15 reasons why you should visit Malta
Updated: Feb 14
Everyone has their special place in the world, don’t they. That one place which has truly captured their heart.
Mine is #Malta.
To me, the Maltese archipelago is truly #magical and has an unparalleled and unique aura.
Quite simply, I feel at #home here.
My very first visit was as a little girl way, way back in 1979.
Mind you, how we ever returned was an absolute #miracle, 🙏 😆
Due to the current #COVID19 #travel restrictions and the national lockdown currently in place here in the UK, I’m missing the islands more than ever. Therefore I thought now would be the perfect time for me to share with you some of the reasons I return to Malta year after year.
My original plan was to cap this blog to "ten reasons why" and I totally struggled! Actually if I'm being completely #honest I struggled to keep it to just 15 😅
You simply can’t compare Malta with anywhere else you have visited.
You may find slight familiarities and an essence of something similar but it's pretty much #unique.
It’s sleepy, but there is also so much hustle and bustle, it’s a hot rock in the #summer but can be very cold in the #winter. There are cranes everywhere you look, but also the most amazing #architecture everywhere you look.
Malta has also very wrongly long been perceived as a holiday destination only for those in their golden years. There is honestly something to #allure all age groups,
The attractions are frankly endless.
Please note that some of the activities I’m about to mention may not currently be available due to current Covid19 restrictions, however you will be able to fully enjoy them as/when normality returns 😊
So without further ado, here are my "15 reasons why"
First up, the islands are,
1. Easily Accessible
Well maybe not so at the moment 😔😤 but generally the islands have a plethora of flight routes to choose from, wherever in the world you may be arriving from.
Air Malta is the national carrier and as I write this, the only airline flying in due to COVID restrictions.
Usually you have such a huge choice of carriers to choose from, including all of the major low cost carriers, #Easyjet, #Ryanair, #Jet2 etc, plus scheduled airlines including long haul connections routed via #Dubai provided by #FlyDubai.
The first sight of the islands is pretty special.
Upon descent you will firstly be able to spot he multitude of ships dotted around the #Mediterranean, then you can identify the circular rings which are #tuna farms, next the rugged west coast cliffs, then depending upon the time of year, green or baron brown fields will come into view, followed by the sandy limestone coloured buildings and churches galore, if you are lucky you might even spot the Mosta Rotunda!
Then it’s pretty much wheels down, you’ve arrived! 🙌 🙌
2. Nowhere is far away
Arrivals at Malta are never tiresome, twice last year I made it through #immigration and had collected my bags in around 30 minutes, even during COVID restrictions. 🙌
I even reached #Gozo in less than two hours from touching down.
The island of #Malta is only 17 miles long and 9 miles wide meaning you are guaranteed to reach your destination in super quick time.
There are multiple transfer modes available to get you to/from the airport, booked shared transfers, private transfer or private taxi and also public transport.
You’ll be #chilling and sipping your favourite Maltese beer or wine in next to no time!
For detailed information on the different modes of transport available please click here
3. There is a huge choice of accommodation styles to choose from.
I’m personally a huge fan of #Airbnb, I love the character and quirkiness, also the added space and freedom that having your own place provides.
To give you an idea as to how fantastic a choice this could be, check out my review on a fabulous stay in an Airbnb farmhouse on Gozo here.
Over the years I’ve seen the prices of the luxury hotels sky rocket, which is sad, as I feel they’ve out-priced themselves and also in my opinion a lot of these hotels are long overdue a little #TLC especially in their bedrooms.
However as I write this I can see that there are some super deals currently available with 4* properties offering rates for as little as 20 Euros per room per night! 🤩
I'm hoping and praying that when normality resumes so does sensible and attainable pricing.
4. The language
It’s a blend of #Italian, #Arabic, with a little #French and #Greek sprinkled in, this of course is influenced by the many different nationalities who conquered and ruled the islands over the centuries.
#English is the second official language and is very widely spoken. You’ll find navigating your explorations of the islands a breeze as all street and road signs are in English too 😀.
You’ll very often hear English words or sentences mixed into a conversation being conducted in Maltese, this never ceases to tickle me. 😅
Here are some important words and their pronunciations to help get you started 😉 ,
Iva (Eve-a) - yes
Le (lay) - no
Grazzi (Grutzee)- thank you
Jekk jogħġbok (yek YOH-jbok) - please
Skużi (SCOO-zee) - excuse me
Ajjut! (I-yut!) - help!
Bongu - good morning
Sahha (sah-ha) - bye
Tazza inbid - glass of wine
Birra - a beer
You can further expand your learning here
5. The people
This is by far one of my top why’s.
The people are simply #endearing.
Please take a look at this video from The People of Malta.
⚠️ Beware, if you are as homesick for the islands as I am right now, this may bring a tear or two to the eye. It’s all in Maltese and the imagery and insights into life on the islands will bring your memories flooding back in a tidal wave 🤗
(You can adjust the settings when playing back this video to add subtitles in English)
6. The history and architecture
Malta’s #history is extremely colourful and clearly evident to see wherever you look.
