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Croatia vs Malta: Which Destination Should You Visit in 2024?

Planning a vacation to the Mediterranean and can’t decide between Croatia or Malta? This guide on Croatia vs Malta will help you choose the best location for your dream holiday.

Croatia and Malta are both popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, making them ideal locations for a summer getaway. But which is better: Croatia or Malta? That depends.

For nearly a decade, I’ve called Croatia home and have explored every nook and cranny—from its sun-drenched islands to the cultural gems sprinkled across its interior. Plus, my background in the Croatian hospitality industry has also given me a unique understanding of what the country offers to travelers.

I’ve been spoiled by Croatia’s stunning landscapes and sparkling coastline for years, so when I visited Malta for the first time in 2023 I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by its beauty, architecture, and impressively clear water! This Mediterranean jewel certainly rivals Croatia in some aspects, so I can totally see why choosing between the two destinations could be a challenge.

That’s exactly why I created this comprehensive guide on Croatia vs Malta to help you make the right decision. In this post, we’ll dive deep into attractions, cultural highlights, and unique features of both destinations to help you decide which one you should visit.

So are you Team Croatia or Team Malta? Let’s find out!

Croatia vs Malta: Which Country is Better?

View overlooking the town of Dubrovnik framed by blurred, purple lavender with mountains visible behind the town surrounded by the blue Adriatic Sea.
Dubrovnik, Croatia

🇭🇷 Croatia
Croatia is a gorgeous, C-shaped Mediterranean country with a dazzling coastline that stretches over 1,000 miles. Situated just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, Croatia is mainly known for its immaculate pebbled beaches, rocky shoreline and countless islands, making it an attractive destination for sailing and snorkeling.

The country is also home to a number of stunning national parks and protected areas, including the Plitvice Lakes National Park, Krka Waterfalls, and Mljet National Park. With plenty of hiking trails, cycling routes, and rock climbing opportunities, Croatia is an ideal destination for outdoor adventurers.

But it’s not just about the great outdoors, there are also eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia, from the Diocletian’s Palace in Split to the remarkably well-preserved Roman Arena in Pula. If you’ve got a soft spot for antiquity, Croatia is your kind of paradise.

And let’s not forget the fact that the country served as a filming location for Game of Thrones! From Dubrovnik’s Old Town to the Klis Fortress outside of Split and even the town of Sibenik, many of the sets for the show have been brought to life here in Croatia.

An iconic view of Valletta's steep streets lined with stone buildings featuring colorful and intricate Turkish-style wooden balconies characteristic of the island's architecture.
An iconic street view in Valletta, Malta.

🇲🇹 Malta
Malta is a small island country situated in the Mediterranean Sea, about halfway between Sicily and North Africa. Though small in size, it’s a powerhouse of cultural treasures, boasting a captivating mix of prehistoric temples, sparkling lagoons, and a distinct blend of Italian and Middle Eastern influences.

Built up by the Knights of St. John, Malta is certainly one of the most unique countries I’ve been to. The ornate Turkish-style wooden balconies beg for photographs, as do the red British phone booths, and the massive stone walls reflect the ones that surround the Medina in Marrakech. Plus, the steep cobblestone roads leading down to the sea give it serious San Francisco vibes.

This three-island archipelago is not only famous for its dramatic cliffs and breathtaking landscapes, but it is also a popular filming location. Hollywood classics like Gladiator and Troy both capitalized on the natural beauty of Malta, while the producers of the 1980s Popeye built an entire village on the island to set the stage for the quirky tale.

Is Croatia cheaper than Malta?

When it comes to affordability, both Malta and Croatia offer more moderate pricing compared to many Western European countries. Of course, as with anywhere you travel to, your budget can stretch or shrink as much as you’d like, depending on your travel choices.

In Croatia, Dubrovnik is notoriously expensive, along with Hvar Town, and there are other destinations that are catching up quickly. While the cost of accommodation between Croatia and Malta are fairly comparable, I personally found food and drinks to be slightly cheaper in Malta.

So if you’re on a budget or just looking to get a little more bang for your buck, Malta might be the place for you.

🇲🇹 Malta is slightly cheaper than Croatia.

A colorful and charming street in Valletta decorated with flower pots and plants

Does Croatia or Malta have better food?

Croatian cuisine is a fascinating blend of flavors influenced by its diverse history and geography. In the northern and eastern regions of the country, you’ll encounter dishes shaped by past empires like Hungary, Austria and Turkey. This results in hearty, meat-focused dishes like schnitzel, stuffed cabbage, or goulash.

