Wednesday 20 June 2018

Hello gang! This is going to be my last travel guide for a while as I don't currently have any trips planned for a while. Malta was a treat, so I've been looking forward to writing this guide whilst I try not to lean back on my chair because my back is rather red. For those of you who haven't come across this little gem, Malta is a Southern European country/archipelago that is nested under the south of Sicily and is made up of several islands, including Gozo and Comino. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and this is one place you're definitely going to want to purchase a souvenir fan and suncream in the store as temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees celsius in the summer. If you regularly read my travel guides, I tend to split them up into where to eat, what to do and where to stay in the area, but I thought I'd try something different here because there are several areas worthwhile exploring as the country is small and you can see a lot in a couple of days. 

3 cities malta

Day 1: 3 Cities, Mdina

So we were meant to arrive in Malta at 10am, and instead our flight got changed to the afternoon so we ended up arriving at 7pm, pretty much losing a whole day. I still had my handy guide on what we were meant to do that day before changing our itinerary, so for the sake of this blog post we'll stick to the former. 

BREAKFAST: For breakfast we stopped off at the Busy Bee cafe in Msida which had cute interiors, cheap and tasty coffee and nice little cakes and pastries. It's totally acceptable to have a mini pastry that's topped with chocolate pudding at 9am. 

After breakfast, we embarked on a Vintage Car Tour that took us around the 3 cities of Vittoriosa, Cospicua & Senglea. I had to google what the names where again because the locations went in one ear and out the other, but I remember they were a lot of Marinas (we learnt that there are over 600 boats in the marina from other European places and that there is no more room so they're building another one).

vintage car tour

LUNCH: For lunch we stopped at the Chalk Cafe & Bar in Mdina, which served traditional Maltese pastries, and other bites to eat. It was definitely a lovely little gem. Definitely try the cheese or pea pastizzis! 

Mdina is where you will find most of the Game of Thrones filming locations. You'll come across a sort of fortress which is perfect for your Instagram photos and for strolling around pretending you're back in the Medieval times. Here you'll find St Paul's Cathedral, St Paul's Catacombs, 'Littlefinger's Brothel' and it's just genuinely a lovely little place to get lost around. This place was so peaceful and you'll find a number of signs telling people to keep the noise down and respect the locals.

DINNER: I was travelling with my celiac friend which means she can't have any gluten, so away we went to find a place nearby that had GF food. We came across New York Best | University Heights which serves up pizzas and burgers, and they were good, juicy pizzas and burgers.

mdina gate

Day 2: St Julians & Gharida Bay


Popeye Village was home to the set of the 1980's musical 'Popeye' and since then has been a popular tourist attraction for people of all ages. The buildings are a chameleon of colours and have toy stores, museums, bakeries and other small attractions but it's just a great place to wander around in the morning and get some photos in.

LUNCH: Zozi's Bar and restaurant

If you fancy a chilled night and a bit of a tan before heading out. Then Ghadira Bay is a great beach to do it on and you'll have a lot more space to relax and than at the Blue Lagoon, and the water is almost as nice. Malta is one of those places where you can have a mix of culture, relaxation and a wild night out if you wanted to.

DINNER: We started our evening in Sardinella's Italian restaurant in St Julian's. I had a plate of spinach and ricotta stuffed raviola in a rich tomato sauce - which is why it probably took me so many shots to get drunk. Their prices are good, an extensive cocktail menu, GF options and an outdoor seating area (and an ATM machine right beside incase you need to take out cash guys!). We then went off to The Tipsy Barber for some drinks before getting our dancing shoes on in the Havana club in Paceville. This place had 2 rooms - one rnb and one reggaeton. There are also pubs, bars and other clubs along the area if you fancy a different kind of atmosphere - and drinks are cheap!

st julians

Day 3: Gozo & Comino 

BREAKFAST: On our walk to Sliema we stumbled upon a cafe called Eeetwell, and after our night out I could have really done with fresh things. I ordered a tropical smoothie and a bunch of protein balls. They also do fresh sandwiches and healthy wraps if you fancy taking a packed lunch for the day tour. 

