The Wayviator Short Guide to Malta: Introduction
A sun-drenched country made up of three small islands in the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta is a sparkling gem of Europe. Whether you travel to Malta for its picturesque landscapes and beaches or to dazzle over its medieval city and unique architecture, this tiny country is bound to surprise you. Plus, it's slowly creeping up on the radars of digital nomads and aspiring ex-pats from around the world, thanks to the new Malta nomad visa – but more on that shortly. Here’s your travel guide to Malta as a digital nomad.
A little background on Malta...
Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (an island that is part of Italy). Malta is not just one island, but three islands combined to make up the country of Malta. These islands are Malta, Gozo, and Comino.
As for Malta's history, it's a long and vibrant one that is still evident today. Traces of the Neolithic Period intertwine with predominately Roman, Moorish, Sicilian, and British history. The British were the last to conquer Malta, with their rule lasting until 1964 before Malta became a republic in 1974.
Though several decades have passed since Malta left the British Empire, many traces remain in the forms of red telephone booths, the English language, and left-hand driving.
Nowadays, Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English, and it's a thriving part of the European Union, luring in visitors from around the world.
Guide to Malta ~ What to See
Malta might be small, but any traveler or digital nomad knows that that just makes it easier to explore. Plus, there's no shortage of things to do in Malta. From fantastic restaurants and historic cities to natural beauty and hiking trails, here are some of the best of what to see in Malta.
Malta's "Silent City"
The medieval city of Mdina is coined the "Silent City" and stands as Malta's original capital, dating back to the 8th century BC. Dotted with scenic cafes and beige stone walls, Mdina is a place for peaceful walks through Old World, tiny streets. Don't miss out on notable museums and cathedrals such as the Mdina Cathedral, the St. Paul's Cathedral Museum, and the Palazzo Falson.
Bonus for any Game of Thrones fans! The main bridge to Mdina also portrays the entrance to King's Landing.
Valletta, the capital of Malta
Nestled beautifully on the coast of Malta, Valletta is full of hilly, unique streets with colorful balconies and bay windows that make the streets pop. This capital city is thought to be an "open-air museum", much like ancient cities such as Rome or Greece. Beyond being a gleaming UNESCO World Heritage Site, Valletta spouts lovely cafes, boutique shops, and superb restaurants.
Like with any European capital, there are many museums and cathedrals to visit. Check out St. John's Co-Cathedral, the Lascaris War Rooms for history lovers, and the National War Museum (Fort St. Elmo). Plus, walk around and admire the city skyline from the waterfront as well.
The Three Cities
When it comes to the absolute best views of Malta's picturesque capital of Valletta, head across the water to the Three Cities Cospicua, Vittoriosa, and Senglea. These cities offer a bit more of an authentic Maltese experience, while also boasting insane views of Valletta from the other side of the sea. There are harbors dotted with yachts and friendly cats, inviting museums, idyllic architecture, and so much more to see while wandering the streets of these cities.
Taking you back in time, Marsaxlokk is a tiny fishing village filled with colorful luzzu boats and swaying palm trees. It's the perfect pit stop when exploring other parts of Malta, especially with the restaurant Terrone serving up great food and coffee by the harbor.
After Marsaxlokk, take a short drive to St. Peter's Pool for one of the best natural wonders of Malta. This natural swimming pool is the ideal place to kick back and relax, catch some rays, or take a dip in the Mediterranean. Life in Malta is easygoing with all the adventures that surround you.
Gozo is Malta's second-largest island, offering no shortage of natural beauty and charming towns. After checking out the city of Victoria and the incredible views from St. Mary's Cathedral, head for the coast.
An absolute gem to explore is Xlendi Bay, offering a small beach, rocky cliff lines, and seafront restaurants. Top tip? Climb the stairs up to the cliffs on the right side of the bay. This spot offers gorgeously picturesque views of Xlendi Bay. Keep going up the stairs and discover photo-ready rocky cliffs. The fun doesn't stop there, though. Take the stairs even further (now downward) and you'll find a cave-like area with crystal clear water. This is one of the best secret places to visit in Malta.
Travelers come to Malta's smallest island for one main reason – to take a dip in the iconic Blue Lagoon. Comino is a nature reserve and bird sanctuary; however, its main attractions are the calm and crystal-clear turquoise waters and jagged rock formations that create the Blue Lagoon. Any first-timer’s guide to Malta will encourage you to explore this sparkling destination.
Considering Malta as a Digital Nomad?
You're in luck! Malta recently launched the Nomad Residence Permit that grants freelancers and remote workers the opportunity to live in Malta as a digital nomad! The visa lasts one year with an opportunity to renew. So, if you're not a resident of the EU, this is an easy way to move to Europe as a digital nomad.
Plus, having a residence in the European Union gives you the freedom to easily explore the rest of Europe, while coming home to a beautiful and inviting country (Malta, of course!)
Find out everything you need to know about the Nomad Residence Permit in Malta.
Before you dive in, here are some quick pros and cons to consider before applying for the Malta nomad visa.
Pros of living in Malta
- It's cheaper to live in than most North American cities
- Basically everyone speaks English, so there's no issue with language barriers like you might find in other European countries
- There is fantastic sunny weather year-round! Winters can be chilly and windy, but there is usually still an abundance of sun and warmth
- There are tons of cultural and lifestyle experiences, despite being a small country
- Malta is expat-friendly with a thriving international community.
- There are cheap and fast flights to other places across Europe!
- Free WiFi hotspots and cute cafes are handy for those on the Malta nomad visa!
Cons of living in Malta
- Malta is small, so if you are used to the fast-paced and big city lifestyle, you might get bored living in Malta
- Because Malta is an island country, it's a bit disconnected from the rest of Europe
- There are no trains in Malta, just buses and ferries. So, getting around is easiest with a car
- The Malta nomad visa lasts only one year, but there is a possibility of renewing