I spent 4 wonderful days in Malta. The decision to go to Malta was quite impromptu. Google flights showed me there were cheap flights to Malta from Zurich. Flights to other destinations in the Mediterranean were much more expensive. That’s when I started searching about Malta, and I was surprised at how exciting it looked, I was surprised I hadn’t heard a lot about Malta previously. Malta exceeded my expectations tremendously, the quiet coves and rocky beaches and swimming areas I found were great, the food was amazing, the towns were exciting and historic and colorful, it did feel like a different world. I would definitely visit again. Malta reminded me of several places, of Jordan, of Istanbul, of Lisbon, of Italy.
Some tips and highlights:
- Go for atleast 5 days! I went for 4, and I couldn’t even visit Comino.
- Gozo is wonderful. Set off early. Swim near the Azure window.
- Dingli caves look great at sunset.
- The town of Valletta is very atmospheric, but so are many others. Driving through the towns was interesting. I wish I could have seen more towns.
- Ghar Lapsi was a great cove to swim, not too far from Dingli caves. Close to it are the Xaqqa cliffs, very exciting.
- The sea front at Sliema, especially the views over Valletta. There’s a nice place to swim there as well.
- Food was brilliant! I ate a couple of times at Pastaus in Valletta, Giorgios in Sliema and the pastizzi place in Mdina called Victory.
- Bus transport is cheap, but painfully slow, there seems to be a lot of traffic as well. So cannot say if driving a car would be faster.
- I stayed at the Inhawi Boutique Hostel, one of the best hostels I have stayed at.
- The architecture reminded me of the 19th century historic town of Vohrawad in India.
- The historic and preserved town of Mdina is also a favorite.
Day 1: Valletta and Sliema
I reached the Malta airport early in the morning, got a Vodafone Europe sim card and set off for Sliema, where my hostel was. The ride was quite long and crowded, although the distance wasn’t much. Checked in to the hostel, got a “Tallinja card” which gives you unlimited bus rides for a week. I walked all the way up to the Sliema waterfront through the historic lanes. The houses were beautiful, and reminded me of the desert towns in India which have very similar architecture. At the Sliema waterfront, I took a bus to Valletta, which is the European capital of culture in 2018. Valletta looked even more historic and colorful than the backlanes of Sliema, but a little more touristy. However, the number of tourists was still much lesser than I had expected.
Headed off to the St. John’s cathedral, marveled at the amazing ceiling and the scale of the monument. It was time for lunch, since I hadn’t done enough research, I looked for “Maltese vegetarian” food, which was nowhere to be found. I didn’t see the point in having Italian food in Malta. But then I ended up having excellent Italian food at Pastaus , a brilliant capers, dry tomatoes and olive pasta followed by some really good gelato at one of the gelataria’s on the main street. Next was the Upper Barrakka Gardens which was far reaching views of the port towns of Malta. Nowhere had I seen so many old, historic, sandstone, bright colored buildings, and they were spread across the coast! Definitely very Mediterranean-esque. I came back to the Sliema waterfront, enjoyed brilliant views of Valletta at sunset ( which had sold Malta for me), had dinner at Giorgios at Sliema’s waterfront, had a well made ravioli stuffed with Gozo cheese in a tomato sauce. Came back to hostel for a good night’s rest.
Day 2: Mdina, Dingli cliffs and Ghar Lapsi
My initial plan was to visit one of the old, neolithic age temples, but I missed the bus, the next bus would be a while later, so headed off to Mdina, an old, historic town(well, all the towns are historic in Malta). The walled city of Mdina was brilliant, very well maintained, beautiful sandstone-colored, it looked straight out of Game of Throne’s sets. Spent quite a bit of time exploring the town, visited one of the Maltese homes’s and the Dungeon museum as well. Had excellent Pastizzi at Victory, just a few minutes away from the walled city, in Rabat. The cheese pastizzi was to die for. But now it was time to take a dip in the sea.
I took a bus to Ghar Lapasi, a diving site about 30 minutes away from Mdina. The place was exciting, the views of the small island was breathtaking. Since it was the first time I was swimming in shallow seas, I found the experience really good, this was cleanest and most gentle sea waters I had ever seen. I couldn’t have been happier. Spent atleast a couple of hours in the coves I decided to head to the Dingli cliffs. On the way I stopped at the Xaqqa cliffs, which is probably my most favorite place in Malta. High above the Mediterranean sea, with brilliant cliffs on the side. Dingli was no less, but it’s harder to get close to the actual cliffs, nevertheless, the place is very beautiful at sunset. After enjoying a good sunset, I came back to Valletta, had a nice Pizza dinner and limonocello at Sotto Pizzeria.
Day 3: Gozo
I had planned to leave early in the morning for Gozo, I reached the bus stand near my hotel, waited for an hour and as the crowds grew, we were told that the buses had been diverted because of a carnival happening in the area. So I went to Sliema and took a bus to the ferry port for Gozo. This delay, combined with the traffic jam meant I reached Gozo at almost 12.30. I took one of the hop on hop off buses, reached the Azure Window (which sadly does not exist today). Nevertheless, all the wear and tear from the journey vanished as soon as I took a plunge into the absolute blue waters. The rock formations and cliffs were beautiful as well. The best part of the day was swimming in the cave behind the “small lake” into the open seas. But then, it was time to go. The hop on hop off bus passed across several bays, all of which looked great for swimming. The island of Comino looked very beautiful at sunset, the limestone dazzled in the soft sunlight. The bus ride back to Sliema was quite a slow one. Spent a relaxing late night in the hammocks in my hostel.
Day 4: The last day, a nice boat tour
I really wanted to go to Comino, but I had a late afternoon flight to catch and I had gotten a sense of the traffic situation in Malta. So I headed off to the Sliema waterfront which had a great swimming area. Swimming around the area was very enjoyable, with a wonderful view of Valletta right in front of you. Later, I took a boat tour around the harbors of the island. The tour was very fruitful. I realized how many towns and cities and harbors the island had, and all of them looked so good and historic.
I had an early lunch at Valleta, I went to Pastaus again, got a wonderful bruschetta and a simple pasta in tomato sauce, which tasted absolutely divine. It was soon time to head out, took a bus to the airport and flew out of Malta, with a desire to come back again and explore the islands in peace.