After being living in Europe from the last eight years, we finally planned a trip to one of its hidden gems – the archipelago of Malta. On a pleasant April evening we (me, my husband, and our two toddlers) took one of the cheap flights (Ryan Air) from Nurnberg, Germany that took us straight to Malta (Luqa) with the whole flight duration being just three hours.
The first thing we noticed about Malta as soon as we landed in the country was the warm weather and the refreshing sea breeze. From the airport we took a taxi to our hotel in the Silema region. Taxi was a good option because it was night time and we were with kids, but if you’re travelling alone or with friends you can go for the local transport or take the Malta Transfers airport shuttle, however, do remember to book it in advance.
I’m starting with Silema because that was the first city in Malta we came across with. Silema is a small metropolis dotted with hotels and apartment buildings along its coast line. There are many bars, shops, convenient stores and restaurants as well as a long stretch of promenade called the Silema Front.
You can take a relaxing stroll at the promenade or shop at the modern city center markets. Silema’s beach is a great option to sunbathe, casually sit by the sea side or take a scuba dive to see the amazing corals. The city’s hotels and restaurants offer different cuisines, including a lot of Halal food options.
The capital of Malta, Valetta is a beautiful peninsula with steep streets and a great harbor. We took a ferry from Silema to Valetta because it was cheap and the kids wanted to experience a boat ride (however, to their disappointment, it was just a ten minutes’ ferry ride).
The city is essentially Baroque in character with growing modern architecture. Its narrow side streets are full of tiny souvenir shops and cafés. The Grand Harbor, Upper Barrakka Gardens and the Saluting Batteries are some of the most common and worth-visiting places.
Before going to Valetta do remember to wear comfortable shoes and a light dress because the best way to see the city is by foot and that means you have to walk a lot on hilly streets.
Blue Lagoon and Comino Sea Caves
One of the most highlighted natural sites in Malta are Gozo, Comino, Blue Lagoon and the Azure Window. Gozo and Comino are small islands of Malta and almost a two-hour ferry ride takes you there.
You’ll notice that wherever you go in the mainland Malta, they’ll be selling (rather over-selling) different trips and tour packages to Gozo and Comino. Among all the options and destinations, we decided to go for Comino and the Blue Lagoon.
When we reached the island, after a two-hour windy ferry ride, in the first look it seemed beautiful with clear blue waters and beautiful sand beach. However, as we went further on the island it turned out to be a disappointment, mainly because of being too crowded.
The only good thing we got from Comino was a short visit to the sea caves (it was not included in the tour package) in a speed boat driven by a chatty sailor. Rest I can confidently say that Blue Lagoon is a highly overrated attraction.
Other Cool Things About Malta
- As Malta was a British colony and got its independence in mid 1960’s, English is very common and is one of the official languages. EVERYONE speaks English, even the smallest ‘for sale’ notice is written in English. How cool is that!
- The country is so small (316 km2) that you can travel around the whole mainland Malta within just a couple hours.
- Maltese language is highly influenced by Arabic, there are literally so many words we (as we know Arabic well) could relate to e.g. women – nisa, child – tifel, welcome – merhaba, sea – bahar… and hundreds of more.
Almost all the places have good accessibility, so people with baby strollers and wheelchairs can easily go anywhere.
In Sum and SubstanceWe stayed in Malta for four days and three nights and I think this time (plus minus one day) is enough for this beautiful little country. Also, if you go in an off-season, between October to March, it would be cheaper and the weather will still be warm.
There were a lot of other places that are Malta highlights where we did not go, like the old town of Mdina with Medieval fort and cathedrals, Gozo – a rural town with scenic hills and old temples, and the Azure Window – a natural arch on Gozo. But if you go to Malta you can give these places a try and write about them on HDR.
All in all, it was a great trip. We loved it, the kids loved it and we made a lot of beautiful memories.
Author’s Bio: Writer, mother and an avid traveller, Arfa Mirza is the Senior Editor at Hongkiat.com. Having travelled through Europe she aims to explore Morocco, Japan and all the lands in between.