With over 300 days of sunshine every year, Malta attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world! It is definitely an alternative to a Spain/Portugal type holiday with way more history and a lot more to do!
Before we get started, here are 5 fun facts about Malta, that I found fascinating!
5 Fun Facts About Malta
- Malta is tiny! No really… the whole country would fit into Dublin 3 times!
- It’s made up of 3 islands. Malta, Gozo and Comino.
- The capital of Malta is Valetta, Europe’s first planned city, and it’s only 0.8 square km (REALLY tiny). It only took 15 years to build which makes it one of the quickest built cities in the world.
- Disney’s Popeye Movie was filmed in Malta in 1979 and the film set is still there. We’ll cover this in more detail later!
- There are no forests or rivers anywhere in Malta! Although there are many stunning beaches.
My Malta Travel Map
As always, Darren has pinned everywhere that is mentioned in this blog post to a map. You can download it and use it without wifi when you’re away. A lot of people do this and tell me they find it v.helpful (which makes me happy :D).
Getting to Malta
From Dublin, the flight was 3 and a half hours, to Luqa Airport in Malta. It’s always hard to give a price on flights (and accommodation) because it fully depends on the day, month and time you choose to fly. To give you an idea though, it’s on the same price level as Spain for the most part. If you use Skyscanner to book your flights, it compares all of the airlines so you’ll be sure to get the best deal.
Where to Stay in Malta
Here’s where we learned a lot! As mentioned above, Malta really is tiny so it doesn’t really matter what part you stay in but let me tell you a bit about our experience.
We stayed in St. Julian’s which is a lively area with plenty to see, do and eat! However, our hotel (be.Hotel) was based in the Shopping Centre, beside the strip and we found it too noisy (because we’re really 56 years of age and need our rest :p). As well as that, the lift (elevator) situation was a bit of a nightmare because there were 2 parts to the hotel and they weren’t connected.
Other hotels in this area are H Hotel (Adults Only- Hugo) and the Intercontinental. All of these hotels are STUNNING! But as I said, St. Julian’s is not quiet so it depends what you’re looking for. I’d say if you like to party, this area is the place to be! We tried to book Julesy’s BnB because the online reviews are some of the highest we’ve ever seen (and the look of the pancakes :p) but it was booked out unfortunately.
If I was to go back to Malta, I’d look to stay in Spinola Bay, which is in St. Julian’s too, but it seems to be a quieter area.
Another option is the capital, Valetta. It is so beautiful and although it’s busy, it’s still somewhat calm (not party central :P). It’s also bursting with history and the streets are stunning. However, there are no beaches in Valetta and you would need to travel by bus to most places.
Mellehia is a small village in Malta with only about 10,000 inhabitants so it’s reasonably quiet. Due to its proximity to the ferry terminal, it’s perfect for taking trips to the other Maltese islands of Gozo and Camino.
We were actually initially booking the Radisson Blue in Mellehia at Golden Bay but thought it was a bit secluded in the end. Now that we know how small the island is, I would definitely consider this again.
If you’re travelling as a family, we seen a stunning resort called db Seabank Hotel. You literally wouldn’t need to leave the hotel. There were so many activities on for adults and kids and it was situated right beside the white sand and blue sea of Mellehia Bay. NB: We didn’t stay here, we just went in for a look around so please do some research before booking (as always!).
Mellehia is also where Popeye Village is and most hotels in the area arrange day trips there and around Malta.
Things to See & Do in Malta
There is a lot to see and do in Malta and for that reason, I would say a bank holiday weekend is not enough. At least 4 or 5 nights is needed to fit everything in.
Popeye Village was my favourite part of the trip. It is just so cool!
As I mentioned above (but I’ll repeat for those who might have skipped to this part :p), Popeye The Movie was filmed in Malta and the set is still there… an entire village! It’s now a kind of fun fair with activities, parades, restaurants and you can even take a boat ride in the beautiful lagoon!
