Already during the trip we agreed that we loved Malta. It was a four-day trip with a group of friends and this island (more exactly, three islands if you count Gozo and Camino), fit perfect for our mission: drive all around, have fun, chill on the beach, eat, drink, no drama. And here are my tips what to do in this country if you are there for a long weekend and want to pick the best.
First, a short debriefing:
- If you are an EU citizen, a local ID is sufficient to fly to Malta.
- A flight from Berlin to Luqa takes about 2,5-3 hours.
- Everyone on Malta speaks English.
- Local currency is Euro.
- Time zone is the same as in Berlin (CET).
- Plugs on Malta accept only UK adapters, so take one with you.
- Traffic on Malta is quite calm, but left-hand.
- Navigation leads you sometimes through very narrow streets though bigger streets could also suite your purpose. Double-check on the map.
…and now the tips:
Tip 1. The island is so small that if you sleep all nights at one place it will spare you time for packing and unpacking. You can reach any city on Malta during maximum 40 minutes.
I would advise you to stay in St. Gulian’s, Sliema, Gzira or Msida. The prices are cheaper than in Valetta but you can walk from one city to another during 30-40 minutes or take a taxi at night (costs about 12 Euro).
Tip 2. Going out is highly recommended in St. Gulian’s. There is an area called Paceville where you can find extremely high concentration of bars, pubs, restaurants and night clubs. The best option would be chilling on the beach of St. George’s Bay during the day and then directly head into Paceville to celebrate the night. By the way, many bars and shops belong to Hugo. We don’t know who this Hugo is, but he must be a very influential man.
Tip 3. Visit Popeye village. Once a background for a musical production “Popeye”, now a major tourist attraction on Malta. A group of rustic wooden houses built under a hill is located at Anchor Bay that is not far from Mellieha. Popeye is an open-air museum with many activities and is open to public seven day a week. Visit its site to learn more and plan a trip: http://www.popeyemalta.com/.
Tip 4. St. Peter’s pool on Malta is a natural swimming pool (and a stony beach) with several options of jumping into the water from a decent height (about 3 m). It seems everything turns around these jumps: young local come to show off by jumping in the water which is accompanied by applause of the spectators.
Tip 5. Spend at least half of a day on the Golden Bay beach. According to www.malta.com this beach is number one on Malta. Indeed, the sand is fine, clean and has literally orange-golden color. A variety of watersports is offered there.
Tip 6. To take a picture of Valletta haven you have to drive till the end of Sliema peninsula and park at the Point Shopping Mall. Follow the stairs to the half-bridge half-viewpoint to take a beautiful panoramic photo of Valletta city walls and haven.
Tip 7. Visit Valletta, the current capital of Malta. There are some problems with parking in Valletta and in general on Malty. When possible, use huge parking lots outside the city. The distances are so small that you can walk to the city center within 10 minutes. In Valletta we parked in Floriana on a MCP Car Park – just follow the signs when coming close to the city.
The city is beautiful. We had an impression that all buildings are made of the same type of stone or at least have the same sandstone color. In the city several streets are strictly pedestrian. A lot of bars, restaurants, tourist shops are situated there. You can walk to the sea coast (the walls surrounding the city) and to the Lower and Upper Barrakka Gardens from where you have a nice view to the dark-blue water of the Mediterranean sea.
Tip 8. Spend an evening in Rabat and Mdina, the former capital of Malta, strolling along pedestrian streets and enjoying the harmony of the city. We had very big parking problems there and only later recognized, why: on Malta, every week every city celebrates something. This time it was Mdina’s turn. We witnessed a spectacular firework and wandered around staring on the Christmas-like decorated Cathedral and houses. Having a dinner in Palazzo Xara was a good idea as well. Having home-made white wine was the best idea!
Tip 9. Take a ferry to Gozo, a neighbor island that has obviously a lot to suggest. You can go there both as a pedestrian and with a car. Ferries depart every 45 minutes and go from early morning to the evening. The trip takes about 30 minutes. Current timetable you can check here: http://www.gozochannel.com/en/home.htm. A return trip cost us 35 Euro for a car and 5 people.
Tip 10. Jump in cold water of the Blue Hole Dive site next to the Blue window (Azure window). Please be careful, you have to take off your normal shoes to get there. So if you have water shoes or sandals, take them with you: the surface around the dive spot is very (VERY!) rough and scratchy.
By the way, I jumped as well. It actually took me good five minutes to pull myself together and to jump. I really don’t know what happened to, because usually I’m not a pussy at all… But this time I was a real pussy… But I jumped… So, a proud-of-herself pussy! By the way, the water was quite cold in this lagoon, but acceptably cold, I didn’t get a chill or a freeze shock as I pictured to happen before jumping.
Tip 11. Take a little boat to Blue Lagoon on Comino Island (costs 10 Euro p/p both ways). It was one of the highlights of our trip: the water had a magical turquoise color and the sand is very bright, no cars or buildings around, a lot of nature. We arrived to Camino around five o’clock in the evening; by that time the massive tourist crowds were already gone. Actually, I can barely imagine how it looks like at daytime, when hundreds of tourists are arriving at once, because the lagoon itself is quite small and the patterns of sand beach are indeed tiny. Nevertheless, we had luck and an opportunity to take some nice photos without strangers in the background.
Tip 12. Citadel in the heart of Victoria, the capital of Gozo island, reveals a beautiful view to the city and to the surrounding hills and villages. The entry is free.
Tip 13. Try Kinnie, a local non-alcoholic bitter-sweet refreshing drink with the orange and herbs flavor. Actually, I was surprised to find out that Kinnie has its own site: http://www.kinnie.com/.
Another local beverage that you have to try is Cisk – the local beer. Be careful when you order a beer on Malta: there is a high probability that you order the one with extremely low amount of gaze. Generally, I can’t say that Maltese cuisine is outstandingly delicious: it definitely has nice seafood and Mediterranean products. Pizza and pasta are also tasty. Maybe, we just expected more… You should take a rabbit dish if you haven’t tried it before. By the way, don’t try “The taste of Malta” menu: the portions are huge and the meal is not exquisite.
Tip 14. English breakfast is a good choice on Malta!
Tip 15. Visit a street market and a haven in Marsaxlokk. Baby-sharks, fresh fish and vegetables, clothes and shoes. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find grilled fish but enjoyed fresh strawberries (which taste more like wild strawberries). The haven is full with colorful boats swinging peacefully on the intense-turquoise water.
Briefly, that was it. Thank you, Malta, for treating us so good. See you next time.