Malta is perfect getaway for winter break, especially if you are coming from mainland Europe with blistering cold temperatures in beginning of the year. Maltese archipelago is blessed with sun for whole year and you can enjoy outdoor activities even in January. It is destination with more and more tourists every year but even with this kind of popularity and small size of Malta, this destination have numerous secret spots with almost no tourists where you can see local life and meet true Maltese with all of their hospitality and genuine national pride.
In this article I will be reaviling my secret spots of Malta and Gozo which you have to visit, especially if you like to make good photography, meet locals and see some unique colors and sightseeings.
Red Tower – perfect location for some epic movie
Perched on the crest of Malta’s Northernmost ridge, and famous for its russet colouring, St Agatha’s Tower is a beacon on Malta’s landscape. Painted red by the Knights of St John, so it could be recognized from faraway Mdina and Naxxar, this magnificent Tower played a starring role in Malta’s military past. Built in 1648 as part of a system of watchtowers set up by Grandmaster Lascaris, as the farthest fortification from Valletta, it served as a communication medium between the Capital and Gozo. Equipped with cannons and supplies to withstand 40 days of siege, it was manned by 30 men. And with uninterrupted views, it was able to spot enemy ships from afar. A truly formidable fortress, the four turreted tower has four-meter thick walls, and in days gone by, a drawbridge, making it impossible for the enemy to enter. The tower was also manned by the British in both World Wars, and is now open to the public daily. History fan or not, a visit to this delightful tower is certainly not to be missed.
Sanap Cliffs – better than Dingli cliffs
Ta’ Ċenċ Cliffs, also known as Sanap Cliffs, form linear strip of coastline on the southern coast of the island of Gozo. The area consists of garrigue and steep and rugged cliffs, which rise from sea level to a magnificent height of 120 m. Numerous tourists are heading to Dingli cliffs in Malta and their beauty is over the top, but Sanap cliffs are even more magnificent and it is a must stop for all photography lovers. This place is beautifull in all parts of the day and especially during sunrise and sunsets.
Ta’ Pinu church – special architecture
Maybe not so big secret anymore for tourists, Ta’ Pinu’s history dates back to 1883, when a peasant working in the fields heard the voice of Our Lady calling to her from a painting inside a tiny chapel. From then on, the building became a popular pilgrimage site and its visitors soon overwhelmed the tiny church. It is perfect stop for good photography options.
Mellieħa – perfect spot to meet locals
Mellieħa was once an isolated 15th century hamlet perched on the ridge overlooking Għadira Bay. It was abandoned for a couple of centuries because of its vulnerability to pirate and Saracen attack. Re-inhabited in the early 18th century, it has since developed into a flourishing town though it retains a quaint historic centre with narrow streets and stepped alleys. From the terrace of the Parish Church, there is a panoramic view over Mellieħa Bay and the surrounding countryside. Beneath the church is the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin, a national shrine. A fresco of the Madonna and Child is said to have been painted by St. Luke. This legend has made the troglodyte chapel into a popular place of pilgrimage. The walls are lined with ex-voto offerings and paintings – a testimony to the devotion of the people. Mellieħa today is a modern town noted for its large private villas and houses which have been built on land overlooking the bay. While the town has developed into a resort, it has managed to retain some of its rural character.
Fort Manoel – Game of Thrones filming location from season one
Situated on Manoel Island, in the centre of the glorious Harbour, majestic Fort Manoel was built by the Knights Hospitaller to protect Valletta’s Northern bastions from enemy attack. Dating back to the 18th century, it was a hive of military activity for over 200 years.
As charming as it is magnificent, the Fort is renowned for its ornate Baroque features. Built under Grandmaster Vilhena in 1723, it was not used according to its purpose until the 1798 French Invasion. During this time it was surrendered to Napoleonic forces and became a French garrison, leaving the Maltese forces to attack their own Fort on several occasions. Undergoing renovations after falling into British hands in 1800, it continued to serve as a military site and suffered several direct hits during World War ll. It was decommissioned and abandoned in 1964. Though no longer in active use, Fort Manoel is as spectacular as it was in its heyday and is certainly worth exploring.
Secret Parking in Valletta – best photo spot
Valletta is not the secret of Malta, it is smallest capital of European country and it is overwhelmed with tourists day and night. Rivers of tourists are flowing through main streets of this beautiful medieval town, but not so many visitors knows about one special place, and no, it is not museum or church – it is actually a parking near Hastings garden. It is one of the best photo location in Valletta and it is very easy to find it. It is strange that is not more popular with tourists. The best part of the day for amazing photography is afternoon and on sunsets.
Inland sea – diving spot in Gozo
The Inland Sea is an extremely popular destination for locals and tourists. It’s a place that will bring you back. It’s one of the most scenic destinations in Gozo, offering a natural sea pool with an 80 metre long tunnel through the cliffs that leads to the Mediterranean sea. Many believe this unique formation was caused by a geological fault in the limestone which resulted in a sea cave where the roof later collapsed. It’s surrounded by a beautiful semi-circled pebble and many Fisherman huts. There are many little boats offering sightseeing trips to the caves and to view where the Azure Window was once located. If diving, snorkeling, or stunning views are your things then look no further.
Mosta Rotunda – miracle seeking spot
Mosta lies at the heart of Malta, along the Great Fault that runs east-west across the Island. The town’s name derives from the Arabic ‘musta’, meaning centre. It was only a hamlet in medieval times, but began to develop at the turn of the 17th century after the Great Siege. Today it is a busy market town. At its centre is a magnificent domed church (completed in 1860), the Mosta Rotunda, said to be the third largest unsupported church dome in Europe. It was built to imitate the Pantheon in Rome, by Maltese architect George de Vasse. In World War II, the Church took a direct hit from a German bomb during mass. The bomb pierced the dome, but failed to explode. This event is now regarded as miraculous intervention.
Gnejna Bay – beautiful beach and active tourism spot
With its stunning clay slopes encasing the exquisite sands of the beach below, the first glimpse of Ġnejna is a breathtaking one. After making a steep descent, when it comes to setting up camp, with silky soft sand or flat smooth limestone to choose from, one’s truly spoilt for choice. And with sunbeds and other amenities available too, visitors are sure to find anything they desire. It’s not just the beach that’s fantastic though. Its calm azure waters make for some truly spectacular swimming and snorkelling. And if that’s not enough, there’s an exciting array of activities on offer too. For a swimming experience that’s second to none, Ġnejna Bay is well worth dipping your toe into.
Mdina – original Kings landing
Mdina is old capital of Malta and today is popular as location for numerous movies and series. One of the most wellknown series – Game of Thrones was filmed in Mdina and it is original location of Kings landing from season one. Mdina has had different names and titles depending on its rulers and its role but its medieval name describe it best – ‘Citta’ Notabile’: the noble city. It was home then, as now, to Malta’s noble families; some are descendants of the Norman, Sicilian and Spanish overlords who made Mdina their home from the 12th century onwards. Impressive palaces line its narrow, shady streets. Mdina is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture.