Malta: A Small Country with a Big Heart
Bongu! Hello! We hope you are well!
Welcome to this week’s travel Tuesday, which, like last time, is also on an island (technically, islands), but one with a climate we think you might appreciate if you’re after catching some sun.
With a Mediterranean climate and an incredibly diverse history that has resulted in some of the most spectacular UNESCO sites to visit, Malta might very well be the next holiday destination for you.
Let’s take a look!
A brief glimpse
Malta, officially known as The Republic Of Malta, is a group of three archipelago islands in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, south of Italy, east of Tunisia and north of Libya. The population is small at 450,000, yet given the size of the islands Malta is viewed as one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Its capital city Valletta is the smallest of all European capitals, at at tiny 0.8 km2.
88% of the inhabitants of Malta speak English, but that shouldn’t excuse you from learning a little Maltese for yourself. It is a Semitic language derived from Siculo-Arabic, however a lot of the vocabulary of Malta actually derives from Sicilian and Italian. That means there are a lot of loanwords in use that you are probably already very familiar.
An archaeological dig at the Skorba Temples found pottery that points to Malta being first settled around 5200 BCE by Stone Age hunters or farmers arriving from Sicily. Further archaeological discoveries attribute the extinction of dwarf hippos and dwarf elephants on the island to human activity, and archaeologists are continually turning up evidence of animal sacrifice all over the islands, pointing to an interesting and varied history.
On to more pleasant things….
For those of you who aren’t all Indiana Jones-ing for bones, here are some other things for you to occupy yourselves with. Starting with the natural landscape of Malta: the Valletta ferry services will give you an excellent, laid-back view of the islands should you not feel like wandering around yourself on foot. Dwerja Bay, Xlendi Beach, Cliff and Caves, and the Azure Window are just as exotic as they sound; they are definitely worth giving a try. If you want something green but more man made you will be spoilt for choice with the gardens - we like the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens, full of beautifully maintained flower beds and well kept paths for you to dawdle along (as well as the odd park bench for you to sit on and watch the world go by from).
For culture and history, it is difficult to suggest where to start. Religion? The Hagar Qim Temples, The Parish Church of Mellieha and Church of Saint Paul's Shipwreck are excellent starting points. History? The Hypogeum museum, which is a UNESCO site, and the National War Museum should satisfy your interest. Architecture? Mdina Old City, the Valletta Waterfront and the Metropolitan Cathedral will give you ample views to keep your cameras busy.
Of course, any Game Of Thrones fan will know that a good amount of filming have been done in Malta, including at the Azure Window mentioned above. Why not map your own favourite locations on a tour around the islands?
If that still isn’t enough for you, Malta is an incredible location for diving, with reefs, caves and wrecks for you to explore. There are numerous diving courses and activities to be found by licensed professionals: diving depths can vary (12m dive at Għar Lapsi to Lantern Point, and down to 50m in the underwater tunnel there) so please ensure you only go with someone who knows what they are doing!
We are! So how about finding somewhere good to eat? Bouquet Garni will serve you seafood, the Fork & Cork makes us salivate just reading the menu, and The Mad Hatter Bar & Grill will satisfy any burger craving you may have. If you need something more familiar there is always a Hard Rock Cafe you can go to, however we would suggest the Piadina Caffe if you are looking for altogether a little more Italian. Another place to consider is, Dick’s Bar & Cafe a place popular with both locals and travellers looking for delicious breakfast or a gentle way to turn an afternoon sipping coffee into an evening out.
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On to the evening…
Lounge bars are very popular in Malta at the moment, Twenty-Two, Soho Lounge and the Penny Black Wine Bar are some of the favourites available to keep you well served with food and drink all night long.
Simon's The Elvis Tribute Bar is something of a novelty; we are sure you can guess what the theme there is. Another interesting destination is The Jack of All Trades, which is part bar, part club, and comes highly recommended, with amazing staff to keep you entertained should your own company be lacking!
Sky Club is one of the go-to nightclubs of Malta: going inside leaves you feeling very much like you are in your very own mansion party. La Grotta calls itself a ‘disco club’, and if you can’t find it you will hardly be disappointed by the view trying to get there, because it is absolutely stunning. Lastly, Gianpula Village is one of the most popular nightlife places to visit - as well as being a regular lounge bar and club, Gianpula Fields is where you will find Malta’s largest open air concert venue.
We don’t know about you, but we are well and truly ready to give Malta a visit; maybe we’ll see you on the dancefloor at one of the many clubs! See you there!