Malta and its surrounding islands make up one of the smallest countries in Europe – but what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in personality. The Mediterranean archipelago is chock full of natural beauty and is rightly proud of its 8,000 years of fascinating history. Home to Megalithic Temples, medieval Arabic fortresses, ornate Baroque cathedrals and British red telephone boxes (Malta was colonised by the Empire from 1800 to 1964), the multitudinous influences left by invading civilizations gave Malta its unique, sedimentary language and culture.
But aside from its diverse architecture and history-steeped capital, Valletta, Malta is also known for its sun, sea and sand options. Bang in the middle of The Med, with its nearest neighbours being Sicily and Tunisia, Malta is famously sun-drenched for more than 300 days of the year and is home to a wide variety of beaches that’ll satisfy any visitor, whether you love sandy or rocky shores, busy bays or secluded spots. Here’s our picks of the best beaches in Malta and Gozo to get you started.
Malta’s sandy beaches are scant but the few that exist are are pretty magnificent. The most popular is Golden Bay in the north-west of the island. It’s one of the most family-friendly options as it’s comparatively easy to access, via a short flight of steps down from the car park, and has everything you could need for a full day out on the sand: handy cafes, sun loungers and umbrellas, plus a solid range of thrill-seeking activities, from paragliding to jetskiing. Stay for the sunset; it’s famously one of the island’s most spectacular.
Next to trusty Golden Bay, rugged neighbour Għajn Tuffieħa (aka Riviera Beach) is much less developed, with 250m of rolling red sand overlooked by wild local flora and not much else. Umbrellas are available and there are snacks to be had, but the lengthy old stretch of steps down to the beach makes it quieter than its busy neighbour. Hike up to the 17th-century Għajn Mixkuka watchtower between the two beaches for consistently splendid sunset views.
St Peter’s Pool
The undisputed favourite with Gen Z tourists, St Peter’s Pool is photography heaven. A local secret until the invention of Instagram, the craggy cove now gets pretty packed and it’s easy to see why – the clear, aquamarine waters are out of this world and the steep rocks make an excellent platform for jumping into the Med below. One famous local resident does just that; for years Carmelo has been wowing crowds (and the internet) by cliff diving alongside his Jack Russell pets; Little Tina, his newest dog, is currently in training.
Less beach, more fab swim spot, Ghar Lapsi is loved by Padi divers and snorkellers as the settled little bays are home to some of the best reef life on the island beneath the turquoise waters. It’s also a favourite with keen swimmers, as the large pools are sheltered from the open sea, so you can get some decent lengths lapped. There’s not a great deal of sunbathing space on the shore of what was once a small fishing dock, but you’ll likely want to escape the heat in the water anyway or snack at the quaint 1960s café that overlooks it.
Ramla Bay, Gozo
Regular ferries run to Malta’s pretty idyllic smaller island of Gozo from capital city Valletta or Cirkewwa in the northern cape, so you’d be remiss not to check it out. The rusty red sands of Ramla Bay are lush to say the least; the sprawling beach is undoubtedly Gozo’s finest. The seaside vistas have been attracting visitors since Ancient Roman times, which we know thanks to the unexcavated remains of a Roman villa in situ. It’s a nice accessible beach too – jump on a bus from Nadur or hire some handy mopeds, then it’s a short wander down an easy slope.
One of the wonders of the Maltese archipelago, the Inland Sea, aka Dwejra pool, is a circular natural expanse of seawater that flows in through an arch in the cliff that overlooks it. There’s plenty of room around the edge for sunbathing and picnicking and it’s a great spot for novice snorkellers, as the rock formation that walls the sea makes the waters nice and calm. More experienced swimmers might even want to glide through the arch out into the open sea.
Qawra Point (aka Ta’ Fra Ben)
Malta’s best kept secret, this petite pebble beach is lovingly known as Ta’ Fra Ben to locals, named after the stalwart beach bar that overlooks it. It’s a dinky spot but the still blue waters are ultra appealing – the shore is defended from the wilds of the sea by a rock jetty that was formerly used for military target practice by the British. It’s very easy to reach via bus, plus there are loads of comfy sun loungers available and, of course, top notch snacks from Ta’ Fra Ben themselves.