Plan for EuroPride 2023 and beyond with our LGBTQ+-friendly Malta Travel Guide!
The Mediterranean paradise of Malta lies just 80km south of Italy. This small cluster of islands boasts one of the highest rates of religious affiliation in Europe but queer travelers can breathe easy knowing that Malta has topped the ILGA Rainbow Index of LGBTQ+ rights in Europe for seven years in a row. What’s more, the capital city of Valletta will come alive in September 2023 as the host of EuroPride. You’ll want to make sure Malta is on your travel radar this year!
Whether you are planning on visiting for the festivities or taking some relaxing time in during the shoulder season, the islands of Malta have plenty to experience. From red sand beaches to ancient historic sites to a thriving club scene, there is enough to fill any number of days. Use this guide when planning your trip for an unforgettable stay on this Mediterranean gem.
Where To Stay
Anywhere you stay on the island will be within 30 to 45 minutes of wherever you want to go, depending on traffic and whether or not you’re driving or taking the bus. But depending on the type of experience you want; you’ll have a couple of different options for locations and styles of stay.
For beachside views, stay in St. Paul’s Bay or Qawral. The Dolmen Hotel on St. Paul’s Bay offers several pools with views of the harbor and private beach access. Staying directly in St. Julian’s or Paceville will put you in the heart of the clubbing district, taking the cost of taxis out of your night out. Hotel Valentina in Paceville will have you feeling luxurious in its rooftop pool.
If you want to splurge on historic luxury, the Xara Palace in the ancient walled city of Mdina is a 5-star boutique experience you won’t want to miss. During your stay, take advantage of the onsite and renowned de Mondion Restaurant, one of Malta’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
Valletta itself has plenty of historic boutique hotels located close to shops, restaurants, and EuroPride events. Check out Domus Zamittello or Palazzo Paolina for unique stays that will keep you at the heart of the action.
Where To Eat
Maltese cuisine borrows a lot from Italy, but they also have many unique flavors of their own. Fresh cheeses like ricotta are prevalent, and meats such as horse and rabbit can be found on menus of traditional restaurants. But like all cities, Valletta has an international flair as well. Check out AKI for a modern take on sushi using freshly caught Maltese fish.
Malta packs a whopping five Michelin-starred restaurants within its confined borders. Noni is one of the best, having received their star for three years running from 2020-2022. Take advantage of their patio for an upscale al fresco dining experience or make a full night of the tasting menu for a special occasion.
For traditional Maltese fare with a show, book a table at Ta’ Marija. This staple of the island’s restaurant scene has been going on for almost 80 years and provides a fun historical dance show along with dinner. Take the opportunity to try delicacies like its signature smoked horsemeat, rabbit ragu, and Maltese sausages and cheeses. Or, if you’d like to learn to cook with traditional Maltese ingredients yourself, book a class at the Mediterranean Culinary Academy and enjoy what you make over expertly paired local wines afterward.
Make sure to take the ferry to Gozo for a day. Just up the cliff from the harbor is Country Terrace, a restaurant that blends Italian and Maltese cuisines. Delicious and comforting options include ravioli with seasonal stuffings, roast duck, and freshly caught fish of the day.
What To Do
Whether or not you’re planning your trip for EuroPride 2023, you’ll want to make sure you have enough time to explore the areas outside of the capital. Valletta can easily be enjoyed in a day or two which leaves you with plenty of time to see the natural beauty of all of the islands.
Malta is surrounded by some of the clearest water in the Mediterranean, making scuba diving or snorkeling a must! Book a tour through Maltaqua and get friendly with your dive instructor to get personalized recommendations for things to do on the island during your stay. If you’re the outdoors type but want to stay dry, start at Mellieha Bay and hike up to visit the iconic Red Tower.
History buffs will enjoy Malta’s historic sites that date back to ancient times, like the Megalithic Temples or the Hypogeum. But don’t forget to take a break to hit the beach. The main island has plenty to offer, but you’ll want to take the ferry to Gozo to lay on the red sand of Ramla Bay. And don’t forget to book a boat tour of the small third island of Comino and the Blue Lagoon there. It’s perfect for both a party atmosphere or a relaxing float in the lagoon.
When you’ve explored until the sun has set, it’s time for a change of outfit and a change of pace in Malta’s party quarter.
Malta is such a small island that there isn’t a “gay quarter” per se. That means queer clubs, bars, and businesses are spread throughout the island. You can make it a point to visit anywhere from Michelangelo (two floors of packed dance floors in Paceville) to Māori in St. Elmo Bay (a lesbian-owned and laid-back bar that hosts monthly queer events). To party in a big community of LGBTQ+ people outside of Pride, keep an eye on Lollipop events, which are some of the biggest queer parties on the island.
Malta’s Paceville district is a party quarter to rival other popular European club destinations like Ibiza or Berlin. Packed into a few tight blocks, the wide selection of clubs means you have no shortage of options. For an upscale cocktail and event experience, visit Twenty Two or The Network. Or just a short taxi ride away from Paceville is the Gianpula Village, a complex of 11 indoor and outdoor clubs and party venues. No matter what experience you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.
There are a number of music festivals that bring the party to the island throughout the year. Euphoria Weekender is a four-day trance music festival in May or hit up Glitch in August if electronic music is more your style. And of course, EuroPride in September will feature concerts and themed club nights. Most clubs will plan events around these festivals that you won’t want to miss.
No matter what kind of experience you’re looking for, Malta provides a safe and accepting place to find it. Start planning your Mediterranean island getaway today!