Why Malta is the perfect European holiday destination…

Travelled in: July 2015 & 2017

Facebook keeps reminding me that this time last year I was in Malta for my summer holiday. I’ve had this post lingering in my drafts for a while, but completely forgot to publish! I have been away in Greece for the past couple of weeks, so used the time to finally catch up on some blogging that I just haven’t had time to do recently. There’s still a few summer months left to go, so if you haven’t already decided on this years holiday destination, here is why Malta could be the perfect place for you…

Malta is often over looked as a European holiday destination, probably because it is so small! Malta is a tiny island located below Italy, next to Sicily, only a 3 hour flight from the UK!

Being a sunworshiper Malta has the perfect weather for a summer or winter holiday. I have only visited in July so the temperature was in the mid 30s, but their winters are short and warm, the sky is almost always blue, and snow is unheard of!

Another great thing about Malta is there are no awkward language barriers, the Maltese all speak English due to the island being a former British Colony. There is a Maltese national language, which is a cross between Italian and Arabic, but more often than not you will hear the Maltese speaking English among themselves.

The Maltese islands are split in to 3 parts, the main island of Malta, and the 2 smaller islands of Gozo and Comino. Whilst most Maltese reside on the main island, there is also a small community on Gozo. Comino is uninhabited other than a couple of hotels. For holiday makers the best place to be is the main island, however Gozo offers a more rural Maltese experience.

Arriving in Malta…

I booked my flights to Malta with Ryanair flying from London Luton. Return flights in July (out of summer holidays) cost me around £140. I personally hate flying Ryanair, but what can you do when they offer the cheapest and best timed flights sometimes…

To get to the hotel from the airport I pre-booked a taxi using the company ECABS which cost €21 one way to St Julians Bay. They have offices all over the island where you can call or walk in to book a car, they also have an app you can download and book your taxi through.

Staying in Malta…

The most popular area for tourists to stay in Malta is St Julians Bay. There is a lot going on here, plenty of big hotels, hundreds of restaurants and a decent night life scene. There is also the neighboring town of Slima which also acts as a good base.

Hotels in Malta are quite expensive verses other holiday destinations in Europe. I managed to find a good deal on hotels.com at The Cavalieri… I paid £820 for 10 nights. I also used quidco to make sure I got cashback on my booking, and saved myself a few extra pennies!

The Cavalieri is located on Spinola Bay, which in my opinion, is the perfect location. There is a good sized pool and direct access to the sea where the water is crystal clear. The rooms are basic, but clean and have everything you need. I would recommend paying more for a balcony and sea view. It will be worth it to wake up to this every morning…

I have previously stayed at The Westin Dragonara, also located in St Julians. This a good one if you want something a bit more luxurious. I didn’t think the location was as good as The Cavalieri, plus it is more expensive.

Eating in Malta…

Gululu, Spinola Bay– This place serves the best traditional Maltese dishes, my favourite was their Rabbit Pasta! I had to go back twice as I just couldn’t get enough of it. It is a little bit pricey, but definitely worth it.

Papannis, Valleta – If you find yourself in the capital city Valleta, make sure you head to Papannis for an incredible seafood pasta! The restaurant is nestled down a little side street, and gets very busy. It would be worth trying to book a table in advance, or if you have to wait a while there is a great whisky bar opposite called Streat which have a good happy hour!

U Bistro, St Julians – This place is a bit more modern and serves a good brunch and burgers. They also have a great selection of fresh smoothies!

Charlies Inn, Salina – Another typical Maltese dish is Rabbit Fentcarta. This is basically Rabbit and chips… Charlies Inn is nothing fancy, but is definitely the place to go if you want a cheap and traditional Maltese meal.

Piccolo Padre, St Julians– A great place for dinner with a view. I’ve eaten here a few times and it has always been amazing. They have a big menu, but I really recommend ordering one of their pizzas.

Travelling in Malta…

Malta is a small island, but getting around it is not that easy unless you have a car. For short distances the bus is a good shout and costs €2 per journey. For cross country travel it is better to hire a car!

I made the decision to hire a car last minute so the price was quite high. I booked the car hire through the hotel and used a company called Firstcarsmalta. They dropped off and picked up the car from our hotel which was very convenient. I paid about €150 for a 3 day rental with insurance. To get a better deal I recommend booking in advance using my fave booking website rentalcars.com.

Warning – Driving in Malta is not for the faint hearted. The roads are very congested and it is just all a bit crazy everywhere you go. Parking is also a nightmare… You can park for free in white bays if you can find one, but check the signs to see if there are time limits. We got discounted parking through the Cavalieri hotel at an underground car park nearby so for overnight parking it only cost €2.50.

Things to do & see in Malta….

A day trip to Gozo is a must. You can easily take the ferry directly over from the main island. It costs €15.70 for a single journey with a car. Gozo is tiny and super easy to navigate.

My first stop in Gozo was the capital, Victoria, it is a small city, but very picturesque. The main attraction of Victoria is the old Cittadel on the hill, well worth a visit to understand more about the history of Malta.

Wied Il Ghasri was my personal highlife of Gozo. It is the place to be if you fancy a swim in a canyon. It is really beautiful, but gets quite crowded as the beach is only small. Warning you will be driving down very bumpy roads to get here, and the steps down to the beach are very steep, so drive slow, and wear trainers. It is so worth it as it is a pretty spectacular place to see.

Mdina is the old capital and known as the silent city of Malta. It is a walled city, full of history. One of the most popular things to do here is go for cake at Fontanella Tea Garden, where there is a great view over the rest of the island.

Valletta is the new capital of Malta. This year, 2018, Valletta is the European city of culture. It is a beautiful city and great place to just wander and get lost!

My favourite thing to see in Valetta is the Upper Barrakka Gardens, they offer great views of the three cities. This is also the place to come if you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will find a few references to scenes that were shot here, among some other box office hits.

If you have ever seen the videos that circulate on social media of a dog jumping in to a sea pool with its owner, this is at St Peters Pool in Malta. It has become a huge tourist attraction due to these videos, so expect a big crowd. It is great place to swim, cliff jump, sunbathe and spend a day chilling, but you would need a car to get here as it’s a bit out of the way.

The only thing to be aware of is there are no toilet facilities, food vendors or shade from the sun, so bring a picnic and lots of suncream!

Paceville is the area to go to for nightlife. There are plenty of bars and clubs offering great happy hour deals.

Comino/Blue Lagoon is a good day trip from the mainland. You can catch a boat from Slima over and spend the day sunbathing on the rocks and swimming in the Blue Lagoon. I went over on the extreme boat which also offers a bit of an adrenaline rush on your journey, spinning around every now and again. I came off the boat drenched and with whiplash, but it was really fun… Watch out for the jellyfish at the Blue Lagoon though as this is a hot spot for them.

I absolutely love Malta, and think it has the perfect mix of things to do for a summer holiday destination. It is super pretty, has great food and loads of culture! I am sure I will be back again one day. If you’re still looking for a summer holiday destination this year, Malta is definitely worth checking out!

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