No matter where you are staying in Malta, you can get the bus to Mellehia Bay (which is so beautiful!). Once you’re there, you can either get the 101 bus or a taxi (€10) to Popeye Village. Alternatively, it’s a 25 minute walk from Mellehia Bay.
Price: Winter months (Nov to May)- €11 per adult and €9 per child. Summer months (June to October)- €15 per adult and €12 per child. Book in advance here.
P.S. don’t forget to get your free popcorn in the cinema.
Gozo is a lot more quiet, small and rural than Malta. I recommend doing a day trip to see Gozo and Comino together. There are tour operators at every corner so you can book it while you’re there! Ferries leave from the terminal every hour and it’s only a 30 minute journey.
Comino & The Blue Lagoon
The main reason why I recommend more than 3 days in Malta is because I would want to spend a whole day doing the trip from Malta to Gozo and the Blue Lagoon in Comino. Heaven on Earth!
Temples in Malta
There are many pre-historic temple ruins on the islands of Malta and Gozo. To give you an idea of how old they are, they were built approximately 1,000 years before the Pyramids of Eygpt!
We visited the Tarxien Temples (by bus from Valetta) and while they were interesting, I found the town of Tarxien more fascinating and I don’t even know why! It’s like a ghost town and there literally wasn’t a sinner on the streets (it was off season). It reminded me of something from a horror film but I loved it :p
Due to its close proximity to Italy, Malta played a significant part in WW2 supporting the Allies (it was owned by Britain). In fact, it was the most bombed place during the war and EVER! So there are plenty of momentos and museums around Malta paying homage to the past.
Instead of visiting the War Museum like we had planned, we thought it would be better to see Lacaris War Rooms (where the planning and plotting and decisions were made!). But god it was bad. It was €12 each and lasted no more than 20 minutes. I didn’t learn much, I even had to Google who Laracis was afterwards… and it turns out it’s not even a person but a place! Anyway, I do not recommend.
Getting Around Malta
You can travel anywhere in Malta because it’s so small so definitely do try to get around! We travelled mostly by public bus. It was handy but I can’t imagine how busy (and therefore stressful!) it must be during the summer months (and with the heat!). It was so busy during our trip and I’d say we got a seat only once over the 3 days! In saying that, it’s the cheapest way to get around (besides walking), I just get overwhelmed by the queueing and pushing carry on!
If you do get the bus, get a 12 journey ticket for €15. You can use it for more than one person which is handy and it works out cheaper. Express buses (TD) cost you 2 journeys per person rather than one. I highly recommend you use Google Maps for timing the buses. It’s real time and tells you what bus you need to get and where to get on and off!
The alternative is to get taxis. They are not cheap though and you should definitely haggle because they chance their arm! It’s €28 to the airport from St. Julian’s, whereas the bus is about €3 each. From Valetta to St. Julian’s it’s about €17 and it’s only 10 to 15 minutes away! If you book a taxi, book it from the booking booths rather than directly with the driver because that way it’s a set price and you’re not getting ripped off.
Places to Eat in Malta
We had zero Maltese food while we were there and I’m actually a bit disgusted. We like to taste the local cuisine everywhere we go but we didn’t know where to start in Malta! Anyway, lesson learned for you, eat all the Maltese food because it’s supposed to be divine! Since we were only there for 3 days, I don’t have many recommendations for you but what we do is search TripAdvisor and go for the restaurants with the most stars and the best reviews 😀
There are gorgeous restaurants around with great views in Spinola Bay so definitely go there. It’s particularly beautiful at night. Oh and there’s a big Irish bar there called Dubliner. If you’ve any sports fans away with you, they show all the matches (football and rugby!).
Also, if you’re a fan of Indian, Annapurna is delish and they serve Chinese food and the likes of steak too!
That’s all on Malta! I hope you got some tips and are excited for your trip there if you’re going! I always like to share our lessons learned as well as recommendations so you don’t have to make the same mistakes that we did 😀 If Malta doesn’t tickle your fancy, maybe Lisbon, Krakow or Wroclaw will? Or my personal favourite… New York!