On our third day we were up nice and early to go catch a ferry to the Blue Lagoon. We went with a company called Luzzu Cruises which cost us 35 euros each and included the trip to Gozo and Comino and a complimentary 2 hour walking tour we could have taken the next day (which we didn't have time for). The ferry boarded from the town of Sliema which is where you'll find a lot of the tours leave from. If you're staying in Valletta you can have a nice morning half hour walk or be there in 20 minutes by taxi. 

It took around 1 hour to reach the first Island, and I'd recommend getting there earlier as people start reserving their seats early - and unless your desperate for a red back I'd suggest getting a seat downstairs in the shade. When we arrived in Gozo we were split into several vehicles and our guide Edward took us to see several locations - including the Gozo Cathedral (which chimed on for what felt like 10 minutes), Gozo Main Square, and of course we got to have a 15 minute outing on a boat to see where the Azure window used to lie. 

LUNCH: We stopped for lunch at Cafe Jubilee which served a variation of sandwiches as well as Maltese favourites such as cheese/pea pastizzis, qassatats or a more filling plate of Bragioli (concoction of bacon, egg, and garlic dipped in breadcrumbs and wrapped in tender slices of beef).

We then got back on the ferry to make our way to the Blue Lagoon, which was a further half hour away. So me and my friends thought it would be a cool photo to all wear red bikinis like we were some Maltese version of Baywatch, what we didn't expect that the 'beach' would be tiny and packed like sardines so it made our mini photo shoot slightly more embarrassing. Nevertheless it was an experience, the water was crystal clear, we were sipping on some Pina Colada pinapples and laying on our deckchairs we paid 4 euros for instead of 10 (not bad for our first shot at haggling). We had around an hour and a half here before we set back to Sliema. 

DINNER: This place was recommended to us by our lovely taxi driver and it's definately the place to be if you want dinner with a view (the sunset), lively music and an exciting Sunday evening. You're most likely going to have to get a taxi to get to Cafe De Mar but it's definitely worth it. It's essentially a beach club so you might get a mixed Ibiza/Marbella chilled vibe going on. I went for a beef burger with cheese and caramelised onions and had no complaints.

blue lagoon

Day 4: Valletta 

BREAKFAST: I feel like we didn't get to properly enjoy our breakfast because of our situation in the next paragraph, but this place had great iced coffees and a large selection of pastries and cakes. I opted for a orange and almond cake and my friend got a Nutella filled pastry (yum).

It's story time! So Colour My Travel kindly gave me a complimentary ticket to their Valletta Complete Walking Tour and my friends had purchased their own tickets, and we were really looking forward to this to discover a bit more history about the place. We were checking out that morning and were leaving the suitcases with my friends sister who was also in Malta and had hired a car. We were in a bit of a rush so had to start making our way to Valletta, with our hand luggage suitcases, up hill, in the heat, for 30 minutes. I was legit downing my iced latte whilst two of our friends went to drop off the cases, I go to open up the tickets and see the tour had in fact started at 10am, and it was 10:55am.

cafe royal malta

So that was a bit of a failure, but since we had the whole morning to kill we decided to make our own tour by heading to all the spots that were listed on the tour and then using Wikipedia to find out what was so interesting about the wall we were stood in front of. Some sites of interest included
  • The Church of Our Lady of Victory
  • Upper Barrakka Gardens (you can get some great Insta shots here)
  • The Auberges of Castille and Italy (not to be confused with Aubergines)
  • The Castellania, or Law Courts of the Knights
  • St. John’s Co-cathedral 
  • The Great Siege Monument
  • Lower Barrakka Gardens 
  • The Old University
  • Our Lady of Damascus Greek Catholic Church
  • St. George’s Square and the Grand Master’s Palace
  • The Bibliotheca Nazionale
  • The Banca Giuratale
  • The Monte di Pietà e Redenzione
  • Casa Rocca Piccola (entrance fee and you need to have a guided tour)
There were also loads of 'thought-provoking' statues around the city which I found to be of particular interest. I had a look into them and there are apparently 7 of these symbolising Maltese sayings.

LUNCH: If you're looking for something light, healthy and cheap then I highly recommend No 43. You pay 4 euros for a small bowl and 6 for a large and get to choose 3 things to put in it (chicken quinoa salad, pasta salad, mixed veg, chickpeas etc). They have gluten free and vegan options so it's a great place to go if you're in a group with mixed diets. If you'd rather walk and eat, then there's a 'create your own sandwich/baguette' store next door called Submarine.

