If you squint your eyes and look closely, you may be able to find the tiny country of Malta on a world map. Upon first glance, it’s rather easy to assume that this little island has little to offer. However, if you look beyond the maps and the Internet to give this unique locale the chance that it deserves, you’ll discover a Mediterranean jewel that will make you quickly forget your previous misconceptions.
Malta may have a Hilton, McDonalds, and several European clothing chain within its confines, but this is essentially where all Western influence stops and the local charm begins. The laid-back culture and people of Malta are sure to rub off on you, and within a week, you’ll begin saying “mela” just like the locals. Mela is used for just about everything in Malta. The Maltese use it to say hello, okay, relax, and much more. You’ll be whispering it to yourself to help you relax and embrace the laid-back Maltese way of life.
The ancient, medieval city of Mdina and its imposing walls is by far the country’s most treasured possession. Known as the “Silent City,” the still, quiet air of Mdina will give you both an eerie and serene feeling at the same time. This former capital of Malta sits in the centre of the country in an area surrounded by endless sea of rolling hills. A visit here is truly another worldly experience.
If you prefer to skip the museum and dungeon tours, it is worth taking the trip to Mdina simply to visit Fontanella. Out on the balconies of this picturesque tea garden, you’ll find red umbrellas, under which you can order and taste the most delicious cakes ever made. Undoubtedly, these delicious confections are one of the main reasons our waistline can expand during our stay in Malta. From white cheesecake to triple chocolate cake, the cake options are as endless as the views. However, you’d better be prepared for a portion big enough to keep you full and happy for the rest of your trip.
If you enjoy shopping, Malta’s largest shopping mall, the Point in Silema, is sure to satisfy all of your shopping desires. In addition to boasting an impressive line-up of famous international brands, the shopping mall also has friendly prices. However, you shouldn’t be too shy to explore the shops located throughout the surrounding streets, which offer the same quality goods and apparel. If you’re up for a little more local flare or want to pick up a unique item, then venturing out to the Sunday market in Marsaxlokk should be a definite item on your to-do list.
The little fishing village of Marsaxlokk is filled with vendor stalls that seemingly stretch for miles along the Mediterranean. Here, you can purchase everything from designer handbags to a freshly caught shark. If you want to purchase a little keepsake of Malta, but you desire something other than the usual Maltese memorabilia, there is a jewellery stand run by a man who can carve any name into a sterling silver chain for under £6. Just remember to leave as early as possible if you take the bus, because unlike flights to Malta, which are usually far from being full, the bus terminal in Valetta is often crowded with locals and tourists alike.
Nightlife in Malta is just as amazing as its people and shopping possibilities. On the main nightlife strip of Paceville, you’ll find fast food restaurants stuffed conveniently between every nightclub. From high-end sushi bars at one end to elaborate night clubs featuring indoor pools at the other end and everything in between, Paceville is a veritable buffet of nightlife options. A local favourite is the Footloose bar, which features free vodka shooters. The Native dance club is also a hotspot for both locals and vacationers. Once the end of the night is marked by the rising sun over the Mediterranean, you’ll likely forget the meaning of the name Magaluf.
So, whether you decide to visit Malta for a taste of local culture, the gorgeous weather, beautiful scenery, shopping, or the vibrant nightlife, you’re guaranteed to return home as a happy traveller. The charm of Maltese life will sink its hooks into you from the moment you step off the plane and remain there long after you’ve said your goodbyes to this little known gem of an island.