Those of you that know me or follow me on Instagram will know that I lived in Malta for two years. I went over there to work as an English Language Teacher and enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle. Living by the sea makes you feel more alive and free, there is something about it that I just can’t explain, don’t you think?
Naturally I had a lot of time to explore and discover Malta, and what lies within, touristic, local and off the beaten track. Like anywhere new you naturally gravitate towards the tourist spots, but it’s always fun to try out the less popular things. So here are some of my favourite things to do in Malta …
Comino Island, also known as The Blue Lagoon – this is the middle island between Malta and Gozo, it’s also the smallest of the three and is a tourist hot spot and you can totally understand why. The waters are completely clear and are a gorgeous aqua blue colour, which can be seen from in the sky. The island is inhabited by the smallest number of people, but it is mostly occupied by tourists and locals taking boat trips over to the island for a day, either to go hiking or simply to soak up the sun and swim.
The best time of the year to go is out of peak season, from around March – May or even September – October the water can still be warm enough to swim.
I mean of course it’s still amazing to visit in the summer (and I did, twice) but as you can imagine it gets incredibly crowded and there isn’t much shade from the sun. There are a lot of different boat companies that operate to Comino with many package offers, from return journey trips, to stop offs etc. You can book these trips all over Malta in the main cities, especially in Silema (ferry point), where you’ll find hundreds of pop up stands selling boat trip tickets. Or alternatively you can get the bus up to the Comino Ferry port in Cirkewwa and buy a ticket direct from the station up there. A return ticket will cost you 13 euros for an adult and 7 euros for a child.
Mdina, also known as The Silent City used to be the old capital city of Malta.
This beautiful ‘city’ is set high up and gives you a panoramic view of the island. The high walls of the houses and streets block out all the sounds of traffic from the surrounding towns. Whilst walking the streets of Mdina you might find yourself getting a little lost in tranquility as it’s such a quiet place to be, this is because, other than a few residents, there are no cars allowed in the city. People either walk around or horse drawn carriages are used. Also you’ll see the famous ‘colourful doors of Malta’ – you can find these all over the island but there are lots in Mdina along with different shaped brass door knockers, lions, dolphins, faces and many more.
Balconies are surrounded by brightly colour flowers and ivy, these make a stunning backdrop for a photo.
Getting to Mdina can take a bit of time, you want to take the bus that goes to Rabat and get off in the centre and you’ll see the gated drawbridge right in front of you.
When you’re there, I highly recommend a trip to Fontanella (located close to the church.) The best cake shop on the island, eat some freshly made, delicious slabs of homemade cake whilst looking out on the rest of the island. Most of the cafes and shops are tucked away, so you really have to keep your eyes peeled for them.
Dingli Cliffs, after a day in Mdina, you definitely should visit the Dingli Cliffs to watch the sunset, it’s one of THE BEST spots in Malta to watch it from and it’s only a short bus/taxi journey from Rabat.
You get a panoramic view from here which is truly breathtaking, the high cliffs give a beautiful addition to the view, but be careful as they are steep so make sure to wear a good pair of shoes and don’t get too close to the edge.
From the Dingli Cliffs you can see a small island in the middle of the ocean named Filfla, this is an uninhabited island which is home to a rare ‘wall lizard’ and ‘door snail’. It’s also an important bird life area as there are 3 types of seabirds identified to be nesting there, ‘storm petrel, cory’s shearwater and the yellow-legged gull’.
Valletta is the capital city of Malta and is located on the East of the island just past Sliema. It’s easily accessible from all over the island by bus as the main bus terminal is there. If you’re staying in or around Sliema you can get the ferry across to the capital, this is quicker than a bus and a wonderfully easy way to be at sea.
In Valletta there are lots of things to see and do, from museums to palazzos to cathedrals and piazzas. In my 2 years of living in Malta I don’t think I managed to fully explore the little capital, because like most other towns in Malta things are hidden away behind old doors.
Here are a couple of my top things to see/do whilst there; upper and lower barrakka gardens, both give you a panoramic view of the waterfront and three cities, upper barrakka gardens is a great point to watch the sunrise, the garden is full of flowers, a beautiful water fountain, a small cafe and most importantly it is the home of the saluting battery, where at 12pm everyday one of the cannons goes off, it’s a great spot to be and people always gather to see this.
Lower barrakka gardens is at the other end of the city, but can be seen from upper barrakka, by foot it takes around 15 minutes to walk to from its sister garden, it’s located next to Fort St Angelo. It’s an ideal place to relax, soak up the sun, watch the boats and ships sail into the harbour and escape for a while from the business of the city. This garden is quite different and I prefer it. There is a greek style temple surrounded by radiantly colourful flowers in the centre, stunning archways with a view of the Siege Bell Memorial and of course a breathtaking view of the Grand Harbour. It’s the perfect spot for a photoshoot and once I even saw a newly married couple having their wedding photos taken there, amazing!
