For Easter weekend, we headed to Malta! Before moving to Europe, I am embarrassed to admit, I couldn’t tell you where Malta was located 🙈 For those who are as geographically challenged like me, Malta is a small island located off the south of Italy, between Sicily and North Africa. Despite it being a tiny island, it’s full of history and complete with its own medieval fortress in the old town of Valletta. It also has 360 churches – nearly one for every day! You may recognize Malta from Game of Thrones as they film a lot of the show here.
We took a 6am flight Thursday morning so we arrived in Malta by 9 and had the whole day ahead of us. We headed to the Intercontinental to check in and were surprised with an upgrade and access to the Club Lounge. It was a great start to our short holiday! We then headed into town and grabbed lunch in the bay of Sliema for some delicious Lebanese food at Ali Baba, which we highly recommend!
After lunch, we hopped on the Sliema ferry which takes you over to Valletta in a matter of minutes. The ferry offers a unique perspective of the city walls and beautiful Carmelite church. As soon as we stepped off the ferry, we were in love with Valletta. The cobblestone streets, quaint restaurants and limestone architecture. We spent the afternoon walking all over Valletta, wandering around the sites, stopping in the plazas and soaking up the sun.
I highly recommend stopping at the Upper Barraka Gardens, which is this gorgeous garden on a cliff overlooking the surrounding cities. Here’s some of my favorite photos from the gardens:
We started off eating an early dinner with some freshly made pasta at Trattoria Romano Zero Sei – make reservations if possible as it books up quickly. Along with the delicious food, we got to pick out our own bottle of wine from the cellar. They told us about their sister restaurant, Sotto Pizzeria, which had been on our list for the best pizza in town. We called to make reservations for another night and said they were fully booked for the rest of the weekend, but could squeeze us in for dinner tonight….so we may have decided to have a second dinner later that evening! It was so good, we convinced them to squeeze us in for reservations on our last night in town 😂 Afterwards, we stumbled upon this small artist studio with this eccentric artist, Winston Hassall, painting beautiful art while smoking up a chimney in his studio. We fell in love with this one of his original paintings, but unfortunately, that one wasn’t for sale. Winston, call us if you ever change your mind!
Friday morning we woke up early and got ready for our big adventure day – a boat trip over to the islands of Gozo and Comino. It was a beautiful day to be out on the water and we spent the hour ride soaking up the sun. We arrived in Gozo and the concierge at our hotel arranged a Jeep ride around the island. We checked out the various spots around the island and stopped at a few viewpoints before stopping in the town of Victoria to see the Citadella, a fortress from 1500 BC. We ate lunch at The Grapes Wine Bar in this adorable square before we made our way back to the port. We hopped back on the boat for a short ride over to Comino where the Blue Lagoon is located. We laid out for a bit and enjoyed the crystal clear water. While it was beautiful, because of the unusually hot weather, it was insanely busy with other boats – it would have been great to have more time there to explore off the beaten path. That evening we stayed around the area by our hotel, Saint Julian’s, which is known for its nightlife. We decided to check out the casino near our hotel and won a bit of money 💰playing blackjack and roulette (thanks to our family for having lucky number birthdays).
Our final day in town, we rented a scooter to explore the various parts of the island. Caution! It’s a bit stressful to rent a scooter in Malta as there are certain parts of the island that are only accessible by a highway, which is a bit nerve-wracking as you’re navigating through tunnels on a tiny scooter! Our first stop was Mdina, another fortified city surrounded by walls and once served as the capital of Malta. No cars are allowed and it’s often called the Silent City.
We then headed over to Dingli Cliffs, while it was a bit hazy, it was a beautiful ride along the coast as we appreciated the beauty of the cliffs. We made our way south to stop at the Blue Grotto, these crystal clear picturesque caves. You can only access the caves via boat and the rough seas had cancelled all trips out that afternoon. We continued our ride around the island and drove over to Marsaxlokk, a traditional fishing village known for its fresh market. We ate lunch by the water and enjoyed checking out the colorful boats. Our final stop of the day was to check out the 3 cities – Birgu, Senglea, and Cospicua. These three neighboring towns House a lot of the Maltese population. It was pretty surreal scootering up through the city gate and riding along the marina. The architecture of this island is absolutely breathtaking. We stopped at the Gardjala Gardens on Senglea to enjoy the views overlooking Valletta. Afterwards, we enjoyed some coffee and walked around the marina on Birgu.
We decided to head back to the hotel so we could make it before dark. We arrived safely to our hotel and then realized we should fill up the tank of gas so headed back out to find a nearby gas station. Unfortunately, as we were trying to maneuver an awkward u-turn, we didn’t make the turn and ended up having a wee accident. Fortunately, we were both mosty fine, but Cole was scrapped up pretty badly as he was wearing shorts. My white pants protected me from most injuries but you can imagine what they looked like from making direct contact with the road. We abandoned our trek to the gas station and decided to call our scooter ride over. We washed up and enjoyed some appetizers and drinks in the hotel’s beautiful club lounge. We then took a safer mode of transportation, a taxi, back to our favorite part of Malta, the old town of Valletta. We went back to our pizza place, where our waitress from the other night welcomed us back with a hug. After dinner, we grabbed drinks at a couple of the bars that spill onto the cobblestone streets before finding this amazing gin bar called Yard 32 Gin & Tapas Bar, which had a local singer covering some of our favorite songs. We sat there for hours enjoying gin and sodas and the live music. After midnight, the police came by to ask the singer to stop performing, and we figured that was our cue to call it a night.
Unfortunately, all we had time to do on Sunday was head to the airport. We breezed through security and we were pleasantly surprised to find an incredibly nice lounge at the Malta airport. It even had an outdoor lounge overlooking the runway. We enjoyed a few coffees before heading back home to London!