More rural than the northern side, the South is home to some of Malta’s finest historical gems, as well as spectacular beaches, unblemished countryside and traditional markets.
While Malta may be the size of a pinprick on the world map, there’s still a very distinct feel between the north and the south of the island. While most would attribute that to culture and economy, I’ve always believed that it’s down to the South being more authentic and set in its ways… And, at a time when most of the island is under construction, these parts still feel like the Malta of yesteryear.
The Fish Market, Marsaxlokk
Marsaxlokk is famous for its fish market. In fact, very few of our one million+ annual tourists leave the island without having at least heard of it. If you’re here on holiday, this market may not at first seem all that appealing; you’re not exactly going to buy fresh fish as a souvenir to take back home with you.
But don’t be fooled! This market encompasses the very essence of being traditionally Maltese – from the women shouting to one another, to the salty smell of the sea and fresh fish. There are also several stalls selling traditional artisan products, and opposite the market are some of Malta’s finest fish restaurants. It’s on every Sunday, so make sure you go as early as possible – we’re talking about a 7.30am start! – to get the true experience.
Photo above: Marsaxlokk Fish Market
When you first get to the village of Żurrieq, it may seem like any other village in Malta. A 20-minute walk from its centre one finds two of Malta’s most spectacular scenes. Do take a look at Wied Babu, a majestic and deep valley while making it to these two!
The first is the magical Blue Grotto – a cave that can only be accessed by boat and which reflects the colour of the sea.
The second is the rugged valley of Wied iż-Żurrieq, Qrendi. Head there to catch the boat to the Blue Grotto for a quick dip in the deep blue sea or to explore some of Malta’s best diving spots.
Photo above: The Blue Grotto
Most of Malta’s prehistoric temples are located in the south of the island, and all of them are among the oldest free-standing temples anywhere in the world. Here, in fact, you’ll find Ħaġar Qim, Qrendi – which roughly translated means ‘Stones of Worship’, Mnajdra, Qrendi and the Tarxien Temples, Tarxien. More breathtaking is the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni, Poala one of the earliest examples of underground architecture in the world dating back to 4000 BC. If you’re looking to enter these mysterious chambers, ensure you purchase your tickets months in advance.
Photo above: The Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni
Although they can no longer be called Malta’s best-kept secrets, some of the less frequented and most mesmerising tropical spots on the island are located in the south. Here you will find St Thomas’ Bay in Marsascala, St Peter’s Pool just off Marsaxlokk, Għar Lapsi just off Siġġiewi and the aforementioned Wied iż-Żurrieq. All of these are rocky beaches, but the crystal clear waters and spectacular views make it worth skipping the sand.
Photo above: St Peter’s Pool
Moreover, if you do make it to the southern part of Malta, make sure you leave some time to roam around the villages, pop into the shops and sit on a bench in the main squares!
Are there any more places of interest in the south of Malta you’d have mentioned?