A Week in Malta
Chantelle and I were very lucky to be able to escape for a week in 2020 and travel to the very beautiful country of Malta.
It was a very last minute booking so we had no time to research and to be honest neither of us knew a lot about the country. Malta is fabulous and we can’t recommend it enough.
There are so many beautiful places to see and we were very lucky that although we went in July. It was really quiet due to the dreaded Covid stopping people from travelling. At the time we went, you could travel to Malta and not have to self-isolate on return to England, although this changed very soon after we returned.
We stayed at The Intercontinental Hotel at St George’s Bay in St Julian’s. This was a lovely treat arranged for us by Paul. It’s a massive hotel, the room was lovely and all the staff were really friendly and helpful.
It is close to some very lively and loud bars, but we found a lovely quiet wine bar close by that we preferred. The hotel has its own private beach, which is just a five minute walk down the road and a roof top infinity pool.
The private beach is great and we loved it. The sun beds are free, although the main beach wasn’t crowded as it would normally be at this time of year. There are some lovely bakeries near the hotel, which we frequented most mornings!
A Little Bit About Malta
The Republic of Malta is a small country in the centre of the Mediterranean. It is south of Sicily and consists of three inhabited islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino.
Malta was considered being of great strategical importance as a naval base, as recently as World War 2 and there are traces everywhere of the various cultures that have ruled the island.
It has a very rich history and over the centuries has been ruled by many different influences, including the Greeks, Romans, the British. All have left traces of their presence.
Maltese is the official language but the vast majority of Maltese people speak English very well (it is actually one of the country’s official languages). There is also a big Italian presence with being so close to Italy and for many centuries, ftom the middle ages until 1934, Italian was the official language of Malta.
The climate is characterised by hot and dry summers and mild winters with little rainfall. The average temperatures in July and August are 32 degrees C.
One thing we would definitely advise is to book a car for 3 days to travel around and see the sights. We caught the bus on our days out and although it was cheap and easy to use, the journeys took a long time! On our final day out we actually got a taxi back as we just couldn’t face another long bus journey. It would have taken an hour on the bus but only took 15 minutes in the taxi.
Having a car for 3 days would have been enough for us to see all we wanted to see, and would have saved a lot of time sitting on crowded buses!
Something that we wouldn’t do again is go on a boat trip! We booked one to Gozo and Comino. Although we enjoyed it, it was very expensive and we didn’t get long in Gozo. We would have preferred to take the ferry to visit Gozo on our own, have a look round and maybe even stop the night.
Monday – Beach Day
Our first day was spent having a little wander around the area and then on the beach.
In the evening we went to a local traditional Maltese restaurant called Gozitan. We had bread with sun dried tomato butter and tomato paste, and fish cakes to share for starter, I had pan fried rabbit and chan had suckling pig! Chan definitely picked the best meal, although my rabbit was good, I did prefer the pig! There was enough to feed us both as well!
For dessert they made us a nice traditional pudding of fig ice cream, pastry like a mince pie and some cookie dough.
It was a very chilled and relaxed first day and we got talked into booking a boat trip to Gozo and Comino.
Tuesday – Valletta and Marsaxlokk
Our day started with yoga and we then caught the bus to Valletta. Valetta is the capital fortress city of Malta and the best way to explore it is on foot.
You definitely need at least a full day to explore as there is so much to see. We had the best ice coffee ever that had coffee ice cream on top – at Roll and Chill.
St Johns Co-Cathedral is dedicated to John the Baptist and was amazing. The interactive audio guide was really good.
Wandering around Valletta we found a red telephone and post box and wandered through some little fountains.
We saw The Pub that Oliver Read died in during the filming of Gladiator. A good recommendation is to make sure you take a hot and drink plenty of water as it is so hot and we decided to sit and have a couple of beers by the sea.
Our next stop was the Upper Barrakka Gardens where there are fabulous views of the Grand Harbour.
Below the main terrace and garden is the Saluting Battery, where a cannon once fired salutes to visiting naval vessels. The battery has now been restored and every day at 12pm and 4pm, a cannon is fired with great ceremony. This was definitely worth seeing.
Another bus ride took us to a little fishing village called Marsaxlokk where we sat and watched the boats coming in before we had dinner.
Our meal tonight was at a restaurant called Carrubia, where we had bruschetta and anti pasti to share. Chan had spaghetti vongolli and I had sea bass. After catching the bus back to the hotel, we had a shower and chilled with a beer then went to the wine bar called White just down the road from the hotel.
This is only a small place but the wine and the conversation was top notch. The owner as well as the other guests were so friendly and it became our favourite nightcap destination.
Wednesday – Boat Trip
An open top bus took us to Valetta to board the boat to Gozo.
The boat dropped us off at Gozo for 75 minutes and we walked up to the Citadel, followed by lunch at Cafe Royal. As soon as you get off the bus you will be offered a train ride up to the Citadel. We decided to give this a miss and walk up and we were glad we did. Although it is steep, it’s really not that far and we walked up it fine.
