Malta Highlights

When I was planning my trip to Munich, Germany, I wanted to add a second destination to optimize my trans-Atlantic voyage. Malta met my list of criteria and I was thrilled to visit this small country in the Mediterranean Sea:

  • A new-to-me country
  • Direct, two-hour flight from Munich
  • Rich in history and culture, with a few UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • English and Maltese are the official languages
  • Part of the European Union, use same currency as Germany (i.e. the euro)
  • Mediterranean climate and cuisine
  • Land and sea scenery and island lifestyle
  • A less expensive European destination

Malta is steeped in prehistoric ruins, tales of the Knights of St. John, and about 7,000 years of history. I spent six days exploring Valletta, the two harbours, the fortified Mdina, Gozo, Comino, and the Blue Lagoon. Gozo and Comino are two smaller islands that can be reached by ferry or cruise boat from Malta. Let the sightseeing fun begin!

VALLETTA

Valletta is Malta’s capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. To appreciate Valletta’s skyline and enjoy Malta from the water, I take the public ferry from Sliema to Valletta. Return tickets cost 2.8 euros. The comfortable ferry ride lasts about fifteen minutes. Service is frequent year-round. The city views from Marsamxett Harbour, including the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral spire, are priceless.

From the ferry terminal, I follow the signs to walk to Valletta’s city centre. I think the best way to explore Valletta is on foot, however, parts of Valletta are uphill or involve long stairs. There are tourist electric trains and horse carriages waiting outside the ferry terminal for people who prefer to take them.

Valletta Stairs

Valletta’s centre is easy to navigate with several main streets designated for pedestrians only. It is a lovely place to wander and be allured by the surrounding architectural beauty.

Clockwise Left to Right: St. John’s Co-Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Valletta’s Bay Windows and Expressive Lion Faces.
Clockwise Left to Right: Entrance to the Grandmaster’s Palace (constructed in 1574), its gardens, Manoel Theatre (1732-present), and Auberge de Castille (1744-present).

For scenic views, I visit the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens and Hastings Garden. I think the two Barrakka Gardens are better lookout points than the Hastings Garden.

The Upper Barrakka Garden offers fantastic panoramic view of Valletta’s Grand Harbour and Fort St. Angelo. The system of bastioned fortifications was built by the Order of St. John between the 16th and 18th centuries, with further alterations made by the British in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Knights’ fortifications around the harbours of Malta are nominated for UNESCO designation.

Grand Harbour

The Lower Barrakka Garden greets its visitors with a beautiful temple, fountains, greenery, and benches. Walk through the garden to the open colonnade for a commanding view of the harbour and the Siege of Malta Memorial with the Recumbent bronze statue below.

Lower Bakkarra Garden

THE TWO HARBOURS

The two main harbours surround Valletta are the Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour. I take a pleasant 90-minute cruise, departing from Sliema and cruising inside the ten creeks named Sliema, Lazzaretto, Msida, Pieta, Menoa, Marsa, French, Cospicua, Kalkara, and Rinella. Ticket price is 15 euros, or less if combined with other cruises.

The English commentary explains all the historical points of interest of the two harbours. Plus, the cruise boat gets me up close to see the Yacht Marina, the battlements and fortifications surrounding Valletta and Floriana, the Grand Harbour, the inner basin, the Malta Ship Building Yard, the Dockyard area, and the three cities (Senglea, Cospicua, and Vittoriosa).

THE MDINA

The 4000-year-old walls of the former capital, Mdina, stand on a mountaintop at the heart of the main island, Malta. Mdina’s imposing architecture is entirely preserved, and the city is a UNESCO-designated Urban Conservation Area today.

From Valletta or Sliema, a public bus ride costs 2 euros and takes about an hour to reach the Mdina. Entry to the Mdina is free of charge. The fortified Mdina, nicknamed the “Silent City”, is lined with stately palazzi, bastions, and a cathedral. Some 240 people still live here.

