Malta or Mallorca | Scenery | History | Costs | More
Both Malta and Mallorca are fantastic holiday destinations. They are similar in some respects, sharing much of the same flora, fauna, rocks and culture since they are within the Mediterranean region. However, they are two different islands. Mallorca is almost 15 times the size of Malta and they offer different experiences.
Mallorca is better for travellers after scenic beauty, hiking trails, beautiful beaches, and family-friendly resorts. While Malta does offer similar experiences, its smaller size means a more limited availability. However, history buffs will find Malta more appealing, plus it is around 50% cheaper than Mallorca for accommodation and activities.
After living in Malta for most of my life and having visited Mallorca, here is what I can tell you about the two islands. I will also include pictures and videos so you can get a better idea of the two islands and what they have to offer.
Both islands have their fair share of beautiful scenery, but Mallorca is the winner in this case. This is partly because Mallorca is a lot larger than Malta. Here is a short 12 second clip of the stunning Formentor area in Mallorca:
Malta has its own unique charm with picturesque harbours, hills and rugged cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Additionally the island’s compact size allows visitors to easily explore its various attractions.
Malta has some beautiful picturesque locations ranging from the Grand Harbour in Valletta to pretty traditional villages like Marsaxlokk. However Malta is not the one with the best countryside views. Gozo, Malta’s smaller sister island, is less developed with more hills and wilder. In fact I highly recommend that if you go to Malta, you visit Gozo for at least a day.
On the other hand, since Mallorca is larger than Malta it boasts a more diverse landscape. It has dramatic mountain ranges, long sandy beaches, and lush valleys. The Tramuntana Mountains on the west side are a UNESCO World Heritage site and offer breath-taking vistas.
Additionally there are some charming villages nestled in the middle of the mountains. Some of them include some beautiful old monasteries built centuries ago. One of the monasteries gets half a million visitors and pilgrims per year – Santuari de Lluc.
At the time I visited I was not aware I could book a stay here at the monastery. It would have been nice to take my time to visit this sacred place, plus it is one of the cheapest places to stay in Mallorca. In fact when I go back to Mallorca I will likely book a stay for at least one night.
If you are interested, you can book a room at Santuari de Lluc here. The good thing about the monastery is that it is in the central western area. This means that you can use the monastery as a convenient starting point for you to easily visit other nearby towns. Nearby, you have the ever wonderful Sóller and other towns like Deià and Valdemossa.
Malta and Mallorca both have their share of history. However, in this case there is no comparison, Malta is the definite winner.
Mallorca has 5 UNESCO world heritage sites, 4 of which are historical:
- Palma Cathedral,
- Arab baths in Palma,
- Carthusian monastery in Valldemossa and
- The stone villages in Serra de Tramuntana
Apart from the cathedral and the Arab baths in Palma, there are other sites that are not UNESCO sites. You have the Royal Palace of La Almudaina and the Bellver Castle both of which are popular sites to visit.
Palma itself is a gorgeous city with an old town centre. It has a captivating blend of architectural styles, reflecting the city’s diverse historical influences over the centuries. The predominant styles are Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Modernist/Art Nouveau, Moorish and Neoclassical.
As mentioned earlier, there are also many old and charming villages in the Tramuntana mountains. Sóller is the most stunning and historical. It comes complete with a vintage 100 year old train that connects Palma to Sóller and a tram to take you to the Port de Sóller. Here is a short 15 second video showing the tram in Sóller’s city centre:
Malta on the other hand has 3 UNESCO world heritage sites, all of which are historical:
- City of Valletta
- Megalithic temples
- Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum
At a glance, it seems like there are less historical sites to see in Malta vs Mallorca. But, that’s before you get to know that Valletta has 320 monuments.
Malta has a rich history since it is in a strategic location in the middle of the Mediterranean. As a result, many different empires wanted to rule over the island in the past. The island’s long list of rulers includes the Phenicians, Normans, Arabs and the Knights of Malta.
The Knights of Malta in particular left a significant impact on the island. They brought many of the best skilled engineers, artists and craftsman from Europe to build many cities including the 3 cities and Valletta.
Valletta is a treasure trove with many palaces, museums, auberges, churches and fortifications. The main highlights include:
- St John’s Co Cathedral
- The Grandmaster’s Palace
- The Grand Harbour and Saluting Battery
- Casa Rocca Piccola
- Manuel Theatre
- Fort St Elmo
There is more information on these sites on visiting Valletta. Apart from Valletta and the 3 cities, there are the old towns of Mdina and Citadella in Gozo. Additionally there are 7 megalithic temples, the most popular and better preserved are:
- Ggantija (Gozo)
- Ħaġar Qim
The megalithic temples in Malta are around 5,000 to 6,000 years old. They are amongst the oldest freestanding temples in the world, dating back to the Neolithic period.
