Scenic Hike in Malta: From Ancient Temples to a Natural Pool

Scenic Hike in Malta

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A hike along Malta’s coast from Hagar Qim Temple to Ghar Lapsi is an excellent way to discover the island’s wonders. During this hike, you will learn about Malta’s ancient past and see its breathtaking natural beauty.

Since I moved to Malta in 2011, I’ve been exploring the beautiful Maltese islands through hikes. One of the top picks is the hike from Hagar Qim Temple, which only takes less than 2 hours round trip. Along the way, you’ll get to enjoy some of the most stunning coastlines Malta has to offer.

You’ll begin by exploring the ancient ruins of the 6,000-year-old temple complex at Hagar Qim. As you continue along the trail, you’ll admire the rugged coastline with orange rocks and blue waters. Your trek will lead you to Ghar Lapsi, a natural swimming pool. There you can take a refreshing dip in the sea, unwind, admire the scenery, or enjoy a lunch break.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the highlights of the Hagar Qim to Ghar Lapsi hike. I will provide a trekking map and insider tips on the best time to visit and what to bring along.

A Map: A Hike from Hagar Qim Temple to Ghar Lapsi

Hiking Tips Before You Get Started

  • Distance: 5.58 km
  • Walking Time: 1 h 33 mins
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Uphill: 190 m
  • Downhill: 190 m
  • Highest Point: 130 m

Avoid the midday heat during June and September.

The hike is short, but it involves some climbing and descending. If you enjoy a challenge, this hike could be perfect for you!

Just keep in mind that the path runs along the edge of a cliff, so it’s important to be cautious. If you’re not comfortable with heights, you may want to consider a different hike.

Since the path is rocky, it will help if you have appropriate footwear, such as sturdy shoes. Also, remember to bring plenty of water and sun protection.

If you want a picnic with a view, don’t forget to get some food. Also, you can have lunch at one of the two restaurants at Ghar Lapsi.

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Haġar Qim: the Starting Point of this Hike

The starting point of the hike is the car park of Hagar Qim Park Visitor Centre, which is easily accessible by bus from Valletta. Check out this website for routes and bus schedules. If you’re arriving by car, below is the exact location and parking info.

You can get around Malta and Gozo on public transportation, but it takes time. If you’re staying longer than a weekend, you should rent a car. Check out my guide to renting a car in Malta.

Getting There:

  • Location: link to Google Maps
  • Nearest bus stop: Hagar
  • Walking distance from the bus stop: 200 meters
  • Frequency of the buses: every 30 minutes
  • Parking available: in the car park or along the road

From the Hagar Qim Park Visitor Centre, you can also get an entrance ticket and visit the temples. Alternatively, book a guided tour.

These two megalithic temples are part of Unesco’s World Heritage List. You can see them before or after the hike. I recommend getting an audio guide.

If you don’t buy a ticket, you can see them from a distance because the hike passes through the temples. Follow the path towards the temples from the car park. The first temple you will see is Hagar Qim.

Discovered in 1839, the Hagar Qim Temples date back to 3600-3200 BC. Among the finds were two table altars, a decorated pillar altar, and a fat lady figurine.

Ruins of Hagar Qim Temples with gaps and holes between limestone blocks.
Hagar Qim Temples Along the Hike to Ghar Lapsi

A few hundred meters down the path, you will see another temple site Mnajdra. It was built around 4000 B.C. Mnajdra has three temples: the upper, middle, and lower.

Archaeologists suggest that these temples served religious purposes like healing illness and promoting fertility. Also, people used them for astronomical observations.

For example, the lower temple is astronomically aligned, so light illuminates the central axis and edges of the megaliths during the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

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Hiking to Tal-Hamrija Coastal Tower and Enjoying the View

Head left towards the Tal-Hamrija Coastal Tower. This watchtower was built by knights to protect the island in the seventeenth century. It is one of 13 coastal towers. Each tower had two neighbouring towers in their line of sight so that signals could be sent from one to another.

In case of an invasion, the tower guards waved red flags. During the night, they lit bonfires to communicate with each other. The tower is restored, but unfortunately, it is not open to the public.