Here is a brief, or as brief I can make it 😅 snapshot for you,
The Arabs conquered the islands in 870 A.D. and left an important mark on the language of the Maltese.
It was Charles V who bequeathed Malta to the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem who ruled over Malta from 1530 to 1798. Following the Great Siege of 1565, the Knights of St John made Malta a key player in the cultural scene of 17th and 18th century Europe. The #artistic and #cultural lives of the Maltese Islands were injected with so much colour with the presence of #artists #Caravaggio, Mattia Preti and #Favray who were commissioned by the #Knights to embellish the churches, palaces and auberges.
In 1798, #Napoleon Bonaparte took over Malta from the Knights on his way to #Egypt. The French presence on the islands was short lived, as the English, who were asked by the Maltese to help them against the French, blockaded the islands in 1800.
There are oodles of #museums and #temples which you can visit to learn more about each of these periods in history, including but of course not limited to, The Malta Maritime Museum, The National War Museum at Fort St Elmo, and the Unesco World Heritage Site of Hagar Qim
Visually and architecturally Malta is the most #stunning place I’ve ever visited. I encourage you to keep looking up wherever you are.
7. The food 😋
My absolute favourites are the famous and oh soooooooo delicious Maltese platters.
It’s the taste of the islands on a very large sharing board.
On it you can expect to find,
Maltese bread, all types of local #cheese, including the delectable goat cheese cheeselets, olives, sun dried tomatoes, Maltese sliced sausage, mixed meats, artichokes, galetti (Maltese water biscuits which are small dry crackers, and are just perfect for dipping) and the absolutely delicious bigilla, which is a thick dip made of white beans mashed with oil and garlic. 😋
Another huge favourite of mine is sea urchin (rizzi) #pasta, which is served up usually as #spaghetti. This dish has a totally unique taste, almost sweet. It feels like such a special treat as inside a sea urchin there are only 5 small pieces of flesh. The sauce for this dish is kept quite simple as it’s all about the taste of the rizzi!
A little garlic or onion is fried with the best olive oil, then a little tomato is added, finally the rizzi, and then to finish a sprinkling of fresh herbs and a little lemon juice. Delizzjuż!
My other all time favourite is #octopus 🐙 slow cooked in a garlic, tomatoes and black olives - oh boy 😍 it’s just melt in the mouth.
I absolutely adore #swordfish too, simply grilled and served with roasted Mediterranean vegetables!
To start I can never resist a mouth-watering plate of #bruschetta. It's those sweet Maltese tomatoes! 😋
Of course over the years I have tried all of the local dishes, including #Bragioli (Beef Olives), the seasonal fish, #Lampuki and #Dentici, #rabbit which is served traditionally as a stew and is a very desired taste 😆, widows soup which is a delicious traditional, comforting and hearty vegetable soup, #timpana (baked pasta pie)...........but I always return to my favourites 😌
I’m also obsessed with Maltese bread, or #hobz as it’s known locally. It's just soooooo gorgeous and is made from a sourdough mix. There are bakeries dotted throughout the islands villages and the aroma of freshly baking bread and buns is just heavenly.
Ftira is a type of bread, like a flattish bun, similar in style to a #ciabatta but is also so very uniquely different.
It’s a bread which dates back centuries, filling the tummies of the workers in the fields whose villages used to have a communal oven where it was lovingly baked.
Hobz biż-żejt is the most famous Ftira sandwich and once you’ve tasted it, you’ll understand why.
This roughly translates as bread with oil, but it’s so much more than that.
The Ftira bread is sliced in half, dipped in luscious local olive oil, local tomatoes are rubbed onto each side of the bread until it turns red, then each side is sprinkled with salt and pepper. Next a mix of tuna, pickled capers, ripe green and black olives, onion, and more tomatoes are packed inside.
I can’t tell you how wonderful this tastes and I regularly recreate this filling here at home.
I don’t have a majorly sweet tooth, but for dessert or a sweet treat, my favourite has to be the Maltese take on #Cannoli, tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet creamy filling which usually contains #ricotta. I love the pistachio and #chocolate variants too 😍
A close second to that would me #Cassata ice cream #cake, or Cassata Siciliana sponge cake. The ice cream cake is filled with candied fruits and nuts whilst the cake is moistened with fruit juices or more often #liqueur 🥴 and layered with ricotta cheese and candied fruit. It’s then covered in a shell of green and pink marzipan icing 😋
If you love your sweet treats, you’ll find local “confectionary" stands in most villages offering you everything from a traditional Maltese honey ring to date cake and #nougat. Please be careful with the nougat though as it’s tough enough to pull your teeth out 😆
Lastly, you simply CANNOT visit Malta and not try a #pastizzi!
Pastizzi are traditional savoury pastries made from puffed pastry and filled with either ricotta which is out of this world scrumptious, or a slightly curried pea filling which is lovely but doesn’t quite hit the spot in the same way the ricotta version does.
