Malta: A Mediterranean Gem

Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean, between Sicily and the North African coast, Malta stands as a testament to history’s ebb and flow. With its sun-kissed shores, ancient temples, and vibrant street life, Malta offers an intoxicating mix of relaxation and adventure. Let’s explore what makes Malta such a unique and sought-after destination.

A Storied Past

Steeped in history, Malta’s landscape is dotted with temples that predate the Egyptian pyramids, underground catacombs, fortresses, and medieval towns. The capital city, Valletta, built by the Knights of St John following the Great Siege of 1565, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting Baroque architecture, palaces, and museums.

Diverse Landscape

From the azure waters of the Blue Lagoon to the reddish sands of its beaches, Malta’s natural beauty is undeniable. The Dingli Cliffs offer a panoramic view of the open sea, while the island’s numerous caves and coves, including the famous Blue Grotto, beckon to be explored.

Gastronomic Delights

Influenced by Sicilian, Middle Eastern, and British cuisines, Maltese food is a delightful blend of cultures. Dishes such as “pastizzi” (savory pastries) and “stuffat tal-fenek” (rabbit stew) showcase the island’s rich culinary heritage. The local wines and craft beers, often enjoyed at village festivals, further enhance the gastronomic experience.

The Three Sisters: Malta, Gozo, and Comino

While Malta is the main island, its sisters, Gozo and Comino, each have their own unique charm. Gozo, with its tranquil villages and lush landscapes, is perfect for those seeking peace and relaxation. Comino, primarily known for the Blue Lagoon, is a haven for snorkelers and divers.

Vibrant Festivals

Malta is known for its festivals. Be it the lively carnival with its colorful parades, the village festas in honor of patron saints with fireworks and marching bands, or the Isle of MTV music festival, there’s always something happening on the island.

Language and Culture

While Maltese is the national language, English is widely spoken due to Malta’s British colonial past, making it easy for tourists to communicate. The Maltese are known for their warmth and hospitality, making visitors feel at home.

Practical Information

Malta enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters, making it a year-round destination. The island is also a member of the European Union, with the Euro being its official currency.

Where to stay

During my visit to Malta, I had the pleasure of staying at Hotel Juliani, a place I wholeheartedly recommend not only for its impeccable service and ambiance but also for its convenience. The highlight of the hotel is undoubtedly its rooftop outdoor pool, complemented by a chic bar. From here, guests can soak in panoramic views of the surrounding areas, adding a touch of luxury and relaxation to their stay.

The hotel also offers a parking area located behind the building, ensuring easy access for those driving. However, it’s vital to heed the provided directions to the parking space. A word of caution: refrain from parking directly in front of the hotel. Automatic fines are levied for unauthorized vehicles, and with the area being under surveillance from street cameras, it’s a challenge one wouldn’t want to face. Remember, Malta was a British colony, so traffic moves on the left side of the road. If this is unfamiliar to you, ensure you adjust accordingly. Yet, with Malta’s modest size, regardless of where you stay, every destination on the island remains within a comfortable distance, enhancing the overall travel experience.

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What to Do & See

Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply seeking leisure, Malta offers a myriad of experiences. But this is just the tip of the iceberg! Delve deeper into the Maltese charm by checking out our subsequent articles. In them, we’ll unravel the island’s secrets in greater detail, from its ancient temples and bustling town squares to the secluded beaches and local festivals. Stay tuned and embark on a comprehensive journey through Malta’s rich tapestry of culture, nature, and history.

Expense Breakdown

Below is a detailed breakdown of the costs I incurred during my trip (2022) for two, to provide an insight into budgeting for a similar vacation.

  1. Plane Ticket: €400
    A vital part of the trip, securing a good deal on flight tickets can significantly impact the overall budget.
  2. Accommodation (4 nights): €582
    While the cost may seem steep, the comfort, amenities, and strategic location of the hotel made it a worthy investment.
  3. Car Rental: €354
    Renting a car provides the freedom to explore Malta at your own pace. And remember, due to its British colonial history, driving is on the left!
  4. Popeye Village Entrance: €30
    An iconic attraction that transports you into the whimsical world of Popeye the sailor man.
  5. Gozo Channel Ferry: €20.35
    The ferry ride offers not just transportation but also scenic views between Malta’s main island and its sister island, Gozo.
  6. Food: around €500
    One of the pleasant surprises about Malta is the affordability of its cuisine, especially when compared to Western European countries. The island’s dishes provide a delightful fusion of flavors, making dining out an essential part of the travel experience, without breaking the bank.
  7. Parking Fine: €70.49
    An unexpected setback occurred within the first 10 minutes of our arrival. While checking into the hotel, I made the mistake of parking directly in front of it. At first glance, there were indications on the spot, but not fully grasping their meaning, I thought it best to ask the hotel about the parking specifics. However, by the time I returned to the car, I had already received a fine. Interestingly, in Malta, fines don’t always come from patrolling officers. There are cameras positioned on the streets, which capture violations and automatically issue fines. These are then forwarded to the car owner. In our case, the fine notification was sent to our car rental company. To future travelers, I emphasize the importance of familiarizing oneself with parking regulations and hotel amenities in advance. Always double-check to avoid similar pitfalls, especially in unfamiliar territories.

Total: €1,956.84

In Conclusion

Whether you’re a history aficionado, sun-seeker, adventurer, or food lover, Malta has something for everyone. Its rich tapestry of cultures, spanning over 7,000 years, promises an immersive experience that is both enchanting and enlightening. Pack your bags and get ready to explore the wonders of this Mediterranean gem.