The cruise continued to Comino and the Blue Lagoon where we went swimming before a long boat trip back to Valetta and the bus back to St Juliens.
Dinner tonight was at The Avenue and was delicious – we both had pizza and a couple of glasses of wine. The Avenue was recommended by the Tour Boat operator as a cheap option frequented by the locals and it did not disappoint.
Thursday – Beach Day
More pastries to start to the day but we had earned them after another yoga session. Chan had another chocolate croissant and I had my favourite, a ricotta pastizzi at our favourite bakery on the way to the beach – so yummy.
Lunch was left over pizza from last night, followed by cocktails on the beach. I had Sex on the Beach and Chan had a Pina Colada.
After a stroll back to the hotel for a shower and to get ready, we played rummy on the balcony with a beer and then went out to Storie and Sapori for dinner. We had deep fried mozzarella to share for starter. I had Caesar salad and Chan had calamari, all accompanied by a lovely bottle of white wine. They also gave us a couple of meloncello shots which were delicious.
The staff at Storie and Sapori were so friendly and we had a really lovely time. Chan did wish she had ordered the seafood spaghetti though, after eyeing it up on the next table.
Friday – Mdina
Following a relaxed morning on the beach, and our usual breakfast from the bakery, we went to Mdina on the bus. Mdina, also known as Malta’s ‘Silent City’, sits on top of a hill and overlooks many of the neighbouring towns.
It is a small fortified city, with an eclectic mix of medieval and baroque architecture lining the very quaint narrow streets. This city used to be inhabited by noble families and many of the residences have ben passed down through the generations, and still associated with the more wealthy.
Mdina is called the ‘Silent City’ because of its quiet streets and strict restrictions regarding vehicles. It really is like stepping back in time and is so beautiful. If you visit Malta you really must go to Mdina.
St Paul’s Cathedral was built in the 17th century and is absolutely amazing.
Whilst still in Mdina we had dinner at Coogi. Chan had black ravioli and I had white lasagna accompanied by a jug of sangria. This was one of the best meals we had. If you want a seat with a view over the fortress then be sure to book, but we loved it in the courtyard – cute birds and quirky fountains.
Couldn’t resist our favourite wine bar this evening and we met and had a lovely chat with 3 guys, who were Dutch and Belgian, but live here in Malta. The rules appeared to be tightening up this evening and the owner told us that although there had hardly been any cases of Covid in Malta, unfortunately some had had a party and all of a sudden the numbers were quickly going up.
Saturday – Blue Grotto and Ghar Lapsi
What an absolutely fabulous day. This is another place you really must visit if you go to Malta. It really is truly spectacular and you must go on the little boat trip into the lagoon. It is probably the highlight of the trip, and if you have to pick between the Blue Lagoon or here, pick this – you won’t regret it.
The bus had dropped us off at the bottom of the hill so we walked back up to see the view of the Grotto and it was well worth the climb. I think we could have got off the bus here but we didn’t realise! After taking hundreds of photos we walked back down to go on the boat trip, which was amazing.
Although we caught the bus, by the time we got to the Blue Grotto we really couldn’t face another bus to take us to Ghar Lapsi and then back to the hotel so we opted for the taxi. Like I said before, I really highly recommend booking a car for 3 days – that is definitely what we would do if we returned – which we really want to!
At Ghar Lapsi we went to a very plain looking restaurant (recommended by our friends at the wine bar) called Ta’Rita Lapsi View. It may not look fancy from the outside and its really quite plain inside but the food is so delicious. We had toasted ftira – chicken Caesar & grana cheese and parma ham and grant cheese – heaven!
As we got a taxi back to the hotel we had more time to play rummy and drink beer on the balcony before going for our last meal out.
The restaurant tonight, which was called San Giuliano, was recommended one of the guys we met at the wine bar. It was fabulous, it overlooks the harbour and has amazing food with fabulous staff to look after you.
Chan had sea bass baked in salt followed by chocolate fondant and I had fillet steak in cognac sauce with a lovely bottle of Pinot Grigio. Everything was just delicious.
It was quite late by the time we finished so we had a little walk and got a taxi back to the hotel.
Sunday – Last Day
Our day started with our usual yoga session, which I have absolutely loved doing.
The hotel let us keep the room till 1.30 so we had a shower and changed and went to the pool bar to have a last drink. To be honest, this was the first time we had been to the pool!
Our favourite place is the beach, especially when it’s a private one and you don’t have to pay for the sunbed! The pool area looked really good, just too many children for us though as we like to chill and read our books in peace.
This was such an amazing holiday. Malta is fabulous and full of so much history. We would both definitely go back in a heartbeat and thoroughly recommend it.
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Links to Hotel and Restaurants
Roll & Chill in Valletta – no website, but they are on Facebook & Instagram
Carrubia at Marsaxlokk – no website