Malta. Malta is the perfect destination for a holiday. The small country has a lot more to offer than its size would suggest. Malta has full of history on every corner. It has received influences from the Phoenicians, Italians, Arabs and the Brits and yet managed to stay completely unique among other European nations. Besides history, Malta offers great opportunities for water sports, like diving, snorkelling and swimming. And those looking for a chill holiday by the pool will have their needs met in Malta, too.
I’ve lived in Malta for over a year so I have my own little tips and favourite spots. Here they are:
Valletta – the capital of Malta
Malta’s capital Valletta is a town build “by gentlemen for the gentlemen” and it was meant to be as beautiful as Rome or Paris. Valletta is very small but it still has a lot of things to see and do. If you do just one thing, visit St John’s Co-Cathedral which is probably the most beautiful cathedral in the whole of Europe. Not kidding. Another nice place is Casa Rocca Piccola, a former house of one noble family, and Upper Barakkala Garden, a park reserved only for the knights and other nobles. Tip: every day at noon they are shooting with old canons at the Saluting Battery.
You want to go to Caffe Cordinassa, the oldest still working cafe from 1837. Take a peek inside, the decoration is stunningly beautiful. On summer Fridays, I would suggest going to the legendary Bridge Bar for live jazz, wine, street food and amazing atmosphere.
Mdina – the silent city
In case you are a Game of Thrones fan and want to spot shooting locations, you will find a couple of them in Valletta and Mdina. Mdina (the name given by the Arab rulers means a city surrounded by walls) used to be the capital of Malta. The town is also known as the silent city, which simply comes from the fact that it’s super quiet in there, especially in the morning and the evenings. Mdina has this magical, peaceful vibe everywhere, let alone several interesting things to see and great restaurants to visit. During the summertime, I would travel to Mdina during the evening because there isn’t that much shade in there.
Comino and Blue lagoon
Malta consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Comino is the smallest of the island and has only two residents. In case you are travelling to Malta during the summer, take a boat ride to Comino and to Blue Lagoon. You are able to land on Comino, walk around it and take a dip in the turquoise water.
Taste Maltese food
Malta’s cuisine has several influences from Italy, other Mediterranian countries and England. But it also has several lovely local specialities. Begin your morning with ftira, Maltese bread with tomato pyre, tuna, olives, beans and salad. Taste pastizzi, a pie filled with ricotta or pea mash. For dinner have a Maltese platter with bread and crackers, sausage, Gozotan cheese, sundried tomatoes, bean dip called bigilla and often olives and capris. As a main dish, I would choose octopus, local fish or rabbit. Then some gelato to finish of the evening.
Gozo is one of my personal favourites in Malta. Life in Gozo is like it was in Malta back in the days: countryside living, chill, peaceful, quiet. I would recommend spending two nights in Gozo: one night in the capital Victoria and the other one in Xlendi. II recommend the Boat House restaurant in the town.
Read more: Why I fell in love with Gozo.
Hike in Ghajn Tuffieha
You will find one of the most beautiful sceneries around Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha Bay. Take a bus there to see green hills, sandy beaches and cliffs. Wherever you turn, you will see stunning landscapes.
Take a ferry from Valletta to visit Three Cities, Birgu, Senglea and Bormla. Birgu is the largest and has the most places to visit, the best being the Fort St Angelo. Make sure not to miss Birgu by candlelight festivals in mid-October. Then the electrical lighting is turned off in the whole city and it is lit with lanterns and candles instead.
Have a Sunday lunch in Marsaxlokk
Marsaxlokk is an old fishing village that hosts popular Sunday markets. There you can find mainly fish and seafood, and it has become a well-known tourist destination. Come here to have freshly-caught fish for lunch (reservations recommended). If you feel like walking a bit or have a car with you, go to St Peter’s pool for a nice swim.
Party in St Julians
St Julians has a lot of reasons to visit the town: the fanciest hotels in Malta, luxury districts, casinos, a movie theatre and some really good restaurants. If you dare to, go and party in Paceville! It has a crowded bar street with a lot of action (and young EF pupils getting drunk).
Malta and the caves: Blue Grotto
Blue Grotto is consisting of different caves that you can visit by boat. The water is absolutely clear and turquoise so Blue Grotto is an ideal place for snorkelling and diving. If you only got half a day, Blue Grotto is a perfect destination.
Here are my recommendations. Let me know if you have more, add your tips in the comment section.