However the best preserved site from the Neolithic period is the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum. This is because it is underground and not weathered by the elements. It is an ancient burial site and archaeological treasure that offers valuable insights into burial practices and beliefs of prehistoric inhabitants.
Both Malta and Mallorca have some stunning beaches, but Malta is limited in size and offers less of them. Plus Malta does not have long stretches of sandy beaches like Mallorca does.
So Mallorca in this case beats Malta by a mile. Although both have resort areas to make the most of the sun and sea.
Both Malta and Mallorca have a range of different types of beaches including sandy, pebbled and small rocky coves with sand.
The best beaches in Mallorca in my opinion is Camp de Mar and Port de Pollença. Not only do they have clear and shallow water, but also benefit from a view of the Tramuntana Mountains.
The one in the Port de Sóller is even more spectacular, but the water is a little murky (although it’s still fine to swim in). Otherwise it would get featured on the top list on this site and others also.
Mallorca has many other amazing beaches, like Cala Millor which has fine stretches of white sand, or Cala del Moro, a gorgeous secluded cove. Several of these beaches are in some great resort areas which I will cover further down in the families section.
Malta’s beaches are a lot smaller in size. Most are picturesque coves that are flanked by rocks on either side like Golden Bay, Riviera Beach or Paradise Bay. The best bays are listed in order on the beaches in Malta.
The best ones are the Blue Lagoon in Comino, Golden Bay and Għadira Bay. Blue Lagoon is not suitable for young children and you do need to catch a ferry to get there. However it is spectacular, in fact there is a scene in the movie Troy with Brad Pit in this lagoon.
Gozo has several small beaches and only one larger one called Ramla il-Ħamra. It is the best beaches in Gozo supporting the only beach with a reddish toned sand surrounded by stunning countryside hills.
Malta and Mallorca are almost evenly matched when it comes to catering for families with children. However Mallorca has the slight edge because it has more family-friendly resorts and some larger scale parks for kids.
There are 5 great areas in Mallorca for families; Palma Nova, Camp de Mar, Cala Milor, Alcúdia and Port de Pollença. Most of them are located next to or in close proximity to some fun kids activities.
Palma Nova in the south west is definitely the best. Not only does it offer one of the best beaches in Mallorca, it is also in close proximity to many of the best kids activities you can look forward to on the island. Marineland and Katmandu Park in particular are brilliant places to spend the day.
Dinosaurland and the Safari Zoo are also fantastic and close to Cala Millor in the east. The article I linked above: 5 great areas in Mallorca for families, contains detailed information on each area. It also has a map of activities, and suggestions for the best family-friendly resorts.
The resorts are hand-picked and have the most family-friendly amenities. They include family rooms, kids clubs, play areas and playgrounds, games rooms and occasionally a baby sitting service. They have everything to ensure you have a comfortable stay and a wonderful time in Mallorca.
Malta has a small selection of resort areas that are great for families. There is Sliema, St. Paul’s Bay and Mellieha, all of which are covered in the article on Malta with kids. This article covers the suitability, itineraries with fun kids activities and accommodation options.
Malta is very kid friendly and offers many kids activities that are spread across the island. Unfortunately it lacks the large parks that other larger islands or countries offer. Nonetheless, there is the Playmobil FunPark, Splash and Fun water park, Mediterraneo marine park and Popeye Village which are definite highlights.
Since Malta is so small, you could choose to stay anywhere on the island and travel around to where you need to go. However the most family-friendly hotels are located in the resort areas of the island. There are only 4 hotels in Malta that do a great job for catering for families. All are listed in the article on Malta with kids.
Verdict: Malta is less expensive
Malta and Mallorca have similar costs when it comes to food and public transport.
A restaurant meal of pizza or pasta will cost around €50 for a couple, that would include water, a glass of wine and coffee. Of course any meat dishes will cost more. Transport is a standard €2 for a journey and travel passes with multiple journeys are available on both islands.
For hotels and activities, Malta on average is less expensive. Of course you can find less expensive and budget accommodation on both islands, but the average hotel costs around 50% less in Malta.
Mallorca resort areas tend to be more expensive when it comes to accommodation. In Malta it varies, for example St. Paul’s Bay is less expensive than Sliema and St. Julian’s. Valletta although not a resort area caters more for luxury travellers and is more expensive.
Family-friendly hotel resorts are equally as expensive in Mallorca and Malta. The only exception is The Preluna hotel in Sliema.
Historical sites and kids activities in general are less expensive in Malta by quite a margin. That is to say, unless you visit St. John’s Co Cathedral in Valletta. St. John’s is almost double what you would pay to see the Palma Cathedral. However, all other activities are at least half the price in Malta.
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