Triton’s Fountain, one of the first landmarks you will see upon entering Valletta, located at the city gate and is a spectacular fountain with three triton’s holding a plate above their heads. It was originally constructed in 1959 but was renovated in 2018, the pale aqua blue colours of the tritons against the creamy colour of the base makes a beautiful photo opportunity, especially on a sunny day or at night when the fountain lights up. A popular tourist spot indeed.
Saint John’s Co-Catherdral, now I’m not a religious person but when I travel I like to visit churches because I think the architecture inside is just stunning. This church is no exception, upon entering you’ll see beautiful tapestries, gold laced paintings and sculptures on the walls, it really is magical inside. But one of the things about this church that attracts a lot of tourists is a famous piece of artwork … ‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (1608)’ by Caravaggio. It is considered one of Caravaggio’s masterpieces, it is the biggest canvas painting he ever did and the only one he signed.
My final top thing in Valletta is to just wander around the streets, there are lots of beautiful, colourful doors and streets in Malta, especially in Valletta. Make sure you look up, this is something I learnt when I was travelling in Italy, my tour guide told us to always look up as there is so much beauty above our eye line that we usually miss.
Ghajn Tuffieha, for me this is the best beach in Malta, it’s one of the few sandy beaches in Malta and it’s less popular with tourists, compared to Golden Bay, which is next to Ghajn Tuffieha. It’s a great place if you just want to spend a day relaxing and swimming in the sea, but be aware if you’re swimming, the underwater currents are known to be quite strong here so make sure you keep an eye on the lifeguards flag systems.
Although getting down to this gorgeous beach requires a descent of steps, in fact there are over 100, the hike back to the top can sometimes leave even the fittest of people breathless, but in my opinion it’s totally worth it. There are lovely walks/hikes around the beach which you can do, great for dog walkers or just to remove yourself from the sand for a bit.
If you fancy doing something different, Malta Surf School is run from here, Valerio Cicconi is the founder and creator of the surf school, he’s super friendly and helpful, it doesn’t matter your ability or age, he will help you gain enough confidence to be able to surf in the Maltese waters. Prices vary depending on what you want, a lesson or maybe you just want to rent a board and surf alone. More information can be found on his website … https://www.maltasurfschool.com/
Ghajn Tuffieha has two sides to it, on the left hand side of the beach you’ll notice a cliff and beyond that is Gnejna Beach, a small untouched beach, if you want to visit this beach you are best to rent a car as the public transport access to it is very limited and not frequent. For this reason this beach is one of the quietest and most untouched. On the right side of the beach you will see a ‘Torri’ – tower in English, this connects Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha, if you walk towards the tower you’ll see Golden Bay. From here the sunset is insanely beautiful! I highly recommend staying for it as on a clear day the colours of the sky are so vivid and bright.
The Victoria Lines (off the beaten track – literally). If you like hiking then this will be right up your street. I only got the chance to do half of the lines, but me being me I ended up doing the more tricky part which included getting very lost and almost ending up in a quarry.
The Victoria Lines walk route starts or finishes from Madliena Heights (east) near the Madliena Fort and goes to Kuncizzjoni (west) near Fomm Ir-Rih Bay. You can easily do the walk in a day, but it is also a good idea to split it in half if you want. The better walking end is from west to east and this is the part where you’ll find more people and it has more of a clear direction, whereas from east to west it can be hard to find the lines and you can easily get lost (like I did). Make sure you download a map of the lines on your phone before setting off so you can work out where you are as surprisingly it’s not signposted on the island. (https://www.victorialinesmalta.com/)
The wall that runs along most of the lines was made by soldiers in the war to keep them busy and create a physical barrier for invading forces that landed on the north of the island.
*Traveller tip: on the east side there is an area called ‘Top of the world – Ħal Għargħur’ here you will get another great sunset view and there is also a small cave embedded into one of the walls, if you can find it, watch the sunset from there, it’s stunning!! It is quite hard to find though, or at least if you’re me it was, I got lucky the third time. You’ll see a parking area called ‘Parking Ghal Ghar’ once you see this start heading down to the lowest road and on one side you’ll have an amazing view and the other some high rocks, keep going down that road and it’s on the right, you can’t miss it! It’s a great photo op!!
So there you have it, some of my favourite things to do in Malta.
Let me know if you have been to any of these places and what you thought about them 🙂