Countries like Malta are not so touristy as compared to the rest of Europe. Hence, getting accurate information to plan a trip is little difficult (at least as on 2019). The best part about Malta is that it is covered by Schengen Visa. So, I had clubbed a 3 day Malta trip along with visiting other 2 countries in Europe. Anyone who is doing a Euro trip and wishes to travel to some offbeat location can easily include this gem of a country.
Malta is under European Union and well connected by flights. It consists of 3 Islands- Malta, Gozo and Comino. Its capital is Valletta, located in Malta Island. English and Maltese are the official languages.
Getting to Malta:
Where to Stay in Malta:
Among the three Islands, according to me it is best to stay anywhere on Valletta. Valletta itself is a big place and there are lots of hotels around. One can book easily from any of the online hotel booking platforms. We stayed in Westin Dragonara Resort, located in San Giljan (Pronounced as Saint Julian). If you are going for a more relaxed vacation, you can take up a homestay in Gozo.
Reaching Hotel from Airport : . Take note that there are FOUR express bus service routes- X1, X2, X3, and X4. Each bus route has a dedicated bay.The X4 Bus goes to Valletta. In fact, Valletta is its first stop. The ride from Malta International Airport to Valletta is less than 20 minutes, if traffic is not too heavy.
Adult single journey ticket rates:
- Winter – €1.50
- Summer €2.00
- Year-round night rate- €3.00
From Bus stop we tool Bus to San Giljan as our resort was located there. Bus journey was comfortable and we had a first hand view of the urban Malta from the bus window. From our bus stop, a 500 m walk took us to Westin Dragonara Resort.
Transportation inside the islands: Malta has an extensive bus network, connecting all the major places. The services are regular, but delays are known to occur especially during day time mostly due to traffic jam(just like India!). The prices are very nominal for bus rides (prices mentioned on the previous section). Malta also has a number of Hop-on-Hop-off colourful buses, meant specifically for tourists.
You can also hire a taxi or rent a car, and go exploring the countryside at your leisure. This is a perfect way (though expensive) to discover many hidden or not-often-visited curiosities in Malta.
Sightseeing and day wise Itinerary:
We reached Malta International Airport at noon 12:00. After picking up luggage we took X4 bus to our resort. We reached hotel around 1:15. After freshening up, headed to a nearby restaurant called ”TheBlackBull Pub”for lunch. The food was really awesome and we became regulars at this place.
Post lunch we roamed inside the hotel premises and enjoyed the sea view.
At evening we took a bus to Valletta and walked around the streets near the waterfront. We took pictures at the Saint John’s Cathedral. The streets of Valletta had beautifully decked up for Christmas month. It was looking like the Christmas celebrations had already begun with people singing and performing on the streets and lovely decor of tge streets.
Reached back hotel late around 9:30 pm.
Outside Malta Airport
View from hotel room
Streets decorated for Christmas
Today was the longest day for us as we had booked Gozo Island Tour for the whole day.
Ours was a full day Jeep tour and was priced at Rs 5600 per person inclusive of lunch and everything.
We had been picked from our resort at around 8:00 am. The first stop for us was the Popeye Island view. Any number of photos were not satisfactory to capture the marvellous view of the beautiful village, which is actually a film set.
Our vehicle came to a stop at the port where we were transferred to a speed boat to reach Gozo. It was quite a bumpy ride!
In Gozo we met our tour guide who picked us in another vehicle to show us in and around the island. Our first stop in Gozo was the Ramla Bay. It had beautiful red sandy beach. When we went, there was no one in the beach except for us- perks of visiting in off season!
Next stop was the prehistoric temple- Gigantija. It took us around 30 mins to complete visiting the ruins. I have never seen something so old in my life (This relic dates back to the stone age). Gigantija had very nice restroom. So, it is a good idea to freshen up here as it was going to be a hectic day!
Gigantija Temple Complex
Boat ride in Blue Lagoon
Salt pans at Marsalform
View from Citadel…
We had our return flight in the evening. So there was time for half day tour to cover Valletta.
We started for Valletta with the usual bus at 8:30 am and reached within 30 mins. We did some shopping for magnets and souvenirs from the market place around the Saint John’s Cathedral. Then we walked past the upper Barakka Gardens from where the valletta coastline is visible. Took the lift from the gardens and came down to reach the Valletta waterfront. After spending some time there, returned hotel during lunch time.
Post lunch we stayed in hotel and closed the packing chores. Took some rest before leaving the hotel. While returning we took the same express bus to reach airport. With a heavy heart we left for our next destination which was Milan. Thus ended our trip at Malta 🙂
Morning at hotel
Upper Barakka Gardens
View from upper Barakka garden
A better view
Hop on hop off bus
Fridge magnets are cheaper in Valletta than in Gozo. There was Thanksgiving sale running across all the shops when I visited. So I got a lot of show pieces and souvenirs at a very good price from Valletta. Most shops were fixed price shops and no scope of bargaining.
I loved the food in Malta. I travelled France and Italy prior to Malta in my trip. But surprisingly found food to be the best here. Infact Pasta was much better here. Fully loaded English breakfast was available under 10 Euros!
- Dress conservatively while visiting churches and heritage sites.
- Smoking is banned inside bars and restaurants.
- Be prepared for a hell lot of time waste due to traffic jams.
- Locals are really friendly and nice.
- Guide expects some tip at the end of service.
- Be ready with exact change to the bus drivers else they make fuss.
- If you are travelling in winter you cannot swim around Comino owing to the fierce sea conditions and the cold water. So it is useless to carry swimwear in winters.
Some important links to consider for Malta Travel Plan:
- My favourite restaurant in Saint Julians:https://www.tripadvisor.in/Restaurant_Review-g227101-d6756184-Reviews-The_Blackbull_Pub-Saint_Julian_s_Island_of_Malta.html
- Gozo Island Jeep Tour link:https://www.tripadvisor.in/AttractionProductReview-g190328-d11477949-Gozo_Full_Day_Jeep_Tour_w_Private_Boat_to_Gozo_return_to_avoid_queuing-Valletta_Is.html
- If you wish to cover the islands on your own using ferry, here is a good reference:https://chasingplaces.com/how-to-get-from-valletta-to-the-three-cities-malta-using-the-public-ferry/
- Malta Bus timetable and Routes: https://www.publictransport.com.mt/en/timetables
I wish I had at least 1 more day to spend on this beautiful island country. My schedule was tight and I tried to make the most of it. But I can boast about touching all the important attractions in my trip in such a small time.
In a nutshell, Malta is a potpourri of beautiful landscapes, magnificent history and a bit of everything. Modern sophistications go hand-in-hand with pockets of prehistoric relics in a crazy mix of Red beaches, rocky coastlines, milky limestone cliffs and fantastic view of the Mediterranean sea. Wish to come here again on an idyllic and relaxed vacation next time 🙂