On the Dalmatian coast, you’ll find a lighter cuisine with an emphasis on seafood and vegetables. The dishes are more Mediterranean-style including specialties like grilled fish, just-harvested oysters, black risotto, pasta dishes with mussels, and so much more.

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    Malta also offers an intriguing culinary scene. During a food tour in Valletta, I was introduced to a variety of authentic dishes that I likely would not have discovered on my own. From popular rabbit and horse meat dishes to cold tuna-stuffed peppers, Malta has some unique flavor combinations.

    We also tried traditional Maltese pastizzi, a flaky pastry stuffed with mushy peas and curry, almost like a samosa. The highlight was trying imqaret, a scrumptious dessert made out of fried pastries filled with spiced date paste—these were so good!

    All things considered, I still think Croatia offers a broader (and tastier) range of flavors.

    🇭🇷 Croatia wins the category for best food.

    Gnocchi in a white, creamy sauced topped with shaved black truffles on a white plate with two small stuffed pickled peppers as decoration.
    Truffle pasta dish in Istria, Croatia.

    Who has better national parks: Malta or Croatia?

    Croatia’s diverse geography lends itself to a stunning collection of national parks. From the iconic Plitvice Lakes—featuring 16 interconnected turquoise lakes and a staggering 90 waterfalls—to the rugged karst terrains of Velebit and the dramatic cliffs of Kornati National Park, Croatia offers an outdoor paradise for adventurers. Whether you’re into hiking, biking, rafting, or kayaking, you’ll find your thrill here.

    Malta does have a lesser known wild side, with 8 national parks offering amazing opportunities to get in touch with nature. The most famous among them is Ta Qali National Park, situated in the very center of the island. Once a WWII airfield, it has transformed into a beloved weekend retreat for picnics and outdoor relaxation among the locals.

    🇭🇷 Croatia takes the crown for best national parks.

    A series of waterfalls rushing into green-blue lakes surrounded by lush green foliage on a beautiful blue-sky day.
    The waterfalls at Krka National Park near Sibenik.

    Does Croatia or Malta have better beaches?

    When it comes to Instagram-worthy beaches, Croatia sets the bar high. The country’s idyllic pebbled shores give way to some of the most transparent waters you’ve ever seen. Spots like Pasjaca Beach near Dubrovnik or the heavenly coastlines of the Pakleni Islands are what Mediterranean dreams are made of.

    On top of that, Croatia is a mecca for island-hoppers, boasting over 1,000 islands to choose from, many of which are still untouched. This means more opportunities for discovering secluded coves and unspoiled beaches. The crystal clear waters make for fantastic swimming and snorkeling, and there’s plenty of marine life to encounter too, including the occasional shark in the Adriatic Sea.

    Visiting Croatia’s islands? Download the Croatia Island Hopping Guidebook!

    A beach holiday in Malta is possible, but the country is more limited when it comes to beaches. Still, it offers some great spots to visit. St. Peter’s Pool is a natural pool perfect for sunbathing and swimming, while Golden Bay is known for its golden sand and clear waters.

    Similar to Croatia, Malta also boasts a Blue Lagoon between the island of Comino and the uninhabited isle of Cominotto. This lagoon has bright white sand, making the water appear almost impossibly turquoise. It can only be reached by boat and is a popular spot for visitors, so it can get very crowded in the summer with the majority of boat tours heading there.

    As someone that’s been spoiled by the crystalline waters of the Adriatic Sea, I can tell you that I was truly impressed by the water in Malta. The Mediterranean Sea around Malta is really beautiful for swimming, but when it comes to an abundance of beach choices, Croatia definitely has the edge.

    🇭🇷 Croatia wins best beaches.

    Malta vs Croatia: Which country is better for a road trip?

    Croatia is a pretty small country with a picture perfect coastline that was practically made for road trips. Driving the scenic road from Zagreb to Dubrovnik with the Adriatic Sea glimmering beside you is a must for any traveler. It will take you through some of the most stunning landscapes in Europe, complete with rolling hills covered in vineyards and olive groves, medieval towns, and seaside villages galore.

    For a bit of outdoor adventure, you can even stop at Plitvice Lakes National Park or Krka Waterfalls. 10 days in Croatia is a comfortable amount of time to see the highlights. Plus, the highways are relatively new and well-maintained, making it a smooth ride.

