Welcome to my first travel log on this blog! In this post I will tell you about my week in Malta with my boyfriend. Despite being a small country, I will very likely go back because I left feeling like there’s so much more to explore! I also feel like the country is a great choice for beach vacations and for simply relaxing and enjoying the moment and it wasn’t possible to fully experience that side of it with only 5 days. For those of you who are considering visiting this beautiful country, full of friendly people, I thought you’d like to read about my experience in Malta! If you enjoy this type of content please let me know by liking this post, and I will write more travel logs for my future trips!
Day 0 – The arrival to Bormla
We arrived late at night on a Saturday and slept in Cospiscua (Bormla for the locals). We were surprised to find a lot of movement in the streets and a big party near our hotel! We asked what were they celebrating and apparently Club Regatta Bormla had just won a boat race against clubs from other Maltese cities so they were pretty proud! Music and parades went on for the following days! That immediately indicated to us how the locals are: they like to party, and know how to do it!
P.S.: This is totally not sponsored but we stayed at Casa Birmula and recommend it! The small pool on the rooftop was the perfect ending for each our days spent there…nothing tastes better than a rooftop pool and a sunset when your feet and legs are tired from walking around and it’s hot!
Day 1 – The 3 Cities (2 of them!) and Valletta
The first day we walked around Bormla (Cospiscua) and Vittoriosa (Birgu), two of the 3 cities, and then we went to Valletta and by boat and got lost there too… they’re all very beautiful, all with their yellow limestone buildings and churches. One thing immediately noticed when starting to explore any part of Malta is the strong presence of Catholicism everywhere. I’m not only referring to the number of churches in every corner, but also the religious details in people’s houses, there seem to be religious figures and sayings in every door. In fact, we learned that about 98% of the population is catholic. While Bormla and Vittoriosa are characterised by narrower streets and by the charm of the marina, in Valletta, the capital, the streets are wider and the buildings and monuments are more majestic. I personally fall in love more easily with the more picturesque cities but this takes nothing away from Valletta. (In fact, if I had more time I would probably have visited the interior of some places that I remain curious about such as the Casa Rocca Piccola and the Grand Master’s Palace.) My favourite spot in Valletta was the Upper Barrakka Gardens ! It was our last stop before returning to Bormla, the sun was setting, musicians were playing and the view was amazing!
We returned to Bormla also by boat. If you have the opportunity to go there please take the boat at least once! Even if you buy the bus pass for seven days, as we did afterwards, it’s so worth it to pay 2 euros for person and go on the boat between Valletta and Vittoriosa! Highly recommend it!
Day 2 – The temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra and the Blue Grotto
On day 2 we decided to go to the south of the island and visit some of the oldest megalithic temple complexes, dating from the 3600-3200 BC, Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra, as well as the Blue Grotto, which is not far. Contrary to what one might expect the tickets were surprisingly cheap, I showed my student card and it cost me 7,5 euros to visit both temples plus 1 euro for the audioguide. If you enjoy archeology and old civilisations history like me I recommend it. If not, there are so many other things you can do in Malta that maybe for you it might not be the best use of your time. Anyway the temples have some interesting features regarding the alignment of stars and the sun with certain holes in the walls of the temple in solstices. Because they are so old and there are so many unanswered questions regarding why they were built like this and which rituals exactly took place inside, the audiobook poses questions and pushes you to guess instead of giving exact answers, which some may find frustrating. However I found it natural and honest, and I always appreciate both of those things.
The Blue Grotto is a number of sea caverns that you can visit by boat so it falls under the natural beauty landmarks of Malta category. The boat ride ticket to go near the caves (and a bit inside some of them) was 8 euros. It’s a pleasant ride. The sailor contributed a lot to make it special. He was clearly an experienced sailor in that area who knew to point out the most beautiful aspects of the rock formations, always with a smile on his face. A genuine one, not forced, even though he probably repeats that everyday, several times per day.
I had intended to visit Marsaxlokk, a fishing village, on this day. It looks beautiful in pictures online… However it was not possible because there were no direct buses between the Blue Grotto area and this village and it was a bit late anyway. So that is definitely on my list of places to go next time!
Day 3 – Senglea (the 3rd of the 3 cities!) and Mdina
Before leaving to visit Mdina and then keep going west to the hotel we had booked for day 3, on Mellieha, we decided to quickly visit Senglea. Having the same charm as it’s neighbour cities, I quickly fell in love with it, and discovered in particular, the best viewpoint for looking at Valletta, the Gardjola Gardens.
