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General information about Malta
Malta is a dwarf state in the Mediterranean Sea, 81 km south of the Italian “boot”, and the smallest member state of the EU. The country covers an area of only 316 km2. It has historically been an important strategic location, due to its proximity to Africa and Europe and its accessibility by sea.
The country gained independence from Britain in September 1964, but the constitution retained Queen Elizabeth II. of the United Kingdom as head of state, and the republic was proclaimed only later in 1974.
Malta consists of three inhabited (and a few uninhabited) islands. The largest island is Malta, followed by Gozo and then Comino.
The official languages of Malta are English and Maltese.
Malta has no natural fresh water (rivers, lakes), so water shortages are a major problem, especially in the hot summer months. Most of the drinking water is produced by desalinating seawater, so it is better to drink mineral water during your stay.
The island has a Mediterranean climate. It is characterized by hot dry summers and mild wet winters. The best time to visit Malta for excursions is late spring, early summer or early autumn.
The only form of public transport in Malta is the bus. But bus services are not very frequent between parts of the island, and are not so punctual or reliable either. Therefore, if you want to take a bus, you have to be very careful when planning your trip, because apart from Valletta, for example, in the western part of the island there may be a bus in the morning and one in the afternoon, and they might not even arrive on time...
So, to sum up, public transport in Malta is not so smooth.
But of course you can also take a taxi, or rent a car, or for the more adventurous, rent a motorbike.
What might be unusual when driving a scooter or car is that Malta has left-hand traffic.
Malta has type G (British) sockets, so it's a good idea to bring a converter from home.
Malta's top attractions: Blue Lagoon, Popeye Village, Blue Grotto, Valletta and Marsaxlokk
Malta's top attractions are: Blue Lagoon, Popeye Village, Blue Grotto, Valletta, Marsaxlokk and many other beautiful places.
For me, one of the best experiences on the whole island was the Popeye Village, because we got to play the main roles in the re-filming of the Popeye movie.
The Popeye Village was built in 1980 for the filming of the live-action (Robin Williams) Popeye movie, and has remained as a set piece ever since, operating as a tourist attraction these days.
Not only can you walk around the iconic set of the film, but every day the Popeye film is re-filmed, with live actors being tourists in the right place at the right time.
That's how we got to be in the middle of the "casting" and took the main roles. :)
It was about 30-40 minutes of filming, but it was a great experience. We shot the scenes with a big camera and they told us exactly what we had to do before each scene. It was a lot of fun because the cameraman made sure that every scene was funny. After we were done, they sent us into a small room and basically a few minutes after the movie was ready, they cut it immediately. It was amazing feeling to watch the film in which we were the live actors.
The picturesque movie set amazed us immediately, furthermore the Popeye village filming will surely remain an everlasting good memory for us.
Golden Bay is a beautiful sandy beach not far from Popeye Village.
Here you will find the beautiful Parish Church of Mellieha with a beautiful view of the bay.
The capital of Malta, Valletta is located on a small peninsula on the eastern side of the island. The beautiful view of the city is best seen from a boat and from the Sliema Tigné neighborhood (north of Valletta).
The town is characterized by its baroque architecture. Beautiful buildings line the capital:
the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a large domed church that dominates the skyline of the city
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Church of St. Nicholas
Basilica of St Dominic & Porto Salvo
St. Elmo Fortress
and many other smaller churches.
Also here you will find the beautiful Upper Barrakka Gardens, with a beautiful view of the harbor and the towns across the harbor.
St Julian's is Malta's entertainment district, a town full of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. It also has a very charming promenade along the bay.
Mdina is the old city, was the capital of Malta until 1530. Mdina lies on a small plateau and is surrounded by a thick city wall. Its most notable buildings are the Cathedral of St Paul and the Mdina Gate.
The city only has about 300 permanent inhabitants, but is kind of merged with the neighboring city of Rabat.
The Mosta Rotunda, the largest church in Mosta and Malta. The church was built in the mid-1800s in neoclassical style. The structure of the church was modeled on the Roman Pantheon, and is the third largest church in the world with an unsupported dome. During World War II, the church narrowly escaped destruction when a German aerial bomb flew into the dome during mass in 1942, but did not explode. This event was interpreted as a miracle by the Maltese.
Dingli is a small village in the highest area of Malta (253 meters high). From the village, you can walk to the Dingli cliffs, from where there are further hiking trails along the beautiful panoramic promenade.
The Blue Grotto, is a complex of rock arches and caves extending into the sea in the southwest of the island. The cave complex consists of 7 caves. The outer arch, about 30 meters high, can be seen beautifully from the Blue Grotto viewpoint.
It's worth arriving a little before noon, when the caves are best lit by the sun and the sea is a different shade of blue.
You can also walk down to the arch. It's incredible to walk there and have no idea that you are walking on top of a natural wonder, with a huge cave below you.
Or, if you prefer, you can pay for a boat trip in the nearby harbor, from where they'll bring you here to admire the cave complex from the inside.
Marsaxlokk is a very charming little fishing village in the south-east of the island.
The harbor is full of colorfully painted small fishing boats. These brightly-coloured (usually blue-red-yellow), high-nosed boats are called luzzu.
All of them have the eye of Osiris painted on them.
Legend has it that the Eye of Osiris protects fishermen from danger out at sea.
A regular ferry service runs between Gozo and Cirkewwa throughout the day. But here, I think it's worth paying for an organized day cruise from Malta, taking you to Gozo, then Comino and at last back to the main island.
The main attractions of Gozo:
Victoria - Citadel
Victoria is the central town of the island. Here you will find the medieval Citadel complex, surrounded by massive walls.
The 28-meter Azure Window (a huge rock arch extending into the sea) unfortunately collapsed during a major storm in March 2017. Today, only the flat rocky coastline is visible.
Comino is a tiny island of just 3,5 km2, it stands between Gozo and Malta. The island is both a nature reserve and a bird sanctuary.
On Comino you will find the beautiful Blue Lagoon. A prime tourist destination due to its unique azure blue color, the lagoon is packed with boats and bathers in the afternoon.
So it loses a bit of its charm because of the huge crowd, but I still think this Gozo-Comino day cruise is a wonderful experience.
And with this super programme our trip to Malta came to an end.
I think that Malta can be fully explored in 4-5 days, and if not all the way, it is worth renting a scooter for at least a couple of days, it makes it very easy to get to the sights.
I hope you enjoyed my post and that it will be useful for you in preparing for your trip to Malta.
Have a nice day,