We’ve visited this beautiful limestone island twice now, so we thought we’d put together some tips for travelling to Malta and share with you some of our experiences. The unique geology of the island makes it an incredibly picturesque place to visit, both above and below the water. Whether you’re looking for a beach escape in the summer or wanting to explore the history in winter, we’d definitely recommend visiting Malta.
Surfside Beach Club
Top of our list of things to do in Malta is visit Surfside Beach Club. An easy walk from the port of Sliema, we planned on spending the entire Sunday afternoon here but ended up staying until they closed late in the evening as well. Situated right by some old sea bathing pools that have been carved into the rock, you can grab a lounge/ sunbed here and alternate between dipping in the refreshing spas at the club or hopping into the ocean. The food and drinks are pretty reasonably priced for a beach club, however our food did take an extremely long time to come out (well over an hour for a salad) so keep that in mind if you’re starving. In the evening a DJ sets up on the terrace and the lounges are cleared away to make room for tables and chairs.
Another beach club worth checking our is Café Del Mare, the ever-growing chain that you can find at popular summer holiday destinations globally. While a little bit more expensive, it does have an amazing infinity pool and the crowd is a little older than the teens who seemed to fill Surfside after dark.
A trip to Malta is not complete without visiting the ancient city of Valetta. Perched atop a hill and made from limestone, this fortified city has played a part in many military operations since it was constructed in the 1500s. As cars aren’t allowed to drive into most parts of Valetta, it’s easy to lose yourself in the beautiful architecture and feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Our must-see spot in Valetta would have to be the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens, situated along the fortified wall. Filled with beautifully landscaped gardens, water features, archways and dramatic seaside views, it’s one of the most romantic scenes we’ve ever come across.
If you’re heading to Malta during the colder months or a bit of a history buff, Malta has some Megalithic ruins to transport you back in time. Some of the oldest free-standing ruins in the world, here you can find temples thought to be built around 5000 BC. Some of these spots, like Ħaġar Qim which we visited, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and you’ll need to pay a fee to visit. Other spots are scattered around the island and you can visit for free, if you’re a keen explorer and willing to do a bit of research before you go.
Paceville is Malta’s answer to Ibiza’s San Antonio, or Mallorca’s Magaluf. To its credit, Paceville isn’t filled with loads of Brits on stag dos, but rather plenty of local and European revelers on a big night out. Here you’ll find open-faced bars, joints offering buckets of alcohol and trays of 40 shots for ridiculously cheap prices, and plenty of strip clubs. It’s not going to be the best night out of your entire life, but if you’re down for a boozy evening running amuck in Malta, Paceville will be your playground. If you’re after a classier evening there are plenty of bars and pubs along the beachfront, or Twenty-Two offers incredible views and tasty drinks, complete with a modern interior and dress code to match.
When we were in Valetta in spring we came across a small, hole-in-the-wall spot serving traditional Maltese dishes. It was a little chilly that evening so we opted for the octopus stew, and we were certainly not disappointed. This dish serves a generous helping of fresh octopus in a rich, tomato-based sauce with vegetables and bread, and is just the thing to fill you up with nutrients and keep you warm.
As you walk along the promenade in Sliema, you’ll pass dozens of tour companies offering boat trips to the famous Blue Lagoon. One of the beautiful aquatic sites Malta is known for, we decided to take a little trip and explore its clear blue waters. In all honesty, we have to say the Blue Lagoon isn’t a ‘must-visit’ in Malta at all, and if you hire your own boat you can probably find much better coves and swimming spots to enjoy. While it was incredibly beautiful and the water was clear and warm, when we went in June it was so packed it made it hard to enjoy. Every spare spot of sand is packed with sun lounges and umbrellas for hire, and the pathways are lined with food trucks selling fried food, cocktails and lockers for hire (note: none of them take card, so make sure you bring cash if you want to buy anything). As with most crazy-busy tourist destinations, unfortunately, some of the less respectful visitors left behind a lot of trash as well. In all, our experience there felt very touristy and we would recommend visiting one of the other swimming spots the island is known for.
Malta is a pretty reasonably-priced European holiday destination and we love the island and its people. We stayed in Sliema and found it really easy to get around by bus, walking and boat. Head to our Instagram for more pics and tips on Malta!