How Malta made its name as a top LGBTQ+ tourist destination

Malta prides itself on being a LGBTQ+ friendly holiday destination (Picture: Visit Malta)

There’s a lot to consider when travelling as an LGBTQ+ person, from whether homosexuality is illegal in your chosen country, to finding somewhere you’ll be able to find likeminded people.

That’s why it’s essential your well-earned break is in a place that gives you the freedom to relax while feeling accepted and safe.

One destination that prides itself on its LGBTQ+ friendly attitude is the island of Malta, located in the Mediterranean sea amongst an archipelago that flies the flag for LGBTQ+ rights.

Just a three-hour flight from the UK, there’s every reason to visit the Maltese Islands – and it’s not just for the tranquil environment and 300 days of sunshine a year.

Individuals and couples of all sexualities and genders can definitely expect a warm welcome, as the country has experienced a definite and positive shift towards greater cultural acceptance of LGBTQ+ people over the years. So much so, the Maltese Islands ranked top of the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Europe Index in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

The island held it’s first Pride in 2004 and will host EuroPride next year (Picture: Visit Malta)
Malta is a place where visitors can feel safe to be themselves (Picture: Visit Malta)

With homosexuality decriminalised in 1973, residents and tourists are free to have same-sex relationships without fear of persecution. Since then, LGBTQ+ rights have continued to improve, with lesbian, gay, and bisexual people permitted to serve openly in the military since 2002 and the country throwing it’s first Pride march in 2004.

Visitors can also be safe in the knowledge that it’s not just all talk – Malta actually lives up to its reputation as a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community. Not only were they the first country in the world to outlaw sterilisation and invasive surgery on intersex people in 2015, the following year, Malta continued setting examples by becoming the first European country to ban gay conversion therapy.

In a destination brimming with rich history and breathtaking scenery, there’s countless places to see and things to enjoy this summer in Malta – so here’s your very own handy guide on making the most of the island as an LGBTQ+ traveller.   

Let your hair down at the clubbing and festival scene

Malta has become famous for its party scene, allowing revellers to rave all night and then recuperate the following day surrounded by picturesque views.

Michelangelo Club Lounge – located in the heart of Malta’s nightlife in Paceville – regularly hosts themed events that will keep party-goers dancing until dawn.

If that’s not your scene there’s Rubies Bar in San Gwann, known and loved for its fun vibe, karaoke, pool table, and chart music for the lesbian community. As if that wasn’t enough, the LGBTQ+ community can also enjoy a cabaret show at the gay-friendly Birdcage Lounge.

Paceville is a popular nightlife hotspot (Picture: Getty Images)

Be a daredevil and try outdoor activities

So, you don’t fancy sunbathing all day and partying isn’t really your thing – never fear. Malta also boasts plenty of opportunities to get stuck into outdoor activities, whether it’s rock climbing, snorkelling, or mountain biking, there’s something for every thrill seeker.

If scuba diving is on your bucket list, the Mediterranean Sea boasts warm water and excellent visibility all year round. The islands consistently rank as one of the top three in the Destination of the Year category at the Diver Magazine Awards, thanks to its abundance of reefs, caves, and wrecks to explore.

Take a dip in the Med, where the water is warm all year round (Picture: Getty Images)

You needn’t limit your fun to the water, as you can also explore the countryside of the Maltese Islands via quad biking, discovering the stunning bays hugging sparkling crystal-clear waters and topographical cliffs. Sandy beaches open up the landscape to the untouched countryside, dotted with churches and farmsteads.

See the sights and soak up the culture

Valetta, the capital of Malta, has beautiful baroque architecture and rich heritage to take in. So beautiful, in fact, that it earned the capital city the accolade of being the European Capital of Culture in 2018. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to elegant streets, stunning historical monuments, and an increasing number of luxury boutique hotels to lay your head after a day of exploring.

Malta’s capital, Valetta, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Picture: Visit Malta)

But it’s not the island’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site – there are two more to explore: the Megalithic Temples on the south-eastern coastline and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, a unique monument which is thought to date back to 2500BC.

