Malta & Gozo : A Local’s Travel Guide & Best things to do

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Malta (my home country) is a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, best known for its 300 days of sun and crystal clear sea. Yet snorkelling and sunbathing are not the only activities that Malta has to offer. What some fail to notice is the rich history that Malta has in its repertoire. Starting from the 3600 BC temples to the diverse number of different occupiers and conquerors, Malta have seen and experienced it all.  All this past has left its mark on the Maltese culture, language, cuisine and approach to life. Maltese is the main language spoken in Malta, yet most of the locals also speak English (and many can also communicate in Italian). Indeed, students from all over the world travel in numbers to Malta to learn English as their second language. Malta is part of the European Union and makes use of the Euro currency.





My Favourite Moments

1. Mdina

The silent city, Mdina, remains my favourite spot in Malta. Walking through the narrow streets of this noble city never fails to create a unique, and satisfying feeling. Its bastions overlooks most of Malta, and provides one of the most impressive views of the island. Visit this former capital city of Malta just before sunset, and you will get to discover a change in the atmosphere as the narrow streets get charmingly lit up to battle the darkness of the night.

2. Valletta

Historic Valletta was built after the great siege of 1565. Unsurprisingly, Valletta is set to be crowned as the European Capital City of Culture in 2018. The city offers a rich history, gorgeous architecture and fantastic views of the naturally-made sea port. Top spots in Valletta include Lower and Upper Barraka Gardens, the impressively rich St Johns Cathedral, and Hastings Garden. If you want to see Valletta from a different perspective, the city has been captured in a number of different movies: Assassin Creed, 13 Hours, World War Z, Munich, and Midnight Express.  

3. Ghajn Tuffieha

Breathtaking. That’s the only word I have in my mind whenever I find myself in Ghajn Tuffieha. This place is just too special. Whether you go for a little hike in the Majjistral nature & history park, or swim in the Riviera beach (with the extra bonus of an amazing sunset), Ghajn Tuffieha will definitely win you over. 

4. Gozo

Xlendi, Dwejra, Ramla l-Hamra, Mgarr ix-Xini, Victoria and its Citadella are all gorgeous spots in Gozo that no visit to the Maltese islands should miss! 

5. Comino

This tiny island of Comino is popular for the Blue Lagoon sea. While the sea is indeed beautiful, make sure you visit the beach as early as possible (or as off-peak as possible) – it gets really busy during summer!

 




Honourable Mentions

Hagar Qim Temples

Dingli Cliffs

Marsaskala and Marsaxlokk

Blue Grotto

Mosta Church

San Anton Gardens

 

Top Tips

  1. Getting to/from airport and Public transport: Cheap public transport might save you money, but it may cost you some time. Public transport routes in Malta were not created equally: Some were meant to make you swear, and others just to merely get you annoyed.
  2. Accommodation: The price of accommodation varies according to the type of accommodation, and location. Sliema, Valletta and St Julian’s areas tend to be more expensive. You can consider further up north (Bugibba, Mellieha or even the island of Gozo), or somewhere in the vicinity of Gzira and Ta Xbiex. Apartments on Airbnb are definitely a much cheaper alternative to hotels (also usually cleaner and more comfortable). Click here for a further €18 discount!
  3. When to visit Malta: Malta flourishes in April and May: The heat is not unbearable, the air and grass is not yet fully dry, beaches are cleaner, and there are less people overcrowding the islands. June to September is the peak season in Malta – rain is usually not to be seen during this time.During winter, weather gets a bit riskier, but it still tends to be sunny and clear for most days.
  4. Food: One word: Pastizzi. These 30cents god-sent food will be your companion throughout your trip. While you’re here, do also try and sneak in some bigilla, drink chilled kinnie, bulge down on some Lord Chambray craft beer, and snack on twistees or a “hobza biz-zejt” (bread with oil – the name is an understatement!).  If there’s one thing that the Maltese love to do (and are good at) is eating – make sure you taste some local cusine and ignore your temptations for McDonalds! If you find yourself in a local restaurant try some traditional food: rabbit, timpana, Maltese vegetable soup (Ministra tal-haxix), widow’s soup,  bragioli (beef olives).
  5. Favourite Bars & Restaurants:
    1. Good Thaimes in Gzira – has the largest selection of beer and ciders in Malta (and absolutely delicious Thai food, cooked by Thai chefs!)
    2. The Thirsty Barber in Paceville – amazing selection of cocktails with high attention to detail, but a bit pricey
    3. Cafe Jubillee in Gzira/Valletta – the food and decor here are tough to beat
    4. Crianza in Valletta – best risotto you will ever eat. I promise.
    5. Fre[n]sh in St Julians – Okay, it’s not Maltese cuisine, but you cannot get a more delicious croissant in Malta (or quiche for that matter!)
    6. Djar il-Bniet in Dingli – Here wo go, this is the best recommendation for Maltese cuisine.
    7. The Grassy Hopper in Gzira / Valletta – A vegan and vegeterian heaven. Yet still a heaven for non-vegeterians – it’s that good.
    8. Mint Cafe in Sliema – Fresh food with most ingredients sourced locally!
    9. Maxokk in Nadur, Gozo – Simply the best pizza/ftira you will ever eat. Hands down. Honestly, you just cannot miss out on this place 

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