Malta is a great little island strategically located in the Mediterranean sea. This island is small but packs a great punch I tell ya! The archaeology, the history behind it, and the great water life – there’s so much you can do and I have always wanted to go back for more! Malta consist of 3 islands: Malta, Comino and Gozo, the largest being Malta. Comino is mainly for water activities, such as sea excursions. On the other hand, Gozo and Malta are more similar, whereby you can actually hop on a bus and explore the islands.
Some simple travel facts that might be helpful
Malta is VERY SMALL! You pretty much get to most places within 2 hr bus ride from Valletta (capital city) [e.g. from Valletta to St. Pauls Bay (north of Malta) takes about 40-60 mins, that’s how small it is!]
- Sometimes a 30 min bus ride is actually 10 mins by car. The reason that it takes so long is because of the large amount of stops on the same road
- People in Malta are generally really friendly and helpful – just ask if you are in doubt. Most of them speak English and Maltese. Some are also fluent in Italian and Spanish.
- Leisure lifestyle – Don’t jam pack your itinerary! People are very laid back over there, so don’t expect stuff to be done quickly! Space things out and take your time!
- Transport – Buses are rarely on time. Try to catch an earlier bus just in case!
- Paying/Tipping – Cards are widely accepted (more places started to accept contactless), but keep some coins just in case you need to tip. Tipping isn’t necessary but if you go to a higher class restaurant then perhaps a 5-10% tip will do just right.
- My experience: If you are really tight on budget then don’t feel too bad about not tipping since normally the food you pay for would have included their wage. But I normally would just leave €1-€2 if I dined in a semi-decent restaurant (which is ~10% of my bill).
- Safety – Malta is full of tourists and nice locals, you’ll be fine during the day. Just pay a bit more attention at night if you’re alone or out drinking/partying
- Local cuisine – Definitely try out some traditional Maltese cuisine. Maltese cuisine has a mixture of arabic, italian and african influences. Some famous local delicacies to try include: rabbit stew, prickly pear (cactus) liqueur, lumpuki pie (fish pie) and Maltese bread!! (PS. the bread is amazing).
- Some words that you might hear!
- Mela! (sounds like Meh-Lah) – One of the most commonly used expressive words in Malta – it basically means ‘oh no, darn it, shit, sigh, ah, okay, but, hmm’ – you’ll get a hang of it, it’s literally in every sentence haha.
- Čaw! (Ciao) – Hi and bye! Same as italian but just spelt differently
- Bonjourni (I don’t know how to spell it in Maltese) – Similar to Italian as well, means morning!
Planning your trip to Malta
- If you don’t mind a cheaper accommodation – quite a lot of airbnbs are available in Malta and are a good alternative to hotels. Normally the further away you stay from Valletta, St. Paul’s Bay and Sliema, the cheaper the price will be.
- What I did: I stayed in Attard, which is located in the centre of the Malta island and it took me about 30-60 mins to get to most tourist destinations
- If you stay in an airbnb, some might ask you to pay an ECO tax, with cost €0.50/day/person up to a maximum of €2.00/person
- Public transport: Google maps, Moovit or Tallinja app – The main way to get around the island is via buses. You can also hire a car or taxi if travelling with family but buses are much cheaper. Apps such as google maps, moovit or Tallinja app tells you what time the bus will arrive and when the next bus is and hence it’s quite handy. But you can also grab a map from the travel centres and that also showcase bus routes as well.
- What I did:
- I used google maps extensively as I have access to 4G on my phone. There are also public wifi spots but since I have a sim card from the UK, I had access to the EU internet without additional cost. There are many sim cards out there but mine is from Giffgaff . Cost about £20 for 20GB which is more than enough.
- I grabbed a 7-day unlimited travel explore card (€21/card) to travel by bus – you can get them at the airport at the public transport booth or other tourist centres listed on the website
- What I did:
- WATER! – Many people actually forget that Malta is an island so water isn’t as accessible. (I did as well). Even though tap water is drinkable in Malta, a lot of people didn’t like the taste due to the desalination process. But you can grab those 2L ones from big supermarkets from (€0.29-1.50/bottle)!
- Something you might forget to bring: Sunglasses, insect repellent, portable charger and student ID (if applicable)
- Sunglasses – the limestones that are commonly used to build houses in Malta directly reflects the light off the surface so everything is quite blinding
- Insect Repellent – THERE ARE MOSQUITOES around evening, especially if you live around more bushy areas.
- Portable charger – there aren’t many place that provides sockets/plugs so if you take a lot of picture with your phone … might have to bring one yourself!
- Student ID – You get student discount on tickets, and no matter where you’re from, as long as you’re student, you can save some serious cash
- e.g. A ticket St. Pauls Cathedral in Mdina cost €7.50 but €3.50 for students
Some Recommendations for your trip
- For people who enjoys archaeology and history:
- Valletta – Capital City, has lots of stuff to do – museums, cathedrals, wandering around…
- Birgu (aka. Vittorisa), Paolo – one of the oldest but lesser known cities around Valletta
- Mdina – half-1 day trip – Aka. the silent city, great day to just have a walk in the small isolated city in the centre of Malta
- Gozo – many prehistoric archaeology sites – 1-2 day trip
- For people who enjoys the sea:
- Ghar Lapsi – a less populated swimming area which is just 30-40 mins away from Blue grotto
- Blue grotto
- St. Peter’s Pool – Also less touristy, great place to swim as well
- Blue Lagoon and Crystal Lagoon – Sea Excursion tours to Comino (last a day out at sea, it’s worth it esp. if you’re bringing kids!)
- Other Beaches/Swimming spots: Tends to be quite crowded during summer though!
- Sliema harbour area
- Popeye village – amusement park/film production spot – or just admire the film set like I did for free from the other side
- St. Pauls Bay
- Mellieha – There are beaches but also very popular – if you want to enjoy the view fully … Go up to the Red tower! The view is amazing and barely any tourist there (bit of a small climb). You can also walk to the other end of the island!
- Golden Bay
I’ll do another post on the locations next so stay tuned :)!
If you would like to know what my personal journey was like – you can go to my personal blog to check it out as well. – Cx