Malta...a tiny island with a sophisticated culture. Just what marks its culture is its religious background with a flair for getting out of the warm homes in summer and to spend a cosy evening in the winter!  They have been ruled by so many different nationalities and rulers  which  have all left something behind in the Maltese culture.

As Malta is small, and most interesting cultural and natural spots are normally concentrated within one small area (such as the area of  Valletta , or the area of Zurrieq for the beautiful grotto and prehistoric temples), it is best to explore Malta by bike.  Cycling is not only fun, clean and healthy, it will allow you to enter pedestrianized zones and make the sights more accessible. Although you cannot carry bicycles on public transport, search and pre-book online for services which allow you to explore Malta by bike, as some services include the cost of transporting bikes in the price of a bike rental or bike adventure.

Briefly....

Malta is a deeply religious country, with very traditional values and norms. Hearing mass on Sunday is still a habit, and shirking away from it is frowned upon by the older generations. The Maltese try to find ways and means how to make life on this tiny island more colourful and varied. New trends and ideas from abroad help to shape the way how the inhabitants spend their time.  Fifty years ago the Maltese were a very insular nation but nowadays thanks to modern technology , television, travel and visitors that has all changed and  although the family unit is very close, the way of life is like that of other european countries.

The Maltese are usually very helpful and hospitable people. They just love hosting and welcoming tourists, partly because tourism is vital for the survival of Malta. In general they are, however, quite conservative and do not like certain customs that tourists bring along with them sometimes.  It is very easy to get into a conversation with the locals

Malta has a very weak reading culture. Literature is not cherished in general, except by the cultured lot. However, one cannot say that the Maltese do not  read at all, because political papers are scrutinised and read from cover to cover by many, even those who are almost illiterate. Politics is important in Malta, and is the subject of many discussions. Nearly everything in Malta has political connotations, even band clubs and professions.  As Malta is so small  the politicians are easily accessible .  Other heated subjects are  football and village feasts - and they can be VERY heated.

In summer 

The Maltese people just love to go out. In summer, they spend a lot of time by the sea, either swimming during the day or holding barbecues on the sandy or rocky beaches  in the evening. The sea is so much part of the culture that there are many who own or rent an apartment by the sea just to be even closer for a plunge.  You will see whole families out on the Promenades in Summer and nothing beats a stroll there.

Open air discotheques are also very in. They bring the music scene out into the open air. These are popular in the hot summer when people just want to spend time outside instead of locked in a stifling overcrowded place.  Spending an evening in an al fresco bar, preferably overlooking the sea is the ideal way to while away the time .

In winter 

Mdina in the evening is also a beckoning old town. Named the Silent City, for the reason its name implies, it attracts locals and tourists alike for its spectacular views and the restaurants satisfying the appetites of demanding patrons.  Walk through the cobbled narrow streets lined with palazzi, chapels, noble houses. Admire the Cathedral and the large square in front.

Traditional  Trades

There has been a realisation recently that it is important to see that tradional trades do not die out as they form an important part of Maltese culture.

Qormi was home to the first bakers of Malta and was well known in the time of the Knights. It is still renowned for its bakers today.  Every year a festival is held with various activities promoting Maltese folklore. You can experience the way Maltese of years gone by lived, watch how Maltese bread is made and just enjoy yourself with a glass of wine (maltese of course) .

Maltese wine is very good and a number of festivals are held each year with wine tasting and folklore.

Another product that deserves attention is Olive Oil.  The presses are kept busy.  Oil in maltese is Zejt.  Zejtun celebrates the olive picking season and olive pressing for oil.  Again the Maltese don`t lose any opportunity to enjoy a festival -  typical agricultural products and folk art will be exhibited in the ambience of an old country village.

Maltese Lace has always been sought after. Nowadays, as you wander through the streets of Gozo , you are unlikely to come across women working away at their bobbins as you would have done just 30 years ago.  But the ancient tradition of Maltese lace making is changing rather than simply fading away and designs are being brought up to date. 

Falconry is still practiced, so is the Rowing Regatta in the Grand Harbour, Fireworks Festivals and Carnival also have a place in the calender of events.

Malta has so much to offer, so versatile are the possibilites of making life a little more vibrant and full of energy. And all this, in spite of it having just about 30km of length!