The Mdina is a pedestrian-friendly and nice place to wander, with small alleys fan out from its centre. Some of Malta’s best restaurants are tucked away inside Mdina’s ancient walls. Bastion Square provides panoramic views of Mostar and its huge dome, and Valletta with St. Paul’s iconic spire.

Clockwise Left to Right: Mdina’s Main Gate, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Views from Bastion Square.

GOZO

There are many boat cruises from Sliema to Gozo every day in the summer. The ride takes about two hours with two brief passenger pick-up or drop off stops in St. Paul’s Bay and Comino. The boat cruise arrival in Gozo’s Mgarr Harbour is timed with optional sightseeing tours of this beautiful island.

I visit the Inland Sea Cave, Fungus Rock, Gozo’s Citadel, Ta’pinu Basilica, Gozo’s market, and Mgarr Harbour. The boat ride into the Cave costs 4 euros. The water in and around the Cave is incredibly clear and its colour changes from deep sapphire blue to aquamarine to light green. The rock formations also show layers of amethyst, green, and yellow sand stone colours.

COMINO and THE BLUE LAGOON

Comino is a much smaller island than Gozo. It’s known for the Blue Lagoon and caves. You may have heard of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Well, there is a Blue Lagoon in Malta, too.

There are boat cruises from Sliema or from St. Paul’s Bay to Comino. The ride takes about an hour or half an hour respectively. The Blue Lagoon entry is busy, however, if you walk further out, there are lots of secluded spots to enjoy the sun, sand, and swim.

FOOD

There is no shortage of good food to try in Malta. The local Maltese specialty is fenek (rabbit slow-cooked in garlic and wine) although seafood is popular. Of all the good meals I had in Malta, one of them stood out. It was the dinner at Gululu in Balluta Bay with Margie who is from the Netherlands. We met, we clicked, and went for dinner on her last day in Malta. We both ordered the Maltese-style chicken pizza. I enjoyed our hearty conversation, delicious food, and the lovely view of Balluta Bay that evening.

SHOPPING

Best buys are traditional crafts including hand-blown glass and lace, ceramics, silver and gold jewelry, metalwork, pottery, and tiles. I bought a pretty silver flower-shaped pin as a birthday gift for my cousin’s wife. I forgot to take a photo of it before the saleslady wrapped it up with a bow.

Aside from the usual souvenir items, what I find interesting is the variety of door knockers or door adornment in Malta. Here’s a sample:

Overall, I had a wonderful time exploring Malta. There are still many places to visit on this small island. I’d love to return in the future.

Thank you for reading my post. I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your comments.

Copyright Β© 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

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70 thoughts on “Malta Highlights

  1. ourcrossings June 30, 2019 / 3:34 pm

    Malta looks like an amazing place to explore, can’t believe we haven’t visited yet! Would love to go one day πŸ˜€

    Like

    • Natalie June 30, 2019 / 8:10 pm

      Thank you for your visit and comment. I hope you get to visit Malta. It’s not too far from Ireland πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. mommyhon333 June 30, 2019 / 4:20 pm

    Probably should not admit this publicly but I had to look up Malta on a map. I figured it is was near Greece and Italy but wasn’t sure from there. Oh, that beautiful blue water. I love the idea of jumping off a small boat into the water to swim and snorkel. Would have had to be pulled out against my will from that gorgeous lagoon. You visit such interesting, extraordinary places. And your travels make me aware of countries I have only heard of but know nothing about. Thank you, Natalie.

    Like

    • Natalie June 30, 2019 / 8:13 pm

      Thank you, Leslie, for your kind words. It’s my pleasure to share travel stories. I try hard not to overdo it. The water colours by Gozo, Comino and the Blue Lagoon were incredible. Blue as one word is not adequate to describe the many shades of blue that existed there.

      Like

      • mommyhon333 July 4, 2019 / 8:10 pm

        Back to revisit your photos!! Blue isn’t a sufficient description of that magnificent water.

        Like

  3. Lydia C. Lee June 30, 2019 / 6:13 pm

    I loved Malta – unfortunately we stayed out of town with friends so I felt we missed a lot of things that we would have done otherwise. I hope to get back there one day…lovely pics.

