Who knew that an archipelago you can't see from space, much less on a plastic globe, could make a name for itself as both a major iGaming and fintech hub?
But they're not just leading the fourth industrial revolution. Malta has long been known to holiday makers as one of the most beautiful islands on the planet. From sight-seeing, to watersports and more hedonistic ways to pass the time, discover our recommendations of things to do while you're there.
Dive Into the Depths
Malta is a diver's paradise. Considered one of Europe's hotspots, the island is home to myriad impressive underwater sites and also represents an excellent choice for anyone considering taking their PADI Certification.
If you do decide to whip out your snorkel and fins, add Blue Grotto, famous for its biodiversity, to your must-do list, along with Comino favourite the Santa Maria Caves and sister island Gozo's Blue Hole.
Or, if the idea of scoping out sunken ships is more up your street, make room for a dive down to the Wreck of HMS Maori in Valletta, or the Wreck of MV Rozi, located in Cirkewwa.
If diving is not your thing, there's always water skiing, parasailing, jet skiing and other white knuckle watersports to keep you entertained.
Channel Your History Buff
Malta boasts an incredibly rich history, with various pre-eminent civilisations leaving indelible marks upon the island down the years.
Their legacies are represented in large part by the island's stunning array of megalithic temples which draw hordes of tourists annually.
Dating as far back as the 3rd millennium BC, some stones have even received full UNESCO World Heritage accreditation, each masterpiece a testament to the technological achievements of Europe's ancestors.
Whatever you do in Malta, make sure you squeeze in a visit one of the island's awe-inspiring prehistoric sites listed below:
- Ggantija temples in Gozo
- Tarxien temples located in Tarxien
- Hagar Qim temples situated near Qrendi, in Malta's South
- Mnajdra temples, half a km away from Hagar Qim
Once you've ticked off each attraction on the list, why not take a stroll around the majestic Grandmasters Palace in Valletta, before stopping to admire the views from Aberge de Castille - the highest point in the capital city.
Party it up in Paceville
You're bound to be thirsty after all that sight-seeing - so head for some much-needed refreshment in the famous neon strip of Paceville!
The name has become synonymous with partygoers in Malta over the years - the place to be heard and seen for anyone in search of a rollicking good time.
Start your night sipping on cocktails while taking in live music in the Thirsty Barber, before venturing onto Hugo's Terrace for a spot of people-watching amid classy surroundings.
Then, when you're ready to boogie, show Malta your best moves in one of the island's quality nightclubs. Havana, Footlose and Bar Native are all popular discos that regularly attract hordes of revellers all week long during the summer. Entry is usually free and the prices are reasonable, guaranteeing a good time for all.
A little further out of town is Café del Mar, an outdoor club catering to a higher-end crowd. Described as "the ideal place to relax, have a swim and enjoy a drink," the legendary hotspot enjoys a distinctly Mediterranean flavour, offering a unique brand of entertainment not found elsewhere on the island.
Check Out the Local Catch
Fans of seafood are in for a treat thanks to our next recommendation.
Be sure to make space in your diary for a day out at the bustling seaside village of Marsaxlokk. This charming fishing port located on the South-eastern tip of the island provides an authentic window into everyday Maltese life, retaining much of its old-world charm.
The best time to visit is early on Sunday mornings when the place comes alive, just in time for the local catch to be brought ashore. Stand wide-eyed as the day's haul is displayed in all its glory for holidaymakers to gawk at, and hagglers to barter over.
If all that seafood-gazing gets too much, escape the throngs of people by slipping into one of the many bars and restaurants lining the seafront for some honest, tasty grub cooked from the heart.
No seafood - no problem. Pizzas, sandwiches and other common fare is also served at most restaurants and seaside cafés.
Enjoy a Quad Bike Ride
Ready to hit the road? Then feel the rush of the wind as you take to the roads on an open-topped quad bike!
We recommend signing up for a guided tour, which are sold by most good hotels and across the Sliema promenade via any of the manned ticket booths.
Guided tours offer a whistle-stop tour of the island's favourite haunts - like Ramla Bay - a picture-perfect beauty spot once home to the treasured Azure Window - or the wonderous Salt Pans of Malsaforn in Gozo.
For the more independently-minded, why not ditch your tour guide altogether and drive off into the unknown. If you're feint of heart, however, a tour guide is a must!
Be sure to bring your driving license as you won't be allowed behind the wheel without one. Then get ready to experience a different side of Malta.
Hit the Tables
Not just any old tables, but those promising limitless fortune for the luckiest of gamblers among you!
Think Roulette, Blackjack, Poker.. whichever casino game takes your fancy, chances are it's on offer inside one of the island's four fully-licensed casinos.
More of a slots fan? Or just here to watch the match? Then please take a seat!
Despite Malta's diminutive size, its group of casinos attract a decidedly cosmopolitan clientele. Professional poker players often descend on the island to partake in the various world-class poker festivals staged throughout the year, while the odd international movie star has been known to drop in on occasion in between filming!
Most establishments are densely concentrated within the tourist district of St. Julian's, but if you feel like avoiding the crowds, head to Buġibba, a lower key seaside resort where the island's fourth casino can be found.
When in Malta, do as the Maltese do.
Besides washing your front step and chatting across balconies, that usually involves eating lots, and lots, of pastizzi!
The Maltese are fiercely proud of their glutinous, flaky snack, which can be eaten at any time of the day - or night, depending on your hunger levels.
Bursting with delicious fillings including ricotta, peas and even Nutella, pastizzi is available for less than a Euro at one of the numerous pastizzerias dotting the island. More and more sugary variants have found their ways into Grandmothers' cookbooks in recent times as discerning tourists and diehard foodies seek to satisfy their sweet tooth in new and delectable ways.
Super dense in calories, the nation's beloved snack has been responsible for widening countless waistbands since it was first imported by North African Muslims centuries ago. Yet despite its belly-bulging effects, the Maltese's addiction to pastizzi endures, and not a day goes by that you won't see it consumed in some corner of the island.
You can't leave the place without grabbing a little slice of Maltese heaven for yourself.
The Jewel of the Mediterranean
People often label Malta the "jewel of the Mediterranean" - and with good reason.
For a small nation just 316 km² in size, the island consistently punches its weight with more illustrious EU member states that are no match for Malta's rich history, biodiversity, sun-kissed beaches or raucous nightlife.
There are numerous other reasons to consider a trip to Malta not mentioned in this article. We bet you didn't know that Malta is a major hub for movie producers, for example.
It was chosen as the setting for US fantasy sensation Game of Thrones, as well as 1980s flic Popeye starring the late Robin Williams. The film buffs among you can still pay a visit to the original Popeye set located in the far north of the island for a delightful trip down memory lane.
All this and a whole lot more awaits on your arrival in Malta. Just don't forget your mask!