Living in Sicily certainly has its perks… like flights to Malta for less than 40€!
Prior to our move here, visiting Malta was #1 on my travel list. Why, you ask? Because Malta (along with Gozo and Comino) is an alluring jewel of an island that is beyond rich in culture, history, and charm. Not to mention, the food and wine are AMAZING and completely underrated. Malta is conveniently located in the Mediterranean Sea just south of Sicily. Most people ask me if Malta is part of Italy or Spain. The answer is… neither! Malta actually declared independence from the UK in the 70’s! So, it’s its own country. Most people also speak English there (and Maltese), so it’s super easy to get around.
We were completely overwhelmed with the plethora of options for our adventures. Three days were definitely not enough to take in all Malta had to offer. So, I thought I’d create a little guide for anyone interested in making the most out of a breathtaking trip in the most remarkable place.
The attractions in Malta are quite spread out, as the island’s size can be deceptive. Distance-wise, you’d think traveling from point A to point B would only take 10-15 minutes, when in reality, traffic. And a much longer ride (especially if traveling by bus).
Public transportation is incredibly cheap (1.50€ for a two hour bus ticket) and easy to use. However, if you are in a hurry, it’s best you rent a car. We did not rent a car and occasionally spent an hour or so waiting for a bus. Sometimes the bus was on time, but full. Other times we had to stand the entire time on the hour-long bus ride to our destination or back. In short, I’d recommend renting a car (P.S. They drive on the left side of the road!).
Prior to booking a hotel, you should decide what “feel” you are going for. Do you want a resort vacation where you lay out on the beach all day? Malta has that! Do you want to explore historical cities and sites? Malta has that! Do you want to feel excluded from the rest of the world? Malta has that! Where you stay is indicative of what type of trip it will be.
**We stayed in St. Juliens at the Gold Lion Holiday. It was near this beautiful rocky shore and the bay (shown above) and all of the hoppin’ night life. And boy, was it hoppin!
The capital and cultural and historical hub. If you go to Malta, you’re going to want to check out Valletta. The historical capital is well preserved with many points of interest to explore. We spent a whole day here and it was worth it. We did not stay in Valletta, as the hotels were over 200€ per night, which was a bit over budget for us! However, Valletta does host some luxurious accommodations in some historical places (I’m talking, 4-star and 5-star hotels).
Public garden offering a panoramic view of the Grand Harbour.
Under the Barrakka Garderns lies Malta’s best kept secret from WWII…a secret underground complex that housed Britan’s War Headquarters. Extremely interesting and impressive!
A Maltese Noble family’s 16th Century Palace. Definitely worth the $!
Super unimpressive from the outside, right?
But when you step in, BREATHTAKING!! The most impressive church I’ve seen so far, and it should be, as it is considered to be one of Europe’s finest examples of Baroque architecture. It houses nine chapels and some notable works of art including Caravaggio’s only signed painting, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. Despite the massive number of tourists visiting, the church and Caravaggio’s painting are still very moving.
The ornate interior, with gold walls and painted ceilings that appear like carvings.
The intricate details are impressive.
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist and another ornate ceiling.
Valletta is a beautiful and historic city that we really enjoyed visiting!
A fortified city founded in the 8th century BC, Mdina will wow you with it’s beauty. While Valetta was gorgeous, I was just smitten with Mdina.
The first thing you see as you walk into the city is the fortified wall and medieval gate.
Hand Blown Glass
Next, are some really cute glass shops. My favorite was Mdina Glass:
I really wanted to buy some adorable little glasses for myself, but alas, I packed too much and there was no room in the carry on!
Like Valetta, Mdina’s church, St. Paul’s Cathedral, was also a sight to behold and worth exploring.
There was also an attached museum that we loved which had some panoramic views from the windows.
Mdina has some of the cutest little doorways and streets!
Mdina also hosts St. Paul’s Catacombs, which we skipped because, after Naples, we are catacombed out.
Definitely not an area to stay in, but views for sure!!
The cliffs were near nothing, but worth the 1.5 hour bus ride. You can walk up and down the cliffside for quite a ways. The view is gorgeous and despite the tourists, it’s very peaceful and serene.
The only reason we traveled to Qrendi, was for the blue grotto! We traveled there a bit later in the day, so we skipped the boat tour and just opted for the shore views (which weren’t half bad!!).
Għajn Tuffieħa Bay was our destination in Mgarr. One of the most popular beaches is Golden Bay, but we were told by a local to try Għajn Tuffieħa Bay instead, as it is less crowded since there are a set of stairs leading down to it. I actually loved that there were stairs because
LOOK AT THIS VIEW!!!
The water was gorgeous, but maybe a tiny bit chilly for my liking. There was a seaside restaurant there, where you could dine on the outdoor patio or grab some food for takeout. We got a pizza and some beers to enjoy on the beach. It made for a nice and relaxing day!
Maltese Mama – For traditional Maltese cuisine, I’d make a reservation for dinner here! The traditional Maltese platter was a HUGE and amazing appetizer (shown below). We felt like we didn’t need entrees after that one. We also had the rabbit, which was also a very large dish and extra tasty!
Bianco’s – Great spot for a nice, relaxing dinner with great wine! Order the fried cheese appetizer – you will not regret it!!!
Marsovin Wine – Their sauvignon blanc was some of my favorite wine! Malta is full of amazing wine. I’d definitely give Marsovin wines a try!
Cisk Beer – Maltese beer is light and refreshing! Perfect for lounging seaside.
Like I said, 72 hours in Malta was definitely not enough time. There were many things we wanted to do that we were not able to. Here are a few:
Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum – Apparently this underground cavity and monument is THE attraction in Malta and is booked out for M O N T H S in advance. Make sure to make a reservation a solid 3+ months ahead of time.
Ħaġar Qim Temples – Megalithic temples from 3600 to 3200 BC. Sad we missed these!