Somehow I’ve found myself on this rock of just 400,000 people in the Mediterranean. Nestled in between Sicily in the North and Tunisia in the South, Malta is a melting pot in the middle of the Mediterranean where the Middle East, Northern Africa and Europe have crossed time and time again, creating a unique blend of culture that is distinctly Maltese.
Brilliantly turquoise water gently hugs the island. Move inland and find yourself in a sea of traditional limestone buildings with primary coloured balconies and doors embellished with ornamental handles in the shape of everything from angels to seahorses. The smell of hot, greasy but oh-so-tempting pastizzis and pizza by the slice fills the air. Cars roll bumper to bumper down the narrow streets, the sun beats down and the Maltese greet each other with their boisterous Bonġu.
Malta should get on just about everyone’s destination bucket list. From long beach days, crazy Mediterranean boat parties to ancient megalithic temples and medieval fortifications, families, party-goers, couples, and lone backpackers alike will find the holiday experience they are seeking in Malta.
This guide is designed for those who are interested in experiencing the rich culture and history of Malta (and a few beaches too).
Day 1 – Valletta & The Three Cities
There’s no better way to start your trip than in the capital city and cultural hub of Malta. Get lost in Valletta’s labyrinth of narrow streets, stumble into a boutique shop, art gallery or discover one of Valletta’s many eateries.
Recommend Restaurants in Valletta:
View chasers, head to Panorama Restaurant, 267 St Ursula Street, Il-Belt Valletta
Enjoy the back streets of Valletta at D’Office, 132, Triq l arcisqof, Valletta
Vegans and non-vegans alike will enjoy a taste of veggie heaven at Grassy Hopper, 59, Triq San Gwann, Il-Belt Valletta
Dear hipsters: Cafe Society, 13, Triq San Gwann, Il-Belt Valletta
Craft beer lovers, visit Wild Honey, 127, St. Lucia’s Street, Il-Belt Valletta
Beer lovers in general chill out at The Beer Cave, Castile Hotel, Pjazza Kastilja Valletta
The Three Cities
For just 2 euros, take a water taxi to the Three Cities from Valletta. There’s no other way to take in the majestic-ness of the fortified cities than by boat, looking up and gawking at them. Alternatively, you can pay for a full history lesson from one of these boatmen for around 6 euros per person traversing through each creek of the Three Cities.
The Blue Lagoon on the isle of Comino is one of the most beautiful places in the Maltese islands. The island of Comino has a total of 2 inhabitants (you can take a stroll past their house) along with a few interesting sites that are worth trekking to like the Santa Marija Tower. With crystal clear shallow blue water, the Blue Lagoon is a necessary day trip. Visit just before (May) the peak summer months or just after (September – October) to experience the Blue Lagoon without the insane summer crowds. From July to August, expect nothing less than an anthill. Never fear! You can find two other beaches on Comino – Santa Marija Bay and St Nicholas Bay if you need to escape the crowds.
You can either take a full day cruise (they usually have an open bar) for around €30-€50 from Sliema to Comino or you can take the bus to Cirkewwa, the ferry terminal, where there are express fast boats waiting to take tourists straight to Comino. They offer tickets from the ferry terminal to Comino and back OR you can use your ticket to travel from the ferry terminal to Comino and then on to Gozo.
Honestly, the Blue Grotto is perhaps even more beautiful than the recently sea struck Azure Window. I recently took an adventurous swim through some of the sea caves in this area; the water is this unearthly blue and the marine life is amazing – moray eels, octopus, and even the occasional stingray and dolphins. Most tourists enjoy taking a short 30 minute boat tour (8 euros per person) through the Blue Grotto and neighbouring caves. We enjoyed the boat tour as well as it’s a great way to see many different caves, gaze into the crazy blue water and snap some photos.
The Ħaġar Qim temple complex is a short bus ride or walk – on a nice breezy day – from the Blue Grotto. Ħaġar Qim forms one part of the UNESCO World Heritage “Megalithic Temples of Malta”. The Megalithic Temples of Malta are the oldest man-made structures in the world. Seriously, older than the Pyramids of Egypt. Definitely visit Ħaġar Qim temple complex in Malta and Ġgantija (the earliest of the Megalithic Temples of Malta) in Gozo.
Open from 9am -5pm; Entry is €10.00
Tip: Buy the Entertainer App if it’s not too late in your travels. This app offers Buy 1 Get 1 deals, including many great restaurants and attractions like these Heritage Malta sites.
Mdina, like Valletta, is a beautiful fortified medieval city in the North of Malta. Built on top of a high plateau, Mdina offers incredible views along the fortifications over the countryside and out to sea. Traditionally, the nobility of Malta lived in Mdina and the town served of great importance as the capital during its time. You wouldn’t believe it but even today Mdina is completely inhabited. It’s a living, breathing city and at the same time a true journey back in time.
There are many attractions you are sure to stumble upon as you wander the timeless streets of Mdina. We really enjoyed exploring the vast St Paul’s Catacombs under Mdina’s neighbouring city, Rabat.
Open from 9am to 5pm; Entry is €5.00
Day 4 – Beach Day
If you’ve come to Malta, you better love the beach. Ghajn Tuffieha pictured above is one of Malta’s best beaches that’s easily accessible by bus.
The rocky bays of Sliema never disappoint either.
Seafood lovers, head to Malta’s fishing village – Marsaxlokk. We had a bit of an experience and didn’t push hard enough to get the price of a fish before they sent if off to be cooked. We ended up with a burnt snapper that cost €40 and left poor Jonas a bit traumatized. Stick to the daily specials or the mixed seafood platters which are all around €7-€10. St Peter’s Pool is nearby and is a popular little spot for swimming and cliff jumping.
Day 6 & 7 – Gozo
Just a stones throw, Gozo is Malta’s tiny and pristine sister island. Gozo has a population of just over 30k and an equally tiny land mass. Visiting Gozo, in my opinion, is pure bliss. Spend at least a night in Gozo and leisurely explore this charming little island.
Popular attractions: Marsalforn, Salt Pans, Xlendi Bay, Ramla Bay, Calypso Cave Victoria, Citadella, Gjantija Temples
How to get here: €4-€5 on the Gozo Ferry from Cirkewwa, Malta
Planning a trip to Malta? What are you looking forward to see?
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