"Malta? Where is that? I've never even heard of that" is the response I typically get when people ask me my favorite destinations. Malta continues to top my list of favorite places I've ever been, due to its incredible climate, friendly people, and interesting blend of architectures and cultures. Malta is a pearl of Europe. A hidden gem, if you will. It's small but gorgeous.
If you don't believe me, or are not convinced by this article, I will happily link you to this Buzzfeed post that seems to sum up my opinions accurately. Direct quote from the article: "kjhakjhvhkjahklajwhv kahgkajhvkljahg kjlavha."
The mainland island itself is tiny (only 122 square miles), which allows for being able to explore most of the country in a short period of time. It's also only 50 miles from the south of Italy, and very well linked to the rest of Europe for such a small island.
The architecture is stunning, with influences coming from the Mediterranean and North Africa. The capital, Valetta, boasts much of the countries large buildings. And the views are incredible no matter where you are on the island, with some of the bluest water I've ever seen.
Malta consists of three inhabited islands (and a few other uninhabited ones), called Malta, Comino, and Gozo. The mainland is Malta, and the other two are easily accessible by boat. We visited the blue lagoon (pictured) which sports stunning blue waters off the island. Because the island is so small, almost everywhere you are, you can get a view of the water.
One thing about Malta that surprised me was the lack of beaches. We found a few, but most of the coast is very rocky with little areas for swimming. Originally my intention for visiting Malta was to lay by the beach for a few days, but once seeing it, I made it a mission to explore much of the island as possible, and only ended up laying by the beach for a short few hours on our last day.
We also discovered several markets along the way. Throughout my travels, I often avoid markets (depending on where I am) because often I find that they're tourist traps with souvenirs that I don't need. These markets had their fair share of "I heart Malta" t-shirts, but they also had local items and foods obviously made from the people there. I was in heaven.
I'm shocked that Malta isn't a more visited destination for European travelers. It still peaks my list of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, and I hope to return sooner rather than later.