Unfortunately my Maltese adventure is coming to an end tomorrow, but I had to share my most memorable experiences from the trip. Traveling through Malta, Gozo and Comino taught me how difficult it will be to depart this inspirational, ancient wonderland. There is truly something for everyone here, whether you seek world-class cuisine, jaw dropping natural beauty, the thrill of rediscovering millennia of history, or just a quiet place to escape the daily grind back home. Although every day has been adventure all its own, here are my top 11 things to see and do in Malta:
Hal Salfieni Hypogeum
Talk about history coming alive! The oldest part of this sub-ground cavity dates back over 6,000 years. It is an extraordinary cavernous temple built entirely out of limestone. Those who built it had no metal tools to speak of and still managed to create a magnificent place to lay their dead and practice rituals that have been lost in time. Thankfully the hypogeum has not been lost. Its microclimate is being painstakingly conserved so that future generations can experience how prehistoric people, who most likely arrived in Malta from nearby Sicily, lived and worshipped. Reservations must be made a minimum of 15 days prior.
Watch our episode on the Megalithic Temples of Malta and Gozo
Valletta by night
Of all the things to se and do in Malta, Valletta is a must! Valletta is the bustling capital of Malta. It is packed with architectural appeal and a gorgeous waterfront. By night, hundreds of international tourists and locals alike come out to play under the stars. The nearby St. Julian’s area is especially fun, with dozens of restaurants and pubs to entertain you. No matter where you decided to stop, the iconic and colorful Maltese fishing boats are never docked too far away. They create a gorgeous backdrop for your night out on the town.
For 10 Euros you can tour Malta’s Grand Harbor on an authentic regatta boat. I boarded one in Birgu and got to snap to-die-for photographs during the scenic half-hour ride. It’s a great way to orient yourself on the location of Malta’s towns in relation to Valletta. Malta from the water is an experience you won’t forget.
Marsaxlokk Fishing Village
Since prehistory it seems people have found the small port of Marsaxlokk irresistible. This picturesque village is popular because of its simple beauty and availability of fresh fish. Stop by on a Sunday to experience the market, where there is no shortage of trinkets and souvenirs. Also stop by one of the waterside restaurants for the daily catch and a cold Cisk Beer.
Learn a new recipe at Nenu the Artesan Baker on St. Domenec street in Valletta. This historic restaurant/bakery specializes in ftira, or Maltese pizza. Pick your ingredients and get completely hands-on with your own ftira. Taste your creation hot and fresh from the antique coal oven.
Visit Valletta Glass at Ta Qali Artesan Village in Malta. Watch master glass blowers create works of art out of flaming hot blobs of melted sand. The factory attracts hundreds of people a year with its welcoming atmosphere and breath-taking glass products. I was able to film the process from start to finish and purchased a hand-blown turtle that I now warmly refer to as “Malti.”
Comino day trip: Head to Mgarr harbor and you won’t have any problem finding a ride to Comino- Malta’s third island. Comino is scarcely populated (about 4 permanent residents at any given time) and is more a swimming/picnic destination more than anything else. It costs about 8 Euros round trip, depending on which charter company you select (or convinces you) first. Bring sunscreen and water because there isn’t much shade on Comino. Luxury travelers often opt to dock their mega yachts and catamarans near Comino’s rocky edge for a more peaceful and scenic experience.
The Azure Window is typically at the top of everyone’s list of things to see and do in Malta. The Azure Window is a natural rock formation that was created by years of strong waves crashing against it. It is located in Dwejra Bay and is one of the country’s most iconic images. It has served as the location to various films including Clash of the Titans (1981), The Count of Montecristo (2002), and most recently the hit HBO series Game of Thrones (2011). Although it is strictly prohibited, brave souls regularly dive off the 50-meter high rock into the deep blue sea below. It is also prohibited to climb to the top of it, but I didn’t see that stopping anybody.
When in Gozo you cannot miss this seaside town. The nearby salt pans have been in use since the Romans were in Malta. Every September sea salt is harvested from these square pans. Masalforn also features plenty of dining options. I dined on traditional Maltese cuisine at Il-Kartell and sat at a table right by the water.
Like the Hypogeum on Malta, the Ggantija temples date back over 6,000 years. The south temple was built by neolithic hunter/farmers. The north temple was built about 1,100 years after by the bronze age warriors. These megalithic structure not only evoke reflection and astonishment, they are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I heard they will soon be closed to the public in an effort to conserve them, so there you have yet another reason you should book your Maltese journey as soon as possible.
This is considered to be Malta’s #1 beach. Its characteristic orange-red sand and crystal blue waters make this a popular attraction in the hot summer months. Getting a good spot may take some work (and waking up early to claim your place.) The nearby Calypso Cave, although closed now the public, is associated with Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey. It is where Odysseus was held captive by the nymph Calypso for 7 long years.
So there you have my absolute favorite experiences. The Maltese islands are stuff of legends, literally, and should not be missed! Next post will make your mouth water.. MORE of my Maltese trip to come!
Have you ever been to Malta or planning on visiting? Leave us a question or comment below!
Special thanks to Visit Malta.