    On the other hand, Malta is even more compact than Croatia making it ideal for road trips. You can drive across the entire island in just about an hour! For this reason, Malta is perfect for travelers who are limited on time, but still want to experience the Mediterranean Sea.

    The island offers jaw-dropping vistas, from limestone cliffs to unique karst landforms. Must-visit spots on a Malta road trip include the historic cities of Valetta and Mdina, the soaring Dingli Cliffs, the enchanting Popeye Village, and the islands of Gozo and Comino (both reachable by a car ferry).

    Just know that if you plan to rent a car in Malta, they drive on the left side of the road!

    While both countries are excellent options for road trips, Malta’s more compact size gives it the edge for those wanting to see a lot in a little time.

    🇲🇹 Malta wins for best road trip destination.

    A view from the top of the island of Gozo showcasing the uniquely barren landscape of the Maltese islands with a blue sky up above
    View of Gozo from the Iċ-Ċittadella.

    Which country has more interesting history?

    Croatia, or Hrvatska as its called in Croatian, is a melting pot of influences from the Romans, Byzantines, Greeks, and Austro-Hungarians. This blend can be seen in architectural gems like Dubrovnik’s medieval walls and the spectacular Diocletian’s Palace in Split (impressive remains of a Roman Emperor’s retreat).

    The country is a relatively young nation, having declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, followed by the tumultuous Croatian War of Independence.

    Malta also has an equally complex and interesting history that spans from civilizations like the Romans and Arabs to more recent rulers like the French and British. The Maltese language stands as a testament to this blend of cultures.

    The islands have been significantly shaped by the Knights of the Order of St. John, rulers from the 16th to 18th centuries. But Malta’s history traces all the way back to the Neolithic era, with stone temples serving as witnesses to its ancient past. If you really want to immerse yourself in the country’s rich culture, one of the best places to stay in Malta is Valletta, the capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Both countries provide rich and captivating stories, so choosing a winner for this category seems almost unfair.

    🇭🇷 🇲🇹 It’s a tie.

    Diocletian’s Palace, a must-visit when visiting Split.

    Is Malta or Croatia better for luxury travel?

    Over the last decade, Croatia has evolved into a European hotspot for luxury travel. From the gleaming stone streets of Dubrovnik to the glitzy Hvar Riviera, star-studded restaurants and chic amenities have made Croatia one of the most desirable destinations in Europe.

    The rising surge of extravagant resorts, along with high-end experiences like sailing, world-class wineries, and Michelin star restaurants have firmly planted Croatia on the luxury travel map.

    Malta, though not traditionally known for luxury travel, is certainly gaining momentum. The island offers a curated selection of elegant properties and Michelin-starred dining options, particularly in charming areas such as Valletta, Sliema, and San Lawrenz. So when it comes to luxury travel, Malta is still somewhat of a hidden gem that is catching the eye of discerning travelers.

    🇭🇷 Croatia offers better luxury travel experiences.

    An outdoor view of Hotel Park Split from the pool deck. A portion of the turquoise blue swimming pool is visible in the lower right of the image, lined by sun loungers and umbrellas, with trees and the hotel building in the background.
    Hotel Park, one of the most luxurious hotels in Split on the beach.

    Which country is safer for solo travelers?

    When it comes to safety, both Malta and Croatia score high marks, making them excellent choices for solo travelers.

    I moved to Croatia in 2014, and spent many years traveling around the country before then. I even used to take buses alone as a teen to meet up with friends along the coast, so I can definitely vouch for its security. Even the capital of Zagreb is a safe city to navigate solo, whether it’s during the day or night.

    I also found Malta to be equally reassuring. I traveled there with my mom, and as two females taking taxis, public transportation, and walking the streets at night, we both felt safe.

    Another plus for solo travelers is that the locals in Malta and Croatia speak English pretty well, making it easier to communicate and ask questions.

    🇭🇷 🇲🇹 It’s a tie.

    A woman leaning onto an open railing in Valletta Malta, overlooking the blue sea at dusk
    Watching the sunset from the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta.

    Which country has better weather: Croatia or Malta?

    Both Croatia and Malta boast enticing Mediterranean climates—think hot, dry summers and mild, somewhat wet winters. However, they do differ slightly when it comes to weather.

    Unlike Malta, parts of Croatia do see snow in the winter, particularly the continental areas around Gorski Kotar, Zagreb, and the eastern region of Slavonija.

