Since returning from a week solo overseas in Malta, I can’t stop gushing about the country. Commonly referred to as the Pearl of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is highly underrated as a European destination by many, whether it be from not knowing where Malta is on the map, or lack of knowledge as to what there is to do and see there. It’s unfortunate because Malta is chalk full of wonderful beauty, both in its scenery and people. With hot and dry summers, humid spring weather and cooler, yet mild winters, anytime of year is a good time to visit Malta!
For those of you that may not know where Malta is, or what their history is, here’s the breakdown…
Malta is a southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisia, and north of Libya, so you can bet your dollar, or Euro that you’ll be immersed in a melting pot of cultures. It’s been under many different rulings over the years. It’s had its Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Spanish, French and British ruling eras, which have left noticeable influences within the streets, architecture and countryside. During WWII, Malta became the most heavily bombed place on earth…6700 tonnes of bombs fell in just a short six week period. Malta has definitely been through some rough patches over the years, but now, it is a country with a capital city that is being honoured as the 2018 European Capital of Culture and well deserved, of course!
My first impressions of Malta were positive straight from the time I picked up my luggage after landing. A smiling airport staff member asked if I would like to book a shuttle to my hotel, which I immediately said yes to, since I had been travelling for about 13 hours. The booking of the shuttle and trip to my hotel was seamless and convenient. As we drove through the tiny, compact streets of the cities, I just looked out the window in awe. It felt like I had been transported back in time. Sandstone buildings dominated the streets with colourful exposed wooden balconies that popped in the bright sunlight. Malta is a small country, but it also has the highest densities in population in Europe. As cars zipped by each other, I couldn’t help but wonder how they make it down such tiny streets, which would be considered alleyways back home.
Read more: The colourful wooden balconies of Malta
The main island of Malta is the more bustling of the three, with its more cosmopolitan areas filled with luxury seaside condos and apartments, whereas the islands of Gozo and Comino are more laid-back and have much more greenery. I stayed in Sliema, which is an area known for high rise condos, party and shopping areas. During high season, it’s an area where a lot of tourists flock to, but fortunately, I was travelling during off season, so it was perfectly calm for exploring the streets without hoards of people around. Sliema also has an amazing seaside promenade that spans for about 5kms into the neighbouring cities of St. Julian’s, Paceville and St. George’s Bay and makes for a great evening stroll after indulging in a large feast.
The capital, Valletta, built by the Knights of St John, is a city built on a grid system and is only about a square kilometre in size. Don’t let its small size fool you. Valletta has massive appeal once you start exploring the streets and the inner parts that is surrounded by a massive wall and bastions. A lot of the streets are entirely made up of stairs, which adds to the charm of the Renaissance streets. When UNESCO named Valletta a World Heritage Site, they described it as “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world” and rightfully so. It is jam packed with history spanning back as far as the 16th century.
Malta is packed with history and interesting corners, but at the same time, it’s so incredibly easy-going and relaxing. There are a ton of activities and excursions to do and a lot of them, you guessed it, are inspired by the sea surrounding the country. Everything from boat trips to windsurfing, there’s something for everyone. You can experience gorgeous, colourful towns, bright turquoise waters, incredibly friendly people and jaw dropping views all within a few metres of anywhere you find yourself in the country. Perfect!
Read more: The quirky and beautiful doors of Malta
I hope to inspire people to visit Malta and appreciate the history that this country has to offer. It has so much culture and beauty to enrich its visitors and to make an impact with them enough to make them want to return for years to come. I fell in love with Malta, and over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be writing a bunch of posts about all the towns I visited, how to get around the country and what you need to see and do, including a really cool excursion on Gozo.
Have you guys been to Malta? If not, why have you left it off your Euro Trip itineraries? Would it be some place you’d check out? Let me know in the comments below! xo