fabulous family run hotel.
- The best beaches of Malta according to the locals are Golden Bay, The Blue Lagoon, St. Peter’s Pool, Ghajn Tuffieha and Mellieha Bay. We drove to Golden Beach in the north west of Malta. We had a delicious lunch at Apple’s Eye restaurant on the cliff above Golden Beach and from here we had wonderful views of the coast. http://www.malta.com/en/attraction/beaches We then hired sun-beds and an umbrella and had a great relaxing day on this sandy beach.
- Ghajn Tuffieha Beach is the next beach along from Golden Beach, much quieter and the water is very clear. We parked high on the cliff above the beach and then walked down the 200 steps to the water. At the beach cafe you can hire sun beds and umbrellas. With beach umbrella in hand we decided to walk to the furtherest part of the beach and then followed the trail close to the shoreline for about 200 metres. Here we found a little sandy beach that might not be officially gay but everyone on the beach was male with their gear off. The calm, shallow water is well protected from the wind. On the cliff above is a trail leading to a more popular, remote, wild and stony unofficial gay beach, but be prepared for a hike.
- Another day we drove north to the furtherest part of the island where you can catch the ferry to Gozo, a small popular Maltese island. We decided to only take the ferry to the tiny island of Comino. Buy the blue ticket to St Maria, a beach one stop further on from the Blue Lagoon. The ferry ride takes about 20 minutes and we firstly called into the famous Blue Lagoon. The lagoon was sheer Mediterranean beauty at its best but the crowds were frightening. The tip from Jason at Hotel Juliani to remain on the ferry and go to St Maria beach was a good one. Here the beach is small, much less crowded, however the water still has the magic beauty of the Blue Lagoon.
- We were keen to discover Malta’s 7000 year history and culture as Malta is really one big cultural heritage park. Around the island there are open-air sites, amazing historical buildings, churches, museums and Maltese seaside towns.
- One of our first stops was the capital of Malta, Valletta named European Capital of Culture for 2018. The Maltese people are very excited by this honour and are making preparations already. Valletta buildings are from the 16th century onwards, built during the rule of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as Knights Hospitaller. The city is essentially Baroque in character, with elements of Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern architecture in selected areas. World War II left major scars on the city, particularly the destruction of The Royal Opera House. The City of Valletta was officially recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.
- In the centre of the island we visited Mdina the former capital of Malta. Here we found a living, working town that can trace its history back for more than 4000 years. It is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture. On our visit to Mdina we also bought tickets to the Knights of Malta audio-visual presentation and learnt how this Order, created in the Middle Ages, is still active today. Mdina is famous for its glasswear and also don’t miss visiting Fontanella Tea House (http://www.fontanellateagarden.com) with it amazing views over the country side and it’s excellent Ftiras (traditional Maltese salad rolls) and cakes.
- The best way to discover Malta is to hire a car. The roads are an easy drive and you can access places like St. Peter’s Pool which is one of the most beautiful and stunning natural swimming pools in Malta.
- The major shopping centre in Sliema, is Tigne Point. There is parking underneath the building and the shopping here is quite good. (http://www.thepointmalta.com)
- In Malta you are spoilt for good restaurants and the one we most enjoyed was Barracuda (http://barracudarestaurant.com). This former 18th century seaside villa oozes elegance and refined dining. If dining as a couple book early and ask for table 39 or 40 on the balcony. We started with a glass of Italian Prosecco looking out over the lights of Balluta Bay. To eat we ordered a trio of carpaccio (squid, barracuda and prawn) all delicious and perfectly prepared. Although many have fresh fish here we decided on the duck breast and wild rabbit and both were excellent. Andrew the chef visited our table to ensure our meals were to our satisfaction. He suggested we finish off with the Madagascar crème brûlée. The rich smooth custard base topped with traditional crisp caramel was outstanding.
Tip- Barracuda is only open for dinner and you need to book early as it can be booked out.
- Malta is a Mediterranean playground without the price tag and the ‘attitude’ of the French or Italian Riviera. We greatly enjoyed our stay.
Know Before You Go
Malta is gay friendly country but has few gay tourists or gay venues.
The months of July and August are very hot and the summer crowds are out in force.
December to February can be wetter
You are best to hire a car and the Maltese drive on the left hand side of the road.
Malta is cheaper than other parts of Europe