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A tiny island state, Malta has a population of just under 450,000 people in an area of around 316 km², making Malta one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in the world.
Due to its position in the middle of the Mediterranean, it has held great strategic importance as a naval base. Its prehistoric monuments belie its amazing history as do many of its architectural treasures left by Greek, Roman, Moorish, Norman and British occupations.
Nowadays, Malta is an advanced economy and a proud member of the European Union. It’s renowned for its contributions to the financial and electronics markets. Tourism is a big draw for those attracted to its impressive capital Valletta, its relaxed Mediterranean culture and the blue seas at Gozo.
Malta is one of just a handful of countries that has enshrined LGBT rights at a constitutional level. Discrimination is outlawed, civil union legislation was passed in 2014 and gay adoption is legal.
Malta has an active LGBT community. The annual Pride parade in Valletta is widely supported and attended by leading figures from all main political parties.
In 2016, Malta became the first country in the European Union to ban conversion therapy.
Despite its size, Malta has an energetic and lively gay scene. The popular chain of gay clubs AXM has a franchise here in the vibrant resort area of Saint Julian’s. You will find most gay venues here.
Valletta Pride takes place every year in June and is a popular event with a bustling program. The Gay Malta website explains all about the gay life in Malta and lists all the LGBT-related events on the island.
Malta International Airport (MLA) is the only airport in Malta and is situated 5km south west of the capital Valletta. It is served by a good mix of flag and budget carriers and is serviced by Emirates for more exotic journeys.
There are four express bus services to and from the airport with connections across the island. Bus prices vary depending on season and time of day (winter €1.50/summer €2/night €3) and services run between 5am and just before midnight.
Taxis are available 24 hours from the airport and you can buy pre-paid tickets from the airport with a set far to the destination. You can find a full list of fares here.
Valletta is a popular destination for cruise ships, which dock at the historical waterfront area. There are also scheduled ferry services to Sicily.
If you don’t plan to stay in one location, it is advisable to rent a car as the public transport connections on the islands aren’t the best. You can find your standard car rental options at the airport, but you may be able to find a cheaper deal if you search online.
To hire a car in Malta, you must be at least 21 years old and have held your licence for over one year (under 25 surcharges may apply). In Luqa, the maximum age is 70. They drive on the left in Malta, seat-belts are mandatory for all and handsets are prohibited.
Malta and Gozo’s major towns and villages are well-connected by buses; however, there are limitations in more rural areas. Most of these services do not run past 11pm.
Only white taxis can pick you up off the streets. Although these cabs are metered it is common for the meter to be disregarded and expect to pay around €15 for short journeys.
If you want to visit Gozo or Comino, you’ll need to take a ferry. A regular service to Gozo from Cirkewwa costs €4.65; services to Comino are a lot less regular.
Depending on what you want from your stay in Malta, there are several options for you. For a more cultured getaway, we’d recommend staying in Valletta or Rabat. For parties, head to St Julian’s. For relaxation by the sea, look at Gozo and Comino.
We’ve created a list of some of the best hotels in Malta for gay travellers – check out our Gay Malta Hotels page
Valletta – Despite its small size, Valletta is one of the most architecturally impressive cities in Europe. During World War 2 the city was bombed severely resulting in whole island receiving a knighthood for their resilience. You’ll find great cafes and a relaxed culture amongst the winding streets.
The Blue Lagoon – awe-inspiring natural wonder situated on the coast of Comino. It is known as a filming location and it is very easy to see why.
Mdina – the ancient capital of the island and notable for it’s medieval fortress. Definitely worth a day-trip.
Hypogeum – neolithic subterranean structures believed to have been created around 3000 BC. These structures have been used as a place of worship and a necropolis with other 7000 individual human remains removed from here.
Saint Julian’s – The closest that Malta gets to a tourist resort like you’d find in the Costas. There are many nightclubs and bars here, especially around the area of Paceville.
Depending on your personal preference, there is no perfect time to visit Malta. Summers offer uninterrupted sunshine for partying and relaxation, whereas winters offer cooler weather which is better suited for hiking and exploring in-land. November and December tend to be the rainiest months, and July through to August are busiest.
Malta hosts a variety of festivals and carnivals throughout the year. September and October sees Valletta host the Notte Bianca where grand old venues open their doors for cultural events. Carnivals take place in February and March, attracting a large number of visitors.
Malta is part of the Schengen Zone and the EU which means visa-free travel for those coming from other member states. For non-Eu nationals, the travel rights fall inline with that of most other EU states. You can find more information here.
Malta is a member of the euro zone. ATM’s are widely available in the major towns and resorts (you may struggle in the smaller towns/villages) most will accept Visa and MasterCard. You can exchange your money in banks and at post offices. Some hotels may offer this service.
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