What you must not miss in Malta - 2019
Updated: Dec 30, 2019
Malta is a tiny island. It's only about 30km from the north to the south so you only need a few days to a week to cover the whole island. We spent 5 days there and that was about enough.
When is the best time to visit Malta?
An excellent thing about Malta is that the weather in Malta is generally good throughout the year despite variations in the temperature. You will need to consider how hot you want it to be while you are there. Summer is dry and very warm, with July being the hottest month. Temperature during summer can be up to 30 celsius degree. In the winter the temperatures drop to around 15°C, with January often being the coldest month. There is an increase in rainfall at this time, although there is not much rainfall in Malta year round. If you want sunshine, summer is your best bet but bear in mind prices soar during the period.
I went to Malta with my girlfriends at the end of August and beginning of September to avoid the school holiday. During the time we were there, the weather was fairly good, sunny and warm although there were light showers in our last day. The island wasn't too crowded and we didn't need to queue at all.
Should I take public transport or rent a car in Malta?
We hired a car as we wanted to have more flexibility. However, a lot of my friends travelled there using public transport and they had no issue with getting around. You just need to plan your journey in advance to make sure you get the right buses on time. Also, if you're not a confident driver, it's probably better to take the bus because the roads in Malta are very narrow and parked cars are everywhere ! For the same reason, it's easier to drive in small to medium car than a large one.
Where to visit?
My honest opinion is that you can miss everything else in Malta but not Valletta. Valletta is the capital of Malta, built by the Knights of St John on a peninsula of only 0.6 square kilometer. That's not really a surprise considering the whole country is only 30 kilometers long. The city may be small but it's full of attractions and every corner you go you will stumble on some amazing sights that will leave you in awe.
Where to park in Valletta, Malta?
If you drive, don't even think about taking your car into Valletta. It's very crowded there and parking in Valletta is very expensive. Floriana is a good place to park. It is next to Valletta, easily accessible to Valletta by foot. I parked my car in a public car park in Floriana, less than 10 minutes walk to Valletta and it was free !
Once you get to Valletta, you can easily cover the whole city in one to two hour by foot. I would suggest that you spend at least half a day there to check out some shops, try out some food, have a drink there to take in the beautiful city.
Here are some photos of places that we visited in Valletta
The Grand Harbour
Walking down the street and taking in the gorgeous view of the city architecture
Lower Barrakka Gardens and Upper Barrakka Gardens
Churches and cathedrals: it's worth noting that Mala is a Christian country so there are a lot of grand and beautiful cathedrals and churches to visit. If you're interested, - Saint John's Co-Cathedral is one of more famous ones in Valletta. Remember to dress properly to show respect if you plan to go to church. Otherwise you would be denied admission.
After touring Valletta, you can take a short boat ride from Valletta harbour to the Three Cities, which costs less than 5 euros, The Three Cities are Birgu (Vittoriosa), Senglea (Isla) and Bormla (Cospicua). They are in close proximity to each other and they are also known for their historic and cultural wealth. There are less shops and restaurants in the Three Cities than Valletta and they seem more residential. Although the architecture in the Three Cities is very similar to Valletta, buildings there are not as well maintained. In other words, Valletta is a nicer and cleaner version of the Three Cities. A good thing about the Three Cities is that they are less touristy and a lot quieter. If you're short on time, visit Valletta and skip there. Half a day is enough to spend in the Three Cities. Here are some photos taken in the Three Cities. As you can see, the buildings have similar style to Valletta but they look a lot less fancy and well kept.
This is the second place in Malta (the first being Valletta) that you must go.
Getting to Gozo:
There is no direct road connection to Gozo, so you'll need to catch the Gozo ferry (which transports both foot passengers as well as vehicles) to cross the sea to the island. The ferry departs from Ċirkewwa (at the Northern part of main island Malta). So wherever you're staying, make your way to to Cirkewwa and follow the sign to Gozo ferry. It's very obvious once you get to Cirkewwa.
The ferry runs at frequent intervals - every 45 minute and 24/7. Check the timetable in here.
It can't be easier to get on the ferry. Once the entrance is open, you can walk straight in. If you drive, wait for entrance to open and pay attention to the port employees as they will instruct you on when you can drive into the ferry and where to park in the ferry.
You don't need to buy ticket to go to Gozo but you'll pay when you get back from Gozo to the main island.
It takes about half an hour to get to Gozo on the ferry. You can enjoy the gorgeous view of the Mediterranean sea on the ferry.
What to see in Gozo?
The most well known attraction in Gozo was the Azure Window - a natural arch stretching from the cliff to the sea.
Absolutely beautiful isn't it? That's not my photo though. Unfortunately the Azure Window collapsed in 2017 due to a storm. We didn't realised that this was the case when we were in Gozo so we drove all the way there despite all the road work and diversion. Once we got to the cliff, we spent an hour looking for it and came back hugely disappointed and completely exhausted in the scorching heat. Don't make this mistake ok? If you're in Gozo, spend time exploring the town or go to a beach,
So what's there to see in Gozo besides the long gone Azure Window?
Gozo is quieter than Malta, less urbanised, greener and has clear beaches that offer great experiences to swimmers and divers. Gozo also has nice countryside if you come in winter and the water is too cold for a dip.
The most worth to visit place in Gozo is probably the Citadel in Rabat (also known as VIctoria). Outside the citadel is Rabat, or Victoria, the capital city of Gozo. It's the only place where shops and restaurants are highly concentrated on the tiny island.
Gozo also has some cathedrals, churches and chapels if you're interested in learning more about its Christian roots.
One to two day in Gozo is enough to see and experience the life on the island.
Situated between Malta and Gozo, Comino island is another popular tourist destination thanks to its famous blue lagoon. Comino is a tiny uninhabited island with an area of 3.5 square km.
Getting to Comino: Getting to Comino is fairly easy. You can take a boat from from Ċirkewwa (the Northern most tip of Malta) and from Mġarr Harbour (on Gozo). The crossing to Comino takes around 20 minutes and costs around 10 Euro for a return trip. These are for foot passengers only so you would have to leave your car in Malta or Gozo. Once we got to Gozo, there were boat companies that were selling tickets to Comino on the Mgarr Harbour so we bought the tickets and took the boat ride to Comino.
What to do in Comino?
You can dive, snorkel swim in Comino. The island is most famous for its blue lagoon with crystal clear water as you can see in the photos.Most people go there to chill, sun bath and swim.
The only downside is that it's a tiny island with too many visitors. If you want to get a nice spot or hire an umbrella, be sure to get there early (I'd say before 9am). Otherwise, you would end up being packed in the island with possibly hundreds of people that would ruin your perfect instagram photos.
Promise that the water colour is not edited. It's really stunning. Crystal clear.
I know that a lot of people say its a must visit place in Malta. As much as I enjoyed my time there, I wasn't sure if I would like to go back there because it was too touristy and in all fairness lost is charm to a great extent. But it's a personal opinion. I always prefer quieter places where I can enjoy more relaxing experiences.
All in all, Malta is a beautiful country with a lot to see and do. Drop me a comment if you want to know anything else about Malta or if you have any recommendations!