BLUE SKIES AND TURQUOISE SEAS: A long weekend in Malta

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Malta has been on our list for ages, but we always thought it was best to go with plenty of time to see everything. So an extended Easter break was the perfect occasion!

We arrived at Malta airport and went straight to Gozo: we took bus X1 from the airport to the ferry terminal (takes 1h15) and then the ferry. It was a nice sunny day, so we got lovely views along the way.

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The ferry itself was quite impressive, with shops and bars inside (apparently this is not unusual but I have limited experience with ferries).

We dropped our bags at the hotel and went off exploring. Our hotel was right at the port at Mgarr, so we decided to walk to Victoria.

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This was quite a long walk, and it being Easter Friday, everything was shut. We stopped at Xewkija to check out the Rotunda, an impressive church which can be seen all over the island. Right next door there was a little local bar where we stopped for a beer and chips (3.50€ for two beers and chips – unbelievable!).

We continued on to Victoria where we had dinner at Cafe Jubilee in the main square, then watched some of the Easter procession go by before getting on a bus back to the hotel.

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We started our second day heading straight to Dwejra, where many of Gozo’s highlights are. We spent a couple of hours walking around and taking amazing photos of the Azure Window, Fungus Rock and the inland sea. You can also get great views from the Tower.

We had drinks at the Azure Window Restaurant while we waited for the bus back to Victoria.

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In the afternoon we went to Xaghra, a town where the main attraction are the Ġgantija megalithic temples. There are some other sights around, but most of them aren’t worth the visit.

We got back to Victoria in time to explore the impressive Citadel, which has great views over the countryside. Our final stop of the day was Palazzo Antonin, where we had a hearty dinner before heading back to the hotel.

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On our last day in Gozo we decided to get a boat to nearby Comino island (15€ return per person). The big draw there is the Blue Lagoon, a shallow pool in the bay with impossibly turquoise waters. It was a bit too cold for swimming, but with such an amazing view we had to jump in for a little bit.

We then walked towards Comino Tower, with awesome views over the deep blue sea and nearby caves. This tower served as Château d’If for the movie The Count of Monte Cristo.

Comino is quite small so you only need a few hours to explore. We hopped on a (very fast) boat back to Gozo where we got in just in time for lunch at Veranda, a nice place by the harbour with great food but slightly scatty service. Lunch for two including drinks for 32.60€.

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It was a nice summer day, so we spent some time by the hotel pool even though the water was too cold for swimming.

In the evening we had dinner at Il Bancinu, a pizza place by the harbour which seemed to cater mostly to locals (dinner for two including drinks and tip for 18€). We then went to Monkey’s Fists for a nightcap (drinks for 2€!) – this was a lovely place that really should have had more customers than just the two of us!

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Our last day in Malta was spent on the main island. We reached Valletta and explored the nice pedestrianised streets of the city centre. It was another bright sunny day, so we stopped for a perfect gelato at Amorino, where they serve ice cream in perfect petals of as many flavours as you want.

We stopped for lunch at Soul Food, a nice little restaurant with plenty of veggie options (lunch for two including drinks and tip for 37€).

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We then took the ferry to Sliema, where we were staying for the night. We chilled in our nice hotel before going for dinner at the promenade. We chose Cafe Sicilia, an Italian place which was quite busy and it was a nice end for our trip!

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HOW TO DO IT:

  • When to go: we went for the Easter break, which was off season. Days were warm but not too hot and evenings brought a nice breeze. It was a bit too cold to swim in the sea, but on the plus side everything was super cheap!
  • Transportation: you need to take a lot of buses to get around Malta, but the system is reliable and easy to navigate. A bus ticket costs 1.50€ for two hours, but there are also day passes which offer discounts.
  • Food: eating in Malta is not completely seamless. There is a strong Italian influence, but veggie dishes tend to always be the same. The local ravioli with Maltese cheese and tomato sauce was delicious and became my staple. Vegans struggle. Another thing to be aware of is that most restaurants close between 3 an 6, so we were turned down a few times as our holiday pace didn’t work with local timings.
  • Where to stay: everyone I know suggested we stayed in Gozo for most of our trip, so we did. We took advantage of the great prices and booked ourselves onto the Grand Hotel, an old-fashioned four-star hotel that has great views over the harbour (we paid only £32 per night including a great breakfast buffet). We spent one night in Sliema, which is not too far from Valletta – again we found a good deal and stayed at the Palace, a five-star hotel with an impressive rooftop swimming pool (we paid £56 for one night, room only). There are lots of options for accommodation, so the best thing is to choose which area to stay and go from there.
  • Day trips and excursions: We only took one trip, the ferry to Comino (15€ return), but there are lots of different cruises and excursions around the islands of Malta. Some include guide and food, and others are transportation only. These can be arranged at hotels and harbours quite easily, and tend to be very affordable.

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