The Maltese archipelago lies in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. While many people think Malta is a lone landmass, it is actually made up of three (small but equally beautiful) islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino.
While only a tiny country, Malta is truly a historic wonderland. Given it great strategic position in the Mediterranean, the succession of powers ruling Malta varied from the Romans to the British, each leaving their mark on the island throughout the ages. With its rich history, beautiful architecture, crystal clear water, warm weather and friendly people, Malta offers something for everyone.
After scouring the three islands for a week, I’ve found ten things that should be on every Malta itinerary!
1. WANDER THE HISTORIC STREETS OF VALETTA
Valletta, the ‘Fortress City’, is Malta’s stunning capital. You can spend hours wandering around its long rustic streets, enjoying coffee in quiet alley way cafes and admiring the views back onto Sliema from the Upper Barrakka Gardens. If you’re a culture buff, there’s plenty of museums here to keep you busy.
2. RELAX AT CAFE DEL MAR
Partial to a bit of sun and some cocktails? Then make sure you don’t miss this place. Café Del Mar is a gorgeous cliff-side pool bar, playing relaxed house music and serving up some delicious (and reasonably-priced!) drinks. There is also a restaurant serving sushi, seafood, burgers and typical Mediterranean cuisine. Every Sunday during the summer season, Café Del Mar puts on a day party where you can watch sunset and party late into the night.
3. VISIT THE POPEYE VILLAGE
Popeye Village was originally a film set built for the 1980 live-action musical feature film Popeye. Also known as ‘Sweethaven Village’, the set is made up of group of rustic wooden fishing houses located around Anchor Bay. It’s worth noting that the village is in quite a remote location and, while accessible by bus, there is nothing else to see in this area.
4. WALK FROM GOLDEN BAY TO GHAJN TUFFIEHA BAY
There are countless of beaches to choose from in Malta but my favourite would have to be Għajn Tuffieħa Bay. It is nestled between two other bays and separated by natural rock formations.
Golden Bay is one of the few sand beaches on the North West coast of Malta and has several beach clubs and a large hotel. Għajn Tuffieħa is then only a pleasant stroll away and (as it is much quieter than Golden Bay) is often visited by the Maltese themselves. In order to reach this beach you need to descend down a staircase of 200 steps. It is also a very popular spot for locals to have a picnic and watch the sunset. It’s best to bring your own food and beverages as there is only one restaurant and a food truck in this area.
5. ADMIRE THE HISTORICAL TOWN OF MDINA (‘the silent city’)
Mdina is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture. Lamp lit by night and referred to as “the silent city”, the history of Mdina traces back more than 4000 years. It is a most fascinating place to wander around, enjoy gelato and soak up history.
6. ENJOY SEAFOOD AT MARSAXLOKK AND DISCOVER ST PETERS POOL
Marsaxlokk is a fishing village famous for its fish market, colourful boats and fish restaurants. There is a market here each morning and a larger one on Sundays. It’s a lovely place for a waterfront stroll, a bit of souvenir-hunting and a seafood meal.
About a 30 minute walk from the centre of Marsaxlokk is the gorgeous St. Peter’s Pool. It’s an ideal spot for snorkelers and swimmers wishing to spend a peaceful day in the sun without the nuisance of sand. Wear comfortable shoes – you need to walk a bit to reach this spot.
7. VISIT COMINO AND THE BLUE LAGOON
The Blue Lagoon, accessible via ferry for just €10, is found on the island of Comino. It is giant “pool” nestled between Comino and its even tinier offshoot island, Cominotto. The lagoon is hugged by limestone cliffs and caves, which once served as hideouts for pirates in the Middle Ages. Today, Comino is a bird sanctuary and nature reserve.
Here you can snorkel, dive or simply float in the crystal-clear waters. Deeper out in the lagoon you can water ski and on shore you can bike the empty paths. Make sure to pack a lunch and bring plenty of water – other than one hotel and some over-priced food trucks, there is nothing else on this tiny, magical island. Also, try get here first thing in the morning to have the pool to yourself – it gets very busy once the tour cruises start arriving.
8. CATCH A FERRY TO GOZO FOR THE DAY
Malta’s second largest island, Gozo, is easily accessible via a 30 minute high-speed ferry from Malta. If you’re short on time, the best way to see this island is by hopping on one of sight-seeing tour bus when you arrive in the port for about 20 Euros. It will take you to all the major attractions Gozo has to offer – which is a lot! Some highlights include Ramla and Dwejra Bay, the city of Victoria and Ta’ Pinu Basilica. Sadly, the famous Azure Window rock formation collapsed into the ocean last year following a bad storm. However, the remaining cliff face and rock pools at Dwejra Bay are still worth visiting!
9. STAY, EAT & SHOP IN SLIEMA
Sliema is a major residential and commercial area in Malta. With its great bus connections, high street shops, trendy eateries and beach front, Sliema is the perfect place to base yourself during your Maltese getaway. Just a stone’s throw away from Valetta, Sliema provides beautiful views back onto the capital.
10. HAVE A NIGHT OUT IN ST JULIANS BAY
Once a pretty fishing village, St Julian’s is now filled with five-star hotels and apartment complexes along its scenic bays. Malta’s cool crowd comes to this areas to eat, drink, shop and party. Neighbouring Paceville, a few streets to the west of St Julian’s, is also full of pubs and clubs open until the early morning.
ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR YOUR TRIP!
- The bus network is fantastic in Malta – as long as you are staying in one of the main towns (e.g. Valetta or Sliema) you can pretty much get to anywhere in the island for a few Euros. However, it’s worth noting that buses here run on ‘Mediterranean time’, which essentially means the bus may or may not show up!
- Make sure you try the local specialties, particularly pastizzi (a savoury pastry filled with either of ricotta or mushy peas). For 50 Euro cents, it’s hard to say no!
- Malta gets ferociously hot in high summer so the best time of year to visit is in late spring or early autumn.
- Fancy a day-trip to Italy? Sicily is just a 1.5 hour ferry ride away!
Have you been to Malta? Please share your experience in the comments below!
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By We Are Travel Girls Contributor Emilia Drozda
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