After visiting the famous sights of Valletta and Mdina, dive into the depths of Maltese culture at Marsaxlokk, a beautiful fishing town in southern Malta that’s famous for its colourful luzzu boats. From swimming in St Peter’s Pool and discovering historic forts, to browsing the Marsaxlokk fish market and dining alongside the island’s largest and most picturesque harbour, there’s plenty to see and do. Located just a 30-minute drive from the hotel, this is the perfect destination for a day trip to the southern shores of Malta.
The vessels that bob in the harbour of Marsaxlokk are more than your average fishing boats. Known as luzzus, these traditional and distinctive Maltese boats are brightly painted in primary colours. In keeping with traditions dating back to Phoenician times, the eye of Horus (an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection) is painted on the front bow to protect fishermen out at sea. The boats are attractions in themselves and a colourful symbol of the Maltese islands.
Seek out fresh-off-the-boat fish and seafood at the Marsaxlokk fish market. Taking place every Sunday, the popular market has expanded in recent years to include stalls offering souvenirs and local produce such as jam, honey, vegetables and wine. It’s a fascinating opportunity to mix with the locals and experience everyday Maltese life.
When in Marsaxlokk, dining at one of the many seafood restaurants that line the harbour is a must. Pick a table on the terrace overlooking the harbour at Principino Restaurant or La Nostra Padrona and dine on fresh seafood as you watch the boats come and go. There are also several bars overlooking the harbour, such as Southport Villa, that offer fantastic views and drinks at sunset.
A beautiful natural pool carved into the Maltese coast, St Peter’s Pool is an excellent spot for swimming and sunbathing. Flat rocks surrounding the enclave provide a comfortable resting place, while the calm azure waters are inviting to swimmers of all ages. If you’re feeling adventurous, jump right into the blue, or climb one of the ladders provided.
Dominating the village skyline is the Marsaxlokk Parish Church. Dedicated to Our Lady of Pompeii, the 19th century Roman Catholic church is typically Maltese and is worth visiting for its beautiful gold, white and red interiors. Take special note of the historical statues that decorate the building and the paintings by Maltese artist Giuseppe Calì.
Fort Delimara – which film buffs may recognise from 2016 movie Assassin’s Creed – is one of the island’s many coastal defences built by the Knights of Malta. It may not be as grand as the fortifications of Valletta, but its unique location, built into the cliff face, is a sight to behold. The fort is in endangered due to coastal erosion so it isn’t open to the public, but you can see it from the outside with a walking tour or boat ride around Delimara Point.
Adventurers with a passion for history can visit St Lucian Tower, an ancient polygonal fort that’s now home to the Malta Aquaculture Research Centre. The impressive structure, built by the Order of St John in the 17th century is one of the largest watchtowers on the island. The idea for the building allegedly came about in a dream when a woman claimed that, during her sleep, St John told her the area around Marsaxlok needed to be fortified. While her dream was ignored, soon thereafter there was an attack, so the fort was built. Tours inside the tower are offered on Saturdays at 10am for small groups and 11am for larger bookings.
Are you an art lover or culture vulture holidaying in Malta? Well, you’ll be pleased to find that this Mediterranean island may be small, but it packs a punch when it comes to art and culture. Here are six recommended destinations to add to your itinerary to experience the best of Malta’s art scene.