With tons of history, beautiful beaches and landscapes, friendly people and delicious food, Malta is a great getaway for just a weekend trip or longer.
It’s also an extremely gay-friendly destination and LGBTQ+ rights in Malta have come a long way in the last 50 years. Starting in 1973, the island nation legalised same-sex sexual activity, and in 2014 became the first EU nation to allow individuals to legally change their gender simply by signing a document with a lawyer.
Beyond the legal picture, it’s also just a very open, accepting place where mutual respect and acceptance is highly valued, making it easy to be openly queer while visiting this gorgeous Mediterranean archipelago.
As an island nation, Malta is really best reached by plane. Unless you’re taking a cruise that stops off in Malta, it’s unlikely you’ll arrive any other way. Luckily, Malta’s international airport, situated 9km south of the capital, has direct connections to cities all over Europe and the Middle East. Alternatively, there are two ferry routes in and out of Malta that connect the main island with Sicily: one to Catania which takes about 4 hours and runs 8 times a week, and another to Pozzallo taking around 2 hours and running 12 times a week.
Best gay hotels
Probably the best place to base yourself for a trip to Malta is in the capital, Valletta. Here, you’ll have access to all of the conveniences of a city, as well as the best options for eating and nightlife, while still being well connected to the rest of the island and surroundings.
Here are two top options for gay-friendly hotels in Valletta.
This luxury hotel in downtown Valletta is the perfect place to stay if you want to splurge. Built inside the shell of a 17th century mansion, all of the rooms are unique and modern with a historic Maltese twist. There’s a rooftop terrace and pool which offers magnificent views over the capital and out to sea and some of the rooms even have their own private sauna!
Where: 167 Merchants St, Valletta
Telephone: +356 2124 5245
Also in downtown Valletta, this modern hotel is not quite as high end as Rosselli, but still offers fantastic opportunities for taking in all the sights of the city from a comfortable, convenient location. Standard rooms are on the small side, but still clean and functional with nice traditional Maltese touches, and there are several other unique services the hotel offers, such as free iPads to use in the lounge that will tell you which of the nearby beaches has the best conditions each day.
Where: 62 Melita St, Valletta
Telephone: +356 2247 6600
What to see and do
Malta has so many spectacular natural wonders, and some of the most impressive are to be found on Comino, a small, uninhabited island between Malta and Gozo. On the north of the island are the Santa Maria Caves, which offer gorgeous views and adventurous swimming opportunities, while in the west is the famous Blue Lagoon, a popular and easily accessible swimming spot with crystal blue waters and beautifully clean beaches.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can actually walk around the whole island in an hour, stopping to see the few sights and take in the views out across the sea.
Try scuba diving: whether you’re a seasoned diver or a total novice, Malta has something for you. From Comino, there are tons of great diving opportunities, excellent for reef and cave diving. If you’re interested in diving to see a wrecked ship, the HMS Maori, which lies 14 metres below sea level right in the bay by Valletta, is a good option, especially for beginners as it’s not too deep.
If you’re more interested in city life and history than landscapes, consider taking a gay walking tour of Valetta. There are various kinds, exploring history, nightlife, culture and fashion through a queer lense, which will point out some of the city’s best gay-owned businesses and nuggets of queer history peppered around the streets.
Where to eat
With a long history as a crossroads in the Mediterranean, Maltese cuisine has been heavily influenced by the Spanish, French, Sicilians and North Africans. That is to say, the food on the islands can be quite spectacular, to say the least! Here are some of the best places to eat out in or around Valletta, which is arguably where the best food options in Malta are to be found.
For a deep dive on Malta’s cuisine and where to find it, check out our guide to Maltese cuisine.
This all-vegan restaurant offers an a la carte dining experience, or access to an impressive all-you-can-eat buffet of cooked and raw salads and other vegetable dishes. The focus here is on healthy eating, but you can still get a good vegan burger and some delicious vegan baked goods.
Where: 182 Triq Ix – Xatt, Il-Gżira
Telephone: +356 2732 0556
“Where Melbourne meets Malta” is the slogan of this waterside restaurant with lovely views out over Spinola Bay. Here you can get excellent quality food at all times of day, but it is the breakfasts that really steal the show here. Vegan and gluten-free options are clearly marked on the menu and all hot drinks can be served with soy, coconut or almond milk and staff are super friendly and helpful without being intrusive.
Where: 106 Triq Spinola San Ġiljan
Telephone: +356 2122 2221
Best bars, clubs and nightlife in Malta
Valletta and the surrounding area has a vibrant nightlife scene, with plenty of establishments catering specifically to the queer crowd. Here are some of the top recommendations. Most of Malta’s best nightlife is concentrated in the district of Paceville in St Julian’s, just 20 minutes north of downtown Valletta.
Michelangelo Club Lounge
With a lively dancefloor, bar and chillout areas, this is one of Malta’s most popular gay bars and dance clubs around. The staff are friendly and welcoming, and the vibe is relaxed and communal, making it a good place to meet locals and get the best insider tips!
Where: St Rita Steps, St Julians
Telephone: +356 7944 7408
This is a friendly gay bar with an extensive range of good quality drinks available, all served with free appetisers (tapas style). They host regular karaoke nights, which can be wildly popular and a lot of fun, as well as live performances from musicians, drag performers and cabaret artists.
Where: Triq il-Kbira, Ir-Rabat
Telephone: +356 7978 2243
Malta’s pride has come a long way from their first pride march in 2004, which saw only 100 people taking to the streets. Now, the annual event attracts people from all over Europe and beyond, making for a lively celebration for LGBTQ+ people and allies alike with thousands of participants. This year, Malta’s pride will take place on the second weekend of September and into the following week. On the actual day of pride, the parade will cut right through the heart of Valletta, and in the days following, there will be afterparties featuring local and international DJs and performers dotted at venues all over the capital.
Since 2001, this group has existed to provide help and support to the LGBTQ+ community in Malta. They run a 24 hour helpline where anyone can call in to feel heard and supported and they also help launch projects by and for the queer community across the islands. You can visit their office in Mosta on Tuesday or Thursday afternoons, and you can always donate to help them run their operations for the benefit of Malta’s queer community.
This Facebook group is a good place to connect to the alternative queer community in Malta, even before you arrive. Events, news, activism and announcements relevant to the queer scene in Malta are all shared here, and friendly discussion is encouraged.
Note: These rates are based on the most recent data pulled from KAYAK.co.uk, the cheapest prices are always displayed first, regardless of specific dates mentioned. The prices are quoted in GBP. Flight prices are based on results for a return economy flight search. Hotel prices are for double occupancy, are per night and include taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or no longer be available.