Exploring Male, the Capital of the Maldives: A Comprehensive Guide


Introduction to Malé 

Where is Malé, Maldives?

Welcome to Malé, also called Male. Situated in the North Malé Atoll, the Maldives’ capital city is a small island bursting with life.

Malé is conveniently located just a short distance from the Velana International Airport, making it easily accessible for visitors. The city’s compact size allows travelers to explore its attractions on foot or by public transportation.

Historical Significance and Cultural Diversity

Malé’s history dates back over 2,000 years, when it served as an important trading hub along the maritime Silk Route.

Today, it stands as a testament to the Maldivian culture and heritage, with its diverse population showcasing a blend of influences from Arabia, Persia, India, and China.

male city maldives

Top Attractions in Malé

The Grand Friday Mosque

The Grand Friday Mosque is the largest mosque in the Maldives, located in the capital city of Malé. It was built in 1984 with the assistance of several Islamic countries and can accommodate up to 5,000 worshippers. The mosque has a golden dome and a white marble exterior. It is considered one of the most important Islamic landmarks in the Maldives.

Malé The Grand Friday Mosque

The Islamic Centre and Malé’s Skyline

The Islamic Centre is a complex of buildings that includes the Grand Friday Mosque, a library, a conference hall, and a school. It is located on the waterfront in Malé and offers stunning views of the city skyline. The Islamic Centre is a popular tourist attraction and important for Islamic learning and education.

Sultan Park and the National Museum

Sultan Park is a public park located in the heart of Malé. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists to relax and enjoy the outdoors. The park is home to a variety of plants and flowers, as well as a playground and a jogging track. The National Museum is also located in Sultan Park. It houses a collection of artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of Maldivian history and culture.

Sultan Park
© wikimedia

Old Friday Mosque (Hukuru Miskiy)

The Old Friday Mosque, Hukuru Miskiy, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a remarkable example of Maldivian craftsmanship. 

The Old Friday Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in the Maldives, dating back to the 12th century. It is located in the heart of Malé and is considered one of the country’s most sacred Islamic sites. The mosque is known for its intricate carvings and its beautiful minaret.

Republic Square and Mulee-aage Palace

Republic Square is the central public square in Malé. It is where official ceremonies and events are held. The square is also home to Mulee-aage Palace, the former residence of the Maldivian sultan. Mulee-Aage Palace is now a museum and is open to the public.

Mulee-aage Palace

Artificial Beach

The Artificial Beach is located on the eastern side of Malé. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists to relax and enjoy the sun and sand. The beach is also a great place to swim and snorkel.

Malé Fish Market and Local Market

The Malé Fish Market and Local Market are two of the best places to experience the local culture and to shop for souvenirs. The fish market is where fishermen come to sell their catch and where locals come to buy fresh fish and seafood. The local market sells a variety of goods, including clothing, handicrafts, and souvenirs.

Villingili Island

Villingili Island is a small island just a short boat ride from Malé. It is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush vegetation. Villingili Island is also home to several resorts and hotels, making it a great place to relax and enjoy a tropical vacation.

Tsunami Monument

The Tsunami Monument is a memorial to the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It is located on the eastern side of Malé and is a reminder of the devastating power of nature. The monument is a moving tribute to the lives that were lost. It is a reminder of the resilience of the Maldivian people.

© wikimedia

Exploring Malé’s Cultural Heritage

Traditional Maldivian Architecture

Malé’s cultural heritage is deeply rooted in its traditional architecture, which reflects the island nation’s unique craftsmanship. Traditional Maldivian homes, known as “dhonis,” are constructed with coral stones and thatched roofs, blending seamlessly with the natural environment. Exploring the narrow streets of Malé allows visitors to witness these architectural marvels up close.

Local Handicrafts and Souvenirs

The city is also a treasure trove of local handicrafts and souvenirs. Visit the local markets to find intricately woven mats, lacquerware, wooden carvings, and seashell handicrafts. These traditional crafts make for excellent souvenirs to commemorate your trip to Malé.

