Malta has always been a fascinating place to me and has been on my radar for years. I finally had the opportunity to visit through a trip with the Malta Tourism Authority for six days this past October. I tried to squeeze in a visit over the summer, but I couldn’t make it work with my travel schedule. When the opportunity came around for an October visit, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
I flew into Malta from Tunisia which was a quick one-hour flight on Air Malta. I flew back to Los Angeles from Malta on British Airways business class with a layover in London. I was blown away by the impeccable service on both British Airways flights, and how friendly and attentive the flight attendants were. It made it a real pleasure to fly. The business class was spacious and super comfortable with a full flat lay bed from London to LA. The food served on flight was also good. I would definitely recommend British Airways to anyone, and I can’t wait to fly with them again.
We got really lucky with the weather beginning of October. October is usually one of those “iffy” months to travel to warm places because of monsoon and hurricane season, as well as a significant temperature drop in comparison to summer. During our visit, temperatures were in the high 70’s and low 80’s degrees (Fahrenheit), and it practically still felt like summer.
I realized after speaking to several people, a lot don’t really know anything about Malta unless they’ve been there. I have to embarrassingly enough admit as much as I wanted to go there, I didn’t know much about it either. Malta is an island located in the central Mediterranean right below Sicily and above the Northern African coast (east of Tunisia and north of Libya). Because of its location, I was curious about the culture and prior to arriving I didn’t know if it was going to feel more like Europe or the Middle East. Although it does have Middle Eastern influence and roots, Malta is part of the European Union and is definitely more heavily influenced by a fusion of different European cultures. I felt like I was somewhere in Europe, but it also felt unique and like no place I’ve been before.
Also to see more of my trip to Malta, check out my Instagram feed + Malta video highlights @NicoleIsaacs.
DAY 1 & 2- VALLETTA
Valletta- Malta’s capital city and declared the European Capital of Culture as well as a World Heritage Site. Valletta was built by the knights of St. John and described as “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world”. We had the opportunity to be in Valletta on its biggest night of the year- Notte Bianca. Notte Bianca is an event celebrating the people, culture and art that lasts all night long. The streets are buzzing with people, music, and the bars & restaurants are open and serving all night.
THINGS TO DO:
- Upper Barraca Gardens- Elevated gardens on the ramparts of St. Peter and St. Paul Bastion. Also a great spot for a panoramic view of the grand Harbour.
- St. John’s Cathedral- Built between 1573-1577, the inside 0f the Cathedral is stunning. 10 euros for adults and research the best times to go to skip the cruise ship crowds!
- Strait Street- Pinnacle of nightlife lined with bars and restaurants
- Casa Rocca Piccola- constructed in 1580 for Don Pietro La Rocca, an Italian admiral of the Order of the Knights of St. John.
- Grand Master’s Palace- Was once the residence of the Grand Masters of the Knights of St. John.
- Lunch at Ta Noni Restaurant
- Try a Pastizzi at Caffe Cordina- a traditional Maltese pastry filled with either Ricotta cheese or smushed peas. Delicious!
- Try a Maltese Coffee- Coffee with Anais. (I did not like it because I personally hate the taste of Anais, but worth a try).
WHERE TO STAY: We stayed at the beautiful 5-star Phoenicia Hotel located in the heart of Valletta, a few convenient steps away from the gate entrance into the old capital city. The breakfast buffet was amazing, the rooms beautifully new and renovated (and mine with a balcony and view of the harbour and old city walls), breathtaking gardens around the property, and my favorite amenity- the infinity pool with a spectacular view of the Valletta harbour. It’s the perfect choice for accommodation in Valletta.
DAY 3- HAGAR QIM, BLUE GROTTO, MARSAXLOKK & THE GRAND HARBOUR
- Hagar Qim & Mnajdra Temples- standing stones atop sea cliffs of Malta’s most prehistoric sites.
- Blue Grotto- Took a Maltese boat from the village of Wied Iz-Zurrieq to the Blue Grotto.
- Marsaxlokk Bay- fishing village with colorful Maltese boats!
- Lunch at the Grand Harbour- we had a great lunch with an incredible view of the Grand Harbour at Don Berto’s.
- Fort St. Angelo- a bastioned fort built in the Medieval period located in the center of Grand Harbour.
- Cross by boat from Grand Harbour Vittoriosa to Valletta Waterfront- Transport back to Valletta with amazing views of the capital city.
DAY 4- GOZO
Gozo is a must when visiting Malta. A quick 45 min ferry from Malta, Gozo is a small island with beautiful sites to explore.
THINGS TO DO IN GOZO:
- Visit farm at Ta Rikardu- to witness the making of cheeselets from sheep and goat from the farm. Also got to sample with some wine while sitting in a beautiful vineyard.
- Cidatel/Citta Victoria- Gozo’s capital city.
- Ta’ Xwejni Salt Pans- salt pans thousands of years old on the coast
- Lunch at Il- Kartell Restaurant
- Wied il-Ghasri- narrow and secluded valley of water with sea caves for divers and swimmers. Extremely cool and a must see!
WHERE TO STAY: We moved hotels and spent 3 nights at the Corinthia Palace Hotel. Surrounded by lush gardens this hotel exudes timeless elegance and charm. Also convenitently located in the heart of the island, it’s a great place within a close reach to Mdina and Valletta. I highly recommend dining at the exquisite Villa Corinthia, and Rickshaw for delicious Asian- Fusion cuisine.
DAY 5- TA' QALI CRAFTS VILLAGE, MDINA, DINGLI CLIFFS
- Ta’ Qali Crafts Village- stop at Mdina Glass for a glass blowing experience
- St. Paul’s Grotto- mysterious cave where the saint is said to have preached during his stay in Malta
- Mdina- Arabic walled old city of Mdina transports you back in time and a world apart from modern Malta. The original Game of Thrones filming location of Kings Landing too! Reminded me a lot of the old city of Dubrovnik in Croatia, where they also filmed the scenes of King’s Landing.
DAY 6- POPEYE'S VILLAGE AND THE BLUE LAGOON IN COMINO
- Popeye’s Village- One of the highlights of my trip and one of the coolest places I’ve ever seen. The original Popeye’s movie set with Robin Williams from the 1980’s left up as a tourist attraction along turquoise blue water shores.
- Blue Lagoon in Comino- A 10 euro boat ride from Cirkewwa to Comino to visit the Blue Lagoon is an absolute must. Plan to spend a full or half day there to enjoy its beauty. One of the clearest blue waters I’ve seen!