Since by this point the sun is probably blinding and you've worked up a sweat from all the hills in the city centre, it might be a good time to get your culture fix from the museums in Valletta. As I mentioned above, Casa Rocca Piccola is meant to be one of the most beautiful spots in Malta (it's a 16th century palace). There is also the National Museum of Archeology (thought of you Abbey!) and the National Museum of Fine Arts. If like me, you have a major sweet tooth, then you might want to take a break at French Affaire for a coffee and cake - warning an iced coffee will cost you more than the actual cake. 

DINNER: Palazzo Preca had an extensive Maltese menu at decent prices and is a family run restaurant. The wine list is great if you fancy toasting your last night in Malta, and I'd recommend the seafood risotto - delicious.



Where to stay in Malta


Malta is a place where you can stay in luxury and not have to pay the large price tag that comes with staying in a lot of European cities. If you're looking to stay in the capital (Valletta) then Casa Ellul is an excellent 4 star located right in the city centre and there rooms are very charming and have a unique room interior of gold and black. Meanwhile in St Julian's, if you want to stay in the heart of the action but don't want to hear people chanting at 4am in Paceville, then The Westin Dragonara Resort looks insane. The views and pool are beautiful and I can imagine this to be like heaven when the sun is setting and you're sat there with a mojito in one hand appreciating life. You'll also find your usual Hilton, InterContinental and Corinthia hotels around here. 

3 Star

If you're looking to stay in the popular nightlife district then St George's Park Hotel is a good shout and is 2 minutes away from the beach, offers free Wi-Fi and has a pool so you can get a tan in the morning whilst you're sleeping off your hangover. Meanwhile, if you want to stay in the Harbour and be the first one on the boat for the Blue Lagoon, Sliema Harbour Hotel features a sun terrace with a hydrotherapy pool, and a rooftop breakfast room with views across the harbour. It's a stone throw away from the bus terminals and ferries. 


In hindsight, we could have probably splurged a little more on our hotel but I booked it so far in advance I hadn't even done any research into the area. We stayed at Central Area Apartment which was located in Msida, around a half hour walk from Valletta and Sliema. It took us a while to find the apartment and it was a little on the stuffy side, but other than that we couldn't complain for what we paid for. We paid 50 euros each for 3 nights (there were 4 of us). The apartment was clean, the Wi-Fi was free, we had a flat screen TV with Youtube which made getting ready in the early mornings that bit easier (we must have watched the Girls Like You music video a hundred times). It was basic, but all we needed. 

If you're travelling on your own and looking to make a few pals to go have a few beers with, then there's the Inhawi Boutique Hostel in St Julian's that is close to public transport, has a pool, and offers continental breakfasts. If you've never stayed in a hostel before, you may want to read about my first experience staying in a hostel here.  

Getting around in Malta

I usually say the best way to see a city is by foot, but because you're essentially exploring the whole country, there's only so many miles the human leg can walk before you collapse and starfish on the ground. You can manage the walk between Sliema, St Julian's and Valletta but to get to some of the other areas the best method is either public transport of sharing a taxi. 

There's an app called Tallinja which lets you know the bus times, routes and directions for you to take. However some of them don't run very often so we found we were going to be waiting for 40 minutes for a bus that took us to Mdina. So instead, we rang up the taxi company HiCabs and from then on used them whenever the walk was going to be more than 40 minutes as a taxi ride of half an hour only set us back 17 euros in total. By places like Valletta City Gate and the St Julian's 'strip' you'll find 'book and go' taxi kiosks where you pay a set price depending on the area you're going to, show your ticket, and ride off in a taxi into the wind.

Few things to remember

  • Maltese is the official language, but a lot of people speak English. 
  • Malta uses euros and also have their own maltese euro coins. 
  • The best time to visit is May-June or September as the summer months can get unbearably hot. 
  • HiCabs is the best taxi company to use for getting around safely, quickly and economically. 
  • AirMalta gives you a free bread roll and water on board, hooray!

Malta definitely exceeded my expectations and I'll be sure to return and see the places I didn't get to see. Have you guys been to Malta, what were your highlights or what would you like to see if you haven't? 



Want more Malta inspiration? head to my Malta Pinterest board

malta travel guide

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