The island’s capital of Malé is small and densely populated, a far cry from the private islands and infinity pools of the five star resorts that the island is renowned for. But what the capital offers is a glimpse into the Maldives culture, and to experience life the way most of the locals do.
Start off at the National Museum, which houses a varied range of historical artefacts, including a coral stone Buddha head dating to the 11th century, and offers a fascinating insight into the island nation’s past. The National Art Gallery is nearby, and boasts an extensive permanent collection of indigenous artwork, as well as contemporary local art exhibitions.
Old Friday Mosque, the Maldives’ oldest mosque, is also worth a visit, as it is renowned for its beautiful carvings. It is surrounded by landscaped gardens, a peaceful oasis in a busy city.
For those looking for a little more hustle and bustle, visit one of Malé’s markets – at the produce market you’ll see the colourful fruit and vegetables brought in from the surrounding islands. In the city you’ll find a wide range of dining options, from sleek international restaurant Newport to Royal Garden Café, which Is housed in a gandwaru – a former nobleman’s house.