In a serendipitous sojourn to the Mediterranean gem of Malta, Tripsteer editor discovered a trove of surprises that left them pondering, “Why aren’t we shouting about Malta’s allure from every street corner?” Far from the stereotypical image of a resort island, Malta unveils itself as a country teeming with unique characteristics. From its pervasive religiosity, evident in ubiquitous biblical statues and throngs of worshipers attending services, to its British heritage manifested through vintage mailboxes and telephone booths, weathered signboards, and, most notably, the distinctive wooden balconies adorning its buildings, Malta is a treasure trove awaiting exploration. Allow us to delve deeper into the idiosyncrasies of this charming destination, detailing why it deserves a prime spot on your travel itinerary and how to embark on this captivating journey.
Nestled in the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Libya, Malta stands as an island nation comprising several islands, with the largest and most inhabited being Malta and Gozo. As a member of the Schengen area, a visa is required to embark on this enchanting adventure.
Visitors are drawn to Malta for its awe-inspiring coastal vistas, as the island’s rocky terrain imparts a sense of elevation, granting sweeping panoramas of the azure sea from numerous vantage points. However, it is important to note that while the coastal regions exude natural beauty, pristine sandy beaches are not plentiful, making Malta a less optimal destination for avid swimmers. Yet, the island’s allure lies not only in its scenic seaside splendor but also in its tranquil towns, which boast a captivating architectural style. Sandstone houses with vibrant wooden balconies and doors are ubiquitous, lending a unique charm to the Maltese urban landscape.
Why You Should Go to Malta
In spite of its diminutive size, the island nation of Malta exudes an inimitable character that sets it apart from the rest. From the moment you arrive, the island’s distinctiveness envelops you—a tapestry woven with religious symbols adorning every dwelling, captivating door knockers, quaint house names, unmistakable British mailboxes, and the iconic red phone booths. As you meander through the towns, you’ll be enchanted by their sand-hued facades and vibrant balconies, painting a picturesque backdrop against the azure Mediterranean sky.
Prepare to be captivated by the awe-inspiring coastal vistas that Malta has to offer. The views of the sea are both striking and, in a way, awe-inspiring, with rugged cliffs dramatically plunging into the deep blue waters. Among these natural wonders, the cliffs of Dingli proudly claim the title of the tallest, standing tall at a staggering 253 meters.
Malta’s architectural landscape presents a delightful departure from the norm, showcasing styles that are refreshingly distinctive from those found in other nations. Prepare to be enthralled by the unconventional and alluring architectural designs that grace the Maltese cities and villages.
Immerse yourself in Malta’s rich history as you explore the splendid temples that dot the landscape. These sacred sites boast opulent and, some may argue, flamboyant interiors adorned with velvet, gilded accents, and intricately crafted tombstones embedded in the floors. Notable examples include the Ta’ Giezu Temple and St. Paul’s Cathedral in Rabat, each offering a glimpse into the island’s captivating religious heritage.
For those seeking a respite from the bustling tourist crowds, Malta’s off-season weather in February provides an ideal opportunity. Revel in the mild temperatures that hover around a comfortable 15 degrees Celsius during the day, while enjoying the tranquility afforded by the absence of throngs of British tourists.
One of the remarkable conveniences of exploring Malta is the ease of traversing the islands without a car. An extensive network of city buses seamlessly connects towns and villages, offering a convenient and cost-effective means of transportation. Opt for an unlimited 5-day bus pass priced at a reasonable 15 euros, allowing you to traverse the islands at your leisure.
With its myriad charms and a multitude of captivating experiences awaiting, Malta beckons you to embark on a remarkable journey, where a rich history, culture, and natural wonders unfolds at every turn.
What to do in Malta?
As you embark on your Maltese adventure, allow us to guide you through a curated selection of experiences that will leave an indelible mark on your journey.
- Vintage Bus City Tours: Step back in time and embark on a nostalgic voyage aboard the Vintage Bus City Tours. Departing from Valletta or Sliema, these iconic buses, which were once a ubiquitous sight across the island, have now become emblematic of Malta’s heritage. Immerse yourself in the rich history as you traverse the scenic route to Rabat, the island’s former capital. A treasure trove of delights awaits, from the myriad catacombs to the enchanting old town nestled within the fortress walls. With departures from Sliema five times a day, a one-way ticket costs a mere 5 euros, presenting an opportunity to relish an entire day in Rabat.
- Discover Marsaxlokk: Venture to the picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk, where time seems to stand still. Delight in the sight of the vibrant marina adorned with a multitude of fishing boats, their bows adorned with whimsical painted eyes. Indulge in the delectable seafood offerings at one of the charming waterfront restaurants. As evening descends, immerse yourself in the local culture by attending a service at the magnificent Santwarju tal-Madonna ta’ Pompei, the main cathedral, where the mesmerizing chants resonate in the melodious Maltese language.
- The Valetta Design Cluster: Find inspiration in the heart of Valletta’s historic center at The Valetta Design Cluster. Nestled within a beautifully renovated old building, this inviting co-working space offers a tranquil ambiance and a rooftop garden affording breathtaking vistas of the city and the sparkling sea. Channel your creativity as you work amidst a thriving community of artists and innovators. It comes as no surprise that this esteemed project has garnered several prestigious awards, cementing its status as a hub of artistic excellence.
- The Sovereign Order of Malta: Uncover a hidden gem within the fortified walls of Valletta as you venture into the realm of the Sovereign Order of Malta. Located within a formidable fortress, this unique country within a country offers a captivating glimpse into its storied history and traditions. Immerse yourself in the grandeur of this ancient order, which stands as a testament to centuries of chivalry and benevolence.
From vintage bus rides to hidden gems and artistic havens, Malta offers a cornucopia of experiences waiting to be savored. Embark on this extraordinary voyage, and allow the spirit of Malta to captivate your heart and soul.
Considerations to Keep in Mind
While Malta offers a plethora of delights, it is important to be aware of a few factors that may impact your experience.
- Food Costs: Indulging in the local gastronomic scene may require a slightly more generous budget. Given that a significant portion of the food supply is imported from mainland Europe, prices tend to be higher compared to neighboring culinary havens like Italy or Spain. However, rest assured that the diverse and delectable flavors of Malta’s cuisine are well worth the investment.
- Tourist Influx and Summer Heat: As a destination that thrives on tourism, it comes as no surprise that Malta experiences a surge in visitors, particularly during the summer months. While this vibrant influx brings with it an infectious energy, it also means that popular attractions can become crowded. Additionally, the Mediterranean sun shines with fervor during this time, so be prepared for higher temperatures. Ensure that you stay hydrated and take necessary precautions to beat the heat while enjoying your exploration of this captivating island.
- Commuting Considerations: Although Malta boasts a commendable public transport network and relatively short distances between points of interest, it is important to be mindful of the intricacies of getting around. Despite the proximity of locations, travel times may be longer than expected. Public buses, while efficient, may not follow the shortest routes, often making stops at various villages along the way. This can result in journey times of approximately an hour, or possibly more, for even a 10-13 kilometer distance. Plan your itinerary accordingly, allowing for additional travel time to fully appreciate the island’s beauty at a leisurely pace.
By keeping these considerations in mind, you can navigate the idyllic landscapes of Malta while making informed choices that enhance your overall experience. Prepare to immerse yourself in a tapestry of rich culture, stunning vistas, and unforgettable moments that will leave you with lasting memories.