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Your impressions of Malta?

We are thinking about 8 or 9 days in Malta, in October 2022, and looking for impressions and insights.

While hardly obscure, Malta isn't covered very well by major travel books and other media (at least not that I'm finding). There's no section for it here (though I have found some old posts referencing it, with very mixed opinions). I know Malta gets cruise ships, lots of Brits, and other sun-seekers. It has a rich, long, complicated history (/understatement), and given all that (plus its geography) I expect to find an interesting mix of ethnic and cultural influences, lots of history, architecture, a beach or two (though we may not be swimming in October), and some classic Mediterranean scenery. We would have 8 or 9 full days, so should be able to get beyond the cruise-ship port/capital city, out to Gozo and around.

Flights are booked but can be fully canceled at no cost to us. We will only go if all the necessary stars align (as is our policy on all travel nowadays).

Been there? Have an opinion? Recommendations? I'm all ears.

Posted by
1688 posts

Not been there but really want to go and will get there within the next 2-3 years (so take good notes). Since my new travel goals are to stay longer once I fly, I have been thinking it might mix well with Sicily. I love watching the well-situated webcams on Skyline when I am bored. I haven’t done much (any?) research but was thinking it might fit well weather-wise in spring for me.

Posted by
1271 posts

In March, 2019 we spent 10 nights in Valletta and really enjoyed it. We rented a nice apartment (found on booking.com) in the historical district, in walking distance to the sights in Valletta and also the bus station. The architecture is beautiful and there's a lot to see in Valletta. We also took six day trips to other towns and sights: Mdina; Hagar Qim Temples and Mnajdra Ruins; Mosta, to see the dome; Hypogeum and Tarxien Temples; Marsaxlokk; and Three Cities. This itinerary was a mixture of ruins, towns, churches, and scenery. We took the bus to each of these, except Three Cities which is by ferry, and the transportation system is great. Some of the day trips were only a few hours so we had more time to spend on the sights in Valletta. With that schedule we didn't have time to get to Gozo, but maybe you travel faster than we do. We were never bored and still had time to just sit in the squares and enjoy the views. It was a great visit!

I (and my DH) recommend you go. The towns are beautiful, the fishing village of Marsaxlokk is very pretty with lots of seafood restaurants, the churches are impressive, the fort in Valletta has so much history. As you said, with the history and the different cultural influences it is very interesting. We learned about Malta when we were in Italy and struck up a conversation with other tourists who happened to be from Malta. They encouraged us to go, telling us there was much to see and do. So a couple of years later we did! Will we be your fellow tourists?

Posted by
722 posts

We really enjoyed our trip to Malta. We were there for 2 weeks in January. Cruise ships were not a problem in January. January is definitely off season but the weather was decent for long walks and seeing the sights. We stayed a few nights on Gozo and the rest of our time in Valletta, which is a good base. I used the Bradt and Lonely Planet guidebooks. One of my favorite trips.

Posted by
3099 posts

We had a great time in Malta too! We spent 18 nights there in January, 2019. We stayed in Sliema at Pebbles Boutique Aparthotel. The hotel is over a bar but apartments at the back of the hotel are very quiet - it's a good location near the bus stop and ferry terminal. Sliema has markets, shops and a popular seafront promenade but most of the major sites are in Valletta - it's easy to get to Valletta from Sliema by either bus or ferry. We used the Brandt guide for planning and traveled all over the island including a daytrip to Gozo. If you have time, it's an easy flight from Malta to Sicily - we spent 5 nights in Ortygia at the end of our trip.

Posted by
836 posts

I have not been to Malta, but I heard from my EU friends that it's not a budget destination.

Posted by
3099 posts

..."I heard from my EU friends that it's not a budget destination."

We didn't think that Malta was an expensive destination. It might depend on where you decide to stay...Sliema where we stayed, is less touristy and the more residential "lived in" area. As an example, you can rent a one-bedroom apartment at Pebbles Boutique Hotel for $93.00 a night. It's less expensive for a room on a lower floor but it might be more noisy. There are many restaurants in Sliema that cater to locals. Valletta might be more expensive because it's where the cruise ships dock and also where many tourists stay.

