Things to do in Malta
As you will see from my review of Hotel Valentina, we stayed in St Julian’s during our visit to Malta. We were only there for three full days but managed to have lots of fun exploring. Some of ideas of things to do in Malta are set out below.
Day trip to Gozo and Comino with Barbarossa Excursions
A trip to Malta is not complete without visiting the island of Gozo. We were immediately attracted to the Combi Tour offered by Barbarossa Excursions, which included a trip to Gozo and Comino.
We were picked up at around 8.40am from our hotel and driven to the port, around 30 minutes away. After climbing on board the boat for our tour around Comino there was plenty of space at the front and back for sun worshippers and a little space inside for shade. The captain and his cadet (his grandson) spoke to us about the history of Comino. Our cadet spoke brilliant English and helped us on and off the boat providing entertainment throughout the journey. No doubt he will do very well in the company when he is older!!
Whilst we were travelling we were shown some amazing caves – sadly we could not actually go in or through them but they were pretty awesome to look at. Ideally, it would be nice if the boat stayed here a little longer so people are less rushed with taking photos.
The Blue Lagoon was pretty stunning as long as you are on the quieter side (which we were) otherwise it can seem a little touristy. I did not know that lagoon means deep and blue is from the legend that says if you drink water you turn blue! You could jump off the boat at the sides (our cadet certainly did!). I was given a ring to float around in as I am not a strong swimmer. Lastly, we headed to Santa Marina Bay for more swimming before heading to Gozo.
Gozo is a small fishing village, only 9 miles by 3 miles, with a population of around 32,000 people.
We stopped off for lunch immediately at around 12.15 at Maribu. We were pleasantly surprised when we realised there were tables and sun umbrellas to eat outside, as well as a pool if you fancied a quick dip before heading off on the jeep safari around Gozo!
There was a cold buffet lunch available with unlimited water, white wine or red wine. Any other drinks were extra but I paid a reasonable €1.50 for a diet coke. The lunch included fresh bread, cuts of meat, pasta with olives, rice, tuna and salad. It was nice not to have anything too heavy in the heat!
After around an hour we departed for our trip around Gozo with our guide. Peter was informative and friendly giving us a good insight into the history of Gozo. There were a maximum of six people on the jeeps – five in the back and one in the front. Depending on the size of the tour, there can be 4 or 5 jeeps at one time travelling around the island.
We headed to the North West of the island via the capital Victoria and started exploring. We headed to the previous location of the Azure Window which was a 28 metre tall natural arch in Dwerja Bay. It was one of Gozo’s major tourist attractions but was destroyed by a storm in March 2017.
We also travelled to the new window that is forming where you can see Sicily on a clear day 60km away. Whilst not as impressive as the Azure Window (at least from the photos I have seen) it was still forming and is more hidden.
Peter also took us to the natural salt pans built by Romans, which were used to preserve food. The salt (or sala) was used to pay soldiers, which is where the word salary comes from! I found that rather fascinating!
Lastly we were taken to Ghajnsielem Church which was built in 1932 with over 1800 handcrafted designs. A really impressive structure with some gorgeous mosaics outside.
The trip was good value for €70 each given it included a full day tour, complimentary lunch and transfers to and from your hotel. The staff were friendly and helpful and it was a fun-filled day. My only criticism is waiting over 30 minutes for our transfer back to our hotel to depart after we arrived back at the port.
Day trip to Valletta
One of the top things to do in Malta is to visit Valletta. The bus stop to Valletta was less than a five minute walk from our hotel. Buses 13, 13A and 14 all terminate at Valletta so there is no risk getting confused. The bus was only 2 euros which was a real steal for a 40 minute journey. Helpfully the bus stops have a timetable on and the key stops. I remember getting the bus in Malta over 15 years ago when they were pretty old, hot and rickety. The new buses are much better, spacious and have air con – yey!
Valletta is surprisingly small so you explore it all on foot within the day. One of the nicest things to do in Valletta is to wander and weave through the streets. You can easily walk a semi circle from the city center down to the harbor and back in an hour. It is the best way to see some of the quirky streets with beautiful vibrant colours and others with more faded rustic décor.
With a baroque facade, St John’s cathedral is a beautiful church in the heart of Valetta. The church was built by the Knights of St John and was complete in 1577. Sadly there was a church service ongoing when we visited and were therefore not allowed access.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
A must see are the Upper Barrakka Gardens which are a 5 minute walk from the main centre. The gorgeous panoramic views overlooking the harbour are amazing! With the arches displaying the harbour and the three cities it is extremely picture worthy but surprisingly not that busy. There is no fee to enter and a cafe on site if you wish to stop for a rest bite.
If you fancy visiting the three cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua you can get the elevator down to the harbour front from the Upper Barrakka Gardens and pay 5 euros for a boat trip. We didn’t have time to do this but it seemed rather reasonable value and Birgu has existed since the Middle Ages!
Given the World Cup was on during out visit we were determined to find a cafe that showed the football outside! Luckily we stumbled upon Star Cafe just outside the Is-Suq tal-Belt. This is also known as the Covered Market, which reminded me of an indoor street food market in London. With vendors from around the world ranging from Spanish to Italian and Turkish and Greek, there were a variety to choose from – Is-Suq tal-Belt
Relax and wander around St Julian’s and Sliema
Whilst there is not much culturally to see in St Julian’s and Sliema, they are both pretty harbour towns with plenty of restaurants and bars. You can watch the world go by sitting by the harbour and take advantage of some excellent happy hours which start in late afternoon. From Hotel Valentina to Sliema was a 20 minute walk which was pleasant in the day or evening. Alternatively you can get a bus in around 5-10 minutes.
East London Girl: Things to do in Malta
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