Malta Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Malta gay guide to hotels, where to stay, things to do, gay bars, beaches, and travel tips.
The Gay Travel Experience: Malta
My trip to Malta always stands out in my mind, as I experienced things and places that I can’t say I’ve seen anywhere else on earth!
More and more gay travelers around the world are adding Malta to their travel list each year, especially as they see the country topping lists of gay-friendly summer destinations.
Malta’s gay life is on the smaller side, but it isn’t difficult to find. LGBT tourists love vacationing in Malta and the summer months are especially popular. I saw plenty of gay couples at the hotel pool, along beaches, and at local beach clubs.
Gay locals are visible in the community, too. They’re always willing to meet travelers and recommend their favorite spots.
Most people don’t know what to expect from Malta apart from the beaches and big attractions, and I was one of those people! Experiencing the country’s unique culture is a big draw.
Witnessing a Friday night during summer in the Paceville neighborhood was the biggest surprise of my trip. Massive crowds of younger travelers (and students) dominated this mega nightlife center. This experience in contrast to the silent historic streets of Mdina felt surreal.
Malta may be small, but don’t let its size fool you. There are so many attractions and beautiful things to see, so make sure you plan enough time for a proper visit.
Gay Malta: Hotels & Where to Stay
Saint Julian’s and Sliema are the two most popular areas to stay in Malta. Just a short drive north of Valletta, they both straddle Saint Julian’s Bay.
Overall, I’d recommend Malta gay travelers to stay here, as this is where you’ll find most other gay travelers, restaurants, nightlife, and Malta’s best beach hotels.
There are also plenty of spacious vacation apartments in Sliema and just to the north in Saint Julian’s.
Hotels in Valletta are another option, especially for those who want more of a historic city feel. While these won’t be resort-type accommodations or have easy beach access, you might find more of a bargain here depending on your budget.
I stayed at be.HOTEL in the Saint Julian’s neighborhood and found it to be a nice balance of cost-effectiveness, location, and style. A big selling point was their gorgeous rooftop pool and bar overlooking St George’s Bay.
A couple of similarly-priced hotels with rooftop pools nearby include the ultra-modern Hyatt Regency Malta and the chic adults-only Hugo’s Boutique Hotel.
More Hotels for Malta Gay Travelers
Here are a few more hotels I recommend that are all highly rated, gorgeously modern, and affordable.
Malta Gay Travel Experiences
St. Peter’s Pool
St Peter’s Pool is one of Malta’s famous swimming spots. It’s a natural rock formation where you can essentially cliff jump into the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
I had such a blast here, jumping over and over again, like a little boy! Everyone takes turns to avoid any mishaps. And while it’s a well-known swimming spot, it doesn’t get overwhelmingly crowded.
To get there, you can drive or take a taxi to the St. Peter’s Pool parking lot, and then follow the trail down to the waterfront. The parking area has one snack stand for refreshments.
Bring everything you’ll need for the day since the area around St. Peter’s Pool is quite desolate. A padded water-resistant blanket may be a good idea if you want to lie down since the rock surface isn’t so flat.
Mdina is undoubtedly the most unique experience I can recommend for gay travelers in Malta. Phoenicians built this walled city, and its historic Arab influence is recognizable in Mdina’s architecture.
Known as the silent city, it was once the nation’s capital and is even older than Valletta. Vehicle access inside is restricted and noise is kept to a minimum.
A walking tour of Mdina is a great way to get to know the city. Otherwise, just wandering the gorgeous narrow streets is mesmerizingly awesome. You can cover all of the city in under an hour. Don’t forget to get a photo of the Mdina Gate!
Stop by Coogi’s Restaurant & Tea Garden for lunch or enjoy one of their delicious smoothies. Coogi’s is a gay-friendly Italian restaurant at the northernmost tip of Mdina that has a terrace level with spectacular views.
The cheapest way to get to Mdina is by the tourist hop-on-hop-off buses. You can essentially use these like public buses. And while they might take a bit longer to reach certain parts of the island, the value can’t be beaten.
Swim at Font Ghadir
Font Ghadir is a long, narrow stretch of coastline forming the northernmost part of Sliema. It’s known for its Victorian-era baths carved out of the smooth rocky beachfront.
Font Ghadir Beach is just to the east, another popular swimming spot. You can also relax at Surfside, an informal beach club with jacuzzi tubs and cabanas right in front of the Victorian bath area.
Afterward, I suggest walking west along the water toward Exiles Beach, another popular hangout spot through the late afternoon (along with The Exiles Beach Club).
I spotted a few gay couples relaxing on the rocks by the seaside while I passed through this area. Since Malta doesn’t have any official gay beaches, the LGBT crowd tends to blend in with everyone else in typical spots like this.
Valletta is Malta’s historic, notoriously tiny capital city. At 0.61 square kilometers, it’s actually the European Union’s smallest capital city by area! Even with its small size, though, there’s plenty to see.
A few major Valletta landmarks include the Valletta City Gate, the adjacent Triton Fountain, and St. John’s Co-Cathedral. There are dozens more historic attractions throughout the city to choose from. You can easily spend all day here.
Hastings Garden has some of the best views in Valletta. This is an epic place to watch the sunset. People jump up onto the walls to sit and relax.
If you plan to have dinner in Valletta during the summer tourist season, make restaurant reservations ahead of time. It can be impossible to find a decent place to eat if you wait until the last minute.
Eat Maltese Food
While in Malta, don’t miss out on some local cuisine! Even though Malta has a huge Italian influence and Italian restaurants are everywhere, make a point to go to a Maltese restaurant.