    Like

    • Natalie June 30, 2019 / 8:15 pm

      Thank you, Lydia, for your comment. I hope you get to return to Malta and explore it more fully.

      Like

  4. Sydney Shop Girl June 30, 2019 / 6:46 pm

    Such beauty and history! Thanks for sharing Malta with us this week, Natalie!

    SSG xxx

    Like

    • Natalie June 30, 2019 / 8:16 pm

      Thank you, SSG, for stopping by. My pleasure to share travel stories.

      Like

  5. Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond June 30, 2019 / 11:54 pm

    Hi Natalie isn’t Malta great? My husband and I visited on a cruise so we were only there for a day but packed quite a bit in. It is a place we would love to revisit and I enjoyed revisiting with you through our photos. #lifethisweek

    Like

    • Natalie July 1, 2019 / 9:50 am

      Hi Sue – How nice that you’ve been to Malta on a cruise. I saw a cruise ship docked in the Grand Harbour in Valletta when I was there.

      Like

      • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond July 3, 2019 / 9:42 pm

        We would have loved to have stayed longer Natalie as we were very impressed. We had no idea of what Malta could offer but would go back in a heart beat. Thank you for linking up at #MLSTL and have a great week. xx

        Like

        • Natalie July 4, 2019 / 8:19 am

          Thank you, Sue, for hosting another successful MLSTL. Enjoy journaling in July!

          Like

  6. Jo July 1, 2019 / 5:06 am

    This place looks like somewhere I’d love – history, architecture, stories, food and that blue lagoon. Malta has never really been on my list but a friend of mine drove down from France last summer and her pics were amazing too. If I close my eyes I think I could smell that rabbit with garlic and wine.

    Like

    • Natalie July 1, 2019 / 9:55 am

      Hi Jo – I think you’d love Malta. Although it looks small on the world map, Malta is a cultural powerhouse that easily fills up days of exploration. The Mediterranean climate and cuisine are major attractions, too.

      Like

  7. Debbie Harris July 1, 2019 / 7:36 am

    What a great post on the joys of Malta, a place I’ve never been but I enjoyed travelling through your post! I really loved the door knockers πŸ™‚ #Lifethisweek

    Like

    • Natalie July 1, 2019 / 9:57 am

      Thank you, Debbie, for your comment. The unique door knockers are everywhere in Malta. I think they reflect the homeowner’s status and personality πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Darlene Foster July 1, 2019 / 12:31 pm

    I love Malta and have been there twice and would return. I have based my next Amanda Travels adventure there. Loved your pictures. It is such a great place for photographs.

    Like

    • Natalie July 1, 2019 / 12:37 pm

      Hi Darlene – How wonderful that you’ve been to Malta twice and have based your next book from this picturesque country. Lots of movies have been filmed there, too. Happy Canada Day!

      Like

  9. restlessjo July 1, 2019 / 2:53 pm

    Though I’ve never actually been to the island, I’ve seen and read so many good things about it, Natalie. Glad you made it there, and welcome to WordPress. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Natalie July 1, 2019 / 2:57 pm

      Thank you, Jo. The move to WP has been good so far. Malta is not far from Portugal πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  10. lunalyon July 1, 2019 / 5:17 pm

    The color of the water amazes me. Thank you for the gorgeous pictures and tourist info!

    Like

    • Natalie July 1, 2019 / 5:26 pm

      Thank you for your visit and comment. I was amazed by the water colour, too.

