Travelling with young children is always a bit of a dilemma. Truth is young children are easily bored and perhaps not exactly overwhelmed by Malta’s rich history and legacy. Fear not – in Malta with children there are plenty of choices which ensure the kids will be alright in Malta.
In summer of course the beaches or the hotel pool can be the best diversion. Ghadira Bay with its various amenities and very shallow waters is probably the most child-friendly of the beaches but away from the seaside the sightseeing for children is fun nonetheless and should not be missed. Festas are the major summer spectacle in Malta and few people – adults and children alike – can resist the undeniable attraction of fireworks.
Popeye Village is perhaps the best family oriented attraction in Malta. Set in a lovely cove in the north of the island this is the set from the 80’s film musical Popeye starring the late Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall. While the film flopped, the film set remains the most visited attraction in the islands, with some good reason – the place is undeniably easy on the eye and a throwback to childhood even for most no-nonsense adults. Animators are an ever present feature in the Village.
If you are planning to visit Malta with children, the Malta National Aquarium at Qawra is a recent addition to the kid-friendly list – its walkthrough tunnel with sharks and rays swimming above are one highlight enjoyed by both grown-ups and children. Within the complex is also the popular hangout of Café del Mar with its large and impressive infinity pool.
Not too far from the Aquarium is the Malta Bird Park, another recent private venture housing a bewildering array of birds of all shapes and sizes. The park’s pool has a variety of waterbirds including flamingos and pelicans.
The Ta Qali National Park is also a good bet for family diversion. Set on a disused military airfield – the largest in wartime Malta – the park is a mix of formal gardens and wooded areas but also houses an adventure park and a small petting farm. Adjoining the park is the Crafts Village and an Aviation Museum.
San Anton Gardens also has a kid-friendly extension. The President’s Kitchen Garden – at the back and across the street from the main gardens – is a recent restoration of what used to be the Palace’s actual kitchen gardens. The Garden has a play area, an interactive educational section as well as a small collection of animals and a cafe.
There’s more summer fun for everyone in Malta with kids at the Splash and Fun Park in Bahar ic-Caghaq with features exciting sliding chutes – and a lot of splashing. Perhaps the ultimate excitement for your young ones (eight years and older) is the opportunity to swim with dolphins at the nearby Meditarraneo Marine Park. Not the cheapest treat for the kids but one they will certainly remember for a lifetime.
Over in Gozo there is the small and quirky Pomskizillous Museum of Toys in Xaghra – a collection of toys, dolls and dolls’ houses dating to the Victorian and Edwardian eras – a fascinating collection of a bygone era from way before pc’s and smartphones became the standard childrens’ playthings…