Updated: Mar 22
This week we’re traveling over the rainbow to Malta! This island country in the Mediterranean Sea rose to first place on the 2016 Rainbow Europe Index by ILGA-Europe and has continued to be a destination for LGBTQ+ travelers.
Although small, the archipelago has played a vital role over the course of history, making its culture a meld of Arab and Italian traditions. Their society, however, predates back to the dawn of civilization, with remains you can see today with temples dedicated to the goddess of fertility. Traces from other early societies, such as the Phoenicians and Romans, have also influenced the island.
Malta was an extension of Sicily until 1530, when it was bequeathed to the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem. In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte took over Malta for only a few years before the English blockaded the islands. British rule lasted until 1964, when Malta became independent. Ten years later, Malta became a republic and joined the European Union in May 2004.
The archipelago comprises five islands: Malta (the largest), Gozo, Comino, and the uninhabited islets of Kemmunett and Filfla. Malta is around 58 miles south of Sicily. Its capital city is Valletta, the smallest capital in the European Union.
Due to its location in the Mediterranean Sea, the climate is what one would expect from the Mediterranean. The islands have hot, dry summers with some warm and occasionally wet autumns. Winters are short and cool, with more consistent rainfall. The temperature averages around mid-50° Fahrenheit. The best time to visit Malta is during the summer, between April and October.
As a Roman Catholic Country, Malta has an annual five-day Carnival before Lent. Although these festivities occur all over the islands, the main event is in Valletta. There you can see spirited dancing displays, such as the Parata — a sword dance commemorating a Maltese victory over the Turks — and the national dance, Il-Maltija. Carnival takes place in February.
Malta also holds its own Pride event in September. The archipelago has celebrated Pride since 2004, and year after year, the event grows. The week-long event boasts marches, speed dating, movies, dance parties, karaoke, drag shows, open mics, art shows, concerts, and educational seminars. Malta is also hosting Europride 2023, which includes a concert and parade.
Malta is known for being an idyllic location for the queer community. It has celebrated six consecutive years at the top of the ILGAs Rainbow Europe Index.
Due to the island’s size, not many venues cater exclusively to the LGBTQ+ community; however, the island is overall gay-friendly — particularly with younger generations. There is only one gay nightclub in Malta, Michelangelo Club in St. Julians. The club is two stories with its own bars and dance floors and hosts various events, including drag shows. The Michelangelo Club filled the void left after Klozet shut down during the pandemic.
Although there are no designated gay beaches in Malta, the most popular beach the queer community frequents in Malta is Riviera Bay, which also attracts nudists. The most famous beach is Gnejna Bay.
If you’re looking to party or explore Maltese culture, this queer-friendly archipelago is the perfect getaway!
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