      Like

  11. 3sistersabroad July 1, 2019 / 6:18 pm

    Malta looks amazing…the architecture looks stunning…#sensal

    Like

    • Natalie July 1, 2019 / 6:25 pm

      Yes, lots of beautiful architecture to see and admire in Malta. Thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Erica/Erika July 1, 2019 / 6:50 pm

    Hi Natalie, I have been looking forward to reading about your latest trip. I always suspect you do a great deal of research beforehand to maximize your experience. St. Paul’s Cathedral spire is likely evident wherever you are standing. Impressive architecture. Reading your post and seeing the stunning photos reminds me of the importance of preserving history. Very unique door knockers. I have bookmarked your post since I want to read and learn more about Malta. We are investigating future travel ideas. Thank you for sharing:)

    Like

    • Natalie July 1, 2019 / 7:05 pm

      Hi Erica – I’m very happy with my decision to visit Malta. It looks small on the world map but one week is not enough to see all the major sights, and I was out exploring every day. Feel free to let me know how I can help with your travel investigation.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Jodie July 1, 2019 / 10:10 pm

    The first time we heard of Malta was on House Hunters, and have been intrigued ever since. How fabulous.
    XOOX
    Jodie

    Like

    • Natalie July 2, 2019 / 7:39 am

      It was a fabulous trip. Thanks, Jodie, for dropping by.

      Like

  14. Joanne Sisco July 2, 2019 / 10:33 am

    I’ve only ever read great things about Malta. I love the photo shooting up the stairs. It gives me an idea of the climbing to expect πŸ˜‰

    Like

    • Natalie July 2, 2019 / 11:07 am

      That flight of stairs appeared shortly after I finished walking uphill from the ferry dock towards the city centre. Hmm, OK, I think I can do this but let me take a photo (break) first πŸ™‚

      Like

      • Joanne Sisco July 2, 2019 / 11:48 am

        Now you’ve just described most of my hikes ie – I need to catch my breath, surely there is something interesting to photograph while I’m here πŸ˜‰

        Like

        • Natalie July 2, 2019 / 12:14 pm

          Even in retirement, we need to be efficient with our time πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie July 2, 2019 / 4:18 pm

      Malta is a photographer’s dream. Thank you for your visit and comment.

      Like

  15. Suzanne July 2, 2019 / 5:06 pm

    Welcome to WordPress Natalie, now it will be much easier to follow you πŸ™‚ We were put off by comments regarding Malta as being overcrowded with brash English tourists [not my words!] similar to those ones that visit Benidorm perhaps we shouldn’t have listened as it looks interesting and full of history. We headed to Rhodes instead, from Turkey. Love the photos!

    Like

    • Natalie July 2, 2019 / 5:14 pm

      Thank you, Suzanne. My move to WP has been smooth so far. The foreigners I met in Malta were from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Morocco. It wasn’t overcrowded with tourists either. The local Maltese were very nice and friendly to me. Rhodes is a great choice nevertheless.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Suzanne July 2, 2019 / 5:16 pm

        Brilliant that you got to interact with the locals. I think Europe in general is becoming so overcrowded not just Malta and that I suppose depends on what time of the year you visit.

        Like

        • Natalie July 2, 2019 / 6:17 pm

          It was easy to interact with the locals in Malta since English is one of the official languages. I took public transit, went to the local markets, and chatted with the locals at bus stops, ferry docks, stores, etc.

          Liked by 1 person

  16. Savoring Sixty and Beyond July 2, 2019 / 5:15 pm

    Thanks for taking me along on your trip! The writing and the pictures made me feel as if I was there. Visiting from Midlife Share the Love .

    Like

    • Natalie July 2, 2019 / 6:17 pm

      Thank you for your visit and comment. I greatly appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Retirement Reflections July 2, 2019 / 5:32 pm

    Hi, Natalie – I love your new site and have included it on my Blogroll. I have never been to Malta, but it is on my list. Thank you for sharing your photos and insights.

    Like

    • Natalie July 2, 2019 / 6:21 pm

      Welcome back, Donna! I hope you’re now well rested post-Camino. I’m glad to hear Malta is on your list. Thank you for your feedback about my new site and for including it on your blogroll.

      Like

  18. Marja July 2, 2019 / 5:38 pm

    Wow a beautiful place and the colour of the blue lagoon is absolutely stunning What a nice trip

    Like

    • Natalie July 2, 2019 / 6:24 pm

      Thank you, Marja, for your comment. It was a wonderful trip.

