Making memories in Malta

Making memories in Malta

by Elizabeth Fromm
Stripes Europe

Searching for the perfect summer getaway? Look no further than the quaint Mediterranean islands of Malta. This archipelago consists of three main islands with Malta being the largest and most prominent for tourists. Although Gozo and Comino are less frequented, they are nonetheless just as stunning. A day trip to either island will leave you awe-inspired from the natural beauty of the lush landscapes, to the crystal-clear waters that crash along the towering cliffsides. Fortunately, the Maltese islands can be driven in matter of hours, but you’ll want to give yourself more time than that to appreciate all that Malta has to offer.


Gozo island

While small in size, Malta is a country overflowing with cultures from Europe, Africa and the Middle East that dates back thousands of years. Historical texts have even recorded the apostille, Saint Paul, having been shipwrecked in Malta en route to Rome in 60 AD. Because of the strategic situation of the islands, for centuries, many empires have fought to rule Malta. To be exact, there have been 11 rulers over the past two millennia, which include the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Arabs and more. The constant occupancy of foreigners has left its mark on the country and now boasts a uniquely diverse and historically rich background. Within the 122 square miles of the country’s coastlines, you will find 359 picturesque churches. This tiny country is also the home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: City of Valletta, the underground wonders of Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum and the ancient Megalithic Temples of Malta.


Megalithic landmark of Malta island

While these are the current sites, seven more are tentatively slotted to be added to the list. In addition to the extraordinary landmarks, you can take a break from history and check out some of the sites from the filming of award-winning TV series The Game of Thrones. A few filming locations from The Game of Thrones are: St. Dominic’s Convent in Malta, The Gate of the Mdina in Malta, The Azure Window in Gozo and Fort Ricasoli in Malta.

If you’re looking for a bit more of a relaxed activity, there are a plethora of cruises and tours you can sign up for. These tours take you out to explore to the lagoons that creep into the bays, the rugged cliffs that hug the island and, when you get a moment, you’ll want to glance down and admire the transparent Mediterranean waters gleaming back at you.

 

 

Tips on traveling to Malta:

Although Maltese is the official language of Malta, English is the second unofficial language, which makes vacations in Malta virtually effortless for Americans to navigate and communicate during their visit.

Malta joined the European Union in 2003 and adopted the euro in 2008. While it’s always a good idea to keep some spare euros on you while traveling in Europe, Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted at the local banks and establishments.

While driving Malta may seem simple and convenient, the Maltese road networks are not very developed. Buses and ferries are the preferred method of transport of most tourists and tend to be much more reliable. Bus cards can be picked up at the airport, bus stations or from the bus drivers. A favorite is the 12 single day journey card, which can be purchased at a sales station and is valid for one year. If you do choose to rent a car, a compact car is the recommended option, as streets are very narrow in Malta.


Portomaso Business Tower

Malta isn’t just a place to visit during the summer. In fact, if you don’t make it to Malta this summer, keep it on your bucket list for fall or winter. Because of Malta’s position in the Mediterranean, the average fall temperatures stay around 70 degrees. Sure, it may not be sizzling hot tanning weather, but it sure is a nice getaway from the dreary, cold fall most of northern Europe experiences.

Unlike some of the neighboring countries, Malta has exceptional wi-fi accessibility. The wi-fi coverage in Malta is extensive and many hotspots are convenient for users to join. Many hotspots are free and there are even apps all of the hotspots in Malta to enable you to navigate your way to the closest one. 

Since Malta is a melting pot, you will find every and any style of food, but you’ll want to try to get a few of the local delicacies while you are there. “Gbejniet” is a Maltese cheese made from goat or sheep’s milk, popular with the locals. You will also want to try “Pastizzi,” which is the local pastry, usually filled with ricotta cheese or mushy curried peas. “Bigilla” is another delicacy from the Maltese, which is made from flava beans that have been crushed down into a bean paste. “Ftira Ghawdxija” is the Maltese version of a pizza. It is much different in appearance than your usual pizza, but what makes it the most unique is its staple ingredient: potatoes. Don’t forget to try the local made Cisk beer, it pairs wonderfully with Ftira Ghawdxija.

 

 

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