For when you fancy a day at the beach, Ramla Bay is the perfect place to top up on Vitamin D. Known in Maltese as Ramla il-Hamra (Red Sands), it is the biggest sandy beach on the Maltese Island of Gozo. If you’re looking for a picturesque sandy paradise to relax on that’s surrounded by Meditarian blue waters, look no further than Ramla Bay.

When evening rolls around and you want a romantic cherry to top off your dream of a day, you can take a stroll along Dingli Cliffs, located on the Western coast. They stand at around 253 metres above sea level and are an impressive sight from an island cruise, especially at sunset.

The Dingli cliffs stage the highest point of the Maltese Islands (Picture: Getty Images)

 So, whether you’re after a location for a romantic break, chaotic hen or stag do, or perhaps just a place to holiday with the kids, Malta something for everyone – all while knowing your rights are protected and your holiday destination cares about your safety.

And if you can’t visit this year, then get ready for EuroPride 2023, which takes place in the island’s capital Valetta from 7-17 September next year, and is primed to be the largest gathering of love and diversity Malta has ever seen.

Show your dedication to LGBTQ+ rights during Pride Week

Malta’s Pride event takes place from 2-11 September this year (Picture: Visit Malta)

If you’re considering heading to Malta this summer, then try and get there in time for Pride Week (2-11 September) and sees thousands of LGBTQ+ people and allies come together to marvel at eye-catching floats and incredible performers.

Pride Week welcomes attendees from across the globe who turn up to show their support for LGBTQ+ rights. With drag queens, beautifully decorated open-top buses, rainbow flags, balloons, and numerous lively after-parties, what’s not to love?


1973 – homosexuality is decriminalised.

2002 – lesbian, gay, and bisexual people permitted to serve openly in the military.

2004 – anti-discrimination was enforced in employment, making it a priority to protect all employees and ensure everyone had equal rights, regardless of sexuality, gender, race, age, or religion.

2004 – Malta holds its first Pride.

2012 – Malta’s anti-discrimination law is updated to cover everyone from being discriminated against, anywhere in the country.

2014 – Malta became the first European state to enable applicants to officially change their gender identity by filing a written document. That same year not only were same-sex couples legally allowed to adopt from 2014, but the Civil Union Act also giving queer couples the same rights as married couples.

2015 – Malta became the first country in the world to outlaw sterilisation and invasive surgery on intersex people. 

2016 – Malta is the first European country to ban gay conversion therapy.

2017 – the island said hello to both same-sex marriage and gender-neutral documents with the ‘X’ gender marker. 

2018 – same-sex couples are permitted access to IVF services.

2019 – gay man are allowed to give blood.

If you’re after a deal…

You can enjoy a 7-night 4* Valletta boutique hotel stay including return flight for Pride 2022 with Chillimix from £899pp*

*Based on 2 September 2022 departure with return flight via Air Malta from London Heathrow. The Cumberland Hotel is on a B&B basis.

For more information go to Visit Malta.

MORE : The best Malta holiday packages for adventure seekers

MORE : Malta is first European country to legalise cannabis for personal use celebrates 50 years of Pride

This year marks 50 years of Pride, so it seems only fitting that goes above and beyond in our ongoing LGBTQ+ support, through a wealth of content that not only celebrates all things Pride, but also share stories, take time to reflect and raises awareness for the community this Pride Month.

And we’ve got some great names on board to help us, too. From a list of famous guest editors taking over the site for a week that includes Rob Rinder, Nicola Adams, Peter Tatchell, Kimberly Hart-Simpson, John Whaite, Anna Richardson and Dr Ranj, as well as the likes of Sir Ian McKellen and Drag Race stars The Vivienne, Lawrence Chaney and Tia Kofi offering their insights. 

During Pride Month, which runs from 1 – 30 June, will also be supporting Kyiv Pride, a Ukrainian charity forced to work harder than ever to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community during times of conflict, and youth homelessness charity AKT. To find out more about their work, and what you can do to support them, click here.

For‘s latest Pride coverage, click here.


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