I remember obsessively clicking through Malta Travel Guides prior to our trip, back when I had no idea what to expect or which guide to follow! Which is the best area to stay – Sliema or St Julians Bay? And, which island should we visit – Comino or Gozo? I asked friends here and there and tweeted for advice but no one really knew what to suggest seeing as there are so many things to see and do in Malta – from cultural escapades to historic architectural tours and culinary experiences, there’s not a single thing that you cannot do here. So to Malta! Set in the lush Mediterranean sea, Malta has some of the most stunning landscapes- all sharp hills, winding lanes and bright blue beaches dotted with overcrowded villages and cities. A country of proud people, colourful doors and delicious food, it’s one of these places that it’s impossible not to immediately fall in love with!
Visiting Malta has made me realise once again how much I love the Mediterranean lifestyle. Spending a life by the sea, drinking fresh coconut juice and raising my kids under a sunny sky is one of my life’s biggest aspirations which I am hoping to be able to fulfill one day soon.
No other quotation describes Valletta best than this – ”A city built by gentlemen, for gentlemen”
But enough with the words, as promised, here are the best places to visit, things to do, see and eat once in Malta, a complete Travel Guide to Malta for someone who wants to explore this part of the world.
The things one must see and do in Malta!
1// Visit Popeye Village
Renting a car and travelling around Malta is possibly one of the best things we did on this trip. Not only we avoided the heat by waiting in the bus stops but we mainly travelled to places that would have taken double the time to reach by public transportation, one of them being the famous Popeye Village! For the young and the Young at heart, from an ’80s Film Set to one of the major tourist attractions, Popeye Village in Malta can make everyone’s childhood dreams a reality. We visited during a less busy time and stand on the top of the hill admiring every single detail in the Set. The sea waters were very inviting and I was tempted to get off my dress and dive into the sea but opted for a hike around the hill instead.
2// Try the local juice!
As we visited during a heatwave, we opted for all the local beverages and juice like this delicious prickly pear juice. The flavour reminded me something in between of dates and prunes, thick satisfying and quite exotic, I could drink it everyday.
3// Visit M’dina
If you’d ask me what is the one and only place one should visit in Malta that would most certainly be M’dina. Stepping through the gates of this historic place is like travelling back in time. The houses have a mixture of Roman and Arab elements with colourful balconies, door handles with the most unique handles I have ever seen and loads of bougainvillaeas! They also have their own names – according to the tradition Maltese people name their houses after their favourite cities, songs and even foods! Dating back to the 8th century BC, this is most certainly one of the landmarks of Malta.
4// Hop on the boat to Gozo Island
Gozo Island is the next best thing after M’dina. With its crowded beaches and Victoria historic centre, we had one of the most lovely days driving through the small villages and the countryside of Malta’s second-biggest island.
5// The Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens in Valletta
Not your typical northern European gardens but a wonderful oasis with the best views of The Three Cities in the centre of Valletta!
6// Sunset in Valletta
…overlooking Sliema port.
7// Wander through the streets of Valletta
Valletta sleeps during the day and springs back to life just before the sunset when people wake up from their siesta and pour themselves down the narrow alleys in search of cold beer.
8// Visit Malta’s best fish village, Marsaxlokk
Known as Malta’s traditional fishing village in the South Eastern Region of the island, this is the best tourist attraction for fish lovers. This is also the place where we found the best value for your money prices and quality of food.
9// Swim in Ghajn Tuffieha (Riviera Bay)
One thing that really disappointed us whilst holidaying in Malta is the lack of beaches to swim which is such a paradox considering that Malta is a big island! Malta’s coastline is rocky, unaccessible at times which means that if there is a bay/ beach /smooth opening to the sea everyone will go there. We asked locals again and again for ‘a nice beach to swim‘ and their suggestions led us to nothing else than overly-crowded beaches that as someone described them on my Instagram, looked like ‘a human soup‘!
Riviera Bay was potentially one of the best beaches we visited in Malta and one I would happily go back again. It was overcrowded but we found some space to sit and enjoy the sunshine prior to going in the nearby, bohemian style cafe for an iced coffee.
10 // Spend an evening in Mellieħa
Mellieħa is a small tourist populated village in the north of Malta. Just a 10′ drive away from Riviera Bay, this is potentially the best second option you have when it comes to swimming in Malta’s waters. Avoid visiting during peak times, as there is no space for a pine tree needle to fall! The waters are very shallow so its ideal if you visit with kids or just want to sunbathe in its beautiful sunny beach.
11/ St Julians Bay at night
St Julians Bay at night is an absolute dream! The restaurant lights reflect on the calm sea waters, there are people walking along the sea promenade and the mixture of old and new buildings merging together makes St Julians Bay facade a pretty unforgettable one! We spent our last night there, wandering around before having a stop for some food and cocktails at a beach restaurant bar. Definitely one of my favourite nights!
And a few more tips::
-Overall, Malta is not a place I would visit for summer holidays or in the middle of a heatwave. Due to its overly-crowded beaches (or lack thereafter), we spent most of the time roasting with no other option than to stay indoors under the aircon. We would definitely go back though when the weather gets a bit colder as it is a wonderful place to visit for a mesmerizing autumn getaway.
-We found Sliema not of our taste, lined with Irish pubs and fast-food restaurants it’s not a place I would recommend anyone to stay unless they had to get the ferry taxi service to Valletta…
-…Speaking of which, using the ferry taxi service is the best thing to get you from Sliema to Valletta and The Three Cities. The cheapest and quickest way too!
-Maltese people are very polite, chatty and helpful, do not hesitate to ask them for directions, they will be more than happy to assist if you get lost in the alleys, which can happen more often than you think, ahem!
And if you want to get a better taste of Malta, then why not watch my vlog:
Let me know if you have ever been to Malta. Do you have any suggestions to make? I’d love to hear from you!