Flights to Malé City (MLE)

Flights to Malé promise plenty of diversion. Don’t catch a speedboat to the next island paradise before you've explored this one.

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Flights to Male

Flights to Malé, lying as it does among the scattered islands of the Maldives, are popular with those in search of serious relaxation among some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

There are those who think of Malé as merely a gateway to those picture-perfect islands (which it isn’t, as the main airport is on the neighbouring island of Hulhulé). But stick around in the capital a little longer and you will find a miniature jungle of winding streets, high-rise buildings and a diverse and fascinating culture.

Malé’s colourful streets, wacky skyscrapers, endless alleyways and busy roads can lead you to any number of places attributed to a modern city. Only 1.7km long and 1km wide, the island is no more than a sliver of sand in the ocean. However, its skinny shores are home to more than 100,000 people. The whole island can be covered on foot in no more than an hour, although public transport is cheap and accessible if you’re not too keen on stretching your legs.

The city was once the home of the king’s palace, from which the royal dynasties of the Maldives ruled the country. However, the palace and its forts were destroyed when the monarchy was abolished and President Ibrahim Nasir took office in the late 1950s. This has resulted in some beautiful ruins and a story that the city is keen to tell. Nowadays, tourism generates nearly a third of the country’s income, so it’s easy to meet backpackers and fellow travellers from all over the world.

Visit Hulhumalé Island

Often regarded as a suburb of Malé City, Hulhumalé Island can be reached by a public ferry from the harbour. Although rapidly on the rise, you can still find pockets of peace and quiet. The north side of the island has an attractive beach, and there’s a good selection of cafes and restaurants. Check out Hulhumalé Inn if you fancy staying overnight.

Hulhumalé Inn
Nirolhu Magu
+960 335 5510

Take a Whale Submarine tour

The Maldives is surrounded by water, and what better way to see the sea than by being fully submerged in it? The Whale Submarine tour offers you the opportunity to do just that with 45-minute tours of the local aquatic life.

H Abadhahfehi Magu
+960 333 3939

Go surfing from Artificial Beach

It might strike you as odd that Malé only has one beach, and that it’s artificial. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some fantastic surf to be had. Surf In Maldives was established in 2009 and is run entirely by locals who offer tours and lessons.

Artificial Beach
At Majeedhee Magu Road
Boduthakurufaanu Magu
+960 779 7202

Haggle at Malé’s markets

Nothing beats going toe-to-toe with a local vendor trying to make a sale, and Malé’s markets, in the north of the island, are the perfect place to do that. The fresh fish, fruit and vegetables are cheaper than in supermarkets and the stall owners are loud and friendly.

Malé fish market
Boduthakurufaanu Magu

Explore the National Museum in Sultan Park

Malé’s Royal Palace of the 16th century has been all but demolished, and its gardens now serve as a peaceful area of reflection and memorial. The only remaining wing of the palace has been converted into the National Museum, which houses a fascinating mix of artefacts and regalia from Malé’s golden era.

National Museum
Chaandhanee Magu
+960 332 2254

Visit Malé Friday Mosque (Hukuru Miskiy)

The striking golden dome of the Friday Mosque can be seen from as far away as Malé’s harbour. Built in 1658, this mosque was once the tallest structure on the island. Today, the beautiful building is a destination in its own right, and within the grounds you’ll also find the Islamic Centre.

Corner of Medhu Ziyaarai Magu and Shaheed Abdulla Zuhair Higun

Aïoli (International)

Widely known as one of the best restaurants on the island, Aïoli gives diners the option of two indoor dining rooms or a well-decorated outdoor terrace. The menu is vast, but you’ll find delicious items across the board: great steaks, crab, fish, and more – all just a few steps from the ocean.

Lotus Goalhi  
+960 300 2525

Royal Garden Café (Coffee shop)

The Royal Garden Café is by far one of the most charming and cosy cafes in the city. The decor is stylish but homely, with an outdoor courtyard that‘is popular among the locals. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t rave about the food.

Medhu Ziyaarai Magu
+960 332 0288

Lemongrass Fifth (Thai)

Boasting the best Thai food on the island, Lemongrass Fifth’s three dining settings – downstairs, upstairs and on the balcony – offer something for everyone. Be sure to check out the Tom Yum Steamboat and the green papaya salad. The friendly staff are happy to make personal recommendations.

Fareedhee Magu
+960 300 9000

Seagull Café House

There’s a tree growing through this two-storey restaurant, making it rather unique among Malé’s eateries. The word around town is that it’s also the best dessert destination on the island. This cafe is popular with business diners during working hours, so be sure to book ahead for lunch.

On the corner of Chaandhanee Magu and Fareedhee Magu
+960 332 3332

Symphony (Indian)

The dark interior design of Symphony sets the tone for its rich dishes, and is one of the most popular Indian restaurants in Malé. It’s always bustling with residents and tourists looking for their fix of Indian flavours, and is known for the superb vegetarian offerings on the menu.

Ma Maléfaru
Athamaa Goalhi
+960 332 6277

Dawn Café (Maldivian)

Dawn Café is a great place to visit after a browse around the markets and offers one of the best lunch spots on the northern tip of the island. The restaurant describes itself as ‘traditional Maldivian short eats’. Short or not, you’ll find a delicious meal inside.

Kandi Dhon Manik Goalhi
+960 331 2286

Cerulean View Boutique Hotel

Another one of Malé’s unique offerings, Cerulean View is a quaint and cosy renovated five-bedroom house that sits in the south-eastern corner of the city. You can enjoy the feeling of being at home while having typical hotel amenities at your disposal. Plus, transfer from the airport takes just 20 minutes.

G Kaanihiya
Ameenee Goalhi
+960 334 1540

Mookai Hotel

Located just minutes from the tourist jetty, stretching 10 storeys into the sky and overlooking the Indian Ocean, Mookai offers tourists and business travellers an excellent location within walking distance of some of the city’s best attractions. A small but charming rooftop swimming pool is the perfect place to catch some sun and relax.

Meheli Goalhi
+960 333 8811

Central Boutique Inn

Ideal if you’re on a budget and located in the centre of Malé City, the villas of Central Boutique Inn provide comfort, plenty of space and impeccable service. The hotel consists of just 12 rooms, so patrons get peace and quiet, as well as undisturbed access to the outdoor pool.

Handhuvarudhey Goalhi
+960 333 0591

Dream Voyager Yacht

Skip the hotel and take to the high seas for your trip, island-hopping your way around the Maldives on board a luxury yacht. Choose from eight- or 10-day excursions, each offering snorkelling opportunities, round-the-clock staff, massages and kayaking, plus numerous excursions to historical and natural sites.

Departing from Hulhumalé Island

Hotel Jen Malé

If you’re looking for a luxury hotel in Malé, this is quite simply one of the best options in the city. The highlight of the Hotel Jen Malé is the stunning rooftop infinity pool that overlooks the Indian Ocean. That said, the floors below are equally luxurious and with beautiful views. The same goes for the hotel’s restaurants.

Ameer Ahmed Magu
+960 330 0888

Sala Boutique Hotel

Space is hard to come by in Malé, but these apartments provide you with enough breathing room when you want to take a step back and chill. Decorated with a unique twist on traditional Asian design, the hotel sits above both a superb Thai and Italian restaurant.

H Buruneege
+960 334 5959

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