I’ve just returned from a relaxing short break in Malta – a small island just south of Italy. We decided on Malta purely for the guaranteed heat and sunshine, and well also because it was a fair bit cheaper than our first choice Santorini!
What we discovered about Malta…
- It’s full of the English! Indeed there’s a strong English presence in Malta, which I was told dates back to the 1800s when Malta became part of the British Empire and a number of military bases were established there. Malta was granted independence on September 21st 1964 and funnily enough, we were actually in Malta over Independence Day, where we saw a number of shops closed, recognising the holiday.
- It’s hot, very hot. A friend of ours visited the island in August and told us of the 40 degree temperatures; thankfully, September is a bit cooler but still warm and humid at a respectable 28 degrees (approx). We were also grateful for the light wind which was pretty constant during our stay.
- There is A LOT of building work going on in Malta, especially in the area of St Julian’s and Paceville where we stayed – it’s crane galore!
- Rabbit is a Maltese delicacy! Tuna and swordfish are also popular dishes. I was initially keen to try some Maltese specialities but after tasting the Carbonara – Maltese style – I decided I’d give the rest a miss as it resembled in both looks and taste, a very crispy, crunchy and fairly tasteless omelette. But don’t let me put you off!
So where did we go and what did we do…?
As we only had a few days, we spent a fair amount of time on sun loungers performing the frequent sun tan lotion application ritual, between sips of various delicious beverages; but we did manage to drag ourselves away from the pool to do some exploring!
Spinola Bay is situated in St Julian’s, just south of Paceville and north of Sliema. It’s a really picturesque and quaint little bay littered with restaurants, eateries and small independent shops. The bay was just around the corner from our hotel so we ate here every night, and each night at a different establishment.
Despite being late September, we found most restaurants to be very busy from 7pm onwards, regardless of the day – I think the lovely view the restaurants share over the bay, of the small harboured boats, is a draw for both tourists and locals alike.
Here are just a few of the yummy dishes we consumed during our stay:
On the Saturday, we ventured to the UNESCO World Heritage site and Maltese capital city, Valletta. Instead of hailing a taxi to Valletta, we wanted to catch the ferry from Sliema, so we walked there from our hotel which took about half an hour. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we had just missed a ferry, so we had to wait about 35 minutes for its return. Cost wise, the 10/15 minute trip was very reasonable at €5.60 for two adults return (as at September 2019).
Valletta itself was a lot hillier than I expected but is just as old, historic and pretty as I thought it would be. In the central streets you’ll find many a shop and restaurant, where a lot of the restaurants have outdoor seating, so you can sit within the cobbled streets and admire the ancient walls and just take in this marvellous city.
Other notable points of interest are the War Memorial and the Valletta Waterfront.
FYI – In my opinion, you can see most, if not all of Valletta in a day, as there’s not a tremendous more to see and do there.
Gozo, Comino and the Blue Lagoon
Out of everything we wanted to do in Malta, we were most keen to get a boat around Gozo and Comino – the very small and almost uninhabited sister islands of Malta – and to swim in the Blue Lagoon. We found a stall in Spinola bay that was booking boat trips and opted for the snorkelling adventure, half day cruise with Sun & Fun Watersports. The speedboat picked us up at the Corinthia Beach Resort and the whole trip lasted about 3 and half hours. Snorkelling equipment was provided and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, so for €35 per person, I would definitely recommend.
- Malta has perhaps the most efficient and easy to understand airport taxi system. Upon landing and collecting your luggage, make your way to the taxi rank where you’ll see a list of every destination/area/town in Malta and with it, a fixed price. From here all you have to do is tell the desk operator which area you want to go to, pay the stated price and you’ll immediately be allocated a driver who will ask specifics – so which hotel etc. As I said, we stayed in St Julian’s, for which the fare was a reasonable €20.
- The bus system is very good in Malta, with frequent buses across the island.