Malta is a tiny island nation in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, situated under the boot of Italy. Following a long history of being conquered by many nations thanks to its strategic location, Malta became independent in 1974 and has been a member of the EU since 2004. As such, EU passport holders do not need a visa and other passport holders have the same access here as they do in the rest of Europe and the Schengen Zone.
An ideal island destination for a week-long holiday, Malta offers stunning beaches, fascinating history, quaint villages to explore and plenty of natural beauty to photograph and admire.
Arriving in Malta
Flights arrive in Malta from around Europe, making this a very easily accessible destination. You can fly direct into Malta's International Airport, conveniently located in the middle of the main island of Malta. The other six islands in the archipelago (most popularly Gozo, the second largest) are only accessible by boat. Ferries run between the islands regularly.
What to Eat
Malta is not well known for it's traditional food scene - what they do have tends to have lots of meat and is quite similar to Italian food, so as a vegan, I only went out for one meal! There's plenty of supermarkets around to stock up at, but if you're after some local food, you must try the Maltese crostini (a bread with delightful fresh Gozoan tomatoes) as well as kinnie (a delicious sugary orange fizzy drink that felt like a cross between a Fanta and a ginger ale). If you're on Gozo, the one80 at the Mġarr Harbour is an absolute delight, with fantastic views to boot.
Malta uses the Euro, much as the rest of Europe. Prices here are quite reasonable, making Malta an inexpensive holiday destination. Ensure you carry small cash with you at all times; while most places accept debit and credit, there are a few places that only accept cash, such as the ferry between Valletta and Sliema or the boat tour around the Blue Grotto.
Where to Stay
There's plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from, but for a more local experience - and the chance to save a ton of money by having a kitchen - is to book everyone's favourite: an AirBnB. I stayed in a wonderful AirBnB in Sliema, the quieter neighbour of the capital of Valletta, that was close to bus lines and all amenities I could need. I highly recommend staying at Irene's place - she's an absolute delight and her place is inexpensive, clean, well located and well stocked.
In Malta, both the local language of Maltese and English are the two official languages of the country, so getting around, asking for what you need and general assistance is all readily available and easy to understand. All signage is in both languages, as are the transport and hospitality industries.
While you may opt to rent a car or scooter for your time on the island, the cheapest and easiest way of traveling Malta is to take advantage of the public transport system. While sometimes the buses run late (or in rare cases, don't show), they're generally fairly reliable and timely. The other great thing is that the buses run to most everywhere you're going to want to go, including the best beaches and villages of the island. At the airport when you land, pick up a €21 transport card that gives you unlimited travel on buses for seven days (well worth it!!). On Gozo, I recommend a day trip on the City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off bus.
DAY 1 - SLIEMA
ARRIVE: fly into Malta's International Airport and hop on a public bus into Sliema. I stayed in Sliema for my week in Malta and it was the perfect base from which to explore the country.
DO: wander the coast taking in the views of the natural rock pools that draw swimmers on the hot days. Enjoy the beach at Balluta. Get lost in the photogenic streets.
READ MORE: check out my post about Sliema here.
DAY 2 - RIVIERA BEACH
ARRIVE: buses run around the coast all the way to Golden Bay and Riviera Beach from both Sliema and Valletta regularly; check Google Maps for the quickest route.
DO: go for a walk in the cliffs above the beaches. Enjoy the stunning ocean. Get out on the water - this is a popular spot for water sports.
READ MORE: check out my post about Riviera Beach here.
DAY 3 - ST. PETER'S POOL
ARRIVE: you can take a bus from Valletta or Sliema most of the way, but you'll need to walk about 30 minutes from the bus stop to the pool. Check Google Maps for the quickest route.
DO: jump in the protected natural swimming pool shaped like a horseshoe. Get your tan on - there's no shade here!
READ MORE: check out my post about St. Peter's Pool here.
DAY 3 - VALLETTA
ARRIVE: after your morning at St. Peter's Pool, walk back to the bus stop and head into Valletta. Check Google Maps for the quickest route. When you're done, take the ferry back to Sliema (cash only) for the best landscape views of the city.
DO: visit both Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens to take in the panoramic views of the 3 Cities. Wander the beautiful little streets.
READ MORE: check out my post about Valletta here.
DAY 4 - BLUE GROTTO
ARRIVE: buses run straight here from both Valletta and Sliema. Check Google Maps for the quickest route.
DO: take a boat tour through the stunning coastal caves. Walk up to the Panorama View Point for the best view of the Blue Grotto.
READ MORE: check out my post about Blue Grotto here.
NOTE: The UNESCO site of the megalithic temple Ħaġar Qim is just one bus stop away, if you'd like to add that to today's itinerary.
DAY 5 - GOZO
ARRIVE: take the bus from Valletta or Sliema to the ferry terminal at Ċirkewwa, then catch one of the ferries that runs all day and all night, taking just 25 minutes to do the crossing. When you're on the island, join a hop-on hop-off bus tour with City Sightseeing to make the most out of your day.
DO: visit the (now collapsed) Azure Window and its beautiful Blue Hole. Spot the majestic Ta' Pinu shrine and church. Enjoy the incredible coastal views at Xlendi. Wander the Cittadella in Victoria. Hang out on the beach in Ramla Bay.
READ MORE: check out my post about how to spend a day on Gozo here.
DAY 6 - MDINA
ARRIVE: take the bus from Valletta or Sliema to the bus stop just outside Mdina. Check Google Maps for the quickest route.
DO: wander the beautiful little streets. Spot the famous blue door near Coogi's.
READ MORE: check out my post about Mdina here.