Isolated limestone Tal-Hamrija Coastal Tower on a rocky seaside cliff overlooking calm ocean waters.
Tal-Hamrija Coastal Tower on a Hike from Hagar Qim Temple

The view from the watch tower is one of the highlights of this hike. In the distance, you can see Filfla. Filfla is an uninhabited island with a barren, rocky landscape and 60-metre-high cliffs. It’s a bird protection area. The view of this island will follow us along the hike.

You will also see a small limestone arch that’s a true gem of the area. It is called Ghar Hanex Window.

Rocky coastal Ghar Hanex Window with the distant island of Filfla on the horizon across the sparkling blue sea.
Ghar Hanex Window and Filfla in a Distance

Descending the Cliffs: Tips for a Safe Hike

Getting down the cliff next to the tower is not that easy. There are no stairs, but there is a small path. The path is 100 meters on the right side of the tower. Green arrows and red dots mark the safest way to descend the cliffs. 

You’ll see endemic flora and rock formations along the way. Especially in the spring when wildflowers are in full bloom, it’s simply spectacular.

Once you walk down, you can explore the area and its coves. During the summer, I usually swim in this tiny bay. Often there is no one there, and you can have the entire cove to yourself. 

Rugged inlet with turquoise waters lapping at eroded reddish-brown rock formations covered in vegetation.
A Tiny Bay for Swimming with Reddish-Brown Rock Formations along the Hike to Ghar Lapsi

Stunning Cliffs and Coves along the Coastal Hiking Trail

The hiking trail features some of the best scenery Malta has to offer. The coastline is rugged and unspoiled, with turquoise waters. I’m sure you’ll be stopping to take pictures often.

Make sure you pay attention to the rocks, which can be sharp and slippery in some places. Also, you’ll have to walk near the cliff edge. Be careful.

The untouched, peaceful coves you’ll find along the way are worth exploring. Most of them have paths that lead down. You can swim and snorkel there in the summer. 

Panoramic view of grassy cliffs and jutting rocks along unspoiled coastline with deep blue ocean.
Unspoiled Coastline of the Hagar Qim Hike

Walking along the shore, you see cliffs dotted with caves on your left. You might even spot people rock climbing there.

Ghar Lapsi: A Natural Swimming Pool on the Maltese Coast

Ghar Lapsi is a magnificent natural swimming pool surrounded by rocks. It provides a peaceful spot by the sea on the Maltese coast. There are ladders, so accessing the water is easy. You can spot small fish in the clear waters, surrounded by algae-covered rocks. 

Scenic Hike in Malta - Ghar Lapsi

A rocky cove a natural pool Ghar Lapsi with clear, turquoise water lapping against the shore. Jagged cliffs rise up from the sea. The sky is cloudy but bright, creating a serene scene.
Ghar Lapsi Natural Pool

The water gets deeper beyond the inlet. There’s a cave and lots of marine life, which makes it an excellent place for snorkelling or scuba diving.

People swimming in the clear, turquoise waters of a rocky Ghar Lapsi Beach. Large boulders dot the shallows, while cliffs are visible in the distance.
Swimming at Ghar Lapsi Beach during the Hike from Hagar Qim

There are two restaurants at Ghar Lapsi. You can grab lunch or a coffee and enjoy the stunning location by the water. The restaurant Carmen’s Bar and Restaurant has excellent seafood. Call to reserve a table if you plan to hike on the weekend.

Returning to Starting Point: Following the Coastal Path

Once you’ve enjoyed the natural swimming pool and marine life at Ghar Lapsi, it’s time to return to your starting point. If you follow the same coastal path you took to get here, use the Tal-Hamrija Coastal Tower as a guide to get you there. The tower can be seen from various points throughout the hike.

Scenic Hike in Malta - Rugged Coastline
Rugged Coastline

Take this hike to see spectacular views, a rugged coastline, and unspoiled coves. You’ll see ancient temples and some of Malta’s most stunning coastal landscapes.

If you like hiking, check out guides that take you from the wild spots of Il-Blata tal-Melh or Wied Babu to the coast between Ghajn Tuffieha and Gnejna Bay. Walk from St Thomas Bay all the way to St Peter’s Pool or explore the cliffs from Ras id-Dawwara to Miġra l-Ferħa.

Prefer a circular walk? Try the loop from Paradise Bay to the Red Tower or the circle around Selmun. Whether you’re up for a short walk or a long trek, Malta has a trail for you.

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