What to Do on a Short Stopover in Male, Maldives

by Jackie
A white sandy beach at Artificial Beach on Male, Maldives

In your Maldives itinerary, you may have a few hours before heading to your next island destination or Velana International Airport to catch your flight home. 

So, should you spend time in Maldives’s capital, Male (Malé)? We say, yes!

While Male’s main island and capital city is densely populated and may not have the same allure as the resorts, it has some fun attractions to visit during your few hours here. You can visit a beach, a park, museums, and a fish market on your stopover. 

It’s doable to visit these places on your own. No tour is needed.  

We had a total of 6 hours to explore Male City before we boarded the public ferry to go to Maafushi Island and after we returned from Maafushi. We were glad to explore this local island and walk around to see the bustling activities happening. 

Here are 8 attractions and places recommended to see during your short visit to Male. 

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Map of places to visit on a short visit to Male, Maldives

Click on the map to see a larger view. Credit: Map data: Google

Eat a Maldivian breakfast at Magukolhu Hotaa.

If your departure is in the morning and you’re seeking a breakfast spot, we recommend the local spot, Magukolhu Hotaa. We did a quick search on Google Maps and it was near our hotel, so we decided to visit. 

There wasn’t a menu, but they served a Maldivian breakfast with a choice of mashuni (tuna with shredded coconut, onions, and chili) and roshi (a flatbread). 

The mashuni is behind a sneeze guard, but you can see and pick your flavor. There were three options on our visit – a very spicy one, one with pumpkin (barabo mashuni), and the regular one (dhalhu mashuni). 

We tried the pumpkin and regular mashuni, and they were delicious! The shredded tuna with shredded coconut had a unique flavor and had a kick from the chopped chili. 

It was also easy to pick up the fish with pieces of roshi. The roshi is very thin similar to paratha or a very thin naan. 

A Maldivian breakfast with two plates of roshi flatbread, 1 plate of mashuni and chopped tuna, and 1 plate of mashuni with pumpkin at Male's Magukolhu Hotaa Restaurant

This Maldivian breakfast at Magukolhu Hotaa was delicious!

As an aside, we had the Maldivian breakfast at our guesthouse, Island Ambience on Maafushi Island, and it wasn’t the same quality and flavor as this place. So, we definitely recommend trying this place.

The meal was very affordable at $4.00. 

Location: On the corner of Filigas Magu and Violet Magu Road; next to the Henveiru Stadium

Hang out or swim at Artificial Beach.

Located 1 kilometer (.60 miles) south of Henveiru Terminal, Artificial Beach is a manmade lagoon with wavebreakers and a small beach area. 

Many locals swim and wade in the calm waters. So, if you decide to swim, respect the rules for local beaches by covering your body (t-shirts and shorts are fine!) and not wearing bikinis. 

One of the coolest parts about this spot is watching airplanes and seaplanes land and depart at Velana International Airport. You can watch from the beach or the small park area. 

Artificial Beach has people swimming in the water and a plane landing at the nearby Male International Airport

You can see planes land when you’re at Artificial Beach

Location: East side of the island along Boduthakurufaanu Magu Road 

Walk through the Sultan Park.

Maldives is hot and humid, so we were surprised to have a reprieve from the heat with the park’s tall trees and covered areas. What a gem located in the middle of a busy city. It’s also free to visit

Green trees and plants surround the Sultan Park's walkways in Male, Maldives

Sultan Park is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the busy Male City.

There is a short walkway (not quite a suspension bridge) called the “Tree House Climb.” It has an aerial view of the park and egg-shaped pods to take photos. You need to take the stairs to visit the walkway. 

Jackie Szeto, Life Of Doing, is under an egg shaped photo spot at the Sultan Park, Male, Maldives

Here is a fun spot to take a photo at the Sultan Park

The middle of the park has a huge tree with vines growing around the trunk and surrounding area. The tree has a thick trunk so it must be over 100+ years old. 

If you have children, they will enjoy playing on the colorful playground. 

