For many in Europe, Malta has a reputation for being a rather genteel holiday destination for older holidaymakers. The island is trying hard to shift that perception, with youth-oriented music festivals and a growing awareness of the LGBTI tourism market. It’s also an increasingly popular spot for those with a passion for diving.
However, for many, gay Malta’s main attraction remains its tranquil, Mediterranean charm.
Most holidaymakers head for Valletta, the capital city. It’s also a major harbor which plays host to cruise ships throughout the year.
Malta is actually three islands. Malta itself has a population of 400,000, while the smaller Gozo has 30,000. Comino, the smallest part of the archipelago, is almost uninhabited.
Approximately 1.6million tourists swell Malta’s population each year. The UK accounts for around 450,000 of those.
The island nation has a fascinating history. It has been tussled over by various factions, including Arab invaders, the Normans, the Knights of Malta and French. It was a major British naval base between the early 1800s and 1964, and elements of Britishness persist, such as red phone boxes. What dominates greater is the Maltese limestone from which almost all the buildings are built. Valletta was built along a grid system. Narrow streets are lined with buildings dating back to the 1600 and 1700s. Figures of saints and the Virgin Mary abound.