Leah Duffin outlines a travel guide of Malta - a destination she would visit time and time again.
Malta is an archipelago located between Sicily and the North African coast, and is a joy to visit time and time again. With sun, sea, and breathtaking views, Malta is a direct flight only four hours away from Dublin airport, drawing visitors all year round. I visited this historic island in August 2021 and can't wait to get back and explore. The highlight of my ten day stay was visiting the city of Valletta. Valletta is Malta’s capital and is the smallest capital city in the EU - small enough to be explored on foot. Most hotels and AirBnB’s are located outside of the city in nearby suburbs with Sliema, Il Gzira and St Julians being the go to for travellers - a 20-30 minute taxi from the airport. There is no need to mess around with conversion rates as Euro is used, in addition to the local Maltese being friendly and eager to talk about their country, with most speaking excellent english.
Malta offers many trips such as quaint city breaks, foodie weekends, sun retreats, wild party weekends, and historical adventures. For a sun-filled city trip, Malta's capital Valletta is the best option. It is renowned for its golden-hued baroque structures and its distinctive location and history. Valletta was built in the late 15th century by the Knights of St John and is saturated in history, with connections to the Romans, Arabs, and Normans.
The eclectic culture and food is one of Malta’s many pull factors. The cuisine is a blend of various Mediterranean cultures with touches of European cuisine - the seafood is extremely fresh, often caught only hours before you eat it! Malta is also picture perfect - quite literally the epitome of Instagram worthy, while views of Valletta’s harbour, its architecture, the local flora and fauna and its crystal clear waters are sure to leave you and your followers in awe.
The Blue Lagoon, situated between the small island of Comino and islet of Cominotto, is a must see for those visiting Malta. The crystal clear and vibrant blue waters are perfect to enjoy a day of swimming and relaxing paired with a pina colada served in a hollowed out pineapple. A tip I picked up is to search for blue lagoon boat trips on the app Get your Guide. I visited The Blue Lagoon, the town of Gozo and enjoyed refreshments and splendid views on the sun deck of a large boat for only 60 euro for an 8 hour experience! Gozo is a scenic, rural, and quaint small island measuring only 67km and was ideal for a day trip. We wandered around the island, experiencing Maltese culture.
My top recommendations
Azura Hotel by St Hotels located in Il Gzira, only 20 minutes in a taxi from the airport, and a 10 minute ferry ride from Valetta, surrounded by great pubs and restaurants. Alexandra Hotel in St Julians is only a few feet from the lively social scene of Paceville, making it ideal for all partygoers!
Brown's Kitchen located on Valletta’s Waterfront is a must, serving mouthwatering burgers, seafood pasta and refreshing cocktails surrounded by the vibrant boats of the harbour. Taste in 9 St. Lucy Street, Il-Belt Valletta is ideal for that perfect instagram shot, with twinkling fairy lights and colourful furniture paired with delicious gourmet food - ideal for an intimate date night! For a casual lunch or a quick bite before a swim check out Tiffany’s Bistro in Sliema.
Bars and Nightlife
Malta provides a vibrant nightlife with popular pubs with British elements scattered all around the island. Check out The Black Sheep in Sliema; they serve a much needed cold pint of Stella or Coors. Paceville in St Julian's is Malta's most famous nightlife district and is the place to go if you want loud clubs, non-stop parties, and late-night dancing.
Things to do
Fort St. Elmo provides a glimpse of the conflict and battles that Malta has seen throughout centuries of foreign rule. The National War Museum is located within Fort St. Elmo in Valletta, with a large number of artefacts and objects of interest on display such as President Roosevelt's Jeep, aircrafts, and cannons. The admission fee is ten euros and it is well worth spending the afternoon taking in the breathtaking views and history.
The Megalithic Temples of Malta were scattered across the island long before structures like Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza were built. The Mnajdra and Hagar Qim Temples in the south of Malta have an excellent visitors' centre with extensive information and guided tours. Check out the opening times and book tickets online at heritagemalta.org.
For all you art lovers out there Malta is an excellent spot to view both beautiful paintings and sculptures. Caravaggio’s infamous artwork, the Beheading of St John the Baptist and the St Jerome Writing can be found in St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta.
If you're looking for a free activity, the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens offer a unique view of the only natural harbour in the Mediterranean. Feel free to visit in the afternoon as gun salutes take place everyday at 12pm and 4pm. With arched windows, commemorative statues and beautiful flowers and trees these gardens act as an oasis for local city dwellers and a must see for any traveller!