The park has benches to rest and enjoy the scenery.  

If you have extra time, there is the National Museum and National Art Gallery to learn more about Maldives’s history and art scene. Unfortunately, these were closed when we visited the park, so we’ll need to check them out next time.  

Location: Next to the National Museum, and between Lily Magu and Medhuziyaari Magu Road

Do a quick stop at the Victory Monument.

After visiting Sultan Park, there is a white monument with a circular focal point and four Maldivian flags on each side of the circle. The circle has a green outer circle, a white middle circle, and an inner maroon circle with four crescent moons. 

The monument is a November 3rd Memorial for soldiers and citizens who passed away from a terrorist attack that occurred on November 3, 1988. Next to the monument is a plaque with the names of those who passed away. 

A white memorial with Maldivian flags and circular emblem which serves as the Victory Monument in Male, Maldives

Victory Monument

Location: Across from Sultan Park on Medhuziyaari Magu Road

Pass by Republic Square.

You’ll pass through Republic Square as you continue towards the water. It’s a large area for people to hang out. As a heads up, there are tons of pigeons here as they get fed by the citizens. 

This is a cool photo spot to capture the Maldivian flag on the flagpole with the Shaheed Hussain Adam Building (Police Headquarters) in the background. 

A Maldivian flag on a flagpole in front of the Police Headquarter building at the Republic Square in Male, Maldives

Location: Across from the Shaheed Hussain Adam Building (Police Headquarters) on Jumhooree Higun Road

Go souvenir shopping.

If Male is your last stop before the airport, you could consider stopping by one for gifts. 

There are a few souvenir shops near the Republic Square on Orchard Magu and Husainee Goalhi Street. 

Note: We experienced a few sellers walking along the street encouraging us to visit the shop and “give us a good price.” It was a bit tiresome after 3 people approached us. 

Stop by the Fish Market and Produce Market.

If you’re interested in seeing a local fish market and produce market, these two places are right across from each other. 

It’s mostly geared to locals and restaurant owners, but you can see the daily catch, such as tuna, and current produce for sale. 

We didn’t stop by these two places as they were very crowded. 

Location: 188 Ibrahim Hassan Didi Magu, Malé 20188, Maldives

Wander through the small streets.

If the attractions above are not interesting, you can easily walk around and wander through the small streets of Male City and see the local life. 

The streets are very narrow and crowded, especially with the motorbikes parking diagonally on the street. 

Walking on the sidewalk is doable but it’s also very narrow. Sometimes the sidewalk is blocked by a motorbike or a cement block, so you’ll need to walk on the street. 

The major roads such as Majeedhee Magu and Amee are congested. You’ll see cars and buses competing for the road space. If you need to cross the street, just cross carefully. Most of the time the motorbikes will give you the leeway with crossing. 

We took about 20 minutes (1.4 kilometers/.87 miles) walking from the Fish Market, located north of the island, to the Manhattan Fish Market Male Restaurant, located south of the island. 

As a side note: We ate at this restaurant during our stopover from Maafushi to Male. It’s recommended for delicious and flavorful seafood. We missed eating fresh fish after spending a few days on Maafushi and Fulidhoo. Portions were HUGE so you can easily share with another person. 

One plate of mixed seafood with chips, one plate of fish and chips, and 2 colorful drinks at Manhattan Fish Market Male Restaurant

So you can gauge that it takes about 20 to 30 minutes one way to go around Male City. 

But if walking isn’t suitable for you, hailing a taxi is another option to travel around the island

Final Thoughts

Male City on the main Male Island is worth spending a few hours. 

While most visitors tend to skip it, you can spend some time to experience a local island and see what life is like on one of the most crowded islands in the Maldives.  

Heading to the airport? You can take the ferry from Male’s Henveiru Terminal Port to the airport. We have a post of the reverse route from the Airport to Male ferry but you can see what the ferry is like. 

If you’ve visited Male before, let us know your thoughts about this island in the comment section below.

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Green plants surround the Sultan Park walkways and seating area in Male, Maldives

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