Gozitan is one of the best Maltese restaurants in Saint Julian’s. The food here was delicious and truly something special. The restaurant is tucked away on a quieter street and has a relaxed, authentic, and informal vibe.
Ta’ Marija Maltese Kitchen is another option for classic Maltese food. This place is well-known to be one of Malta’s best traditional restaurants. The restaurant is in the town of Mosta, so it might be a good option along your trip to the city of Mdina.
Wherever you end up, make sure to try a Cisk Beer. They’re lagers and pilsners made in Malta!
Malta’s Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is one of Malta’s most famous attractions, located on the little island of Comino. A paradise of crystal-clear azure water and majestic views, you won’t want to miss a trip here.
Most travelers plan for a day excursion to the Blue Lagoon. There are tons of options for different sightseeing tours, party boats, and boat transfers.
Some are Blue Lagoon boat tours that spend four hours or so on Comino, while others are longer multi-island boat tours that include a stop on Gozo, the larger Maltese island north of Comino.
The best way to escape the crowds and still enjoy Malta’s Blue Lagoon is to swim over to Cominotto Beach on the adjacent island of Cominotto. It takes about 8 to 10 minutes to swim there, a decent portion of which you can wade through.
Climbing the trail up to the top of Cominotto was one of my most memorable Malta experiences. The views of the lagoon and rock formations are epic and there’s nobody around!
A waterproof dry bag will be the best beach accessory you can bring. This way you can bring your stuff over to Cominotto and keep everything dry from the puddles in the rock.
Water shoes are an absolute must at the Blue Lagoon. You’ll be trekking along jagged rock pathways, which can be painful while barefoot.
Regular flip-flops can get caught too, especially while stepping down the incredibly narrow rock staircases to the swimming areas.
Golden Bay & Riviera Beaches
Golden Bay Beach and Riviera Beach are two hugely popular beaches on Malta’s northwest coast. They’re right next to one another, separated by the rock mass where you’ll find Għajn Tuffieħa Tower.
Both beaches are equally pretty and are one of the best options for sunset since they face west. There are plenty of conveniences around, including a beach bar and restaurant along with public restrooms.
If you’re up for a small excursion before an afternoon relaxing at Golden Bay or Riviera Beach, check out the nearby Popeye Village.
The film set of the 1980 musical Popeye, it’s one of Malta’s classic tourist attractions. I wouldn’t say it’s an absolute must-see but can be an addition to your day’s itinerary.
Malta Gay Bars
Michelangelo is the one and only official Malta gay bar. It’s located in the Paceville neighborhood, tucked between many other establishments on stepped pathways that are part of a large mixed-use outdoor complex.
Given Michelangelo’s location, they tend to attract many non-LGBT patrons that flood the adjacent establishments. This area is an enormous nightlife center and can get pretty crowded during the summer months.
There’s typically a cover charge to enter Michelangelo, which tends to deter gay travelers in combination with the relatively poor online reviews. I’d suggest checking with someone you know is inside to see what the vibe is like before going in.
Malta Gay Travel Tips
Taxi, Bus, or Car Rental in Malta?
Depending on how much you’d like to explore the country outside of Valletta and Saint Julian’s, you may want to rent a car in Malta. But before you make that decision, there are a few things to consider.
First of all, vehicles in Malta drive on the left side of the road. Not everyone is ready for that, especially with the island’s winding roads that funnel into and out of roundabouts along the shore. Renting a car for a day trip to the less urban areas might be perfectly suitable, though.
Traveling around the island by bus (either public or tour company buses) is doable and cost-efficient. Public buses are rarely used by tourists as they can be unreliable.
With the commonly-used hop-on-hop-off buses, there is a lot of accessibility, but you’ll be subject to their particular schedules. These can be restrictive, offering little to no service in the evenings.
Taking taxis using the Bolt application is another option, but not the most cost-effective. Overall, taxis are very reliable, though. Also, Uber and Lyft are not available in Malta.
Bring Water Shoes & A Beach Towel
Malta’s smooth-rock swimming areas can be extremely slippery, so water shoes are a must-have. Plus, they’ll save your feet from cuts and scrapes while visiting other places like St. Peter’s Pool and the Blue Lagoon.
Your own soft fluffy beach towel is another essential. I wouldn’t rely on hotel towels for comfort on Malta’s rocky shores. I also found that towels are not provided in various beach clubs.
Maltese & Language Tips for Malta
Maltese is one of Malta’s official languages, and I found it to be super interesting. It’s incredibly unique being the only form of Arabic to be written using the Latin alphabet.
The language is derived from Sicilian Arabic, so there’s a strong Italian and North African Arabic components. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
You’ll notice that Maltese has some extra fancy letters like the letter H with a second line through it and some other letters like C and G with dots above them, similar to the way Arabic letters do.
Even though locals speak Maltese, you might not hear it so easily. It’s mostly spoken at home. You will see it written almost everywhere, though.
Maltese locals also typically speak Italian and English. Italian used to be an official language of Malta until 1934. Now, Malta recognizes two official languages: Maltese and English.
Interestingly, I noticed men’s choices for swimsuits in Malta tended to be more on the conservative side. Expecting a full-European vibe, I wore swim briefs most of the time in the water.
Nobody gave me any strange looks for my gay swimwear, but if you’re the type who likes to blend in when it comes to taking a dip, consider some fitted swim trunks or a pair of traditional swim shorts instead.
For more destinations like Malta, check out wolfyy’s guide to Italy’s Amalfi Coast or the gorgeous island of Sardinia.