Cultural Festivals and Events

Immerse yourself in Malé’s vibrant cultural scene by planning your visit during one of its festivals and events. The annual Maldives Independence Day celebration on July 26th showcases the country’s rich history and culture. Ramadan offers a unique opportunity to experience local traditions and culinary delights.

Where to eat in Malé?

The Seagull Cafe: 

This cafe is located in the heart of Malé and is a great place to grab a quick bite to eat or a coffee. The menu features a variety of Maldivian and international dishes, all made with fresh, local ingredients.

The sandwiches are made with fresh bread and the salads are made with fresh vegetables. The pastries are also delicious, with a variety of flavors to choose from. The coffee is also very good, with a variety of blends to choose from.

Address: Fareedhee Magu, Male, 20191.

Google Review Score 4.5/5. 

TripAdvisor Review Score 4.3/5.

Seagull Café House_facebook
© Seagull Café

The Manhattan Fish Market: 

This restaurant is located in the Malé Fish Market . The restaurant is known for its fresh seafood, creative dishes, and affordable prices.

The menu features a wide variety of dishes, including grilled fish, fried fish, curried fish, and pasta dishes. The restaurant also offers a variety of fresh seafood platters, which are a great way to try a variety of different seafood dishes.

The food is always fresh and flavorful. The fish is cooked to perfection and the sauces are well-balanced. The pasta dishes are also delicious, with a variety of different sauces to choose from.

Address: FHTS Building, Faculty of Education, Falhumathee Magu Magu, Malé 20372.

Google Review Score 4.4/5. 

TripAdvisor Review Score 4.2/5.

Khalids Biriyani :

is a popular Indian restaurant located in Ma, Maldives. The restaurant is known for its delicious biryanis, which are made with fresh, local ingredients. The menu also features a variety of other Indian dishes, such as curries, tandoori dishes, and naan.

The biryanis are the star of the show at Khalids Biriyani. The rice is cooked to perfection and the meat is tender and flavorful. The curries are also delicious, with a complex and well-balanced flavor.

Address : Kudadhumaarige Athama golhi, Ma.

Google Review Score 4.6/5. 

TripAdvisor Review Score 3.6/5.

Bambooresto :  

is a popular Indian and Continental restaurant .The restaurant is known for its delicious food, friendly staff, and affordable prices.

The menu features a wide variety of dishes, including curries, tandoori dishes, biryanis, pastas, and pizzas. The restaurant also offers a daily special, which is typically a Maldivian dish.

The food is always fresh and flavorful. The curries are made with a variety of spices and the meat is always tender and juicy. The tandoori dishes are also delicious, with a smoky flavor that is characteristic of this cooking method.

Address : Bamboo Resto Iskandhar Magu, Malé 3330786.

Google Review Score 4.3/5. 

TripAdvisor Review Score 4.5/5.

© Bambooresto

Malé Exquisite Maldivian Cuisine

Seafood Delights

Every visit to Malé is complete with indulging in the exquisite Maldivian cuisine. As an island nation surrounded by the bounties of the Indian Ocean, seafood takes center stage in Maldivian gastronomy. Enjoy fresh catches like tuna, grouper, and snapper prepared in a variety of mouthwatering ways.

Malé Traditional Maldivian Dishes

Sample traditional Maldivian dishes such as Garudhiya (a fish broth), Mas Huni (a mixture of tuna, coconut, and onions), and Rihaakuru (a thick fish paste). These flavorful dishes offer an authentic taste of the Maldivian culinary heritage.

Practical Tips for Exploring Malé

Getting Around Malé 

Consider these practical tips to make the most of your visit to Malé. Getting around Malé is easy, with taxis, buses, and ferry services readily available. The city’s compact size makes it conducive to exploring on foot, allowing you to discover hidden gems along its winding streets.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Malé is from November to April during the dry season. offering pleasant weather for outdoor exploration. However, even during the wet season (May to October), the rainfall is generally short-lived, and the city retains its charm.

