During the Autumn break, we spent a week in Malta. I was longing for warmth, sea baths, and the Mediterranean where I come from. Most of all, I needed to recharge my batteries after our first weeks in England. A change of life, especially as a family, is not so easy! Also, for Ticoeur and Titpuce, who started English school, the holidays were a very appreciated break to relax and enjoy our family cocoon…
The reason why we chose Malta is because there are not many destinations from our part of Southern England. But this option suited us perfectly. We had already travelled there twice – so it was the perfect occasion to discover some new things, but also to go back to the places that we loved. I don’t know how you feel about it, but, as for me, I enjoy to visit again a place that I loved. I am delighted to travel and discover new countries as much as I am enchanted to go back to places where I feel good. In Malta, I love the cultural aspect, the beautiful architecture of the old cities, the Mediterranean landscape, the stone walls that border the roads, the prickly pear trees, the Italian influenced cooking, the small ladders almost everywhere, that invite you to go down for a bath, and above all, I love it when Summer lasts until Autumn… That’s it: I needed Summer, bathing and culture !
What did we visit during our week in Malta?
- The island of Gozo: our biggest crush of this Maltese trip… I already told you all about it in my blog post three days on Gozo.
- Ghain Tuffieha beach: for us, it’s the most beautiful beach on Malta. The sand has a beautiful orange shade, the setting is quite wild, the water is not too deep but there are waves: my Ticoeur loved it! We spent an afternoon there, until sunset. It’s a perfect spot for sunset because it’s on the western part. (NB: there were little harmless pink jellyfishes – I don’t know, maybe it’s a matter of season?)
I take this opportunity to warn you that there are not so many beaches on Malta. There are many opportunities to bathe, yes, but not necessarily big beaches. Maltese inhabitants set up ladders along the rocky coasts, or they created natural pools like on this picture:
- The towers of Maltese knights: everywhere on the Island of Malta, you will find remains of the towers that enabled to control and protect the island. Our favourite one is the Saint-Agatha Tower, the only red one…
- Mdina: it’s the ancient city, it’s a journey into the past, it’s getting lost in the maze formed by the alleys of the citadel…
- In Rabat, alongside, we visited the catacombs. I don’t really know why but I am fascinated by the catacombs – I never miss an opportunity to visit some whenever it’s possible (you have to visit those of Palermo in Sicily!). Let’s say it gives another perspective of the culture of a nation. I thought that Rabat catacombs were interesting because of their structure and their number. The visit is a little bit repetitive because the galleries look alike, but you should see it, and the kids were intrigued.
- Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples: I hesitated to go there because you have to know that those temples are located under sheds, so that they are protected from the wind and the sea… And, visually, it takes off a lot of the character of the place… But we overlooked this fact, I reframed the pictures (😉…) and we experienced this. The remains are from the IVth century BC! I was seduced by those sometimes enigmatic buidlings: the children as well, so no regret. Moreover, it’s not an expensive visit so you should go!
- Valleta and the Three Cities: it’s the third time we are going there and we still love it, especially Birgu, the prettiest of the Three Cities, with its fort, and the Collachio area in which we can stroll far from any bustle. In Valletta, we didn’t visit the famous St John’s Co-Cathedral because we already did it the last time (and the entrance fee is expensive), but you should see it if you’re coming for the first time. This time, we focused on the gardens and the café terraces and it was perfect 😊 Between Valletta and Birgu we travelled by boat.
We also dropped by Sliema (by boat) to admire Valletta from the other side and to see again some salt works. But you have to remember to watch the sea, and ignore the concrete buildings of this seaside resort.
- Marsaxlokk: our first time in this fishermen town with photogenic boats (the luzzus). Look: they have eyes! And one of them even had soft toys! This little town is ideal for a terraced lunch on the waterfront.
- St Peter’s Pool: a spot you mustn’t miss right next to Marsaxlokk. I love this kind of coves with turquoise water. It’s not adapted for young children, nor for people who don’t know how to swim. It’s a place where people go to jump or dive into the big blue sea. With Ticoeur, we had fun, but we had to reassure Titpuce who was afraid to see us disappear in the gap, even though it was not so high…
Practical information to visit Malta:
- Which season? The first thing I want to insist on is that, for me, it’s a destination you should avoid in Summer (I forewarned you). Not only is it too hot, but also it’s overcrowded and there are traffic jams. That’s what the local people told us but I believe them because the island is not adapted to an important road traffic, and there are not so many beaches. That’s why, for me, it’s not an option. I went there once in January and twice in October and it was very good. Spring must be perfect as well. Concerning the temperature, this time we had 25° outside and 24° in the water. So we could bathe (although, there’s no guarantee of course…)
- Where to stay? We had chosen 3 places to stay: 3 nights on Gozo, 2 nights in Mellieha (in this simple yet clean and spacious apartment) to visit the North of Malta and 2 nights in Birgu (in the very neat Casa Cara, an old and typical mansion – Be careful : you cannot climb on the terrace with the children) to visit the Capital and the South of the Island.
On the picture below, Melliha downtown seems so peaceful in the first light of the morning, doesn’t it? Yet, on that night, our sleep was interrupted by… an earthquake! The epicenter was off the Greece coast. It’s the first time that it happens to us and we are glad we only experienced a small version! The children didn’t feel a thing. Happy little carefree angels…
- The English side: The British past of Malta makes it easy to communicate in English with everyone (English is the official language). On the other hand, it also means that you have to drive on the left part of the road… Stay focused in the roundabouts, but otherwise, it’s easy, you’ll see! Obviously, for us, after two months in England, we are already trained 😊
Our good addresses in Malta
We ate well in Malta. The cooking is influenced by the Italian cooking, and it’s for the best! Moreover, the kids like it! Seafood and pasta are in the spotlight!
Cafés and Restaurants in Malta:
- Crystal Palace: an institution in Rabat for quick eating the famous pastizzis (some sort of turnovers stuffed with green peas, or cheese, or chicken); it’s a Maltese specialty that allow you to eat cheap for lunch. You’ll find pastizzis everywhere on the island, but it’s true that the ones we ate there were particularly good, and warm, just out of the oven.
- Fior di Latte, ice cream maker in Mdina: yummy! You’d think you were in Italy!
- Café Society: for very good cocktails to taste in a very typical street in Valletta.
- Osteria.VE: a little trattoria held by Italians. Pasta dishes are delicious. We ate there on our two evenings in Birgu.
- La Reggia: very enjoyable terrace facing the fishermen’s boats in Marsaxlokk – the seafood cooking was very fine but less generous and a little more expensive than other restaurants of our list.
- Bouquet Garni: Excellent choice of fishes – a little expensive but the quality is there.
- Our good addresses on Gozo are in my Gozo blog post 🙂
So? Are you tempted by holidays in Malta?