Saturday, May 30, 2015

Five Tips When Visiting Malta

Last spring after returning from my 2014 Europe trip I mused about how Malta was a destination on my radar for future ‘Old World’ adventures. A year later I was able to visit the small island nation (much sooner than expected thanks to my wife being sent across the Atlantic for work).

In that earlier blog I suggested that Malta seemed to be the perfect combination of the history, culture and food Europe is known for, with an added splash of idyllic beach living normally reserved for more tropical locales.

Malta slotted into our trip for three days between Barcelona and London, two cities that demand extensive sight-seeing. We were more than happy to spend these days enjoying the beautiful weather, gorgeous landscapes and unique cuisine. Our expectations were high, but our experience surpassed even those lofty standards. This was the perfect middle portion to a whirl-wind 10-day Euro adventure, and it was arguably the best part of our trip!

Here are a few photos of this beautiful island, along with five tips I can offer up to future visitors:

Three days isn’t nearly enough

Malta may be small, but it has so much going for it. Beautiful beaches, historic old cities & legendary nightlife. If you are coming to experience everything it has to offer, make sure you come for at least a week. Also, if you have plans to visit the smaller islands of Gozo and Comino (which apparently you should) you may need even more time.

Mediterannen beach living at its finest
Never-ending pristine landscapes
Don’t miss Mdina

I say this because we did. We were staying on rural Golden Bay beach, as our main prerogative was some R&R. We set aside one of our three days to sight-see and choose to do it in the capital, Valletta. While it was an enjoyable day we found Valletta to be more of a relaxed shopping destination and thought it lacked a little in memorable sights. Our cab driver recommended Mdina and we should have listened as it is a beautiful ancient walled city with huge tourist appeal.

Main drag in Valletta
Utilize the efficient island bus system

For 1.50 Euro per day you can ride an extensive network of buses that travel all over the island of Malta. From Golden Bay we were able to grab a bus right outside of our resort and travel to Valletta (at nearly the opposite end of the island) in about an hour. Considering that a taxi from the Airport to our hotel was 30 euro and a shorter distance, it’s clear how amazing of a value the bus system is. The route map and time table are both extremely easy to read.

Great vantage point in the capital
Try local cuisine

This can be said for most places in the world, but it’s worth mentioning for Malta. Two items I particularly enjoyed were pastizzi (I will provide this link to avoid lengthy description) as well as rabbit in its various forms including stewed. If you are staying in the Golden Bay area I highly recommend Apple’s Eye restaurant. It is nothing fancy but offers great local comfort food at excellent prices.

Delicious pastizzi
Embrace the shoulder season

Malta welcomes the majority of its visitors during the summer season, June to August. We went in late-April and the weather was absolutely beautiful, the crowds relatively thin and the prices still not fully rebounded from their winter lows. The sea, while beautiful to look at, is a little too chilly for most to swim in at that time of year, but the pros far outweigh the cons in shoulder season.

Even in mid-April I was enjoying the sea
View from our room at the Radisson Blue Golden Sands

Checkout my TripAdvisor review of Radisson Blu Golden Sands here

Mike @ Palms & Pints

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