My favorite Things To Do Malta
My Favorite Things To Do Malta - Introduction
Malta is a small Mediterranean island just about 200 miles off the African coast) that comes with its own language, own country designation and is a member of the European Union (and the Euro and Schengen agreements).
While I pictured Malta to be a bigger Gibraltar it's much less British. In fact, most Maltese just have a surprisingly basic understanding of English and are better at Arabic and Italian than English. Take that - you - 'official language'!
Malta had been the seat of the Order of St. John, a medieval quirk in Christian history. 'The Order' is still its own state that lost its own territory but is a sovereign entity and is now located in Rome (just like the Vatican but without a territory).
Malta is a Christian and Catholic country with 365 churches (yes not a random number). 'The order' was promoting reverence of John and the other apostle Paul who was reportedly shipwrecked on Malta, those are the two major figures that abound all over the island.
Maltese are generally friendly though reserved people. Traffic is more Italian with tiny roads and drivers driving at excessive speeds at any possible time.
My Favorite Things To Do Malta - Safety
Malta is generally a safe country with low crime. I would not hesitate to walk after dark.
The biggest issue is the aggressive drivers that stop for pedestrians only at the last possible moment. Don't be alarmed if you see drivers go 70 miles an hour on an urban road and stop at the last possible second at a pedestrian crossing. They do stop but just an inch away from disaster (so it seems).
My Favorite Things To Do Malta - Get Around
Malta prides itself on its bus network. Indeed huge buses crawl along the choked streets. They are cheap though and go almost anywhere (often just once an hour though).
There are several taxi apps like Bolt and TaxiGo that provide affordable rides.
Walking is an option if you can use some of the beach promenades otherwise the island is too hilly and sidewalks to crazy to make it fun. Most of the time you will go 15 degrees up and down several times in a row and passed by huge buses just an inch away. Walking is no fun unless you find a good track and then it is a lot of fun.
It's perfectly possible to drive a rental car but keep in mind that roads are small, twisty and drivers very aggressive. Speeding 50-80 km/h above the speed limit is the norm and parking is impossible around the island's most populated bays. However, to explore the 'backcountry' a car is a great idea.
Keep in mind that traffic can be horrific during rush hour and will look more like L.A. than the Mediterranean.
My Favorite Things To Do Malta - Connectivity
Malta has great connectivity in most coffee shops and hotels. Expect 10 Mbit or better almost anywhere you can connect.
My Favorite Things To Do Malta - See
Malta is home to three UNESCO world heritage sites. As pretty as the sites they often fall victim to hoards of bus tourists.
Valletta is the original city-state ruled and built by 'The Order'. It had become an old town that serves the god of tourism. Huge hoards of tourists storm the St Paul Cathedral (a hefty 10 EUR entrance fee) and the Roma the streets. I was disappointed and expected a more lively, more divine old town. It is not as exciting as it could be.
Malta's version of the Mdina is in a pretty setting right atop a hill on the Western side of the island. Reportedly it was here that Paul met the Roman city administrator. That same place is now occupied by another St Paul cathedral. The Mdina is a more human scale affair than Valletta and has more character. It is still overrun with European tourists.
Just nearby is Mosta and the Rotunda - an equally stunning church (that looks like a mosque at times).
My Favorite Things To Do Malta - Eat and Drink
Malta has a good number of ethnic eateries and coffee shops. While the food items are good and it is refreshingly cheap you will have trouble finding 'very good' quality.
As the name indicates this South Indian eatery dishes out awesome mixes of North and Indian cuisine. I found the rations very original and delicious, just please order it spicy.
It's also really cheap for the enormous portions.
Lot Sixty One
Lot Sixty One is a local third-wave coffee chain. While it ticks all the right boxes the baristas are often not exactly chatty (and knowledgeable) and most espresso drinks are just EUR 2 - so you can't complain.
This space is super tiny and easy to miss. However, the super friendly staff makes awesome pistachio nougat espresso drinks. Best coffee in town (even without the pistachio nougat).
Bianco's Pizza and Pasta
Bianco's is a solid pizzeria at Julians Bay that cherishes the Sicilian art of pizza making.
My Favorite Things To Do Malta - Where to Stay
Malta is in the midst of a building. And since most real estate is already used the building happens by adding a few stories to an existing building. That seems more happenstance than it should be but so far it sticks.
There is a huge choice of hotels on the island with most ranging in $100-$200 range.
I tried Intercontinental Malta and the Hilton Malta and liked both of them.