Two of our absolute FAVORITE European islands, if you’re looking for sun, sand, and vibrant Mediterranean culture, then look no further! Although these countries may seem similar on the surface, a little digging reveals their unique charm. But… which one is better? Cyprus or Malta?
We know how much you covet your precious holiday time (who doesn’t?). So, we put together this guide to compare everything from the weather, accommodation, and nightlife to help you make an informed decision!
Get ready, because we’re about to dive into the world of beautiful sandy beaches, delicious Mediterranean food, and incredible history and culture. Cyprus or Malta, here we go…
Cyprus Vs Malta – The weather
Nothing dampens the island spirit more than a bit of bad weather! This is where we have got some GREAT news for you. Both countries have a typical Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters, and hot, sunny summers! The amount of rainfall in both Cyprus and Malta is similar, with around 600mm of rain over the year. They both have relatively warm sea temperatures that are warm enough for swimming from June to October, although in Malta, the water will still be a little cool in June (around 72°F) compared to Cyprus (75°F).
Cyprus is coldest in January and hottest in July and August. The average daily maximum temperature is a pleasant 62.4°F in January and a toasty 88.7°F in July and August. The interior plains are generally hotter in summer, whereas the mountainous areas are cooler. It rains the most over winter and early spring, but December and January are the rainiest months.
Since Malta is an archipelago, there are three main islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino) as well as several uninhabited ones. In Valletta, the Maltese capital, January and February are the coldest months, with daily maximum averages of 60°F. In July and August, the country’s hottest months, the average daily maximum reaches 89°F. November and December are the rainiest months, but fall can also be relatively rainy!
Winner: Draw – it’s a tie!
Cyprus Vs Malta – Beaches
Who here doesn’t love a good beach? Whether you choose Cyprus OR Malta there are plenty to go around! Cyprus has a firm reputation for having some of the best beaches in Europe and the island is known for its soft, powdery white sand. There are 160 official beaches to choose from, and a staggering 57 have been awarded the Blue Flag for meeting the Foundation for Environmental Education’s standards. Yay for sustainability!
While Cyprus has white sand for days, Malta has a large variety of beaches (including white sand beaches) scattered across its islands. The island of Gozo has the most beautiful beaches with long stretches of sand and quiet coves. In Malta, the beaches near the country’s capital Valletta, and other famous tourist destinations aren’t terribly attractive, as they are rocky and narrow. But, that hasn’t stopped them from drawing crowds of locals and tourists in the summer!
Ayia Napa is one of Cyprus’ most popular towns, boasting 14 Blue Flag beaches. The beaches here tend to be quite crowded due to their popularity, but, if you’re looking for a quieter beach in the area, then Agia Thekla Beach will do the job! One of the most popular beaches in Malta is Golden Bay. Named for its long stretch of golden-yellow sand, the beach is one of 12 Blue Flag beaches in the country. It is easily reachable from Valletta and there are lots of services making it a great day to spend the day.
Winner: Cyprus – we have to give Cyprus this one. There are great beaches right on your doorstep, whereas in Malta, we feel as if you’d have to travel a little to find something spectacular.
Cyprus Vs Malta – Things to do
What we simply love about Cyprus and Malta, is that they’re a beach holiday AND a historical trip all rolled into one! Both countries have old buildings with stunning architecture, wonderful hikes, and museums. There are incredible archaeological sites in both places, such as the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park in Cyprus and the Megalithic Temples of Malta (seven temples spread across Malta and Gozo). The temples are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world, so you have to check them out!
If you’re really after a culture trip, there’s more than just ruins on these island nations. Some of our top recommendations for Malta is to visit the old capital Mdina. It sits on a hill in the middle of the main island, Malta. Take in the ancient buildings, visit the museums, and chill out in the cute cafes! You also need to check out Fort St. Elmo – it was super important during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire tried invading. Our must-visit ancient sites in Cyprus are the Kykkos Monastery, the Tombs of the Kings, and Hala Sultan Tekke (the fourth most important place of worship in Islam).
More of an outdoor type? Well, if you find yourself in Cyprus or Malta, you’ll have plenty to do! Larnaca Lake in Cyprus is a really special place where you can see all types of migrating birds, as well as our favorite pink-legged friends – flamingoes! For hiking, the country has over 200km of trails, including some in the Troodos Mountains (which has skiing in the winter too!). Malta has loads of water-centered activities. It’s a great place for scuba diving, snorkeling, and even dolphin watching! The only drawback is that we feel like Malta has plenty of things to do in the summer, but less so in the winter. Cyprus on the other hand is action-packed all year long.
Winner: Cyprus – Cyprus takes the crown simply because it seems like there’s more to do in the winter – ski trip anyone??
Cyprus Vs Malta – The cost
If you were sort of on the fence before, you definitely won’t be after this comparison. According to Budgetyourtrip.com the average daily cost in Malta per person per day (assuming double occupancy) is 231 EUR (255 USD)! When we compare this to Cyprus, where the average traveler spends 82 EUR (91 USD) per day, the choice is obvious.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the accommodation costs that make a holiday in Malta so expensive. The average hotel price for a couple in Malta is 136 EUR, compared to 75 EUR in Cyprus. That’s almost half the price! The average daily food cost is actually almost the same in both countries, with Malta being around 2 EUR more expensive at 33 EUR per person, per day.
