Top tips for first-time travelers to Malta
Sleep, Swim, Eat, Repeat
Malta has something to offer for all types of travellers. If you are not afraid of lizards (a lot of lizards!) feel free to explore the countryside and set up a tent. If you want to feel more like a local, try out renting an Airbnb room in one of the Maltese houses. Our special suggestion – look for a house of character or a farmhouse. Such houses can be up to 400 years old with charming courtyards, separate walled staircases to bedrooms, and ample gardens and outside spaces for swimming pools, terraces or orchards.
Nevertheless, the most popular choice of stay is the hotel, and when it comes to hotels Malta provides hundreds of options. To mention a few of the best, there is the Grand Hotel Excelsior in Valletta, the capital city of Malta; more distant from the central and most populated areas is the Radisson Blu Resort, right next to the Golden Bay beach where the movie “Troy” was shot, or the Hugo's Boutique Hotel located in St. Julians, Paceville. Paceville is the name given to an informal district heavily populated with nightclubs, bars, strip clubs, pubs and restaurants, and is an important nightlife hub on the island.
Sun – The Entertainer
Even if you don’t consider yourself a romantic, it is impossible to resist the beauty of the sunsets that Malta boasts with. You can rent a sailing boat and behold a tranquil sunset in the middle of the sea; take a walk along a promenade showering in the warm lights of the setting sun or go to the “end” of Malta like the Dingli Cliffs for a spectacular sunset over the horizon. If you are up for something even more special and thrilling, try having dinner in the sky! Dinner in the Sky Malta elevates 22 guests to 40 meters above the rooftops of the island, combining a perfect balance of fine dining, fun, excitement and theatre into one completely unique and breathtaking experience. Malta is definitely a place where you will watch more sunsets than Netflix.
When Size Doesn’t Matter
Malta’s geographical area is just 316 km² making it one of the smallest nations in the world. Not small enough? Visit Gozo or the smallest one of these three, Comino. The islands of Gozo and Comino are two sister islands of Malta; their culture and history go hand in hand with Malta’s. Both islands are famous for their unspoiled beaches, diving sites, pre-historic landmarks, and shimmering scenic beauty.
Gozo is thought to be the legendary Calypso's isle of Homer's Odyssey – a peaceful, mystical backwater. Wherever you look, baroque churches and old stone farmhouses abound. Spend a week or just a weekend at one of the Bellavista Farmouses, each with a private swimming pool and an amazing view.
To discover the true magic of swimming, diving and enjoying all the activities the sea puts out for everyone to engage in, Comino is the island to be explored. The island's Blue Lagoon, with its safe bathing in bright turquoise waters, makes a memorable day out by boat. The island is tiny in size, with just one hotel, and is otherwise uninhabited and surrounded by the most scintillating and transparent waters in the Mediterranean.
Wining and Dining
When it comes to food, the Maltese take it seriously. Besides the “pastizz”, a traditional savory pastry that’s available on pretty much every corner, there are plenty of cafeterias and restaurants cooking all types of cuisine. However, if you are in the middle of the Medditerian Sea, you simply must go for Mediterranean cuisine. Malta’s cuisine reflects its history, and shows strong Sicilian and English influences; nevertheless, there are some unique dishes only Malta can offer, and they won’t leave you disappointed. If you are up for a local experience, look out for Lampuki Pie (fish pie), Rabbit Stew, Bragioli (beef olives), Kapunata (Maltese version of ratatouille), and widow's soup, which includes a small round of Gbejniet (sheep or goat cheese).
To accompany the food, Malta produces its own wine. Today, grape varieties grown on the Maltese islands include the two indigenous varieties named Gellewza (red) and Ghirgentina (white), as well as several international varieties. When here, look out for wine festivals that are held rather frequently. Even if there is no wine festival at the time, all restaurants have Maltese wines and the waiters will be more than happy to recommend the best one for your choice of food.
And last but not least, almost all eateries have outdoor dining spaces with spectacular views. The sea and fresh air definitely makes food taste even better! Enjoy!
Written specially for airBalticBlog by Kristīne Gorošņeva.