    When it comes to Malta weather, temperatures rarely dip below 15-17 °C in the winter months, providing a comfortable climate to enjoy the island year-round. Plus, because the country is further south than Croatia, Malta enjoys a longer and hotter summer season.

    So if you’re chasing the sun…

    🇲🇹 Malta has better weather than Croatia.

    Crystal Bay in Malta, a brilliant turquoise bay of water surrounded by huge, towering limestone cliffs
    Crystal Lagoon on the island of Comino (Malta).

    FAQs

    Is Malta cheaper than Croatia?

    Based on personal experience, Malta comes out to be slightly cheaper than Croatia when it comes to food and drinks.

    Is it hotter in Malta or Croatia?

    Both countries boast dry and hot summers, but because Malta is further south than Croatia, it has a longer summer season.

    Is Malta similar to Croatia?

    Croatia and Malta are both Mediterranean countries and do have some similarities when it comes to weather, but for the most part they are quite different. Croatia has a more diverse landscape with thousands of islands, lush natural parks, and forested mountain ranges while Malta’s landscape is more barren with limestone cliffs along the shore. Architecturally, they are very different as well-Malta is reminiscent of Morocco, while Croatia is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. The food is also quite different in Malta and Croatia, so overall, Malta is not all that similar to Croatia.

    Which is better Malta or Dubrovnik?

    Dubrovnik, although a town (and not a country like Malta) offers a more diverse range of experiences from its medieval walls, Game of Thrones filming locations, impeccable beaches and islands, as well as plenty of day trip opportunities to nearby national parks and even countries like Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Malta, on the other hand, is home to impressive temples and cities, unique cuisine, and a year-round Mediterranean climate that makes it one of the best places in Europe to visit all the time. In the end, which one is “better” depends on your personal preferences.

    So Which is Better: Malta or Croatia?

    So, there you have it, a head-to-head comparison of Croatia and Malta based on a variety of factors that matter most to travelers.

    Croatia might just be the destination for you if you’re all about endless options for beaches and island hopping, an abundance of national parks, and a mouthwatering Mediterranean food scene. Not to mention, it’s got the edge when it comes to luxury travel.

    Malta, on the other hand, boasts such an interesting history, manageable road trip adventures, and is slightly more budget-friendly. Its a compact, culturally rich island that packs a punch, especially if you’re tight on time.

    I’m obviously biased towards Croatia (I mean, I did make it my home for a reason), but I’ve got to say, Malta’s got its own set of charms that shouldn’t be overlooked. Ultimately, both Croatia and Malta are beautiful countries with so much to offer, so you can’t go wrong with either one!

    Before you go, check out these incredible hidden gems in Croatia that will make your trip even more memorable.

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    Croatia Travel Planning Guide

    💸 What is the currency in Croatia?
    As of January 1st, 2023, the official currency of Croatia is the Euro and NOT the Kuna (which is also the name of the national animal of Croatia).

    🇭🇷 What language do they speak in Croatia?
    Croatian is the official language of Croatia. Learn some phrases in Croatian before your trip with the Ling app!

    🚑 Should I buy Croatia travel insurance?
    10000% YES – Seriously, don’t leave home without it. You never know what can happen on the road. I like SafetyWing because they provide excellent coverage for as little as $1.50 a day.

    📱 Will my phone work in Croatia?
    Maybe – check with your provider to see if you’ll have service while traveling Croatia. If you don’t have service (or it’s too expensive) I recommend getting an eSIM like Airalo. Airalo allows you to have data while traveling without the high costs of roaming. They have super affordable plans available for 190+ countries, including Croatia. Download the app and get your plan before you leave home so that you have data as soon as you touch down in Croatia!

    🏨 What’s the best way to book my Croatia accommodations?
    For Croatia hotels, Booking is by far the best site.

    🛫 What’s the best site to buy Croatia flights?
    I always use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights.

    🚗  Is it safe to rent a Car in Croatia?
    Yes! – In fact, renting a car in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the country! I recommend Discover Cars because they check both local and international rental companies to ensure you get the best deal. (Get your Croatia road trip itinerary here)

    💦 Is it safe to drink the water in Croatia?
    Tap water in Croatia is completely safe to drink, so bring your reusable water bottle and fill up!

    🪪 Do I need a visa for Croatia?
    Depending on where you are coming from you may or may not need a visa to enter Croatia. Check the official Republic of Croatia Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more information on who should apply for a visa.

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