Winter tends to be a bit of a depressing period: you wake up and it’s dark, you go home and it’s dark…A little holiday in a sunnier country was necessary to cheer up at the end of 2017. After checking possible destinations, we settle for Malta which we had never traveled to, and more precisely Valletta, the capital of this small Mediterranean island.
A very distinctive trait of this walled/fortress city is its architecture that dates back to 1500 when it was created by the Knights of St. John. Walking the streets of Valletta is like visiting an open air museum, there will always be a building, a church or a bastion to look at that reflects the rich heritage of this city. Another aspect that is not to be missed is that the island is small so you can very easily visit it and enjoy crystal clear water wherever you go…In short; the decision was quickly made after considering all this.
Malta is surprisingly cheap to travel to, the flight ticket only cost 37,5€ per person for a round trip. It will take you about 2h30 to get there from Brussels. The airport is located close to the airport and the taxi service is just amazing! It is located at the exit of the airport, costs 17€ for a trip to Valletta, and all you need to do is say where you are going and how many people are with you. In about 3 minutes, your taxi is there and ready to drive insanely fast to get you to your hotel.
In terms of accommodations, Valletta has a lot to offer. Hotels, B&Bs, AirBnBs are plenty and for all budgets. We chose to reserve a boutique hotel on Booking.com because the location was ideal and the price very attractive for 5 nights: Jean de Vallette Boutique Living Hotel. I can definitely
recommend this hotel for its cleanliness, the amazing service, the location and design of the rooms. I was really surprised with the price/quality ratio!
After a good night sleep, we were ready to go explore the city and taste a few specialties we had read about. Hunting breakfast was easy enough, you can find small shops everywhere selling pastries: croissant, stuffed pies (chicken mushroom, spinach ricotta, tuna,...), cakes, etc. Just grab something, drink a coffee, and wander the streets but beware…Everything is quite fatty!
What to do in Malta:
Visit Valletta: this can be done in a day I think. The city is very easy to explore because of its topography. A few highlights include the Barrakka Gardens, the many churches and the general architecture of the buildings, the Fort, the Triton Fountain, the Harbour,etc.
Take the ferry to Sliema & the 3 cities: Taking the Ferry is inexpensive and will get you great shots of Valletta from the sea. On top of that, you will discover 3 lovely cities (Birgu, Cospicua, Senglea) and their charming harbors and picturesque streets. Taking the ferry costs 2.8€ for a round trip.
Take the Hop on Hop off bus: you will discover the island at a very interesting price and learn a bit of history along the way. What I really appreciated about this tour is that I got to see a lot of aspects of Malta and decide what I really wanted to see into more details/what I wanted to skip.
Enjoy the beach: if you are coming to Malta during Spring/Summer time, visiting a beach is a must! Even though I visited Malta during winter, I could tell that the sea is crystal clear! I will definitely come and spend a weekend in August/September to enjoy them!
Visit Mdina: this fortified ancient city is a sight to see for its beauty and quietness. It is the old capital and a must in your itinerary.
Caves: There are many caves in Malta, not just Blue Grotto, that are really beautiful for nature lovers. If you don’t like crowded spots and don’t care about missing a movie setting then rent a boat and sail along the coasts, you will definitely enjoy it!
The nightlife: I have never seen so many cameras than in Valletta so I think it is quite safe, at least that is how I felt. There are many really good restaurants like La Pira or Nenu and a bunch of cool bars to enjoy drinks and have fun at night. Don’t miss it!
Where to eat in Valletta:
La Pira: a small but lovely Maltese restaurant owned by a family. The food is really good and typical. You will definitely taste the influence from Italy!
Nenu: a bigger restaurant but also typical serving a selection of Maltese specialties. We went there a few times and were never disappointed. It is a little more expensive than La Pira.
The submarine: if you want to grab a bite for lunch, the Submarine is a good plan. You can compose your sandwich from A to Z for a cheap price. Everything is made to order and fresh.
Yard 32 Gin and Tapas: the hang out for tapas and gin lovers! Enjoy a few drinks at night and chill…
Cafe Cordina: the oldest cafe of Valletta and probably one of the nicest looking. Cakes are ok but I would go more for the building^^