Visit Malta | The honey pot of Europe
Posted on July 29th, 2022
The word Malta is derived from the Greek word, meli, “honey”, and Malta is full of sweet surprises. It is a honey pot of an island for boosting your brain cells, stamina and enhancing your endorphins. It also makes for the perfect short break from London with a travel time of just over a 3 hour flight.
Malta | A little history
Malta lies in the centre of the Mediterranean, 50 miles south of Sicily. It has been inhabited since 5900BC and ruled by all sorts; Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Aghlabids, Normans, Sicilians, Knights of St John and Napoleon, before the Brits took over in 1813, handing it independence in 1964.
It is also where the then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip lived in their first two years of marriage, whilst the Prince was stationed with HMS Magpie. I have since read that their home is now to become a museum, another added attraction to the island.
Malta in the movies
Malta has spectacular landscapes which have attracted numerous film crews; including Gladiator, Game of Thrones and Murder on the Orient Express to name a few. They are currently filming the new Napoleon movie with Joaquin Phoenix.
It is surrounded by gin-clear water which goes from aquamarine to deep azure blue, making it one of the best dive sites in the world.
Malta for foodies
If you are into food, you can find delicious local produce and the island has no less than 5 Michelin-starred restaurants. If drinking is more your thing, there are a huge number of bars and plenty of nightclubs to dance the night away. The island also hosts several music festivals during the summer whilst you eat away!
Malta for culture vultures
For a more cultural experience, Malta is home to seven megalithic temples, 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and jaw dropping cathedrals.
May or September are ideal times to visit, the temperature sits nicely in the 20’s, but without the crowds.
The island is easy to get around if you hire a car. Be organised and plan your day to get out and see what the island has to offer.
Malta | Where to stay
We stayed at the Corinthia Palace Hotel for one night, then moved on to stay with friends.
The Corinthia is located in Attard in the centre of the Malta, and an ideal mid-point for exploring the island. The hotel has just renovated their spa, which definitely ticked the box after all the site seeing we did.
It is also home the to the new Michelin star restaurant, Bahia. We had a 7-course degustation menu with paired wines, which went down as one of the best meal experiences we’ve ever had.
We were celebrating a birthday and were taken on an amazing gastronomic journey. Incredibly delicious and beautifully presented. Could not recommend it enough.
A weekend in Malta
Day one | Valletta
Start in Valletta. Park in the MCP just outside the walls and wander in through the Renzo Piano–designed City Gate. The must see attraction is St John’s Co-Cathedral. You will be blown away by the richness of the interior, including two paintings by Caravaggio.
The Grand Master’s Palace will fill you in on the incredible history of the Knights of St John after the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. Visit Upper Barrakka Gardens for the view of the Grand Harbour. The city is steeped in history with plenty to see, museums, palaces, a fort, and more.
Malta Day Two | Mdina
Head to the fortified city of Mdina, the Silent City. Don’t miss St Pauls Cathedral. For a light snack, there is no better place than Gustav Cafe on a tranquil roof terrace away from the hustle and bustle and conveniently located in Palazzo Falson; well worth a visit. Walk on top of the perimeter walls.
Adjoining Mdina is Rabat. Wander along Triq San Pawl to the famous catacombs.
Book a table at Luna in the garden of Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar. It is a short drive away, but so worth it. You can smell the garden before you see it, as the orange blossom trees waft through this beautiful old Palazzo. Relax after a long walk in a garden of tranquillity enjoying delicious food.
After lunch, for your finale… go to nearby Mosta to see Mosta Rotunda. It has one of the largest church domes in the world, larger than St Paul’s in London. You will also see a replica of the bomb that fell through the roof into a congregation of 300 people, but never exploded. A true miracle.
Malta Day Three | Gozo
Take the car ferry to Gozo. Go to Cittadella, the fortified city built by the Knights of St John in 1600, and pop your head into the cathedral. Wander along the walls which have incredible views over the island.
We headed onto the Ggantija Temples. They are one of the oldest free-standing structures in the world, predating Stonehenge and the Pyramids by 1000 years. What is extraordinary is that you can walk far closer in and around the site than you can at Stonehenge.
If you’ve never seen sea salt harvested, follow the signs to the Salt Pans which go back to Roman times but still used today.
Malta Day Four | Blue Grotto
People talk about the Blue Grotto in Malta, and it is a must see. Take one of the small ‘tourist’ fishing boats by the tiny port to the Blue Grotto. They are a series of caves in the limestone cliffs with the most amazing coloured water. Purple to azure blue to green, we wanted to jump in at every turn!
Drive onto the fishing village of Marsaxlokk and pick one of the quayside restaurants to enjoy the catch of the day. Depending on the time of the year, take another boat trip and swim in St Peters Pool around the corner. We will definitely be doing this on our return trip!
If you have made it this far south, the megalithic complexes of Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra in the Southeast are amongst the oldest religious temples in the world, dating back to 3,600 BC.
Day Five | Valletta and The Three Cities
Back to Valletta. Wander through the streets and have a coffee before going to the pontoon below Upper Barrakka Gardens to get one of the boatmen to take you on a tour of Grand Harbour before dropping you on the other side to see the Three Cities.
You could of course just lie on the beach. But there are better islands for that and you would miss the point of going to Malta.