There are some new flavours out there mow too, for example #Nutella which personally I feel is a complete sacrilege 😆 and therefore I will not be trying them anytime soon! 😆
You need to eat pastizzi whilst they are still hot and fresh from the oven, biting into the crisp pastry your taste buds will instantly zing at the taste of the slightly salty creamy indulgent ricotta, they are totally yummy.
You can find Pastizzi anywhere on the islands, in cafes, street corner pastizzi stalls, at bus stations, the ferry terminal at #Cirkewwa you really won't struggle to find them.
If you are self catering, you can buy a tray of a dozen or so frozen pastizzi in any #supermarket and bake them yourself fresh.
My favourite thing to do is to grab one with an Earl Grey #tea and have #breakfast on the #beach. There’s no better feeling on earth, eating the most gorgeous thing created listening to the #symphony of the waves lapping the shore.
8. Maltese wine and beer!
They are #delicious and so very reasonable in price. I’m not sure what it is with Maltese wine but I never seem to get a #headache no matter how much I indulge 🥴 well it would be pretty rude not to indulge on #holiday wouldn’t it 😁
You can find a list of my recommendations here - hic 😁
It’s just spectacular, the streets simply ooze centuries of intriguing and immersive history.
I've said it before but I encourage you to keep looking up as the architecture of this city is an absolute #joy to behold.
You'll find high street names you will immediately recognise interspersed with Italian designer #boutiques, #Artisan stores selling local arts and #crafts, and quaint street cafes including the locally famous Caffe Cordina.
You will also find the awesome St Johns Co-Cathedral here along with the Grandmasters Palace and the Is-Suq Tal-Belt Valletta Food Market. The latter is a derelict structure which has been rescued and converted into an "ambitious culinary #dream go-to food market" It's now a national #landmark for both locals and #tourists alike.
Do drag yourself away from the main drag and truly immerse yourself and embrace the beauty which awaits!
Off the beaten track the grid of narrow and steep streets boasts some of the finest #Pallazzos, museums, steeples, Maltese balconies, votive statues, niches, #fountains and coats of arms high up on parapets you'll ever see!
There are beautiful #gardens, age old steps, magnificent #panoramic views across the Grand Harbour to the 3 cities of #Senglea, #Vittoriosa and #Cottenera, as well as across to Sliema and Manoel Island.
You will stumble upon hidden churches and chapels, tiny #picturesque cafes and wine bars, and feel the history with every touch of the bastions walls, forts and canons.
A lift from the Upper Barrakka Gardens transports you down to the #harbour where you will find a stroll-able waterfront offering an enviable plethora of bars and restaurants serving a huge variety of cuisines.
The magnificence of this stunning capital city was recognised, when the European Commission awarded Valletta with the esteemed accolade of “European Capital City of Culture 2018”.
If the city wasn’t already #spectacular enough, in preparation for Valletta's bid, a huge facelift project was launched, buildings were given a little TLC, centuries old grime power washed away revealing the original #dazzling limestone beauty.
The Triton Fountain was completely overhauled, and restored back to its original #grandeur.
Curious #art installations appeared across the city provoking #discussion amongst ardent art fans. Celebratory events took place throughout the city during 2018, including wonderful light shows which I was lucky enough to capture.
You can discover more about what this wondrous city culturally has to offer here
Whilst Malta has a wonderful public transport system, buses are very often full to capacity and never run to a timetable.
I’d most definitely recommend that you hire a car for a few days as this will give you total freedom to explore to your hearts content.
Driving is on the left, well actually it’s in the shade 😆
There’s so much to see and a lot of the best views aren’t easily accessible by public transport.
A real pleasant surprise for me was the film set at #Popeyevillage which is so much fun for all ages, and the setting at Anchor Bay is truly stunning.
Please don’t be put off by some of the reviews, you will have an absolute ball, I really can’t recommend it enough - check out how much fun I had when I visited last March just before lockdown.
There is so much to pack in to any visit, age old temples and caves with magnificent views, blue grottos, salt pans, #statues, #citadels, #basilicas, #cathedrals and a church for every day of the year! There are some awesome #walking trails too, although these are best done in the cooler winter months 🥵
Before hiring a car in Malta please check out my important tips here xxx
11. The Mediterranean Sea
I will never forget my first dip in the warm, bluest of blue, Mediterranean Sea.
At 8 years old my only previous experience of a dip had been in our cold grey North Sea! 🥶
As a little girl I used to spend hours splashing about, or combing the shoreline with my little bucket, sun hat on and head down looking for #shells.
Fast forward 40 years and I’m still doing the same thing now 😆
The #Mediterranean Sea is almost completely surrounded by land and covers a staggering 965,000 square miles. It’s name is derived from the #Latin word “mediterraneous” meaning “in the middle of the land”
The great thing about Malta is that you are never far from the sea 😍 and the Maltese archipelago is renowned for its #azure waters, stunning sea views and of course its boat culture.