Malta: What to See and Do Off the Beaten Track
Malta may be small, but it’s got endless gems to offer. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Malta keeps surprising you. I’ve lived here for 21 years now and I still can’t say I’ve seen it all. Every few years I seem to discover new places in Malta and new things to do. Malta has beautiful tourist attractions to offer but there’s also a lot to do that you won’t find on many travel guides! Here are my favourite places that I’ve discovered over the years as a local on this beautiful island.
Fomm ir-Rih Hiking and Camping
Fomm ir-Rih is absolutely my favourite place in Malta. Not many people know how to get there, not even locals themselves. It’s the definition of an ‘off the beaten path’ place and the perfect place for some peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of this little island teaming with activity and people.
I have to say though if you are travelling around Malta by bus, it’s pretty hard to get to. Buses don’t go there directly and the closest bus stop is a bit far, but if you’re renting a car in Malta – or don’t mind walking and following a map!- it’s certainly not impossible to find.
Once you get there, the view from the top is already breathtaking. First off, it’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset. If you go earlier, you can also hike down to the beach. However, it’s not the easiest hike down there, although SO worth it! There’s no clear path – the path stops almost at the top and you need to carefully find your way down there yourself. The perk of the hike is that the beach is usually empty or nearly empty, even in the summer season where beaches are always super-packed.
Be careful as the beach is, unfortunately, breaking apart – the clay above the beach is breaking off and when it’s wet it is SUPER slippery! I absolutely love going there and just sitting on the pebbles or picking seashells and beautiful pebbles. In summer it’s also fun and pretty common for Maltese people to cover themselves in clay from the beach – it makes your skin really soft!
Ta’ Cenc Gozo
Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Malta, Gozo is Malta’s sister island and it’s hard to say which is more beautiful. If you’re visiting Malta, you have to make time for a day in Gozo! After you’ve seen all the tourist attractions like the Citadella, Rabat, and tried the local food, take a break from it all and head to Ta’ Cenc. I’ve been to Gozo many times now and have never been there until recently and let me tell you, I was blown away.
The place is completely cut off from everywhere else and I can spend hours reading a good book or simply admiring the view and fresh air. It’s really fun to lie down flat on your tummy near the edge off the cliff and just look at the waves. Sometimes you might meet a quiet local farmer from a nearby field or
a solitary walker and his/her dog but everyone seems to keep to himself here because it’s a place for peace and relaxation.
If you’re looking for something not very touristy, you’ll want to spend your time in Malta like a local. The Birgu Market is a perfect choice – it’s an event that happens every Sunday (except in very windy or rainy days) and has been happening for years and years now.
However, the event is not really publicized – not flyers, no Facebook events, only word of mouth. Therefore, no one really knows about it except the locals; even I didn’t know about it until my friend’s parents told me about it!
It’s a really fun way to spend a Sunday morning and a great opportunity to get your hands on authentic, traditional Maltese items usually dating back as far as the 1950s and 1960s. It’s basically a big car boot sale where you can find old typewriters, old record players, televisions, paintings, and all sorts of knick-knacks. Also, if you’re a fan of thrifted, vintage clothes, this is a great place to find some!
My top tip is to visit as early as possible to get your hands on the good stuff! Sellers start setting up their stands as early as 4.00pm in the morning – yep, that early. They start packing away their items between 11.00am and 12.00pm, so get there early to see everything.
Golden Bay Hike
You’ve probably seen Golden Bay beach on every brochure and blog related to travelling in Malta. It’s one of the most popular beaches in Malta and in summer, jam-packed with people doing BBQs on the beach, swimming, and sometimes even surfing. However, there’s a little secret side to this beach that isn’t as well-known and is absolutely perfect for hikes in winter or on a cool summer evening. Finding the path is pretty simple: there are the long stairs leading to the beach, right next to loads of restaurants and probably crowds of people.
Where you want to visit is just behind this lovely beach – keep walking on the road (instead of following the stairs) and you’ll find a little path. I’ve lived in Malta for 21 years and until a friend took me there, I have never noticed it.! It’s not as well-known because the Golden Bay beach is so popular.
Once you get on the path, you’re in for a wonderful hike with breath-taking views. It’s an easy path to follow and not difficult at all to navigate your way. There’s plenty of places to sit down and have a snack and look down on the Golden Bay beach from above. It’s usually empty and in winter the trees and bushes grow around the path, making it the perfect hike location. Summer in Malta is not really ideal for hiking, as the sun gets extremely hot and trust me, you will get exhausted and sweaty hiking up there in the sun.
Selmun Beach is not a top-secret beach in Malta but certainly one of the lesser-known ones! Again, it’s difficult to get to by bus and even by car requires a little walk but it is so worth it. The water is super clear and you can swim in walking as it starts out shallow.
There’s plenty of shady spots and it’s also a great spot for camping. You can set up a tent right next to the bleach since it’s got plenty of flat areas and enjoy waking up to an amazing sunrise swim. Trust me, it’s an experience like no other: wake up early, watch the sun rise and have a swim while the beach is still completely empty.