I know that others on this forum like The Preluna Hotel in Sliema and prices there are comparable.

If you want to be close to the major sights, then Valletta might be best but we liked the local feel of Sliema.

With 8-9 days you have plenty of time to get around the island and also to spend a night or two on Gozo.

Adding that Carol (in the post above) did an great job of describing the day trip options...there are many!

Posted by
1282 posts

I'd strongly recommend you buy the Bradt guide. They are by far the best guidebooks available and whilst they don't bother to cover most of Europe, they do have one for Malta.

Malta is small and you can see most of the sights on the mainland in a few days. With more time you can add Gozo.

c. 8 days seems right for me. Time to see the top sights, some lesser sights and also spare time to relax

We've probably spent about 20 days in Malta over the years, but never more than a week at a time.

Valletta has 2-3 days of sights, the three cities at least one more plus you ccould visit Mdina and Hypogeum and some of the temples and the Lines, then Gozo. So it does add up.

Posted by
328 posts

I started travelling relatively late in life - my late 30s. Malta was one of my early destinations - and remains my least favourite.

I'm not suggesting it's worthless, there are some great sights: Although Valetta was virtually reduced to rubble during WWII, it has been accurately rebuilt and well worth seeing. The history around the Knights Hospitaller defence of the Island is fascinating, Medina and Gozo are worth a visit, and the megalithic temples are ancient. That said, I have no desire to go back - I have heard it said as a joke that the best thing about Malta is the ferry to Sicily. Everything I found attractive about Malta, I can find better on Sicily or other islands in the Med.

Posted by
5407 posts

Thank you to all who have shared their input. For further context, we have indeed been to Italy, Sardinia, Sicily, Croatia, and Turkey (have not done Greece yet). We enjoy the Mediterranean (who doesn't?) and find that going to places that are not super-duper popular suits us -- lately it seems I enjoy off-the-beaten-path destinations more and more. I've been eyeing a variety of Mediterranean islands and Malta (as well as Crete, many Greek/Turkish and smaller Italian islands) have been increasingly tempting.

I have not been to Malta, but I heard from my EU friends that it's not a budget destination.

"This is a feature, not a bug." While I'm not looking for places to point the money-gun and just pull the trigger and hold it in full-auto, I don't mind spending a little more for a better experience, and I often find places that are known to be cheap holiday getaways as crass, over-developed, and less attractive than the surely must have been before the advent of €29 air fares, and mass tourism exploded.

I'd strongly recommend you buy the Bradt guide...

Oh, yeah. I'm a big fan (we have come to depend on many of their books for more far-flung destinations, Bradt books are currently fighting with the blue-label RS guidebooks on our overflowing travel bookshelf). I just received the Bradt Malta book and it looks excellent. Also considering the Rough Guide and Moon books. The LP one will be updated later this year (I typically buy multiple books while doing pretrip research for a major trip).

I figure 8-9 days looks about right for Malta (including Gozo and little Comino). We will be doing 5 days in/around Istanbul first, before flying on to Malta (we visited Turkey in early 2020, but had to cut our trip short when the pandemic blew up, so we only got a teasing taste of Istanbul itself, which I had "saved" for the end of our trip). Hoping we get "good enough" weather in Malta during October. I figure the sea will still be warm enough to swim in if we're motivated). Of course, it all depends on the state of the pandemic next fall. Personally, I'm feeling cautiously optimistic for the summer and fall, but we will see.

Thanks again for all the input, please keep it coming.

Posted by
6854 posts

We enjoyed Malta, and it'd be a great place for a long weekend. It's hard to believe those huge rocks making up the port entrance came over on sailing ships from the Nile River valley. And the society is incredibly old on Malta.

Sicily is just to the north, as we would have liked to have taken it in since it's such a large island.

Posted by
44 posts

DK publishes a guide to Malta & Gozo in their Top 10 series. While I've never been there (& don't own the book), I have & really like other books in their Top 10 series. They pack in a lot of information & come with several maps.