A good way to save money whilst staying in Malta is to look at more rural properties out in the countryside. These are often cheaper, and since the main island is so small, you could easily base yourself there and travel to the sights. If you really want that city feel, then you could trade staying in Valletta for the nearby Three Cities, which has a similar vibe (but a less hefty price tag!).
Winner: Cyprus – There’s no arguing here, the winner is Cyprus!
Cyprus Vs Malta – Accommodation
For their small size, we are pleasantly surprised at the availability of accommodation in both of these island countries. Malta has 1,414 places to choose from, whereas Cyprus has a staggering 5,400! If you love a little bit of luxury, you’ll find five-star properties in both places, with 17 in Malta and 142 in Cyprus. Both countries have beach-front properties to choose from, but Cyprus has far more. This is unsurprising since it has more places to choose from overall.
A big difference between the two accommodation-wise is that Cyprus has a lot more resort-type accommodation. You’ll have more luck finding an apartment resort complex with a pool (like those you’d find in Spain) in Cyprus than in Malta. We find that the Maltese rentals have a lot more character, most likely due to the country’s gorgeous historical cities! If you’re visiting Malta for a special occasion, then we really recommend splashing out on a stay at Iniala Harbour House. This boutique hotel in Valetta seamlessly integrates old and new, plus the harbor views are to die for!
For an authentic and charming property in Cyprus, you may need to venture outside of the popular holiday towns of Ayia Napa and Paphos. There are old stone villas and quaint cottages to be found, but we think that Cyprus’ real strength when it comes to accommodations is its villas! Many of them are perfect for families, and if you score one with a pool (like this one), the kids will be happy all vacation long.
Winner: Draw – while we LOVE the historical properties in Malta, they are way more expensive than in Cyprus. So that evens out the playing field.
Cyprus Vs Malta – Food
It’s time for our favorite comparison – the one and only food section! Neither of these cuisines is as well known as those of other European countries, but you might recognize some of the dishes! Halloumi, one of our all-time top cheeses ever, is from Cyprus (#funfact).
Aside from that, you’ll be familiar with many Cypriot foods as they are very similar to Greek dishes! Some of these are Cypriot-style Souvlaki pitas, which have thinner pita bread and a pocket for ingredients, Souvla, similar to Souvlaki but with a different taste, and Makaronia tou Fournou, known in Greece as Pastitsio. The local version in Cyprus has Halloumi and dry mint alongside the traditional pasta, minced pork, tomatoes, and bechamel sauce. It’s very similar to Lasagne so we are all for it!
Maltese cuisine has a wonderful blend of Sicilian, Spanish, British, and even French influences. Its traditional dishes are rustic and seasonal, with hearty, warming dishes like Stuffat tal-Fenek (rabbit stew), Lampuki Pie (fish pie), and Kapunata (Malta’s answer to Ratatouille). Like Cyprus, Malta has its own local cheese, Gbejniet. It is made from goat’s milk and has a similar texture and flavor to mozzarella.
Winner: Draw – it’s a tie, we wanna get our hands on dishes from both countries!
Cyprus Vs Malta – Nightlife
What’s better than partying the summer away? Whether you choose to head to Cyprus or Malta, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to stay out until the sun rises! Both countries have fantastic nightlife – especially in the summer. However, Cyprus is more well-known for nightlife than Malta, but we’re not so sure why!
The nightlife in Cyprus is not only incredibly varied, but the clubs usually close at around five in the morning, and it isn’t odd for some of them to wait until seven or eight to fully close up! Ayia Napa is the place to go for a fun night out, there’s everything from hip cocktail lounges to buzzing dance clubs. For couples, Paphos is a good place to head to, the bars, clubs, and pubs there have a more intimate vibe. Finally, if you’re an absolute club FIEND, then Larnaca has some of the best nightclubs on the island.
Malta has an after-hours scene all year-round, and most of the nightclubs and bars are in Bugibba and Paceville/St. Julian’s. This is a great place to go for bar-hopping as most of the venues are a few meters apart, so you can easily walk (read: stumble) from club to club. The larger clubs are outside of the cities, but with great public transport links, they are easy to reach. Malta’s claim-to-fame is definitely Isle of MTV – one of the biggest free concerts in Europe!
Winner: Draw – Yes, Cyprus nightlife is more varied, but ISLE OF MTV!!! It sounds awesome tbh.
Cyprus Vs Malta – The final verdict
This was a really tough choice, but we have to say that Cyprus is our winner! Sure, in Cyprus or Malta there’s great food, lots of fun things to do, and some killer nightlife. BUT, Cyprus is so, so, soooo much cheaper, the beaches are postcard-worthy (plus there are loads of them), and we like that resort-lovers can find their fix, as well as people who prefer more authentic properties.