Getaways with Kids editor Ann recently travelled to Malta with her partner Brian for four days and wrote about some of the top things to do when visiting the island.
Flights Ryanair flies from both Dublin and Cork to Malta for around €130.00 pp during high season. Ryanair.ie
Hotel We stayed in the four–star Hotel Santana, located in St. Paul’s Bay, for some of our trip which was €179.00 for two people for three nights. We stayed with friends for the rest of our holiday.
Transport When getting taxis in Malta, its best to download and use taxi apps such as Taxify or eCabs to get the best value. You’ll see white taxis all around the country but its best to avoid these as they tend to be expensive. The public bus service is cheap and cheerful at €1.50 a go but not the most punctual. As the island is so small, about a third of the size of the Dublin county for perspective, traffic can be quite heavy.
Our first stop was of course Valletta. Valletta is Malta’s capital city. It is quite small so it’s very easy to see it all in a few hours. It is a walled city on the coasts of the island, so you’re sure to see some great sea views. Having survived through the times of the Knights and WWII, there’s a lot of history here too. The war museum in Valetta brings you through these times in detail. We also did a free walking tour of Valetta which brought us through a load of significant points in history such as the founding of the city and the impact of the Knights in its development. Make sure to visit the Lower and Upper Barrakka Gardens, two small but picturesque gardens in the city.
While in Valetta we also stopped frequently in cafes, restaurants and bars. Alcohol is very cheap both in the capital and all around the country, unless you’re going to any of their high-end cocktail bars such as Alchemy and Kingsway. Eating out in Valletta was not overly expensive for a capital city, with many places being around the same price as Ireland and, if you look around enough, some places were a bit cheaper than we’re used to too.
On the same day we went to Valetta we also ventured out to the town of Sliema. If travelling between Valletta and Sliema, you can get a ferry every half an hour from their respective ferry docks for only €1.50. You can also travel by bus but we thought this would be more enjoyable and it helped avoid the traffic! Sliema is Malta’s main shopping district and has the country’s biggest shopping centre. It also has lots of choice in restaurants and dining places too.
The next day we stopped off in Mdina as we had heard about it prior our trip. This used to be Malta’s capital centuries ago and it’s really unique. It’s another walled city in which cars are not allowed to enter unless they’re residents in the area or have special access, and we found it quite peaceful to spend a while wandering around here away from Malta’s busy roads. It’s quite a holy place with a gorgeous church that’s worth seeing and some great viewing points of Malta. It also a location in which scenes from Game of Thrones were shot. If coming here be prepared to be haggled by horse and cart drivers – as there are no cars in Mdina they are a convenient mode of transport and some of the vendors can be a bit persistent.
We went on a few walks and hikes during our stay. The Dingli Cliffs are a great choice for stellar views and it might be one of the only spots where you‘ll see greenery around the country. We also did a hike in St. George’s Bay where we saw some war trenches and picturesque bays, so I would highly recommend that too if you wish to see more rural and untouched spots of the island.
Gozo and Camino are Malta’s two off shore islands. Gozo is essentially a smaller version of Malta and people do live on this island. It apparently has some great scenic spots for walks and hikes, though we didn’t have time to do any. Comino is an even smaller island that isn’t populated, but it is host to the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon has the clearest water we had ever seen and is a great spot for swimming and water sports. The view from here is astonishing and I would definitely recommend visiting. There are food vans on site for snacks while you’re there and you can even get a cocktail served in a pineapple.
We did a boat tour of the Grand Harbour run by Captain Morgan Cruises, which brings you along the coasts of Valletta and Sliema among other towns. This was great as the narration gave us more insight into the history of the island. There were other Captain Morgan boat tours on offer which we would have loved to do but didn’t have time for, such as one where boarders dine in an underwater restaurant and a sunset cruise. We will 100% be trying out these ones if we return.
We went to several beaches in Malta but Golden Bay was definitely the best. It’s a really clean and spacious coast and the waters were great for swimming in. Birżebbuga in St George’s Bay was also quite nice and relaxing. Bugibba beach by St. Paul’s Bay is quite vast in size so it’s a good choice for a seaside stroll.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Malta for a holiday. It’s a beautiful spot and not too costly either. The historic aspect of the island really added to it and we found it to be a nice escape from the usual sun holiday locations.