Thinking about visiting Malta? You came to the right place. In this post, I will share with you the recommended duration to visit, where to go, where to stay and what to do! But first, let's start with 10 fun and/or interesting facts about this country.
- Malta is comprised of 3 main Islands. The main Island itself, Gozo (inhabited by
32,000 people) and Comino (uninhabited).
- It imports all types of food because
of its harsh nature not suitable for planting fruits and vegetables.
- It makes
wine! It is one of the smallest nations to produce wine. Apparently the
Phoenicians are thought to have been the first to plant vines in Malta, in
around 800 BC.
- It was under the British colony between 1814 and 1964. Fun
fact, my great grand parents lived in Malta and had the UK passport, and my
grandmother was born in Malta.
- Unfortunately, it was heavily bombed during
WWII. There were over 3,300 air raids on Malta and more than 30,000 buildings
- They use the ocean as their source for freshwater.
- The Maltese
language is a mixture of Italian, Arabic, French, and English. As a Lebanese, I
found it to be such a fun game understanding several of their expressions
(slight difference in pronunciation)
- Their national dish is Rabbit stew,
which apparently was introduced by Phoenicians over 3 millennia ago.
has knights! The knights of St. John. They were given the land in 1530 by the
King of Sicily (Charles I of Spain) and ruled it for over 250 years. They
repelled many attacks from foreign powers but eventually fell to Napoleon in
1798. The old cities are still filled with architecture from one of the world’s
oldest religious orders.
- Movies and Series:
- Purpose-built film set for
the movie Popeye which was shot there in 1980. Now the village still stands, and
it has become a tourist attraction fun park. You can visit Popeye Village from
the sea and land.
- Season one of Game of thrones was filmed in Malta.
Many of the above facts were taken from this article
, feel free to read it for more fun and interesting facts.
|Popeye Village - Malta|
|Arabic speakers, if you replace X with SH as a sound, what does this sound like? :)|
Ideal trip duration:
The recommendation would be around 6 days
, even though we did go for 10 days, mainly to escape the UAE August and September heat. By going for 10 days, it gave us more time to explore in depth different parts of the country including spending 3 days in Gozo. But if you were combining Malta with other countries during your vacation, a ferry trip from Sicily for example, for a 3-4 day visit to Malta should be enough to give you a taste of this wonderful island; having said that, I have no regrets for spending 10 days there.
If I were to do it again, I would change the itinerary a bit, and I would probably spend more time around Valletta and the 3 cities while keeping it to 3 days for Gozo as the latter felt like a vacation within my vacation #Vacaception. Gozo is also a hot vacation & weekend spot for Maltese themselves; it’s smaller, quieter, and more chill.
|Coffee with a view in Valletta|
|Valletta at night - Full of life|
Where we stayed:
- Valletta: We stayed in “Ursulino Valletta”, on Ursula Street. I found the location to be great, close to everything and has a beautiful view from its rooftop. The hotel itself was super cute, very modern, we were on the ground floor, which was a bit claustrophobic, so I would recommend a higher apartment with a balcony if possible.
- Saint Paul’s Bay: We stayed in “Parklane Boutique Aparthotel”, super spacious and well located. Someone might tell you that this area is a bit more touristy, however I still think it’s worth staying there. We had super pleasant walks by the sea and the piers, and two of our favorite restaurants (recommendation below) were there.
- Gozo (Santa Lucija): This was by far my favorite accommodation, we stayed in a place called “Sweet life Gozo”, you can watch the Reels I made about this place here. It’s run by an Italian family, only has few rooms, feels more of a Bed&Breakfast style of place, with a superb breakfast (get the chocolate croissant), and a private pool which was literally all to myself when I swam there (pictures below). It is a bit far from the action if you want to walk, but I would presume if you’re staying in Gozo for 2-3 days, it’s much better if you rented a car and brought it over on the ferry providing you with ease of movement so you can visit different parts of Gozo (more on Gozo below).
- Siġġiewi: It’s quite an ordinary location, not touristy at all, but the accommodation “Pjazza Suites” was amazing, and again, quite central. So if you have a car (which you should), it’s close to Mdina – the silent city, also close to the south: Marsaxlokk which is definitely a nice spot to have fish given it’s knowing for fishing and its port.
