Malta is an archipelago of islands located off the coast of Italy, but only the three largest islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino are inhabited. The country boast crystal clear water, sandy beaches and some of the world’s most ancient standing buildings.
How to get there
Located 150km off the coast of Sicily, the most common way to reach Malta is by plane. Direct flights leave most major airports in Europe multiple times a day, and the Malta international airport is serviced by regular buses: X1, X2, X3 & X4.
How to get around
All major sights on the island can be accessed by bus – check out schedules and routes on Google Maps. A word of warning: Even in peak tourist months, the bus frequency and punctuality is not very good. Be prepared to wait an hour past when the bus is due, and when it finally comes chances are it will be completely full and drive straight past the stop. And I mean completely full, on all routes.
The only real way to get around this is to hire a car or moped. Maltese drive on the left – same as England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and Japan – and in the central areas, traffic can get pretty built up and road rules sort of go out the window. Just prepare your offensive driving skills!
Where to eat in Malta
Bakeries & the best pea pies ever
Malta is filled with tiny hole in the wall bakeries – you will come across one every few metres. These are open through all hours of the day and night and are constantly baking an array of pastries, pies, breads and sweets. Yes, they’re a little dingy but when it’s 2am and you’re tucking into the best mashed potato & pea pastry of your life you will worship them. Oh and did I mention they’re only around 80c?
If you visit the island of Gozo, make sure you stop in at this little sandwich stop. Popular with the locals, this hole in the wall offers an array of fresh baguettes or wraps with tasty, locally sourced fillings, from€2.75 to €5. Gozo Cheese (local goat cheese, tomato paste, onion capers, olives, sundried tomatoes) is a winner.
If you’re feeling homesick…
Annually inundated by Brits, there are plenty of franchises and kinds of food you’ll be familiar with – Pizza Hut, big fry-up breakfasts, smoothie bars, Wagamamas… Perfect for nursing that hangover.
If you’re really wanting to indulge in the Malta way of life, head down to St Julian’s Harbour or Sliema for an array of seafood restaurants. These are a little more expensive but worth the splurge.
Where to stay
Before you choose somewhere to stay you’ll need to know what kind of holiday you’re wanting in Malta. Marco Polo is right in the middle of the party neighbourhood of St Julians and a great pick if you’re looking to stay in the middle of all the action. For something more low key, AirBnB has a great choice of out-of-town and a little more upmarket options.
An idea of costs for one day in Malta
€47 per day
– Hostel: €18
– Free Breakfast at Hostel
– Return bus ticket: €4
– Return ferry ticket to Comino: €10
– Pineapple Cocktail on the beach: €8
– Pea Pie: €2
– Dinner made at hostel: €5
How long to spend in Malta
If you’re willing to pack your days full, 4 days is enough to see all the major sights and enjoy a night or two on the town.
What to see and do in Malta
This walled city, established in the 1500s, is nothing short of an open-air museum. Wander through the sandstone coloured streets and stumble on the many palaces and grand churches dotted through this concentrated city. Catch the ferry across to Sliema for an amazing view back to the city.
The bigger of the two islands of the coast of Malta, Gozo is a perfect day trip. Head to the port at Cirkewwa and catch one of the regular ferries across. Tickets cost around €5.
Local buses (while sporadic) take you across the island to all main sights: Ramla Bay, Inland Sea, Azure Pool and Victoria, the main city on the island. Unfortunately the Azure Window – one of the biggest tourist sights on the island – collapsed into the ocean in 2017.
Head to the port at Cirkewwa where you’ll find a few small private boats who will transfer you across for €10. The biggest draw card on Comino Island is the Blue Lagoon – a must see! The island is easily walkable, with a few forts and beaches to explore. Make sure you take the earliest possible ferry across as the island gets completely packed from around 11am onwards.
This mini-amusement park was once the set of the 1980 film ‘Popeye’. It costs €15.00 to enter and is a short walk from Anchor Bay, another beautiful swimming spot.
Is the park worth it? Probably not. It's a small & cute thing to do for the day but nothing too amazing to experience, and filled with families and kids.
You can walk around the cliff edge to get this view of the park.
This is the old capital located in the middle of the island, before Valetta overtook Mdina with it’s portside location. Mdina is still a worthwhile visit – catch bus 202 from St Julians, stroll through the walled town and enjoy the vast view across the island and make sure you stop in at Fontanella Tea Garden for the BEST cakes you could imagine! I tried the banoffee and… just wow.
Ħaġar Qim is a prehistoric complex of temples, dating between 3600-3200 BC. These structures are well preserved, and entry to the site costs €10. Open from 9am, last admissions are at 4.30pm. Bus 74 will get you from Valetta to the temples, or bus 201 if you’re coming from Mdina to the temples.
One of three bays within walking distance, these are the best if you’re after some soft sand and clear water.
You can access the many caves, which glow blue with reflections of sunlight, on one of the many tourist boats waiting in the harbour. A ticket costs €8.
A natural swimming pool has been carved into the rocks after years of the waves crashing against the soft stone. Catch bus 81 and hop off just after Marsaxlokk Harbour. You’ll have to walk about 20 minutes but it’s an easy stroll and signed.