Dress Code and Cultural Etiquette

While the Maldives is known for its relaxed beachwear, respecting the local culture and dressing modestly when visiting Malé’s religious sites and public places is important. Avoid revealing clothing and cover your shoulders and knees.

Accommodation Option

Malé offers a range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences. Consider staying in the city center to easily access the main attractions.

Safety and Security

The Maldives, including Malé, is generally considered a safe destination for travelers. However, it’s always advisable to take common-sense precautions, such as safeguarding your belongings and being aware of your surroundings.

Malé City tour

If You want, There is a half-day walking tour in Malé with a local guide with Viator company.

What To Expect in the Tour:

  • Overview of Malé and the harbor area.
  • Passing by the oldest school, highlighting the education system and high literacy rate
  • Visit Hukuru Miskiiy (Old Friday Mosque) and the tomb of Abu-al-Barakaath, with insights into the conversion to Islam and its influence on daily life.
  • A refreshing cup of traditional black tea at Royal Garden Café, known for its traditional wood interiors
  • Stop at the November 3rd Memorial to learn about the sacrifice of military service members in 1988.
  • Wander through Sultan Park, with an optional visit to the National Museum (entrance fee not included)
  • Passing by the Grand Friday Mosque, the Islamic Centre, and Jumhooree Maiden (Independence Square)
  • Understanding the meaning of the Maldives national flag and identifying government buildings
  • Visit the bustling fish market and local market, engage with local vendors, and sample tropical produce and sweets.
  • The tour concludes at one of the city’s tallest buildings, offering a scenic backdrop for your final tour photo.

Vitor Male Walking Tour

Places to Stay in Malé

Several accommodation options are available for those wishing to stay overnight and explore the city at their own pace. Here are a few recommended places to stay in Malé:

Tourist Inn Grand

Tourist Inn Grand
© Booking

Tourist Inn Grand provides air-conditioned rooms in Malé. The property is close to several well-known attractions – a 10-minute walk from Republic Square, half a mile from Villa College QI Campus, and a 9-minute walk from Sultan Park.

Free Wifi is available throughout the property, and Rasfannu Beach is a 10-minute walk away.

At the guest house, all units come with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed linen, and towels. A fridge and kettle are also provided.

Popular points of interest near the guest house include Artificial Beach, National Museum, and National Football Stadium.

The nearest airport is Velana International, 2.5 miles from Tourist Inn Grand, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.

Location: Gulabee Magu, 20244 Malé.

Booking rating 9.1/10


Summer Beach Maldives

Summer Beach Maldives
© Booking

Summer Beach Maldives provides beachfront accommodations in Malé. This 4-star guest house offers free shuttle service and a 24-hour front desk. The accommodation features an elevator, free shuttle service, and organizing tours for guests. At the guest house, every unit is fitted with a desk. Each room is fitted with a coffee machine, a flat-screen TV, a safety deposit box, and free Wifi, while some rooms are fitted with a balcony and some have sea views. At the guest house, each unit is fitted with a private bathroom with bathrobes and slippers. Guests are welcome to eat at the on-site family-friendly restaurant, which is open for dinner, lunch, brunch, and high tea.

Location: Boduthakurufaanu Magu, 20006 Malé.

Booking rating 8.4/10

Google rating 4.5/5


Guesthouse Tour Inn Maldives

Guesthouse Tour Inn Maldives
© Booking

Tour Inn enjoys a location in Malé, a 8-minute walk from Hulhumale Ferry Terminal and half a mile from Republic Square.

Popular points of interest nearby include Henveiru Park, Sultan Park, and National Museum. Free Wifi, an elevator, and a shared kitchen are available.

Accommodation is equipped with air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen with a dining area, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom with shower, a hair dryer, and free toiletries.

A dishwasher, a microwave, and toaster are also featured, as well as a coffee machine and a kettle.

At the guest house, each unit comes with bed linen and towels. There is an on-site coffee shop.

Location: Abadhah Fehi Magu, 20070 Malé.

Booking rating 8.9/10

Google rating 4.9/5



Is Malé safe for tourists?