      Like

  19. csuhpat1 July 2, 2019 / 9:16 pm

    What a beautiful and amazing place. You always share such great places.

    Like

    • Natalie July 3, 2019 / 8:16 am

      Thank you, Patrick, for your kind comment. I greatly appreciate it.

      Like

  20. betty - NZ July 2, 2019 / 9:36 pm

    I love all your photos, wow! It’s a beautiful place.

    Like

    • betty - NZ July 3, 2019 / 4:34 am

      Thanks for making ‘My Corner of the World’ a success this week!

      Like

      • Natalie July 3, 2019 / 8:18 am

        Thank you, Betty, for hosting. Have a beautiful week!

        Like

    • Natalie July 3, 2019 / 8:17 am

      Thank you, Betty, for your kind comment. Malta is a great place to take photos.

      Like

  21. Denyse Whelan July 3, 2019 / 2:54 am

    Your travel posts are very colourful with your attention to detail to help fellow future travellers and your photos are great.

    I know an Australian friend who is visiting family in Malta right now and as a foodie she is having a ball.

    Thanks for sharing for Life This Week. Next week’s optional prompt is Self Care Stories. Hope to see you there linking up. Denyse.

    Like

    • Natalie July 3, 2019 / 8:22 am

      Thank you, Denyse, for your kind comment and hosting another successful week. How nice that your friend has family in Malta so she can visit and enjoy the cuisine there.

      Like

  22. leannelc July 3, 2019 / 7:41 am

    More beautiful travel photos Natalie – you certainly get around (hence the blog name!) Loved the door knocker pics in particular. I always like it when people find a common thing to make into a collection of pictures – it’s always so whimsical.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Natalie July 3, 2019 / 8:26 am

      Thank you, Leanne, for hosting and sharing on your SM. There are so many unique door knocker designs in Malta. I had to stop myself from taking photos after about a dozen snaps πŸ™‚

      Like

  23. Carol July 3, 2019 / 8:25 am

    Bright sunny skies and blue waters, it makes a beautiful place to explore. Great post!

    Like

    • Natalie July 3, 2019 / 8:38 am

      Thank you, Carol, for your visit and comment. Your photos of your crepe myrtle tree and flowers are very nice. I left a comment on your blog.

      Like

  24. Liesbet @ Roaming About July 3, 2019 / 12:28 pm

    I’ve never been to Malta, but heard nice things about it. Your photos and information make me want to go. One day… So much to explore, so little time. Tomorrow, we leave your country, but hopefully, we will be back on the East Coast in August. It’s been crazy hot to live on the road…

    Like

    • Natalie July 3, 2019 / 1:32 pm

      Hi Liesbet – I think you’d enjoy Malta very much with your sailing experience. For you to say it’s been crazy hot to live on the road, it must be really hot! So little time in Canada. I’m sorry we couldn’t meet this month. I’m hopeful we’ll meet in the future. Keep cool and carry on πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Sanch @ Sanch Writes July 5, 2019 / 6:06 pm

    Oh wow! Looks like a fantastic place to visit. Love the aqua coloured water. And the food looks good too even though I’ve never eaten rabbit. Also, I’m loving the new look of the blog!

    Like

    • Natalie July 5, 2019 / 6:11 pm

      Thank you, Sanch, for your comment and feedback about my new blog. I tried rabbit once, tasted like lean chicken. I’m not a foodie πŸ™‚

      Like

  26. TheRamblingWombat July 8, 2019 / 11:56 pm

    Another wonderful place to add to my list of places to visit.. l loved your summary.. so much to see and do.

    Like

    • Natalie July 9, 2019 / 8:29 am

      Thank you for your visit and comment. Malta has something for everyone. I’m glad I’ve gone there.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Dr Sock July 14, 2019 / 2:26 pm

    Malta isn’t a place I had thought of travelling to, but after reading about your trip there, I am adding it to my list.

    Jude

    Like

    • Natalie July 14, 2019 / 2:33 pm

      I like Malta a lot and would go back if I had the opportunity.

      Like

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