Malta Travel Guide

Malta travel guide

Lets’ s face it, the small Maltese archipelago has so much to offer that I have no idea why it is still listed among the most underrated destinations in Europe. From cultural diversity and fascinating history to centuries old palaces and unspoiled countryside of Gozo and Comino, Malta is an island that may require some significant amount of time to explore its every corner. Floating between North Africa and Europe, it has never experienced the lack of historical events.

When I first visited Malta in 2003, I thought it was impossible to get so many sites in just one spot! You can easily cross the island from one side to the other in less than one hour, enjoying cozy bays, secluded pebble beaches, and tiny towns. Take an advantage of Malta hop-on hop-off bus tours to visit all main attractions in Malta. With so many flights to Malta, including low-cost, there is no way you will ever regret visiting this cosmopolitan resort.

Getting Around Malta

If you’re backpacking your way through Malta or Gozo, efficient bus network is something definitely come in handy during the trip. While buses run almost everywhere, some of them are infrequent, which means you have to wait some time before the next bus will be at your stop. If you’re planning to hop on or off a lot, 7-Day Explore Tallinja Card can be your best bet. It costs 21 EUR and offers unlimited travel to all major sites of both Malta and Gozo.

Single bus fare in summer is 1.5 EUR and 2 EUR in winter. The card turned out to be the best value for money if you travel a lot since I compared it to single fares. While some of my friends prefer rental cars, you can expect to pay around 36 EUR per day. Ferries are great to get to Gozo or Italy. Ferry to Gozo costs 5 EUR, while ferry to Italy will set you back around 55 EUR.

Food in Malta

Despite the fact that Maltese food is a mix of African, Italian and Middle Eastern cuisines, you don’t have to spend tons of money to get acquainted with its flavor. Get the Malta Discount Card to save more money on restaurant meals. With more than 150 restaurants and establishments covered by the card, some of them offer up to 50% discount!

It is a no-brainer that you can find some inexpensive eating in Malta. Kebabs and pastizzi come for around 5-6 EUR or less and can quickly fill you up. Sticking to grocery stores and minimarkets that are plentiful in most towns, will allow you to get access to pre-made meals. Eating out in restaurants is usually more expensive but you can expect meals to be big enough to feed two people at a time. Most inexpensive restaurants will charge around 15 EUR per meal.

One of the reasons why I found myself in Malta is its cuisine. Maltese bread, otherwise known as hobz and ftira, Gbejniet and soppa tal-armla vegetable soup totally worth trying while here. Like any other country in Southern Europe, Malta offers plenty of vegetables. Red sweet peppers, tomatoes, olives, and onion are part of most meals, and become even more delicious when served with local wine and cheese.

Accommodation in Malta

When it comes to finding hostels in Malta, St. Julian’s, Sliema and Gozo can offer a dorm bed for around 17 EUR. You can expect prices to be slightly higher in Gozo. Airbnb is a great option in Malta providing good value for money compared to private rooms in hostels. When I was looking for an apartment I bumped into decent options that only cost 25 EUR per night! Hotels are more common in Malta though. Budget hotels start around 50 EUR per night, while midrange hotels cost up to 110 EUR per night. Keep in mind that Malta is a popular tourist destination with attractive off-season rates. On the other hand, visiting Malta in shoulder season allows to avoid unbearable summer heat and save more on accommodation.

Top Free Things to Do In Malta

Stroll The Streets of Valletta

Exploring the streets is one of the first things I do when I visit a new city. Since Valletta has lots of amazing facades, street scenes and old staircases to explore, any walk around the city is enjoyable and informative. Want to learn more about Valletta? Take a free walking tour with one the local guides to get a glimpse of this Medieval city. Tipping is optional.

Visit the Upper Barracca Gardens

One of the best spots to hang out in Valletta is the Lower and Upper Barrakka Garden. But why I recommend visiting the Upper Barrakka Gardens? Because they overlook the harbor with superior views. Spend some time here relaxing and watching people and boats. It also can be a nice viewpoint to see the nearby Saluting Battery. Barakka Lift links the Upper Barrakka Gardens and the Grand Harbour. You can enjoy the twenty-five-second ride for just 1 EUR!

Enjoy The Remarkable Views at Dingli Cliffs

As an outdoor enthusiast, I couldn’t have missed hiking at Dingli Cliffs. While these cliffs are some of the highest on the island, they are also home to the extensive collection of Malta’s obscure cart-ruts and a number of ancient caves. As you hike the trail you can explore St. Mary Magdalene Chapel with several benches around it. Since there are not many shady spots here, take an advantage of resting your feet here. You can reach Dingli Cliffs from Mdina with bus number 201 or 202, from Sliema/St Julian’s with bus number 202, from Valletta with bus number 52.

