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Why These Two Mediterranean Destinations Are Surging In Popularity Right Now

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Travel is most definitely back. In Europe especially, the rebound in travel and tourism has been exceptional in the past year, and there’s data to prove it.

New info from Eurostat shows that the number of nights spent in tourist accommodations in 2023 exceeded 2.9 billion – a new record, which puts it ahead of the figure for 2019.

And there were two countries in Europe that lead the way in terms of their year-on-year tourism growth – and they both happen to be beautiful island paradises.

young traveler woman looks out over water to the city of valletta in malta

Malta and Cyprus both recorded growth in nights spent in tourist accommodations of over 20% in 2023, proving their overall popularity among travelers.

So, just why have these two countries done so well in the last year? And will this popularity surge continue into 2024? Here are a few reasons why we think it will…

Sun-Soaked And Serene

One of the first and most obvious reasons why both Cyprus and Malta are hugely popular among travelers is the excellent climates they both have.

Cyprus is in the very east of the Mediterranean, just south of some of Turkey’s amazing Turquoise Coast and enjoys long, hot summers with minimal rainfall.

rock formations and sea in cyprus

Even in winter, Cyprus is relatively mild, offering temperatures of around 60F and consistently clear and sunny days.

Malta lies in the central region of the Mediterranean just off the south coast of Sicily in Italy – it also boasts impressive annual weather, amassing more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year.

the beautiful beach of ghajn tuffieha bay in malta

Both islands are blessed with beautiful beach destinations with top-quality hotels and resorts – some of the most stunning include Ghajn Tuffieha Bay in Malta and Pissouri Beach in Cyprus.

Amazing Sights And Culture

In Malta, you will find ancient history and megalithic temples in rural areas, while the capital city, Valletta, offers regal palaces, impressive cathedrals, and quaint cobbled streets that feel like they belong to Europe, Asia, and Africa all at once.

In Cyprus, there are even more impressive archeological sites such as the Tombs of the Kings in Paphos and St Hilarion Castle in the north of the island.

st hilarion castle in northern cyprus

Both Malta and Cyprus are heavily influenced by the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean as well as by Northern Africa, Asia, and the Arab world.  

Perfect For Off-Season Travel

While summer is a good time to visit both these countries, they are notorious for being very hot and often busy in the main resort towns.

Places such as Paphos in Cyprus can get particularly overrun with tourists during the prime time in the middle of summer.

However, due to their great climates and year-round sunshine, both these locations make ideal places to visit in the shoulder or even off-season.

blue grotto cliffs in malta with green leaves in foreground

You can make great savings on hotels, food, and excursions if you visit in fall or winter, and you’ll be less bothered by large crowds.

There are usually still plenty of flights to both countries in the quieter months.

There are no direct flights to either from the United States, but there are many different one-stop flight options via various other European destinations. Maybe you could turn a trip to Malta or Cyprus into a larger Euro tour?

They Can Be Budget-Friendly

It can be quite expensive to stay in the most luxurious all-inclusive resorts in Malta and Cyprus, but it’s also possible to see them both on a modest budget too.

Malta is certainly the cheaper of the two nations, with the latest data from Lonely Planet estimating you can get a basic hotel room for around $70 per night, while public transport can cost as little as $2 per trip.

the waterfront at liamassol city in cyprus shot from drone

Cyprus is a touch more expensive, but you can still manage hotels or Airbnbs for around $100 per night or less, while food here should cost $30-40 for a meal in a restaurant for two.

Safe And Welcoming

Both Malta and Cyprus are well-established tourist destinations and are very safe places to visit.

The U.S. Department of State ranks both countries at a Level 1, which is the safest possible rating, while they both rank highly on the most recent Global Peace Index.

Malta is part of the Schengen Area, so American travelers can enter for 90 days without a visa.

While Cyprus is not yet in the Schengen Zone, it is part of the European Union, and Americans are also permitted to enter for 90 days without a visa.

the historical great inn in nicosia cyprus

In Malta, English is one of the official languages alongside the native Maltese. Decent Italian is also spoken by most people who live here, so whatever happens, you should easily be able to communicate with locals.

Both of these idyllic island nations usually score well on rankings for solo travelers, too.

A Divided Island

One thing you should know about Cyprus is that the island is divided by what is known as the United Nations Buffer Zone, or Green Line, which separates the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus in the south from the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

The buffer runs through the beautiful city of Nicosia, which is one of the places where you can cross, however there are a few things you should know:

  • The U.S. Department of State says that Americans should only ever enter and exit the Republic of Cyprus via Larnaca or Paphos airports or the seaports of Liamassol, Larnaca, and Paphos in the south. It does not recognize the TRNC.
  • From the south, you will be able to cross the Green Line to visit the TRNC in the north and return again, provided you have your passport with you.
  • Do not fly into the island at Ercan airport in the Turkish-controlled north if you plan to visit the south, as you will not be able to cross the Green Line. The Republic of Cyprus does not recognize entry from Ercan as legal.
  • Check out our full explainer article about Cyprus’ unique political situation for more.

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