Afterwards, we chose to visit Mdina because it was roughly at half distance between Bormla and Mellieha and it was marketed to us as a very old city known as “The Silent City”. Mdina is a fortified city which served as the island’s capital from antiquity to the medieval period. I have to say that it’s not Mdina’s fault but it was so packed with excursions that it did not live up to it’s nickname. However it is a beautiful place and definitely worth the visit.
P.S.: On a side note I should mention that, unfortunately, out of all of the cities in that harbour, Senglea’s views are the ones that most suffer from the oil exploration done next to it. Even though I had not mentioned it before it is impossible not to notice the huge structures contrasting with the old beautiful skylines, no matter if you are looking from the rooftop of our hotel in Bormla, towards Senglea, or from the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta towards the 3 cities, and I truly hope it is only temporary and that economic interests don’t hurt Malta’s magic anymore than they do now.
Day 4 – Mellieha and Ghadira Bay
On day 4 we decided to simply relax and enjoy doing nothing. We stayed on the perfect hostel to do so, the Splendid Guest House (again, absolutely not sponsored). A welcoming hostel with several spots to simply chill. Our favourite one was the terrace and that’s where we spent our morning! We spent the whole afternoon on the beach in Ghadira Bay, easily accessible by bus. The water was super warm and we basically spent the day inside the ocean “recharging”.
Day 5 – The island of Gozo
On day 5 we took the ferry to the island of Gozo and went straight to its capital, Victoria and visited the Cittadella.
However, on this day, we were more interested in exploring the natural beauty of the island. So, after grabbing a map with the main spots to visit on the island we knew we wouldn’t be able to see everything so we prioritised what seemed to be the main natural landmark, the Blue Window. Going with the flow and not preparing too much has advantages and positive surprises but it also can result in moments such as the one we experienced on this day.
As you can easily check if you search for “gozo top attractions” the first result is the Blue Window. Since it was a main attraction and it was also marked in the map we decided to head there right after visiting the Cittadella. When we got there we walked around and weren’t able to see the Blue Window so we asked about it and found out that it had fallen a year ago due to a very large wave!
Luckily the scenary was beautiful anyway and we we able to see on the same location the Salt Pans and the Inland Sea (Qawra). The salt pans are shallow and flat “holes” dug in the soft limestone that get filled with sea water. Afterwards, the sun eventually evaporates the water and the salt remains, making it a completely natural way of extracting salt from the sea. The Inland Sea is a lagoon of seawater linked to the Mediterranean Sea through an opening formed by a narrow natural arch.
P.S.: While on the Gozo ferry we could see tons and tons of jellyfish in the water!
Here are my top 5 cool aspects about Malta:
1 – As I said in the beginning, people in Malta know how to party! In fact, Valletta has a vibrant art scene and multiple cultural events throughout the year and that has earned it the title of European Capital of Culture 2018.
2 – Locals are very willing to help you out with directions and informations. I particularly remember this kind older gentleman who offered assistance simply because we were looking at the map near to a bus stop.
3 – If you like history you will definitely like Malta. There’s more history in every square meter than you are able to absorb even if you lived there for months. I particularly like that they have a ton of plaques explaining what happened, who lived or who fought in any given location. After all, greeks, phoenicians, romans, arabs and many others inhabited the island.
4 – This one goes hand in hand with the previous, but I really liked the mix of influences and cultures in Malta. From maltese food with a strong italian influence, to the maltese language resembling arab, to the fact that they drive on the left like the British, I am sure that anyone can find something in Malta that resembles their own country.
5 – Cheap! (requires no explanation)
And finally here are 5 advices I would like to leave you with:
1- Before renting a car be aware that, as I said, they drive on the left side of the road so, unless you are British, you might not feel comfortable driving in Malta.
2 – They also use British plugs, so don’t forget to take an adapter.
3 – Buy their bus pass. It costs 21 euros per person (every single ticket costs 2 euros) and it allows for unlimited bus travelling for 7 days. Notice that their bus network is quite simple and limited in some aspects. Essentially Valletta is connected to everything, and there are also direct connections between the airport and different cities. However, it’s not possible sometimes to travel directly between smaller neighbour cities, it is often necessary to go to valletta to catch a different bus. Having said this, we travelled the whole country with it and had no problems.
4 – Take a scarf or something of that sort with you if you go on a summer month, to cover your shoulders before entering their churches and cathedral. They always have a sign requesting you to “please dress respectfully”.
5 – Stay longer than 5 days!
Thank you so much if you have read all of this and please let me know your opinion about this type of content on the blog by liking or leaving your comment below!
P.S.: Malta has also served as an inspiration for one of my poems!