Visiting Luqa - What to See and Do
(Malta International Airport MLA, Malta)
Luqa is often described as the gateway to Malta, as the busy Malta International Airport has operated here for more than 20 years. Millions of visitors pass through this sleepy township annually, although they rarely stay for more than an hour or two. Luqa understands its limitations in the tourism industry, and gladly bows to its larger neighbour, Valletta, which is host to many of Malta's most alluring attractions.
Malta and its towns may be small, but this Mediterranean island nation punches well above its weight when it comes to rich, cultural sites. The capital city, Valletta, is a wonderland of medieval structures and historical attractions, including an impressive fortified wall built by the famous Knights of St. John. Behind this fortification, Valletta boasts a long list of sightseeing landmarks, from the city's cathedral to the fortress of St. James Cavalier.
Visitors can also enjoy a short shopping experience along the pedestrian-friendly downtown area known as Republic Street. The sights of Valletta's illuminated waterfront district are extravagant, and so dining in this area is recommended. The city tends to shut down after sunset, meaning that tourists can find plenty of time to rejuvenate before the coming day.
Ten things you must do in and around Luqa
- St. John's Co-Cathedral is home to arguably the most beautiful floor in the world, filled with colourful graves of St. John's Knights. The outside of the cathedral isn't overly attractive, but the sparkling interior certainly makes up for it. Included in the entrance fee is an audio guide, which takes visitors through the brilliant intricacies of the nave and chapels.
- Standing adjacent to the cathedral is the Cathedral Museum, which holds some spectacular paintings, including Caravaggio's 'Beheading of St. John the Baptist'. In addition, the beautiful 'St. Jerome III' masterpiece by Caravaggio is also on show.
- Even though the Palace of the Grand Masters is not open every day, it does contain an interesting hall of Knight armoury. This part of the landmark is open between 09:00 and 17:00 daily. Audio guides can be purchased, but are not overly necessary. If tourists can find their way into the restricted areas when they are open, the staterooms are well worth a look.
- The Malta Experience is a fantastic opportunity to discover the history of this amazing Mediterranean destination. Located along Valletta's Mediterranean Street, this museum-type attraction houses everything one could want to know about Malta's culture and history. A detailed look at major events that have helped shape the island nation is available.
- Explore the ancient past of Malta by strolling along the old city walls and gates that still encompass most of the city. Built by the Maltese knights during the 16th century, these ramparts and walls can be a little imposing. However, they do put Valletta onto the European map. Walk the ancient walls to see what all the fuss is about.
- Art enthusiasts will be enchanted by the Museum of Fine Art, found in the capital. The world's largest collection of Mattia Preti is housed inside the museum. In addition, work by Caravaggisti, Erardi and Ribera make up most of the collections in this fine attraction.
- The St. James Cavalier is a medieval fortress that still stands in the city of Valletta. However, it isn't the 'medievalness' that makes this site so popular. Inside the ancient facade is Malta's Centre for Creativity. There is a museum, theatre and cinema. Several exhibition halls make for interesting strolls through this landmark.
- Republic Street shopping is a must for any traveller to Malta. Located just 5 km / 3 miles from the town of Luqa, this popular pedestrian mall is also the centre of Malta's capital. From souvenir shops to fabulous retail stores, Republic Street is the perfect spot for shopaholics. Enjoy a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants along the strip too.
- The Sliema seafront is another fascinating spot for tourists. Fashion shopping here is the best on Malta. However, there is much more to Sliema's seafront than this. Several pebble beaches greet tourists, offering clear, clean and safe swimming spots. Bars, cafés and restaurants help put the town of Sliema at the top of Malta's tourism highlights.
- The National Library contains articles and archives from way back when St. John's Knights of the 11th century dominated Malta. Remember to bring a photo identification card or passport to gain entry into the library. Visitors will likely be surprised by the old wooden cabinets that house some of history's most important medieval documents.