Attend A Festival

With so many events throughout a year in Malta, most of them offer a great chance to feel the spirit of the country free of charge. From buzzing international music festivals to charming local feasts and religious festivities honoring the village patron saint, I wish I could attend all of them.

top things to do in malta

Top Things To See and Places to Visit in Malta

Valletta

For exploring Valletta it is better to have at least two or three days. The city may not be really big, but it has some significant amount of things to do. Start wandering through Valletta in the morning to get the most out of your trip. Get lost among the opulent churches and stroll along the narrow streets. History buffs shouldn’t miss the National War Museum and the Grandmaster’s Palace. With quite navigable streets in Valletta, I used offline maps on my smartphone. It was of great help. For those looking for a convenient way of putting the history of Malta together, should consider visiting Malta 5D Show. A bit pricey and brief but informative experience.

Visit Comino and the Blue Lagoon

Comino is a small but beautiful island with almost no permanent population. Rocky coves complement kilometers of epic cliffs creating a reason for so many tourists to head here from Malta and Gozo. Located between Cominotto and Comino, the Blue Lagoon is an impressive natural attraction. I may don’t know how the paradise looks like, but I’m sure the Blue Lagoon is the place totally worth visiting in Comino. Turquoise and warm water attract crowds in summer, especially on weekends, but during the off season, Comino is ideal for photographers and hikers.

Explore Mdina

The city of Mdina may look like a fairy-tale destination in Malta. A former capital of the island, the Silent City with the hilltop castle offers everyone who visits it tons of history. Even though Mdina may reminiscent of Valletta with its narrow streets and Medieval ambiance, it is still much smaller. It won’t take much time to explore its most dramatic parts. When I visited Mdina I felt like stepping back in time. As most travelers here, I started exploring Mdina from the Cathedral of Saint Paul, a splendid Baroque building, to finish my day at Bastion Square with a picturesque view of the island. Everyone having a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss Fontanella Tea Garden with delicious chocolate cakes.

Take a Ride To Gozo

Once home to striking Azure Window that collapsed in 2017, Gozo still has a number of sites worth visiting. Gozo is a tranquil destination with lovely towns, pastoral scenery, and beautiful beaches. Gozo rolling hills provide some of the greatest hiking experience in the region. There are several hiking trails passing by most popular natural attractions. Gozo is listed among Mediterranean best sites for scuba diving and snorkeling. In summer a calm and perfect blue sea offers great opportunities for these activities. However less developed than Malta, Gozo is home to a medieval city of Victoria, a tiny village of Marsalforn with several lovely swimming spots and Ġgantija temples, which are older than the pyramids in Egypt.

Spend Some Time In Popeye Village

Even though I was staying in Sliema the last time I visited Malta, I couldn’t resist but pay this small cartoon museum a visit. The Popeye Village that also goes by the name of Sweethaven Village was created as a film set for the 1980 musical of Popeye starring Robin Williams and Shelly Duval. The Popeye Village is just two kilometers away from Mellieha Bay and filled with dilapidated houses. Enjoy the entertainers’ work or take a ride around the bay, the Popeye Village is one hell of an experience.

Watch People at Marsaxlokk Fish Market

The fish market takes places on Sunday mornings with plenty of local goods, fresh produce, souvenirs, and fish. While the market is really popular with tourists and can get busy, it is a great spot to see the fishermen doing their job. Many folks from Valletta still come here to get some fish despite having their own weekend market. I enjoyed my short trip here mostly because of colorfully painted luzzu boats that have been used in Malta for centuries.

Take a Short Boat Trip Through the Blue Grotto

I admit, it may be not that impressive as the Blue Lagoon at Comino, but the Blue Grotto offers some different kind of experience. As soon as you arrive you will see Filfa and all shades of blue from high rocky shore. The Blue Grotto is a group of caves, while each cave creates different color effects. Start your voyage in Wied Iz-Zurrieq, where you can get tickets and explore the caves by boat. Try to get there in the morning to avoid crowds and when the sunlight best illuminates the water. The Blue Grotto in Malta shouldn’t be messed with the one in Capri.

Pay a Visit to The Old Prison in Gozo

If you find yourself in Victoria that is also known as Ir-Rabat, make sure to spend some time visiting the Old Prison that once accommodated such notable prisoners as Jean Parisot de la Valette. The Old Prison in Gozo was in use from mid-16th century until 1962 when it closed and restored. Explore the aisles and the walls covered with intricate letters and knight insignia. You will also find carvings of boats and games of noughts and crosses.

Don’t Miss the Three Cities

Exploring the three fortified cities of Vittoriosa, Cospicua, and Senglea across the Grand Harbor gives you a glimpse of Maltese culture and history. Most attractions in the Three Cities are far older than Valletta’s. The entire area is dotted with restaurants, bars, and museums, while during Easter festivals offer travelers a very intriguing insight into Maltese lifestyle and traditions. The largest of three cities is Cospicua that dates back to the 16th century.

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