Malé is generally considered a safe destination for tourists. The Maldives, including its capital city, Malé, has a low crime rate and is known for its peaceful atmosphere. However, taking basic safety precautions and being mindful of your belongings is always wise, especially in crowded areas.

What are the popular tourist attractions in Malé?

Malé offers a range of exciting attractions that showcase its rich culture and history. Some popular tourist spots include the Grand Friday Mosque, the largest mosque in the Maldives, and an architectural marvel. The Maldives National Museum is another must-visit, housing a collection of historical artifacts and artworks. Sultan Park, a serene green space, provides a peaceful retreat amidst the bustling city. The Malé Fish Market is also a vibrant place to experience the local seafood culture. At the same time, the Old Friday Mosque is a testament to the city’s ancient past.

Can I find vegetarian or vegan food options in Malé?

Vegetarians and vegans will find several dining options in Malé that cater to their dietary preferences. Many restaurants and cafes offer vegetarian and vegan dishes, ranging from local Maldivian cuisine to international fare. You can enjoy flavorful vegetable curries, fresh salads, and plant-based alternatives. You should check with the restaurant to ensure they can accommodate your dietary needs.

What is the best way to get around Malé?

The best way to explore Malé is on foot, as most of the city’s attractions are within walking distance. The compact size of the island makes it convenient to navigate by foot. You can stroll through the streets, soak in the local atmosphere, and discover hidden gems. 

Taxis are also available for longer distances or if you prefer a quicker mode of transportation. Alternatively, you can use the local bus system, an affordable option for getting around the city.

Are there any shopping opportunities in Malé?

Absolutely! Malé offers a range of shopping opportunities for visitors. You can find various items from traditional markets to modern boutiques to suit your taste. The local markets, such as the Majeedhee Magu and Chaandanee Magu, are perfect for experiencing the vibrant local culture and purchasing souvenirs, clothing, handicrafts, and spices. Additionally, shopping centers and malls house international brands and offer a more modern shopping experience.

Can I visit Malé on a day trip from nearby resort islands?

Yes, many visitors staying in nearby resort islands take a day trip to Malé to explore the city and experience its unique culture. Resorts often offer guided tours or arrange speedboat transfers to Malé, making visiting convenient for guests. You can enjoy a guided walking tour of the city’s attractions, visit historical sites, indulge in local cuisine, and shop for souvenirs. It’s an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the local way of life.

What is the local currency in Malé, and where can I exchange money?

The local currency in the Maldives is the Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR). While US dollars are widely accepted in tourist areas, carrying some local currency for smaller purchases and when visiting local markets is recommended. Currency exchange facilities are available at the airport, local banks, and authorized exchange counters in Malé. Most hotels and establishments also accept major international credit cards, which can be used for larger transactions.

Are there any restrictions or cultural norms to be aware of in Malé?

The Maldives is an Islamic country, and respecting local customs and traditions is important during your visit to Malé. Dress modestly when exploring the city, especially when visiting religious sites. 

Both men and women are expected to cover their shoulders and knees. While alcohol is served in licensed resorts and hotels, public consumption of alcohol is not allowed in Malé. 

It’s advisable to be mindful of these cultural norms and act respectfully during your stay.

Can I participate in water sports activities in Malé?

While Malé is primarily known for its city life and cultural experiences, nearby resort islands offer a wide range of thrilling water sports activities. From snorkeling and scuba diving to kayaking and windsurfing, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life. 

The resorts can arrange these activities for guests, ensuring a memorable and adventurous experience in the Maldives.

Are there any specific entry requirements for visiting Malé?

Visitors to the Maldives must have a valid passport with at least six months of validity. Depending on your nationality, you may require a visa in advance or receive a visa on arrival. The visa policies vary, so it’s important to check the requirements for your country before traveling. Many nationalities are granted a free 30-day visa on arrival. 

However, checking the latest visa regulations and travel advisories from your home country’s government or the Maldivian embassy is always recommended.

Remember to plan your visit to Malé carefully, consider the local customs, and ensure you have all the necessary travel documents for a smooth and enjoyable experience in the capital city of the Maldives.