***Just a quick update to say that I hope everyone is staying safe & healthy during this time of uncertainty. I wasn’t sure whether to publish this post or not but I thought it might give someone something to look forward to when we eventually get back to normality***
Last month, despite the coronavirus emergency just starting to kick off, my mother and I travelled to Malta for a short (cheap!) break in the sun.
We’d never been there before but we’d seen it on photos that my great grandfather took when he was based there in the First World War.
It looked beautiful and it absolutely did not disappoint…
Where we stayed
We stayed at the gorgeous Plaza Regency Hotel in Sliema, with a balcony overlooking the bay. We got a great deal because it was out of season and the hotel was immaculate. I got a great night’s sleep every night & made the most of the roomy bath that was so deep & amazing to relax in.
Breakfast here was gorgeous too with a good variety of food on offer, including cooked food & continental options. The hotel is about a 15 minute drive from the airport so that was super convenient too.
Things to do in Malta
Visit Sliema Bay
We took a 20 minute walk over to this gorgeous little bay – it has plenty of shops and cafe’s to sit in and watch the world go by. I was really shocked at seeing lots of British shops there but you’ll find Malta has a mix of Italian food, Middle Eastern architecture and little touches of the UK here and there.
We went on a harbour cruise around the bay which was really informative – we got to see lots of the places my great grandfather probably would have seen as well as more modern parts. When you’re back on dry land, I’d recommend visiting Tony’s Bar which is the ideal spot for people watching and enjoying a cold drink in the sun.
Catch the bus to Valletta
From Sliema Bay, we caught a bus to Valletta for 1.50 Euro each (single) and I was gobsmacked at how stunning the capital of Malta is.
When you first enter the city, it’s almost like walking into a film set (a lot of Game of Thrones was filmed here, FYI) and I was constantly amazed at the gorgeous architecture all around.
We loved exploring the little winding streets and getting lost multiple times, which I think is the best way to explore a city! Eventually, we found our way to St Paul’s Shipwreck Church which was a beautiful, ornate church before settling in at The Pub for a couple of drinks. The Pub is well known as the place where actor Oliver Reid died – it’s tiny and I would have walked straight past it had I not known about it. Well worth visiting if you’re a Reid fan.
Go to Peppi’s for a pizza
Literally a hop, skip and a jump away from our hotel was the wonderful Peppi’s restaurant. We ate here for two of the three nights that we stayed and we were never disappointed.
The pizza’s are huge (I still think about how much I wasted now) but the Greek food here is also stunning. If you’re looking for a reasonably-priced restaurant with beautiful views and a good atmosphere, definitely try Peppi’s.
Take a boat trip to Gozo
Visiting Gozo was one of my favourite parts of the whole trip.
We went as part of a tour and I’m so glad we did because we would have missed so much if we didn’t. Plus we spent the whole day there so it was well worth the money.
Our first stop on our Gozo tour was to a fantastic church called Ta Pinu Sanctuary. The location of this church as well as the outstanding beauty of it just makes it stay with you. The artwork surrounding the church as well as inside is all mosaic and it just gives the place an ethereal quality; the whole church looked like it was glowing.
Next, we were whisked off to Dwejra Bay which is such a surreal place. To look down, you’d think you were walking on the moon due to the crater-like floor beneath your feet. The scenery here is just absolutely breathtaking – I can’t even begin to describe it to you. Although the Azure window is gone, this is still most definitely a place to visit. Unfortunately, the water was too rocky for us to go on the little boats here but if I ever return to Malta, I have vowed to return there.
After stopping for some food, we made our way to The Citadel. This reminded me so much of Game of Thrones as it’s a walled city with labyrinthine streets, intended to confuse any potential invaders. The views from the top of here are amazing and it’s well worth exploring some of the ancient ruins. There are also quite a few different shops at the bottom of the hill where you can pick up some souvenirs. We stopped for one last hot chocolate before we got back on the bus.
Walk around San Anton Gardens
On our last day in Malta, we did another tour and one of the places we stopped was San Anton Gardens.
I probably wouldn’t have even known this was here if I hadn’t booked a tour so I’m really glad we got to see it. The gardens are so peaceful and visually stunning. There are lots of animals here like peacocks and ducks who are chilling out amongst these the fountains and orange trees. It was originally built for soldiers to enjoy some time off work and you can see why they would have come here. The president of Malta also lives in the palace attached to the gardens.
Visit St Paul’s Catacombs in Rabat
As part of the same tour, we managed to visit St Paul’s Catacombs in Rabat.
I’ve visited the Catacombs in Rome when I was younger but I was a bit worried that I might get a bit claustrophobic this time.
Thankfully, we weren’t in there for too long but I would highly recommend going to see them (if you’re okay in tight spaces underground!)
I learnt a lot here about how the Maltese people dealt with death, including their use of the Agape table which they would use in the catacombs to eat, drink and celebrate their loved one’s life. People were eventually banned from the catacombs due to the rowdiness of the celebrations but the Agape tables still exist and can be seen if you take a visit here.
When I return, I’d love to also see St Paul’s Grotto which I didn’t get to see this time around.
Take a tour of Mdina, the Silent City
To finish the tour, we visited the original capital of Malta, Mdina – the Silent City.
So-called because of its lack of vehicles, the Silent City of Mdina is a really gorgeous place to visit – you can even take a tour on a horse and cart around it.
We finished our wonderful holiday looking out from Mdina towards Sicily and the rest of Malta which was a perfect way to end the day, before heading to Peppi’s for our final meal.
I’d highly recommend visiting Malta if you’re thinking of getting away for a while (once coronavirus is no longer upon us). The people are so friendly, the views are gorgeous and the food is delicious!
Where’s next on your list?