How to move around:
- Ferry between Malta and Gozo. Free from Malta to Gozo, and you pay on the way back. Fun experience, prepare your camera when getting close to Gozo! And you get to take your car!
- Rent a car to move around Malta as well as Gozo
- Sail boat or Catamaran for a day trip to Comino and other bays
- Bolt / Ecabs available when the nights you plan to have fun and don’t want to drive back late
- If you’re only staying in Valletta / 3 cities, you can also move by boat, scooters and bicycles.
|Catamaran we took for our day trip around the Islands|
|Coffee in Birgu|
6 days without Gozo, and 8 days with Gozo (I recommend to plan to visit Gozo in the middle)
Valletta / 3 cities
- Day 1: Explore Valletta (recommended to go on a walking tour)
- Day 2: Explore the 3 cities, visit Hypogeum (book in advance)
- Day 3: Visit Mdina – The silent city and Rabat (need to prebook the tour), eat or drink at the café in Fontanella for a great view, and on a good day Mount Etna (Sicily) can be seen.
- Day 4: Marsaxlokk, great for fish restaurants, and a boat tour and on calm days they can take you to see the Blue Grotto. If you're there on a Sunday, there's a morning market.
Mellieha or Saint Paul’s Bay
- Day 5: Visit Popeye Village, Golden Bay, Dingli Cliffs Sunset
- Day 6: Boat day (Comino, Blue lagoon), departure from Saint Paul’s Bay (need to prebook), dinner in Saint Paul’s Bay
- Day 7: Ferry to Gozo. Visit Tal Kanta, Blue hole, Dwejra bay, Xlendi bay (always keep a swimming suit and a towel on you)
- Day 8: Victoria, Citadel, Salt pans, Xwejni, Zaghra
|Sunday Market - Marsaxlokk |
Things to do / Places to visit (recommended by a Maltese friend):
- Imġiebaħ Bay, Mellieħa, Malta (off the beaten track)
- Armier Bay, Mellieħa, Malta (local)
- Slugs Bay, Mellieħa, Malta (small hidden beach)
|Birgu - one of the 3 cities|
- Mgarr for rabbit - proper local food
- Valletta Cathedral
- The upper and lower Barrakka gardens
- Explore Valletta streets including the Renzo piano parliament
- The Valletta experience is a film about Malta. kitsch and not always grounded in historical fact but does provide the highlights
o The archaeological museum
- Grandmaster’s Palace
- The Lascaris war room. Super interesting for history buffs. We did this one and really enjoyed it.
- If you do the tour, most of these will be covered anyway. Visit the cathedral and explore the city you will see how it's been developed across the various epochs as reflected in the various architectural styles (also go see the roman villa in Rabat)
- Visit the grandmaster's palace and xara palace hotel to get an idea of what Maltese palaces are like inside (Napoleon allegedly slept there)
- Crystal palace bar - just outside the city walls - to try Maltese street food known as pastizzi. This place is a working-class bar/tea place. P.s. Ask for one pea and one ricotta and te fit-tazza (similar to chai).
- Hypogeum: The Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni is a Neolithic subterranean structure dating to the Saflieni phase (3300 – 3000 BC) in Maltese prehistory. Recommended to book in advance. It’s a short experience but quite interesting to do.
- 3 cities – Best is to walk around and explore. You can see the inquisitor's palace 3 Cities and Megalithic Tarxien Temples Sightseeing Tour in Malta
|Walking around Mdina|
My favorite was Xlendi bay, as it’s super nice for a walk and a swim with a very nice sunset view. Close by, there's what's known as the Blue hole in Dwejra bay, where you can do a small boat tour to see how the light reflects on the water where the color is super blue. For a nice 360 view of Gozo you can visit the Cathedral of Assumption, it’s where the old city is located.
Spots in Gozo to visit:
- Xwejni Bay, Żebbuġ, Gozo (also check out the salt pans - it's lovely for a walk)
- Qala Belvedere
- Ramla beach
- Marsalforn Salt pans
- Ghasri Valley
- Dwejra Inland Sea & Fungus Rock
- Kercem Heights
- Snorkeling tour
- Xaghra court, al sale and olympic restaurants (both also have nice upstairs seating area)
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