Our first visit to Malta turned out to be so much more than we expected!! While we were planning on lazy days at the seaside with perhaps the odd tour here and there, we quickly became engrossed in the country’s rich and colourful history and the many beautiful sites that Malta and its islands have to offer. It was so lovely, I just had to share a few photos and tips. Enjoy!
Booking a hotel as close the sea / harbour is not necessary. Malta is a small island and everything is easily accessible. Of course, a sea view is always worth it, though it obviously comes at a higher price.
*** avoid the 115 Strand hotel!! We originally booked there for our whole vacation but left after 3 nights and moved to a better / proper hotel just a few metres down the street.
Open-top buses are probably the best way to explore Malta giving you a chance to easily visit the most interesting places. Buses leave from Sliema Ferries Terminus every half hour. You’ll find vendors of the two bus companies all along the promenade so it’s easy to get tickets. Be sure to take along extra camera batteries and SD cards for all the beautiful sites along the way. With over 90% of the population being Roman Catholic it’s no surprise that Malta has around 365 churches and they’re all beautiful!
The South (Red) route can be easily done in a day – be sure to book tickets for the Hypogeum ahead of time as they only allow a certain number of visitors per day.
Along the South route, I highly recommend you hop off and take a boat trip to the Blue Grotto and its caves.
Set aside 2 days for the North (Blue) hop-on/hop-off route: there is so much to see and do on this route! Take your swim gear to hop off in Golden Bay and don’t miss “the Silent City” Mdina, best known to Game of Thrones fans as King’s Landing!! Speaking of which, if you are a GoT fan you will love Malta!, as a lot of the series was filmed there. You can book special Game of Thrones guided tours for some ‘behind the scenes’ visits!
The noon day cannon at the Saluting Battery in the Upper Barrakka Gardens is really special and you get to be quite close to the action. They also provide a guided tour after of the barracks and weapons storage.
Plan a full day and take a boat trip to Gozo and Comino
There are open-top bus tours available on Gozo which will get you to all the must-see spots – this is generally not available as part of the boat trip to the islands, so you would need to take the bus from Malta to the Gozo Ferry then catch the tour bus.
Buy traditional hand-sewn lace in Gozo (Victoria), but please go to a locally run little store and not the commercial touristy shops. You’ll not only find unique pieces and support a slowly dying art but you’ll also get to meet the loveliest seamstresses and have a chance to be told some interesting and personal stories.
Swim in the Blue Lagoon
The Mosta Dome is one of Malta’s largest churches, located in the village of Mosta. It’s known for having the third largest unsupported dome-shaped roof in Europe. What adds to its wonder is that during the Second World War the dome survived bombing by German forces when a bomb weighing around 500 kg was dropped on the church and although it broke through the ceiling, it failed to detonate when it hit the floor. A replica of the bomb is on display at the back of the church.
A few quick tips
Avoid visiting in July and August unless you the LOVE crowds and the heat – as in 36 celcius and above!
Keep out of the midday heat by sightseeing early morning and then stopping for lunch with a view from 12 – 2pm.
Take a hat and / or umbrella to keep the hot sun at bay
Eat local, while there are many restaurants and different cuisines in Malta, the Maltese food is delicious.
There is so much more I could add to this blog post but I’d be writing for days. Malta is absolutely worth a visit or even a few visits and we will definitely be going again, though next time in cooler weather!