A bountiful rock suspended in the Mediterranean Sea at the crossroads between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, this tiny three-island archipelago is crammed with splendid and majestic sights, from 7,000 year old temples and baroque architecture, to beautiful clear blue coastlines, fishing villages and impressive natural rock formations. The capital city, Valletta, is also a Unesco world heritage site and Hollywood setting for Gladiator, Troy and Game of Thrones.
Valletta. This capital city rising from the sea, Unesco World Heritage site, and true open-air museum is a perfect example of Baroque architecture, quaint and colorful wooden balconies protruding from the building facades, houses treasures like works of Caravaggio from his time living in Valletta, and a lasting legacy of the fantastic 500-year old history of the Knights of St John. Valletta is an ideal place to stay to explore the city itself, its tiered stone streets, quaint cafes, gardens, fortified walls, city beaches, wine bars, museums, cathedrals and monuments, but also provides the most comprehensive bus routes to all other cities on the island. In July, Valletta hosts a free open-air jazz festival with historic monuments acting as open-air stages for world-class jazz concerts.
Comino. This tiny island is known for its blue lagoon, a breathtakingly beautiful expanse of turquoise blue, shallow waters peppered by natural jetties, large rock formations and pass-through caves. The lagoon becomes unbearably crowded in July and August, robbing the location of its serenity and beauty, and in stark contrast to its history as a remote, undetected hideout for pirates and smugglers, and later an outpost for cholera and plague victims.
Gozo. A must-visit day trip, ideally two if you have the time, Gozo is the stuff of legends, as it's said to be Calypso's isle in Homer's Odyssey. It is anyway a more fertile and tranquil version of its big sister island, with tomatoes cultured and ripened by the hot, beating sun and fishermen catching bounties in summers. Gozo boats the archipelago's best preserved ancient temples, imposing Baroque churches, historic Baroque city centers with quintessential wooden balconies, big, copper-colored sandy beaches hidden by lush vineyards and grape vines scaling the enormous hills leading up from the sea, but also neighbored by a harsh, rugged landscape and coastline, local artisans peddling lace and local specialties, and perfect fishing villages with one restaurant melting into the next and all serving just-caught fish. It's name derives from “marsa” (meaning port) and “xlokk” (meaning south) in Maltese.