Top 10 Sites To Visit With A Heritage Malta Pass
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From the neolithic to the early modern period, Malta is a nation steeped in 7000 years of history. There are megalithic temples dating to around 3600 BC, medieval towns with narrow streets and an extensive network of catacombs to explore. Museums, galleries and reconstructed properties sit alongside rich military and prehistoric architecture, all of it making for a fascinating historical journey. It’s here that the Heritage Malta Pass comes in.
About The Heritage Malta Pass:
The Heritage Pass provides admission to 22 historical sites and museums plus Malta National Aquarium. Each one offers exceptional value- potentially saving you over €200 on individual admission prices should you choose to visit all the sites. They even provide 10% discounts on purchases from any Heritage Malta museum shop. A Heritage Malta Pass is valid for 30 days from first use.
Prices for the Heritage Malta Pass:
- Adults| €50.00.
- Seniors and Students | €38.00.
- Children | €25.00.
The family ticket is great value, as it covers up to 2 adults and 2 children for just €110.00 (saving €40). Note that children are aged 6 to 17 years as most sites operated by Malta Heritage offer free admission to those aged 5 and under.
Places To Visit With A Heritage Pass:
Our top 10 sites to visit with a Heritage Pass include a mixture of prehistoric, Roman and early modern landmarks, as well as various museums.
1) Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples:
These temples are so close together that we’ve merged them into number 1 on the list. Hagar Qim has a prime position on a hilltop overlooking the sea and the islet of Fifla. A steep walk down towards the sea takes you to the Mnajdra Temples.
This complex consists of three structures, the southernmost unit of which aligns with sunrise on the first day of each season. Take care while walking, as the path may be paved but the hill’s slope is very steep. Single entry tickets can be bought from the site’s dedicated visitor centre if you don’t plan on investing in the full pass.
2) The Inquisitor’s Palace, Birgu:
This Inquisitor’s Palace is the only one of its kind open to public viewing, and for that reason alone it is worthy of a visit. Its themed exhibitions explore Maltese culture between the 16th and 18th centuries, all within a delectably authentic renaissance ambience.
3) Malta Maritime Museum:
With Malta being an island there is a rich maritime heritage just waiting to be uncovered. Old and modern exhibits are represented side-by-side in the Maritime Museum, with full sized vessels, scale models and remarkable artefacts all on show.
4) National Museum of Archaeology:
The archaeology museum is home to intricate stone block carvings, pots and other artefacts that have been removed from Malta’s megalithic temple sites for preservation. Seeing the real ones during a visit to this museum is a must. The original ‘Sleeping Lady’ statuette found in the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is one such treasure currently on public display.
5) Malta National Aquarium:
Malta National Aquarium features spectacular Mediterranean themed exhibits as well as an underwater tunnel. See fearsome sharks and other exotic sea creatures as the swim overhead.
6) The National War Museum:
The National War Museum is located within the walls of Fort St Elmo in Valetta. The exhibitions can be accessed by walking through much of the fort. Peep through the small barred windows for a glimpse of the picturesque harbour below. Alongside traditional displays you can expect to see interactive visual experiences projected onto the floors and walls.
7) Domvs Romana:
Within the remains of this sophisticated 1st century Roman residence you’ll find one of the oldest and best-preserved mosaic floors in the western Mediterranean region. The building now forms part of a museum, so in addition to the intricate mosaic tiles you can also view various statues, pots and other artefacts of Roman domestic life. Did you know that it also houses the only complete marble depiction of Emperor Claudius and his family?
8) St Paul’s Catacombs:
St Paul’s Catacombs are not the only Maltese catacombs (burial chambers) open to visitors, but they are one of the most popular and extensive. Metal walkways, low ceilings and lots of stairs – not for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia!
Traveller Tip: St Paul’s Catacombs are located in the town of Rabat, which directly borders the old Maltese capital Mdina. For a wonderful medieval experience head to Mdina during the annual medieval festival. It’s a vibrant re-creation of life during the Maltese Middle Ages featuring live music, marching, archery and falconry displays, and of course, amazing food!
9) Tarxien Temples (near Hypogeum):
The Tarxien temple site is the most complex and decorated temple site on Malta (some of the stones have been removed and are housed in the National Museum of Archaeology). It is estimated to have been built between 3600 and 2500 BC and consists of four megalithic structures.
10) Ghar Dalam:
The museum associated with this cave houses an extensive collection of animal bones that were discovered in 500,000 year old deposits. Many of them are displayed in glass cabinets throughout the museum. Some skeletons have been reconstructed to show the types of animals that lived on Malta during the last Ice Age. Each one is clearly explained through text and artistic impressions, while models and posters detail how the cave itself formed and what the area would have looked like.
Gozo and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum:
Six of the 24 sites are actually on the island of Gozo. Malta’s northern neighbour is accessible by rental car and a passenger ferry service that takes just 30 minutes. The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum entrance fee is not included on the Heritage Malta Pass but will be well worth a visit when it re-opens following extensive conservation efforts (estimated to be mid 2017).
Getting Around The Sites:
All of Malta’s heritage sites are accessible by public bus. Some sites may require a short walk from the closest bus stop. There is a handy app for smartphones (search for tallinja) to track buses and a website (Public Transport Malta) for planning routes. Although more expensive, taxis can be booked either from your place of accommodation or the nearest taxi rank.
Horse drawn carriages operate close to Valetta bus station. These offer a variety of routes including ones that visit Fort St Elmo and the waterfront. A ferry service operates between Valetta waterfront and the marina across the bay at Vittoriosa. Visit Valletta Ferry Services for a schedule, map and fees. From here you can walk to the Maritime Museum and the Inquisitors Palace.
The ferry is a great way to catch the cooling sea breeze and view the mega yachts in the marina up close! The City Sightseeing Malta tour also caters to many of the nation’s heritage sites, as well as other interesting attractions dotted across the two main islands.
For more information on the Heritage Malta sites and to pay for your passes online visit their official website at www.shop.heritagemalta.org.